Psalm 145; Revelation 5
If you brought a copy of Scripture, you can find a couple of places, Psalm 145, and then on the backside of the message, we’ll be in Revelation 5, so you might want to make a marker there, if you would, as we continue in our series, Theology on Fire! We’re talking today about God. (There’s a subject for you!)
We just completed a week of vacation Bible school… Wow! All the servants are in here. It was a fabulous, fabulous week with tons of energy! At the end of the second to the last night, I was just spent! My body was tired, my voice was shot, and I just wanted to go home, except I had a couple of kids that wanted to talk; One had a confession to make, the other a question. The question she had was very simple, but very powerful! Very sincerely, she asked, “How can I know that God exists?”
While Scripture and experience affirm that we naturally believe God exists,
Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
There are lots of passages like Romans 1 that affirm that it’s natural for us to believe in the existence of God. The deniers, via the existence of evil and the near universal acceptance of the theory of evolution, have successfully twisted the minds of both young and old and perhaps some of you. But for us who believe, God’s existence eventually has to be accepted by faith. While outsiders are looking into our lives who know God, they’re looking at us in our trials to see if our faith is in operation, and it needs to be.
Someone has said the gospel story needs to be seen as attractive before it will be considered as true. The writer of Hebrews made this declaration;
Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it’s impossible to please Him (God), for he who comes to God must believe (What are we supposed to believe? That He is…), that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”
This thought I’m about to give you will run through the entire message, because I think one of the greatest problems that we have, (those of you who don’t know God and even those of you who do oftentimes) is the way we view God. I’ve heard it said that God made man in his own image and man returned the favor. Our tendency is to bring God down to our level, our experience and ,thus, our limitations. Without intending to do so, we then create a virtual caricature of God in our minds. In fact, God told us as much that that’s what we do in Psalm 50 when he says,
Psalm 50:21,”… you thought that I was one like yourself.”
‘You thought I was exactly like you.’ Have you ever read that? That’s God talking to us. God says that when we bring him down to our own image.
Martin Luther said to his theological adversary, Erasmus, “Your thoughts of God are too human.”
What a rebuke! The Bible teaches very clearly that God created man in his own image. As such, we are distinct from everything else God has created, including the animal world! We think… we feel… we determine… we will. Animals don’t do that. They never have and never will. They operate off of instinct. While God has communicated some of his characteristics to us (because we are created in His image) God is, nevertheless, distinct from us in His “incommunicable” attributes. That’s a big word that means “that which is not communicated to us.” God has certain attributes that He does not give us, that He both possesses and maintains.
Just the other day, I was watching a YouTube video of John Piper with a little sermonette on God, unpacking some of His attributes. It was very powerful because he had the background music and pictures of the stellar universe taken from the Hubble Space telescope. It was very powerful, and it was also very worshipful! I was really getting into it when right in the middle of it, (as the YouTube channel will do) it went to a commercial! It wasn’t just a commercial… It was a commercial on how to kill mosquitoes! I just started laughing … because my next thought was ‘God, when I think of Your majesty, when I think of Your sovereignty, when I think of Your power and Your glory… my problems? They’re like mosquitoes!’
There’s no way in a couple of weeks to be able to cover all of God’s attributes, much less the depth of them. God is. That’s what we’re talking about here. God is, and I want you to note, first and foremost, God is great!
In Psalm 145, you see…
[Psalm 145:1-6, 1 “I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I (personally) will declare your greatness.]
David says, I will meditate …and I personally will declare your greatness! God is great!
Adam Ramsey in his book Truth on Fire (for which we make no apology for this sermon series using that name. It’s a great book! You ought to get it and read it.) said this;
“Nobody who catches even the faintest glimpse of this God walks up to him with a swagger, or away from him with a yawn.” Adam Ramsey
The 139th Psalm is one of those Psalms that just put the ‘omnies’ of God on display, (I love it!) that God is omniscient, that He is omnipresent and that He is omnipotent. “Omni” means “all.” It talks about God’s greatness being on display and God’s omniscience right out of the shoot! David acknowledges,
[Psalm 139:1-6, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! (just a bare nosed fact!)
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.]
God is omniscient. He knows everything about us! Because that is true, God never second guesses Himself with you or anyone else. Even more encouraging (take this to heart,) He will never misunderstand you! He will never misinterpret you!
