Psalm 91:1                             Our Dwelling Place                                     10/31/2010      ßą   

Š      The Lord’s Secret Place (2Pet 1:21, Psalm 91:1-16)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       To Christ (Mat 4:6-7, Psalm 91:11-12, John 18:36, 1Sam 2:8, Heb 12:23)

 

 

 

 

 

Š      The Ark of the Covenant (Heb 9:1-10, John 6:33-35, 14:6, Rev 19:13, Rom 3:25, Psalm 91:1)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       To All Who are In Christ (Eph 1:1,3-7,10-13, 2:6,10,13, 3:6,11, Rom 10:17)

 

 

 

 

 

Š      Why Must We Be In Christ? (Gal 2:20, Rom 6:6, Col 2:13, Eph 2:4-6, Psalm 103:17)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Christ our Dwelling place (Psalm 91:1, 90:1, Jer 31:3)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 91:1 (2X). Someone alerted me to the fact that I had skipped Psalm 91 in the reading at the beginning of the worship service. Well, today I am going to correct that mistake by using Psalm 91 as our text for the sermon. The psalms are prophecies, for they are words from God that were dictated by God to His servants the prophets. God stated in 2Pet 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. Therefore, every word in the Bible came from God including the Psalms. In addition, Psalm 91 is also a series of promises. Particularly it is a series of promises from God concerning:

Š      The Lord’s Secret Place (2Pet 1:21, Psalm 91:1-16)

Ps 91:1-16  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

The Lord introduces us here in this psalm to His secret place, or His hiding place. It is a place of refuge for those that are attacked by the enemies of God. It is a place of absolute safety. That is the ideal place we would like to be. And so, the first question we ask is this: “Where is this secret place?” That is why the title of this sermon is, Our Dwelling Place (2X). The text for this sermon is the first verse, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We will not get much past the first verse. The second question is this: “To whom is this psalm addressed?” Let me begin to answer the second question first. 

#1.       To Christ (Mat 4:6-7, Psalm 91:11-12, John 18:36, 1Sam 2:8, Heb 12:23)

First of all this psalm is addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this, because verses 11 and 12 are quoted by the Devil when he tempted the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately after His Baptism the Lord Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Then the Devil came to Him with three temptations. In the second temptation the Devil placed Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and then the Devil said to Him, in Mat 4:6-7, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” This was a quotation from Psalm 91:11-12. Why was this a temptation for the Lord Jesus? Well, if Jesus would swoop down from the pinnacle of the temple like a bird, with such a splash of a miracle in front of the Jews who always have a crowd around the temple, the Lord Jesus would immediately be proclaimed to be the Messiah who came from God. Then all the Jews would immediately put Him on a throne and crown Him king of the Jews, and then Jesus would not have to go to the cross, and He would not have to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Instead He would be reigning from Jerusalem in an earthly kingdom, exactly in the same kind of kingdom that the premillennial people believe that it should come. But the Lord Jesus said to Pilate, in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” The Lord Jesus knew that His suffering would be great, for He would have to pay for our sins a payment that would satisfy the righteousness of God. And only that which was equivalent to the payment that we would have to pay would be acceptable to satisfy the righteousness of God. And so, this temptation was a severe temptation for the Lord Jesus. But Christ exposed the sophisticated plan of the great deceiver, and showed that the promise of Psalm 91:11-12 belongs only to those who fell unavoidably into danger in the course of their service to God. They truly have the hope of the help and protection of Almighty God. But those who throw themselves into peril for no reason at all are only tempting God, and they should expect to suffer for their error. This was exactly how the Lord Jesus answered the Devil in Mat 4:7, “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” We can see in this event the enormous grace of God for sending His only begotten Son to the cross. Christ could easily have fulfilled another plan by which He had become the king of the Jews, I mean King of the Jews who are the physical descendants of Jacob. Of course that would leave you and me out of His plan of salvation, and that would cause you and me to go to Hell to satisfy the wrath of God on our own behalf. What a grace that God did not pass us by, but that He had mercy on us. Think of the mercy of God by not just forgiving our sins; that in itself would only leave us on ground zero; that in itself would be a blessing for then we would not have to go to Hell. But God, following up His mercy with grace, lifted us up from the dunghill and placed us among the sons of God, who are the princes of heaven, and will make us inherit the throne of His glory. This is not just a faint possibility; this is a sure promise from God to all who have received His gift of faith in Christ. God made this promise in 1Sam 2:8 where He said, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” This is the throne of His glory. Why is God so generous to us? Even though we are adopted sons of God, He bestows us with special favors, because God calls us “the church of the firstborn which are written in heaven” (Heb 12:23). And what is the inheritance of the firstborn? All the firstborn receive a double inheritance. Our double inheritance is Mercy and Grace. First we received the mercy of not having to go to Hell for the payment for our sins; this is already a great blessing, but this leaves us on ground zero: no Hell and no heaven. Secondly we received the grace of lifting us, beggars, up from the dunghill (this earth is that dunghill) and raising us up to the status of princes of heaven, sons of God, even to the point of making us inherit God, who sits on the throne of glory. This is the blessing of 1Sam 2:8. But let us now return to Christ, for this Psalm is addressed to Christ. Does Christ dwell in the secret place of the most High? Let us look at this question first from the historical point of view. Was the Lord Jesus ever in His life on earth in a secret place? In principle: No! And yet, from verses 11 and 12 we know that Christ is in view. But then we know of something that represented Christ.

