Chorus: He is born, the divine Christ child. Play on the oboe and bagpipes merrily. He is born, the divine Christ child. Sing we all of the Savior’s birth.
1. Through long ages of the past, Prophets have foretold his coming; Through long ages of the past, Now the time has come at last.
You probably noticed this was a French carol by the title. The above is one of a multitude of translations which bespeaks its long life in English performances.
Verse 1 talks about prophets and prophecy, and now is the time. That is a rather famous phrase in the New Testament. For He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.”(1 Corinthians 6:2)
This salvation is quite literally Jesus Christ, and we see this truth beginning in the above verse and is concluded by the writer of Hebrews: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
Our salvation is inextricably tied up in the incarnation, for only the Son of God could pay for our sins. May Christmas be a time to celebrate His birth and your salvation! So what are you doing “Now?”
Cease Striving and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
So, the earth melted, and God brought desolation and destruction upon the earth. To what end? And why so extreme? Well, the answer to that is found in the second half of the above verse. The end of the verse reads: Know that I am God. Whether the earth is melting and being made desolate, or whether your life is melting and you’re feeling desolate, now is the time for you to cease striving and know that He is God.
Now for those of us have experienced such life shattering events in our lives, you know they can either ruin us, or bring us into the presence of God. Now as far as this Psalm is concerned, God is indeed the instigator, the prime mover, the originator and source of this bespoken cataclysm. Well His desire and motivation is to have you come to know Him.
This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)
But here is the danger. So you’re going through trauma, turmoil, loss or defeat, and rather than turning to God, you reject Him and accuse Him of being mean and uncaring. The problem with that call is, that you are nowhere near Him to really know Him.
Back to the context. Note these verses from this same Psalm:
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! (vss. 1-3)
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. (vss. 7, 11)
He is our refuge and strength, always ready to help, but we need to Be Still. He is here among us, and is our fortress, but we need to Be Still. Note the latter verse is occurs twice in the Psalm (vs, 7,11). In fact it is the last thing written. He is with you. Can you be still?
On last thought. The remainder of verse 10 goes: “I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” At some point (i.e. – when you’re standing before Him in Heaven) you will no longer have a choice. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (vss. 9-11)
Be still today, and know that He is your God. And if you’re wondering how to do that, follow this link:
The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him… the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13,17)
The earliest childhood memory I have with my Dad was laying on his chest, as he sat in his recliner, with both of us eating out of a can of peanuts, watching Rassling (long before it became so dramatic and overproduced). I still remember his arms wrapped around me.
But, it took me 27 years to hear my Dad say “I love you”. Don’t get me wrong, I knew he loved me. (As testified by the above story.) He worked on big yellow things with wheels, tracks, etc., for as long as I could remember (a master mechanic), but he still had time to go to his son’s games and meets; band and choir concerts. And even if it meant skipping a day of weekend overtime to see his son run or sing, he was there.
When I was in college I read a book on prayer by a Jesuit theologian. It changed my life. Up to that point I had thanked God, praised God, worshiped God, rejoiced in God, and made my prayers and petitions known to Him (in Jesus’ name). But I had never told my Heavenly Father that I loved Him. After reading the book, I made sure that in all my prayers, to tell my Heavenly Father I love Him, to this day. And for the people who I loved, I made sure to tell them I loved them.
So it was probably around my early twenties that I noticed my Dad’s typical response to my “I love you.” It was either “Ditto” or “You too.” It became my mission in life was to hear those three words from him, whether over the phone on in person. It happened the summer of my 27th year. I was back on the West Coast, visiting my parents, with the usual hugs were going around. While squeezing my mom I told her that I loved her, and she responded as she always did: “I love you.” Dad and I grappled in our usual bear hug, and I told him I loved him and he grunted or something. But later in that week, I told him I loved him, and he said…”I love you too, son.” And I cried (maybe Dad even got a little teary). From that day on until he died 9 years later, the “I love yous” abounded.