Throughout my years of living for Jesus, I’ve had a handful of encounters where I’ve been at loggerheads with individuals. We just couldn’t figure out what we should do. It’s very discouraging sometimes because I’m certain this individual has misunderstood me. Have you ever been there? Listen, I’m just as certain he’s thinking the same thing! God will never misunderstand you! God will never misinterpret you, because He’s omniscient, and that should encourage you!
Psalm 139:7-10,”Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”
God is everywhere… but hell. Make no mistake, Satan is NOT the God of hell! GOD is the God of hell! He’s just not there! It’s the very absence of God in hell that makes hell “hell“ for those who go there. He is omnipresent.
He’s omnipotent. He’s all powerful. There’s nothing God cannot do.
Do you remember [in Luke 1:26-37] the maiden that Gabriel shows up and says to her, he says to Mary, ‘You’re going to bear the Son of God, the Son of the the highest.’ She’s incredulous! She says, ‘How can this be? I’ve never known a man.’ And the angel said, ‘Listen… the power of the Almighty will come upon you,’ and then he says, (Luke 1:37) “Remember, with God, nothing is (what?) nothing’s impossible.’
But my favorite passage, I think, on the omnipotence of God to kind of tattoo us with it is Job. Here’s Job… he’s hurting from head to toe literally and his friends pretty much gave up being really beneficial to him after about a week, but they’re still sort of yapping at him. Job is really at the end of his tether. He demands an audience with God, which is (Wow! … Demanding an audience with God?) He wants to be able to make his case before God, and so in Job 38, God shows up in a whirlwind! He reveals himself to Job in a dazzling display of his omnipotence! God starts talking about the constellations that He hurled into being, and He keeps asking the question, ‘Where were you when I did this, Job? Where were you? Were you there?’ It’s a rhetorical question… Of course, he wasn’t there! The result was that Job repents in sackcloth and ashes, and puts his hand over his mouth [realizing] ‘I can’t even talk back here.’
How great is God?! He’s great enough to be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent… to know everything about you and me… and still love me!
So… back to the 139th Psalm.
[Psalm 139:1, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!”
Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”]
(I love this! This is my favorite thing about this!) David, in very cold, hearted facts says, ‘Lord, you’ve searched me and known me…’ He says that right out of the shoot, but he ends by praying this, ‘Search me, oh God, and know my (what? Know my) heart. Try me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there’s anything wicked in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.’ I love this because on the bookends of Psalm 139, you have the cold-hearted fact about God knowing you, and, on the other side, ‘God… I invite it!’
And this is where we have to go. If our theology’s going to be on fire, then we have to welcome (watch for this) what God is already doing! You know that God knows everything about you! You know that He has searched you. You know that He never misinterpret you, He never misunderstands you… but do you welcome that?! That’s the question here, because that’s what David is doing. He’s welcoming what God is already doing.
Secondly, God is holy. In Isaiah 6, the young prophet is despondent. His king has died… and suddenly he sees a vision of God! High and lifted up, his train fills the temple, and these angels are all around Him! They’re coming up, covering up parts of their being, and are they saying in unison, ‘Love, love, love.’ ‘Mercy, mercy, mercy.’ ‘Justice, justice, justice…? No! You never have triplicate form of the attributes of God except for Holy. You see it in Revelation 4, as well.
Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
This is called a triple superlative. Some people say, well, it’s talking about the triune aspect of God, Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit. That could be alluded to, but that’s probably not what the writer was saying. He’s talking about absolute Holiness! John writes,
1 John 1:5b, “…God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”
Have you ever heard that? He is absolutely Holy! No other attribute is expressed in triplicate form, nor more often, than God’s holiness… 235 times in the New Testament alone! The word holy, the Greek word is “Hagios” [“Qodesh” in Hebrew]. It means “to be separate.” It means “to be otherly,” “to be unlike anything else.” This is an incommunicable attribute of God. God alone is Holy with no darkness, no evil, no sin, and yet He calls those of us who know Him to be Holy like He’s holy! So… we have a problem! Even though God made man in his own image, we keep returning the favor. God is Holy. He can never do anything evil or sinful, so, when I see things differently from God, then I have to conclude the problem is NOT with God’s character. The problem is with my sight. I’m not seeing this rightly. Life can be hard… very hard, (right?) and the world can be evil, very evil! But, if God is holy, (and He is) then we must trust His wisdom and His love and allow the heartaches that He allows, both in this world and in our lives. God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us. Just because God doesn’t give you a reason why you’re going through what you’re going through doesn’t mean there isn’t one. But we must let God be God, because He’s Holy.