Š      The Ark of the Covenant (Heb 9:1-10, John 6:33-35, 14:6, Rev 19:13, Rom 3:25, Psalm 91:1)

Please turn in your New Testament to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 9:1 (2X). You find the Epistle to the Hebrews right after the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, after Philemon. In this passage of Heb 9 God speaks of the OT tabernacle as an allegory representing the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us see what that is. We read in Heb 9:1-10,

Heb 9:1-10 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure (Lit: parable) for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

We read in verse 9, “Which was a figure”, but literally the Greek text says, “Which was a parable”. The tabernacle was made according to the instructions of God, but it reflected a spiritual picture of a place where God was present. The tabernacle consisted of two parts. The first part was the Holy Place where only the priests were allowed to enter. The second part was the Holy of Holies which was separated from the Holy Place by a very thick curtain, called “the veil”. This Holy of Holies was the secret place where only God dwelt. Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, could the High Priest enter into the Holy of Holies with the blood of a bullock and with the blood of a goat for his sins and for the sins of the people. In the Holy of Holies there was the Ark of the Covenant, which was a golden box containing three things: (verse 4) a golden pot with manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the two tables of the ten commandments, which were also called the tables of the covenant. Since we are instructed to see these things in the tabernacle as in a parable, we understand that the pot with manna represented Christ as the Bread of Life, for He said, “I am the Bread of Life”, in John 6:33-35. Aaron’s rod that budded represented Christ as the One who makes a dead soul alive, for He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, in John 14:6. The tables of the Covenant are represented Christ as the Word of God, for God said in Rev 19:13, “And His Name is called The Word of God”. The lid of the Ark of the Covenant was called “the Mercy Seat”, which represented Christ as God’s resting place in whom He now meets poor sinners in all the fulness of His grace, because of the atonement made by Christ on the cross, for God said in Rom 3:25, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (Lit: mercy seat) through faith, in His blood”. And thus what we see here is that the entire Ark of the Covenant is a picture of Christ dwelling in the Holy of Holies. It is a picture of “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High”, in the words of Psalm 91:1. And the Holy of Holies was certainly a secret place, for it could be seen by only one man, once a year. It meant that at that time God could be approached only through a mediator, the High Priest, to plead for the forgiveness of his own sins and for the sins of the people. But when Christ died at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom, by which God indicated that now access to God was opened to anyone without the mediation of another human being. The Mediator who opened up the veil was the Lord Jesus Christ, whose flesh was torn like the veil, in order to give us forgiveness for our sins by His blood. And thus, according to Psalm 91:1, Christ dwelled in the Holy of Holies “under the shadow of the Almighty”. Hereby we know that the two Cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant represented God as the Protector and Avenger of His beloved Christ.

This then is the first answer to the question, “To whom is this psalm addressed?” But let us not stop there, for we know from the NT that all the saints are in Christ, for as Adam is our representative in the flesh, so Christ is our representative in the Spirit. “To whom is Psalm 91 addressed?”

