Daily Update #159

Today’s readings –    Philemon 7-20           Psalm 146           Luke 17:20-25

Pause:  Lord God, you reign forever.  Still our hearts and minds now, as we prepare to hear from your word.  Teach us how to sing praise to you as long as we live, how to rely completely on your faithfulness.  
    Amen

Today’s psalm is a delight, giving us insights which enable us to keep a right perspective at all times.  

The psalmist opens in praise – Hallelujah!  As we turn to the Lord our God, this is the right way to approach his perfection and his glory.  Our souls need to turn to him in praise.  

The writer continues by committing himself to lifelong praise of the Lord our God.  In contrast to rulers of the world or even friends or benefactors, who are finite and whose schemes and plans come to nought when they die, the Lord our God is eternal.  If we trust in him, we receive blessing.  He is both our help and our hope.  

Our God, who created all things, remains faithful forever.  Not only this, he also cares for and protects the weak and vulnerable.  The causes of those who are being oppressed are upheld by the Lord.  The hungry are fed, prisoners are released, the blind receive their sight and those who are burdened are lifted up.  The Lord loves the righteous.  

Minorities and those who are marginalised are also protected and lifted up by the Lord.  This includes foreigners, orphans and widows.  The Lord frustrates the ways of the wicked.  

The permanence and eternal reign of the Lord are clear for all to see.  

As we ponder the all-encompassing truths which the psalmist shares, we long to be close to the Lord, to enjoy his protection, to be the righteous whom he protects.  

Yet as we look at our newspapers, it appears that current events contradict the psalmist.  We hear of many cases of oppression of those who are weak and vulnerable.  In many countries the ruling elite imprison or mistreat many, particularly any who dare to criticise them or to attempt to hold them to account.  The citizens of many countries long for peace and justice, and yet they suffer war and are oppressed, with no access to any redress.  

The reality is different, of course.  The time scales which we work on and recognise are different from those of the Lord God.  While oppressors and the wicked may appear to be dominating for a season, the Lord is fully aware of the situation.  He may permit iniquity for a time, but the fate of the wicked who will not repent and turn from their evil ways, is certain.  As we learn from Psalm 73: 

Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin. 
How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.

So, allowing for the patience of the Lord, who does not desire the death of a sinner but that he turns from his wickedness and lives, the psalmist is spot on.  Of course the ultimate example of the vindication which the righteous will enjoy was through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He carefully and deliberately submitted to wicked and evil men as God had planned and their schemes against him appeared to have succeeded for a time.  But his resurrection brought reality to light and the ultimate defeat of evil!  

Praise the Lord God for his permanent hostility against evil and wickedness and let’s thank him that he reigns for ever, for all generations!  

Hallelujah, indeed!  

Prayer

Almighty God,
thank you that you reign forever and that you protect the weak and vulnerable.  
Help us to trust in you and make us patient and determined as we wait for vindication, 
the final defeat of all evil and the coming of the new heavens and the new earth.  
We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Amen

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