Thirdly, He’s self-existent. Theologians call this the “aseity of God.” He’s Self-existent. That means “there is nothing outside of God that God needs.” He has no needs.
Remember Moses, when he sees the burning bush in the wilderness? He approaches the burning bush and he removes his shoes. God dialogues with Moses, and He says, ‘You’re going to go down to Egypt and rescue My people.’ Moses replied, ‘Who do I tell them is sending me?’ And God replies, you tell them ‘I AM,’ the eternal, self-existent One is sending you!’
[Exodus 3:13-14, “Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”]
God, as a self-existent being, is eternally independent. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need you. He wants us! He loves us! He’s inviting us to know Him..but He doesn’t have any needs. You might be thinking, how can this be? I mean, people need people. Man needs woman… woman needs man… children need their parents… friends need friends… but I would remind, you, that God made man in His own image, and we keep returning the favor! Whenever we bring God down to our level, we assume He has the same limitations and the same needs that you and I have. That’s a wrong assumption! Don’t be thinking that way. God came down to our level through his Son, Jesus. That should be enough! (Amen?) In the same Psalm I alluded to earlier, God makes the comment, ‘You know, if I was hungry, I wouldn’t be asking you.’
[Psalm 50:12, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”]
Why? Because He doesn’t have any needs! The [false] gods of yesteryear, (and in some countries still today) sacrifices are the way in which they feed the needs of their god. That’s not the case with our God.
Fourthly, He is all sustaining. I don’t think you can improve on what the Apostle Paul said referring to Jesus when he said,
[Colossians 1:17, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”]
‘In Him (that is in Christ) all things… (the old version says “consist” meaning “to bind “or “holds together”) hold together in Christ.’
And the writer of Hebrews in chapter 1 verse 3 said essentially the same thing, that ‘Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power,’ by His omnipotence.
[Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of his power.”]
Every once in a while people will ask, ‘Are you ever challenged by the messages that you’re getting ready to preach?’ Are you kidding me? Here’s one right here! Here it is from Psalm 75;
Psalm 75:3, “When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.”
Oh, that’s so good! When my life hangs in the balance… when my job hangs in the balance… when my marriage hangs in the balance… when my kids hang in the balance… when my health is on the brink and hanging in the balance… God steadies my pillars! If God can hold the universe together by His power, He can keep your life from unraveling! (Amen?)
[Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”]
God is all sustaining, and He is sovereign. (Some of you were wondered when I was going to get to this one.) God is sovereign. That just means he rules all things and overall things.
Here is Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon who has defied the living God and become animal-like for seven years. He finally looks up, acknowledges that God rules in the kingdom of men, and then at the end of Daniel 4 is this testimony.
Daniel 4:35, “…all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and He does according to His will among the host of heaven (that’s the angelic armies)
and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
…or ‘What are You doing?’ Why? Because God is sovereign! He is the ruler of all things. Here’s how Isaiah put it in the 45th chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah 45:7-9, “I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
It doesn’t even make sense!
We just had a baptism in the former service where a young man gave testimony to the fact that he got an acute form of diabetes in his youth and, praise the Lord, this young man saw that as the act of God, Himself, to get him to a place where he no longer thought he had to control everything about his life! Only God does that! (Amen?)
I was at one of our grandson’s football game a couple of years ago. They had a really good team and just cleaned everybody’s clock! The coach had a particular habit of putting the “A” team in first. The team would get like a 20-point lead with like half the game left, then he would put the “B” team in. By putting the “B” team in, the opponents would come back and sometimes even take the lead! People like myself on the sidelines were left wondering [out loud] ‘What are you doing?!’ Then, with just minutes left, he would put the “A” team back in and they’d win the game! God is like that coach. Sometimes, we see things… we question… we wonder, ‘God, what are you up to? What are you doing? Why so long?’ Like Psalm 13.
Psalm 13:1, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?”