#2.       To All Who are In Christ (Eph 1:1,3-7,10-13, 2:6,10,13, 3:6,11, Rom 10:17)

Psalm 91 is addressed to every one of the saints, for everyone of the saints belongs to the elect of God. Please turn in your New Testament to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:1 (2X). It is not very well known that the saints are in Christ, and were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. That is an amazing fact, but it is even more amazing that so few people know this. In this day and age all you need to do is type in your computer the words “in Christ”, and let the computer do the searching. Almost instantly you will find that there are 77 verses in the Bible with the words “in Christ”, some of them more than once. And this is not all. In addition we could search the NT for verses that contain the words “in Him”, or “in whom”, or “in the beloved”, or “together with Christ”, and so on. Add to this the many verses in the OT that speak of the same truth, and very soon we would be embracing hundreds of verses conveying the message that we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. All the churches out there that embrace a free-will gospel are in conflict with this fact of the Gospel of Christ. Let me illustrate this here in Eph 1:1,

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

All the faithful, meaning all the saints, all who have been born from above, are identified as being “in Christ”, and having been in Christ. How could anyone miss this? Of course if you are spiritually blind you will miss this. So, what are the consequences that we are and were “in Christ”? Please drop down to verse 3,

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

There you have it: We have been blessed by God in the heavenlies because we were in Christ.

Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

There you have it: We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. It means that sometime in eternity past God singled out the names of those people whom He was going to save. He knew that we were dirty rotten sinners who would not want to turn to Christ for salvation. But the Father chose us as the Bride for His Son. He chose us; we did not choose Him. How do I know that? Read on:

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

The Father chose us according to the good pleasure of His will. It was not our will but it was entirely the good pleasure of His will. Some people imagine that God looked down the corridors of time and saw that Johnnie, and Ruth, and Mark, would repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus, and that is why God poured His grace upon them. Nonsense! That is a salvation according to our will. But God specified here that salvation is according to His will. Let us read on:

Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In the beloved means “in Christ”. We were made acceptable to the Father, for we were in Christ, and this is what brings glory to God. A salvation based on our will does not glorify God. Now continue to read:

Eph 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

There you have it: “In whom” refers to “in the beloved”, which means “in Christ”. We were saved at some point in our life because we were in Christ, and Christ shed His blood for us. Drop down to V.10,

Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; (even) in him:

On the Last Day Christ will gather together all those who are “in Him”, those in heaven and on earth

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

We shall receive an inheritance because we are “in Christ”, for we have been predestinated “after  the counsel of His own will”; not our will but His will. Repeatedly we see that God wants all the glory.

Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

We began to trust “in Christ” because the Father has made us accepted “in Christ”. We should not try to single out this verse as if it teaches that we first trusted in Christ and therefore we are to the praise of His glory. That would contradict verse 6. We have read in verse 6 that it was to the praise of His glory that we have been made accepted in the beloved. Read on:

Eph 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Clearly, we trusted in Christ after we heard the Word of truth, which is supported by other parts of Scripture, for “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”, according to Rom 10:17. Therefore in Christ we were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise after we believed. Let us now drop down to Eph 2:6 (2X).

Eph 2:6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

We are made to sit together with Christ and in Christ in the heavenlies. Both in Eph 1:3 and in Eph 2:6 the heavenly places are actually the heavenlies. Heaven, where God dwells, should not be described like the three-dimensional places and spaces that we are familiar with. God’s ways are not like our ways, and what heaven presently is we do not know. We only know that Satan was there in the OT time, and therefore God will do away with the present heaven, so that all memory of unrighteousness shall have been erased from the NH&NE. We could go on in Eph 2:10 and 13, and in Eph 3:6 and 11, to explore the verses that speak of us being “in Christ”, but I trust that I have proved the point. Now I want to explore the reasons and the consequences of the issue which is brought up in Eph 2:6, “God has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

Š      Why Must We Be In Christ? (Gal 2:20, Rom 6:6, Col 2:13, Eph 2:4-6, Psalm 103:17)

