Psalm 33:11-12, 18-19 # 10, Who Is God of This Church? 1/03/2016

 

 

 

 

 

#1. The Counsel of the Lord (Ps 33:11-14, 65:4, Matt 1:21, Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28, Isa 14:24-27)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. He Keeps Us Alive in Mercy (Psalm 33:18-19, Rom 8:1, Jer 9:23-24)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. The Lord Is Our Help and Our Shield (Psalm 33:20-21)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the scroll of Proverbs 19:21 (2X). You find Proverbs right after Psalms, in the middle of your Bibles. We are continuing our series on "The Wisdom of God" (2X). As usual, the sequence of topics in this series is quite logical. Last week's sermon was titled, "The Church" (2X). Therefore, today we continue with the topic: "Who Is God of This Church?" That is the title of the sermon today, "Who Is God of This Church?" Not every church worships the same God. But before we dig into the sermon, let me first say a few words about this series. The beautiful structure that God is building since the beginning of time until the end of time is characterized by:

God, in His wisdom, chose a Bride for His Son. That is why God broke into time and created this universe, and this world, and the people on this world. That is why God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ into this world and caused Him to be crucified, and die and arise from the grave. That is why there will be a Judgment Day and a NH&NE, which probably has been created already since the time this world was created. God decided to go through this long process to choose a bride for His Son for His own reasons. God's counsel must be held high, because God is infinitely wise. When we speak of the counsel of God, we can refer it in two different ways. From God's perspective, His counsel was in the mind of God from eternity past, before the foundation of the world. God's counsel, also called the decree of God, is "His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass" (2X). If, from man's perspective, we listen to God's counsel, it means that we listen to the Word of God, as it is expressed here in Prov 19:20-21,

Pr 19:20-21 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices (plans) in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Are we willing to receive instruction from the Word of God, or have we already made up our mind? That is the condition of a man's heart, which determines eternal life or eternal death, Heaven or Hell. It is a condition of the soul, controlled by God the Holy Spirit. To be willing to listen to God's counsel is entirely a gift from God. Talk to people about things we find in the Bible, such as the sovereignty of God, and you will understand that an openness of mind to the Word of God is a gift from God. People who are spiritually blind do not know that they are blind. This is the message of Prov 19:20-21. People who have made up their mind and are not willing to listen to God's counsel, are those who create many thoughts in their heart. They have many preconceived notions about who God is, and what He does, and what He is going to do, and they are not willing to receive counsel from God. "Nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand", regardless whether we believe it or not.

Who is the God whom we worship? Please turn about 115 pages to your left () to Psalm 33:6 (2X). "Who Is God of This Church?" Not every church worships the same God. We want to make sure that we are worshipping the God who is described by the Bible, and by the Bible alone. When we turn our eyes to Psalm 33:6-9 we see this God, and His work, as the Creator of heaven and earth.

Ps 33:6-7 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

Ps 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Ps 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Here, in verse 6, God tells us in no uncertain terms that God created everything. It did not evolve slowly from one thing to another, or from one galaxy to another, or from one interstellar cloud to a solar system. God says here that all the starry host was created "by the breath of His mouth", which means that God spoke, and it was done. This is how God created and this is how God creates at any time. Like "He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap". What does this refer to? It refers to what God did at the Red Sea, at the time of the Exodus, when God made the waters of the sea stand as a wall of water on the right and on the left of the children of Israel who walked on dry ground. God indicated that this was also an act of creation. At that time God created different laws of gravity that applied to the waters of the Red Sea, so that the waters stood straight up as a heap. But what does it mean that God was "laying up the depth in storehouses"? This would be better translated as, "Putting the deep in storehouses". The "deep" is the Hebrew word "tehom", which is sometimes used as a synonym for Hell. The "deep" refers to the bottom of the Red Sea. In this historical event of the exodus Moses and the children of Israel walked through the Red Sea from Egypt to the wilderness of Etham. Egypt was on the West side of the Red Sea and the wilderness of Etham was on the East side of the Red Sea. The children of Israel walked from the country that represented the House of Bondage, where they were harassed by Pharaoh and his armies, to an unknown land where they were delivered from Pharaoh and his armies. What did the Red Sea represent? There is a strong indication from 1Cor 10:2 that Moses represented Christ and the Red Sea represented Hell. 1Co 10:2 "And (they) were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea". How does this relate? In His atonement Christ went before us through Hell, on the cross; we also go through Hell as we are identified with Christ and are in Christ. By placing themselves under the leadership of Moses the children of Israel were baptized into Moses, identified with Moses, and therefore the children of Israel walked on dry ground. Hell did not touch them. The Egyptians tried to do the same thing, but they were consumed in the Red Sea; not one of them escaped. Therefore, when we read in Psalm 33:7, "Putting the deep in storehouses", it refers to the depths of Hell being put in storehouses until the children of Israel were safely on the other side of the Red Sea. All this was an integral part of God's creating power, "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast". And thus we are reminded again of Prov 3:19, where God says, "The LORD in wisdom hath founded the earth, in understanding hath He established the heavens". This is the God whom we worship.