Why so long, O Lord? Why aren’t you coming through? Put the A-team back in! But he always does, because God is sovereign. He’s in control, and we have to believe that. So he says,
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
The problem is that word “together,” because “together” is a lot of intermingling, isn’t it?” All things work together, for good, for those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Finally, he’s worthy. There’ll be more next week, but He’s worthy. Go to the flip side of your Bible, Revelation, chapter five.
(I love this scene!) If you’re a follower of Jesus, (and I don’t assume all of you are) you’re in this scene! This is futuristic. This is still to come. All hell has broken loose on the earth! Satan has had his heyday, but it’s time for God to reclaim the earth! He’s holding in his hand the title deed to the earth. A beckon call goes out for the One who’s worthy to open the seal and to return to reclaim the earth… but nobody can be found! And somebody says, ‘Wait! The lion from the tribe of Judah, He was slain! He’s worthy… right?!’ In Revelation 5 and verse 9 it says this;
Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, (What is it?)
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation…”
Glory, Hallelujah! That’s Jesus! We’ll know Him in eternity, and we’ll be singing glory and worthiness to Him! “You are worthy!” … but you ought to start practicing now.
It was only 13 years ago. (A lot of you have heard the story.) I had a son that was off the chain doing horrible things. So much of what I valued and so much of what I identified with was hanging in the balance. I laid in bed one night, weeping, crying out to God to rescue my son! God reminded me that night of a verse that I had memorized years before from Psalm 63:3,
Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”
‘Your loving kindness is better than life itself. Therefore my lips will praise you.’ And God spoke to me saying, ‘Will you hold Me more worthy than the soul of your son?’ I’m telling you that broke me! I broke and repented, because I had made an idol out of my own kid! When you come to the reality of the worthiness of God over everything and anything and anyone else… it’ll break you! Some of you probably need to be broken. God is God… and we have so many more attributes to cover!
One of my favorites is the fact that He’s immutable. He never changes. ‘I am the Lord, I don’t change.’
[Malachi 3:6, “For I the LORD do not change;]
God never changes. He never becomes anything. He never improves. He doesn’t have a learning curve. There is one exception on the change scale, and that is when He became a Man. The eternal, immutable God purposely mutated, and while we’re not called to bring Him down to our level, He came down in the person of His Son and did what he had never been before… became human, subject to change, (physically, mentally, emotionally) and yet never gave up the essence that He was GOD! Why would He do that? Because He loves us… because He loves you! And the fact that you can’t kill God unless He takes on humanness.
In Revelation 5, you and I are in the scene in heaven after all the glories of this life and salvation and all the things that we enjoy in this life, (because, after all, Jesus did come that we might have life and we might have it abundantly —John 10:10, Amen?) I like life, I like living, I like the joys… but it’s also after all the hurts, all the sorrows, all the cancer, all the struggles, all the divorces, all the losses, all the tears. This is us! We’re standing there, and… what are we doing? We’re singing with loud voices,
Revelation 5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Hallelujah!
Is it any wonder that C.S. Lewis said that the first two words that will come out of our mouths when we get to heaven will be, ‘Of course!’ because He is God!
Do you know Him? Do you have a relationship with Him? Stop dragging God and His character down to your level. He’s already come down to our our level on His own, in the person of Jesus!
Some of you need to repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today, and have a relationship with Him. For the rest of us here who do know Him, exalt Him!
Psalm 115:3, “ Our God is in heaven,” the Bible says, and “He does all that He pleases.”
Are you okay with that? You need to be. Let’s pray.
Our Father in Heaven, with gratitude we come before You and thank You for who You are, for Your greatness and we pray with the prayer that Jesus gave us to pray. Our Father in Heaven, hallowed, holy, separate, otherly is Your Name. Now we pray, Lord, that You would take those of us who know You deeper into our knowledge of You, more trusting in Your love and Your wisdom, content to not get all the answers on this side, (because we just won’t!) but to demonstrate our trust in You so that others might see that and be attracted to You. We pray for those in this room or those who are watching online who’ve never really come into a relationship with You. You are, indeed, a caricature in their minds. Would You, Lord, make it clear to them, as only You can do, that You are God above all things, that You sent Jesus to die and rise for them so that they could have a relationship with You? Then we would all sing as we will one day, whether we know You or not, we’ll recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those of us who love Him will sing ‘Worthy! He is worthy! HE is worthy!’ These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.