(Psalm 76, Matthew 18:1-5)
0 For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.
1 In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel.
2 His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
4 You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.
5 Valiant men lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands.
6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still.
7 You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?
8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet–
9 when you, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
10 Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
11 Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
12 He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.
1. The line of prophets who urged people to trust in God rather than human beings
(John 11) 2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
(John 11) 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.
2. Seeking and declaring the kingdom of God in the midst of harsh realities
3. Let’s approach the end of the world with optimism and with child-like faith (Matthew 18:1-5)
…37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ …44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Through the Old Testament prophets, God has repeatedly urged his people to trust in him rather other human beings. Preferring teachings about their own prosperity and their enemies’ destruction, people have repeatedly turned on prophets and persecuted them. Jesus places himself in the long line of Old Testament prophets, and yet, to this day, people are still reluctant to hear his message, preferring instead to listen to teachings about Christians as victors and their enemies’ destruction. In the midst of all this noise, we must listen carefully to what Jesus is saying to us.
- Why were the prophets persecuted?
- What are your thoughts about the end of the world?