Anno Domini – June 5, 2022 (156/365)

Last week we took our message from Psalm 129.

Psalm 129 was clear in sharing that those who hated Israel were bringing shame upon themselves. In fact, let’s just go back to it really quick:

Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.

Let them be as grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up,

with which the reaper does not fill his hand, nor he who binds sheaves, his arms.

Neither let those who pass by them say,

“The blessing of the LORD be upon you; We bless you in the name of the LORD!”

Psalm 129:5-8

In our reading through the Psalm we recalled the story of the Prophet Balaam, who was paid to curse the people of Israel, only to end up blessing them, not only once, but 3 times. Instead of winning against Israel, he was put to shame and turned back. He was as grass on the housetops, withering before it grew up – Before he got into his trance to proclaim curses on Israel, he was already set up for failure. Finally, apparently, he was not only allowed to curse Israel, but he himself was not allowed to be blessed. What a tragic life. He was ashamed, he not only was set up for failure, but he was also not set up for success either.

We talked on how the state of Balaam was similar to who we were before we let Jesus Christ live in our hearts, and before we allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to bring us to life, through the preaching of the Gospel of Grace.

I’d like to point out that it had already been proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah. He mentioned the following:

The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will shine on them.

Isaiah 9:2

To cut a long story short, friends, I want to share this before we move any further: Once, we ourselves were in darkness. In the said darkness we were ashamed, and not only were we set up for failure, but we were also prevented from achieving success. Now, because of Christ’s finished work, we have been brought from darkness to His everlasting light. Balaam was ashamed. But we have been brought from shame to salvation. Balaam was set up for failure. But we have been raised from the failure of failures, which is death. And finally, Balaam was kept from succeeding. But we have been proclaimed righteous unto the success of successes – that is, eternal life, here and now.

To quote that one hymn, what a friend we have in Jesus.

Today we’re continuing down that route of discovering the details before and after our salvation. It’s interesting, how one way we differentiate the time periods and years in ancient history is by splitting between B.C. and A.D. I imagine the same thing happening to us. For much as we have been brought from darkness into light, so we also have had our time B.C. (Before Christ), and today, because of what Christ has done, we are celebrating in A.D. (Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord).

One way to see our B.C. is to take a look at Psalm 36. The first four verses are as follows:

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart;

there is no fear of God before his eyes.

For he flatters himself in his own eyes

that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;

he has ceased to act wisely and do good.

He plots trouble while on his bed;

he sets himself in a way that is not good;

he does not reject evil.

Psalms 36:1-4

I see three things for us here. Our nature before we ever had Christ in our lives entailed (1) there was no fear of the Lord. Times like this I recall Pharoah when he was first confronted by Moses and Aaron, who were sent by God in the burning bush to ask him to set the nation of Israel free. We read his response in Exodus 5:2: “Who is this LORD, that I should obey his voice?”

I also recall Nabal. If you remember, there was a time that the future King David was still on the run, and they counted on the kindness of landowners to not only sustain him, but his soldiers. David provided legitimate protection for these landowners, and when the time came for Nabal to help him, instead of appreciating the help, he responded in 1 Samuel 25:10-11: “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”

Friends, as I was going through these instance in the Old Testament, it struck me – before Christ ever came into our lives we did not have the fear of the Lord for ourselves. What did this mean for us? Look at the words of Pharoah and Nabal, and look at Christ’s answer to a lawyer in Luke 10 – When asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, Christ returned the question back to him – ‘What is written in the Law?’ To which the lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

What did it mean for us not to have the fear of the Lord? It meant that we didn’t believe God for who He was. We were like Pharoah. Instead of loving the Lord, we were saying, ‘Who is this Lord that I should obey His voice?’ We were like Nabal. Instead of loving our neighbors, we were saying ‘Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat and give it to people I don’t know?’

So we didn’t have the fear of the Lord. What we did have was sin, and we knew it. See, instead of the fear of the Lord we had (2) sin consciousness. What does this mean? Well, look at the rest of the verses in Psalm 36:

For he flatters himself in his own eyes

that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;

he has ceased to act wisely and do good.

Friends, even before Christ, we already knew we were sinners. It was in our consciousness. We were so aware of our iniquity that not only did we try to hide it from other people, but we also tried to hide it from ourselves. It says it right there: we were flattering ourselves in our own eyes, trying to justify our own sin to say that it was good. In being sin conscious our own words were laced with sin, and our actions were infected with iniquity.

So we did not fear the Lord, but we were conscious of our sin.

Finally, it’s not just that we were conscious of our sin, but apparently, even if we were condemned, we plotted trouble while on our beds. One sure fire way for me to sleep personally is to close my eyes, breathe, and think about all that I plan on doing tomorrow. I could imagine that before Christ I was doing the same thing, only I was more excited to do as it said: To plot trouble. It was as if we were resigned to our fate of pride and sin, that we would be brought to just sin.

What a mess we were in.

But see, the Psalm doesn’t end there. But this is where I will end this… because I want to see where this goes, while on the pulpit. Behold a perspective of what it means to be in the Year of the Lord:

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;

your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

Psalms 36:5-6

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light do we see light.

Psalms 36:7-9

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,

and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,

nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.

There the evildoers lie fallen;

they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Psalms 36:10-12

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