Now why do I share this ancient history with you? Well, if you’re a parent, have you told your kids you love them today? They need to hear it; and they need to see it and feel it. And for you Dads, loving your kids is going to give them a great glimpse into the love of their Heavenly Father.
What about the rest of the family? Maybe you’re distant (emotionally or geographically). Or estranged. Maybe there are wounds, scars, whatever. Love them. Tell them. Because, Above all, keep fervent in your lovefor one another, because lovecoversa multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Now there are certain traumas and griefs we go through which may loosen your tongue, but don’t wait for that. A funeral and the loss of a loved one can pry those three words out of you, especially for those us who have been left behind. Cancer or heart disease can get your attention. It did for me and my family. But I don’t want to go through that again—so don’t wait.
What about those in the Family of God. Have you told them you loved them? Maybe they’re alone, or their family’s a complete disaster. Did God bring you into their lives to love them? Tell them. Don’t wait for disaster to strike, because maybe you—or they—end up in the presence of Jesus. Tell them… now.
Please understand that this tirade is for those who may be challenged verbally and emotionally—especially us guys. Who knows, if you speak these three words, with God’s help, you may be able to begin living them. But if you’re more at ease speaking, don’t allow those three words to become some glib motto. Rather, Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)
O my God, scatter them like tumbleweed, like chaff before the wind! As a fire burns a forest and as a flame sets mountains ablaze, chase them with your fierce storm; terrify them with your tempest. Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O Lord. Let them be ashamed and terrified forever. Let them die in disgrace. Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth. (Psalm 83:13-18)
Normally I don’t quote so many verses in a single study—at least not in one place. I may spread them out over a number of days, pull Scripture from all over the Bible to show how consistent and clear God’s Word is. But in the above six verses, which are the last verses of this Psalm, there is just one simple thing to learn.
Sound familiar? 2700 years later you still have people making the same threats. But they forget about the same God, who loves His people Israel.
So the psalmist asks for God to scatter them, burn them, chase them, terrify them, and disgrace them, until they submit to His name. The apostle Paul makes a similar statement in Philippians chapter 2: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (vs. 9-11) Paul makes it clear that every knee shall bow and every tongue declare, regardless of your opinion of the LORD.
Asaph continues in his request to his God: “Let them be ashamed and terrified forever. Let them die in disgrace.” And then we learn the point of his request: “Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.”
For those in Philippians 2 who must bow and confess, so it will be for the enemies of God in Psalm 83. It’s too late; they will be dead, but they will know who the LORD is. No chance to repent. No chance to believe and confess. No chance to find forgiveness.
For those of you who may have a similar attitude towards God the way His enemies do, please heed the following passage: “Behold, now is ‘The acceptable time,” behold, now is ‘The day of salvation’.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Don’t become an enemy of God. Learn who the LORD is, while you still have breath, and then make today, right now, your day of salvation.
He has revealed his words to Jacob, His decrees and regulations to Israel. He has not done this for any other nation; they do not know his regulations. (Psalm 147:19-20)
It’s easy to understand why the Pharisees we so comfortable with their religion—they believed they had a lock on access to the One True God. The also believed they had a lock on the location: For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that Myname may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. (2 Chronicles 7:16)
In fact, they believed all nations would only come to His mountain (Jerusalem) to worship: Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:22-3)
And: All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name. (Psalm 86:9)
And they were right…
But then something wondrous happened: Jesus came. And in a rather significant conversation with someone He shouldn’t have had a conversation with (a Samaritan woman), Christ changes all that exclusivity talk: Jesus replied,“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who willworship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)
We see, as Christ said, that salvation comes through the Jews, it starts with the Jews. But it’s no longer about the Mosaic ritual; rather it’s about worshiping in spirit and truth, for God is spirit. Those who will worship in spirit and truth Lord may do so from any where. This was great news for the Samaritans (see John 4:39-42) and for us Gentiles. This then gives a different interpretation to the above passage from Psalm 86. We can now come and worship before You, O Lord, any where and at any time. This is what Christ has accomplished for us. Why not worship Him now?