It is necessary to make the Atonement of Christ effective throughout time, both in the OT time as well as in the NT time. Throughout the NT we read repeatedly that we are “in Christ” and we were “in Christ” before the world began. The Bible teaches in various places that we were in Christ when He was crucified for our sins. We were crucified with Christ because we were in Christ. We read in Gal 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”. And when Christ died we died with Him because we were in Him. We read in Rom 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” And when Christ was buried we were buried with Him, for we were still in Him when His body was laid in the tomb. We read in Col 2:13, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses”. And thus, when Christ arose from the tomb on Sunday morning we were made alive with Him and in Him. This did not come to pass literally on Sunday April 5 in the year AD 33, for we did not exist yet, but Christ as our representative performed the action of coming alive, and since we were legally in Christ we rose from the tomb with Him. It meant that in our lifetime in the 20th or 21st century our spiritual resurrection was assured. When Christ ascended into heaven 40 days later we ascended with Him. And when Christ was seated at the right hand of the Father, we were seated with Him, because we were in Him and we still are in Him. Can we understand all these things? No! But do we believe all these things? Yes! We believe it because the Bible says so. We read here in Eph 2:4-6, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved; And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. And thus we understand that when Christ hung on the cross, and suffered the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, we were in Him. And for that reason God can never send us to Hell again, for we have already been there. No not literally, but in Christ. And that is why it is so important that we were and are in Christ. God, in His wisdom, has designed a plan of salvation that is absolutely perfect, and that is impenetrable to the wiles of the Devil. But what was beneficial to us was equally beneficial to the OT saints. Take for example Moses and Elijah. Their names were also in God the Son before the foundation of the world. And when the end of their life had come, God chose to have Moses and Elijah taken into heaven with body and soul. But someone might object that their sins were not yet paid for. Could God legally do that? Certainly God could do that, for that was the time when Satan could go in and out of heaven, and he had many sins on his account that were not paid for. Then we read that Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. Did Moses and Elijah appear in their glorified spiritual bodies? No, for the disciples could see them. It means that Moses and Elijah did not appear in glorified spiritual bodies, for those are bodies that belong to the next universe where no entropy exists. From this universe we cannot see into the next universe. Instead Moses and Elijah appeared in brightly shining earthly bodies, just like Moses face was shining when he saw the backside of God. But the names of Moses and Elijah were in Christ from everlasting past, just like our names were in Christ from everlasting past. The covenant that God made with Moses and Elijah was the same covenant that God made with us, the NT saints. It is an everlasting covenant; it is a covenant that reaches from eternity past into eternity future. God says in Psalm 103:17,

Ps 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

The mercy of the Lord, the mercy that He will not impute sin to our account, is from everlasting to everlasting. And thus, when Christ went to the cross He paid for the sins of Moses and Elijah retroactively, for Moses and Elijah were already in Christ from everlasting past.

#3.       Christ our Dwelling place (Psalm 91:1, 90:1, Jer 31:3)

Let us return now to Psalm 91:1 (2X). “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” And now we understand the title of this sermon, Our Dwelling Place, or “Our Hiding Place. We dwell in Christ and He dwells in us. Why is Christ then our secret place? We proclaim His salvation to all the world, but only those who are God’s elect will believe our words. Everyone else will reject it out of hand because they refuse to believe God’s perfect salvation plan. They will label it foolishness, or unintelligible, or cultish, or unimportant religiosity, or they will label it as hyper Calvinism, and so on. By putting a label on the salvation plan that we preach, they have for themselves reserved the right to put it aside as a lesser priority than choosing their evening dinner. And so it goes that only the elect of God will open their Bibles and really study the verses in the course of the sermon. And then they discover in the Psalm that precedes this Psalm the words of Psalm 90:1, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” How beautiful that this prayer of Moses relates to our indwelling in Christ which was penned through the hand of the Apostle Paul about 1500 years later and which became relevant in our Christian life about 1950 years later. How great are the works of God. And when did Christ become our dwelling place for the first time? God said to Jeremiah in Jer 31:3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” What is an everlasting love? It means from everlasting past to everlasting future. Our God is immutable which means that our God does not change. Since God is infinitely wise and infinitely omniscient, God will never be surprised, and there will never be a moment in time that God makes a split second decision, for then He would have changed after making the decision. No! All His decisions were made in His counsel, which existed from everlasting past. Way back in the everlasting past we were already placed in Christ, because our God does not change, and His promises in Psalm 91 do not change. We shall surely abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Praise God for His unchangeable promises.

AMEN.     Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.