There were several lessons in today’s sermon on Psalm 95.
It is an unusual Psalm, changing the tone midstream, from the Joy and Exhilaration of praise to “Listen to God,” and “Don’t be like your ancestors who complained when they were thirsty.”
The surface lesson of the Psalm is about Meribah and Massah, where the Israelites, having been led from Egypt through the parting waters of the Red Sea; having danced with joy at the Pharoah’s defeat at the Hand of God; having complained of the lack of food and offered quail and bread from heaven and then they complain of thirst, asking “Is God with us or not?”
Enough to try any human’s patience, let alone God.
The message, a merciful and caring God who, in spite of his anger, was not angry with the people forever, but only for forty years.
And even Jesus, knowing his future of being betrayed, sent to death, and utter loneliness, offered to his followers a gift of forgiveness on the very night he would be betrayed. He broke bread, gave it to the disciples and said “Take and eat, this is my body.” He handed out the wine, and said “This wine is the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin.”
Jesus did this not only to demonstrate that he would die, but to demonstrate that he was the passover lamb. It was a yearly ritual sacrifice that required the shedding of the blood of an unblemished lamb. Now, once and for all, God was giving the sacrifice for sin to every man who would take it.
The gospels are clear. God is not a god of just one people. Jesus did not refuse to meet the poor, the downtrodden, or the sinner. The mixture of joy and sin in Psalm 95 accentuates this side-by-side glory of God meeting man. Where we may be afraid to tread, or refuse to visit, Jesus did. Jesus met the woman at the well, the tax collector, the centurion, and leaders willing to hear. God is the God of all. He has a gift, that which does not condemn, but that which says,
Yes, walk with Me, and listen to what I have to say, and accept My gift of Love, and I will be by your side, forever!
What a promise!
God is with you until that day that He meets you face to face and you tell Him that He is not your friend. My prayer is that the day YOU meet Him face to face is a day you can honestly say “Thank you for hanging in there with me, and I’m sorry I didn’t know You sooner.”
Jesus said in John 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
What a sermon I heard today!