These are what I shared with you last week from today’s passage.
First. We should show honor to God. God is love; God is not rude to us, but we may be rude to God. So we need to examine ourselves on how we react with God.
Second. We should not waste God's grace. As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. (Proverbs 26:11).'
Third. We should remember that Jesus Christ is the judge of the living and the dead. That is why we must live sincerely and honestly in this land. At the end of history is the judgment of the Lord. It is fearful and trembling that we all stand before the Lord who is just.
But when we look at our reality, sometimes our minds collapse because we may see that many good people suffer. We want to see that good people live rich and have good influence on society, however, we may see the opposite phenomenon in our society. We may see that the wicked prosper and the rebellious people are all peaceful, which is the image of the world we live in. The children of the wicked are more likely to grow into influential people in society because they have more opportunities in a better environment. All these things confuse our minds.
So we may have some doubt whether the God we serve is the righteous judge. What does it mean to live well in this earth? The world where we live in is the unfair place where the wicked triumph. Those who want to live well are wounded. Why should people who believe in Jesus live well? It may be a world where only the wicked are prosperous and are more peaceful. Where is God, the righteous judge? These questions begin to arise continually. Do you have a willingness to do what the Lord has asked to you although you may experience sufferings or hardships? What should we do when our minds are confused when we see our reality where the wicked prosper?
The confusion of reality we experience is reflected in the Bible. First, Jeremiah asked God this question.
"You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? (Jer. 12: 1)
A similar complaint is found in Psalm 73. It is the story of a poet named Asaph.
"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. (v. 1)."
This was God who Asaph knew. He believed that God is the One who is good to those who are pure in heart. But Asaph said in ver. 2
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.”
Asaph almost lost faith in God; he was hurt, and suffered. He confessed that his faith in God almost had disappeared. We can find a reason in verse 3.
‘For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (ver. 3)’
You can see Asaph whose faith in God has fallen. When he saw the injustice world, he was in doubt about God. And he wanted to live like arrogant people. Verses 4-15 described what the life of the wicked were.
“They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore, pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance, they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore, their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children.”
Asaph was also troubled. When he thought about these things, his heart was so heavy. The righteous God just seems to be watching the wicked.
The despair felt by the Asaph poet can be in us who live in the present. In a world where the wicked are more prosperous, richer, and unfair, Asaph screamed and screamed. Such a trouble of Asaph was settled in verses 16 and 17.
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
It was very difficult for him to find out why the wicked prosper in this world. And he admitted that there were worries, but were never solved in his life. Then Asaph found out a solution when he entered the sanctuary of God, which means that he entered the presence of God. And then, the poet realized the heart of God. He started to see the world through God’s eyes, but not his eyes. What the poet realized is found in verses 18-20.
Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
What he realized was that after death he would have a just trial before God.
We do not know the life before death, but we do know the life after death. The Bible says that our death is not the end of the life. And after death, there will be a judgment before God.
This means that God 's justice is partially enforced on earth, while we are alive, but that after the death, complete justice of God will be done. This, in other words, means that the judgment of the Lord is reserved on earth. The judgment is delayed slightly because God is patient. The poet who realizes this comforts. Verses 21 and 22.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Although he was so envious of the life of a wicked man and was doubt the righteous Lord, he realized himself as a beast. And the poet who was enlightened in the presence of the Lord confesses: ver. 23-24.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
It is believing that on that day when the world will be filled with the glory of God, the Lord will ask him to take part in His glory. We discover why we must do good and live righteously on this earth. A blessing found by a poet appears in verses 25-26.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For a poet, blessing is 'God Himself'. The purpose of his life is 'God'. It is blessing that God is all to us.
I've seen these articles in newspapers. “She married him because of money”. Do you think that this marriage is happy?” In the newspaper article I read, her marriage was unhappy; and divorced when his money was gone. On the other hand, it is happy and blessing if you say that my bride/bridegroom is all to my life.
Likewise, God wants us to be all. And it is a blessing for us to be all God. If God become a Gina who just gives a present whenever you need, God will be no longer God. If our reason for believing in God is just for health and money, it is making God a part of our lives. If you believe in God who makes your life good always in your own way, and want to go heaven as a bonus. We may use God as a tool in your life.
Hopefully, you want God to be the purpose of your life, just like a confession of a poet. That is what God wants us to do. It is a blessing for God to be all. It is a blessing that God become your purpose of your life. To be able to do that, we must live in the presence of the Lord. We must live a life that accompanies the Lord. Just as Asaph realized.
‘Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin! (Proverbs 21: 4).'
The prosperity of the wicked is possible because of sin. This was a shock to me. I was forced to admit that it was the same as watching the life of the wicked. Although the wicked prosper, do not envy their prosperities.
We do not know the life before death, but we can clearly see the life after death. The Bible clearly says that there is a judgment after death. Jesus Christ is the judge of the living and the dead. That is why we must live sincerely and honestly on the earth. We will someday die. This is truth. No one has an exception. And after that death there is God's judgment. I pray that you will remember this, the judge of the living and the dead. Amen!