#1. The Counsel of the Lord (Ps 33:11-14, 65:4, Matt 1:21, Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28, Isa 14:24-27)

Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Ps 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

God is sovereign, and what God in His counsel has determined that will stand forever. What God has planned for every human being will come to pass. No one can change God's plans. Therefore, "blessed is that nation whose God is Jehovah". Does this refer to the descendants of Jacob? Does this refer to the nation of the Jews? No! How many favorite nations does God have? Only One! It is the nation for whom the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, to suffer and die on the cross. It is the nation that is called, "His People". The angel of the Lord said to Joseph, the husband of Mary, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His People from their sins" (Matt 1:21). Therefore, all those whose sins have been paid at the cross are considered "His People", and all those whose sins have not been paid at the cross are not His people. How can any of us know if we belong to "His People"? We know it when God has given us the faith to believe it. Therefore "the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance" are the people for whom Christ suffered and died. This is a fixed number of people. These are the Elect of God. None can be added, and none can be forgotten. This is the God whom we worship. This is the Almighty who is portrayed here in the Bible. Does God have only His Elect in view, or does God have in view all the people of the world? Look at the next verse:

Ps 33:13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

Ps 33:14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

God knows those who are His'. The counsel of the Lord applies to all generations, which means God has in view all the sons of men. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for any of the Egyptians of Pharaoh's army who drowned in the Red Sea. This may sound objectionable to many, but this is what God says in Psalm 65:4. You may look there for a moment, Psalm 65:4 (2X),

Ps 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

God blesses those whom He chooses to bestow His favor upon, and God causes that person to be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a corollary, God does not bless those whom He has not chosen, and God does not cause that person to be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus said, "No man can come to Me except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him". All the Elect will be drawn to Jesus, and no one of the non-elect will desire to come to Christ, because they are not drawn to Him. Is that not also what we read in other parts of the NT? We read, for example in Eph 1:11,

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:

The God whom we worship predestinates people. In other words, God predetermines their destiny

and God predetermines whom He is going to give a rich inheritance. God does not do this arbitrarily. God has a certain plan. God has a purpose for everything He does, and His purpose shall be done, for He "works all things after the counsel of His own will" to make His purpose come to pass. What is God's purpose? His purpose is to bring all things together in Christ at the end of the world, so that "all things will have worked together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28). It means that all things will have worked together to bring the Bride of Christ, the church universal, to Him without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. But it also means that the enemies of His church shall inherit God's wrath. An example of this is given in Isa 14:24-27. Just listen as I read from Isa 14:24-27,

Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

Isa 14:25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.

Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

When God says, "This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth", it means that God's purpose shall be performed upon the whole earth, not just upon the Elect unto salvation, but upon all the nations and upon all individuals living on this planet earth. This was God's plan all along. This is the Almighty Ruler of the universe. This is the God whom we worship.

Let us now continue in Psalm 33. We have seen "The Counsel of the Lord". Now let us look at:

In Psalm 33:10 God says,

Ps 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Who are the heathen? Are there three groups of people: the elect, the unsaved in the church, and the unsaved outside the church? No! The Bible speaks of all mankind as only two groups of people. For example, the righteous and the wicked, Israel and the Gentiles, the people of God and the heathen, the wise and the fools, the just and the unjust, those who are blessed and those who are cursed, the prudent and the simple; these are all examples of how God divides mankind into only two groups of people: those who go to Heaven and those who go to Hell. So, when we read, "The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought", God implies that these are the unsaved who counsel each other in false doctrines and imaginations of what their god is like. And when we read about "the devices of the people", this refers to the "thoughts" and the "plans" of the people. The word "devices" is the same word that in verse 11 has been translated "thoughts". Verse 10 says that God makes "the plans of the people of none effect". And of course, the plans of the unsaved are plans that belong to the totally depraved of this world. God will not honor the thoughts and the plans of totally depraved people. They are messengers of Satan. God will honor only thoughts and plans of the righteous. That is why we read in verse 15, speaking of all the inhabitants of the earth:

Ps 33:15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

What does it mean that God "fashioneth their hearts alike"? It does not mean that all people are made the same, like each other, as if they were made according to a blueprint, or made according to a certain pattern. But it means that all people are made totally depraved, enemies of God, and unable to do anything that pleases God. It is in this manner that all people are made "alike". The Bible repeatedly says that we all came into the world that way, as enemies of God, and totally incapable of doing anything that pleases God. We all were born into the world as incorrigible sinners, all deserving the wrath of God, we all were on a slippery slide into Hell, and we were unable to help ourselves. This was our condition. Only by the grace of God could we be saved from this terrible destiny. This is how the Lord Jesus Christ found us, and He had mercy on us. He paid the price for our sins, because we could not pay such an enormous price. But on top of that, He also lifted us up to become "sons of God". What a great honor. This is why God says, "He lifted us up from the dunghill, to set us among princes, and to make us inherit the throne of glory" (1Sam 2:8). But by the same token, there are many who are still left in their sins. They have no understanding of who God is, and God rejects their counsel as being "the counsel of the heathen". Their imaginations are only fashioning idols, quite unlike the true God of the Bible. Even their mighty men are not mighty at all. God says in verse 16,

Ps 33:16-17, There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Their kings are trusting only in earthly power. Therefore their kings are not saved by the strength or the multitude of their armies. Their armies have horses, but the strength of their horses is a vain thing for safety. The Persian armies had many horses, but the small kingdom of Macedonia defeated them. And so we see that the counsel of the Lord is dominating everything, but the counsel of the heathen is brought to nothing. Moreover, the counsel of God, or the decree of God, includes all things Nothing ever escapes the determination of that counsel of God. Even the hairs of our head are all numbered. This means that the counsel of God also includes the rational and moral deeds of men and of angels. Unless God also controls all these acts, the sovereignty of God cannot be confessed. All the thoughts and intents and the desires of the heart of man are included in and determined by the counsel of God. God says in Prov 21:1, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will". But since God cannot be the author of sin, do we then in regard to the sinful deeds of men, speak only of God's permission. Let us talk a few minutes about:

Does God permit another force, that is not His', to do something that displeases God? Does the Almighty permit what He could just as well have prevented? From an ethical viewpoint this is just the same as if God would have committed it himself. But in this way we lose God and His sovereignty, because the word "Permission" presupposes the idea that there is a power outside of God that can produce and do something apart from God, but which is permitted by God to act and operate. This is dualism, and this cannot enter our mind, because it eliminates the complete and absolute sovereignty of God. Therefore we must maintain that also sin and all the wicked deeds of men and of angels have a place in the counsel of God, in the counsel of His will. And this is indeed taught by the Word of God.

Please turn to the Acts of the Apostles 4:24 (2X). In your NT the sequence is Matthew, Mark, Luke John, and then Acts. It is certainly according to the determinate counsel of God that Christ is nailed to the cross and that Pilate and Herod, with the Gentiles and Israel are gathered together against the holy child Jesus. In Acts chapter 4 Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, who threatened them if they continued to preach in the Name of Jesus. Then Peter and John went to the church and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. We read in Acts 4:24,

Ac 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Ac 4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

Ac 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Ac 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Ac 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

These are words from God which were prayed back to God. This is written so that we will know that the people crucified Christ, "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done". God's counsel determined that this had to be done. It is therefore much better to say that the Lord also in His counsel hates sin, and determined that that which He hates should come to pass in order to reveal His hatred and to serve the cause of God's covenant. Besides, the counsel of God is immutable. God knows all things and nothing can resist His will. Therefore, the counsel of God is also absolutely effective: "He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3). Nothing and no one can ever hinder God's purpose. Please turn again to Psalm 33:18 (2X).

#2. He Keeps Us Alive in Mercy (Psalm 33:18-19, Rom 8:1, Jer 9:23-24)

When we think of the mercy of God we think of the cross of Christ. God's mercy is applied when He withholds what we do deserve. We deserve to go to Hell for all our wicked deeds. But God had mercy on us already before the foundation of the world, and therefore God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world 2000 years ago to make the payment for our sins that we could not pay. Therefore Christ had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell in our place. He endured this beginning on Thursday evening in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His suffering ended on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33, at about 3 O'clock in the afternoon. This was the only period of about 18 hr in history that the guilt for sins was paid in full. This was the only period in history when God's mercy was promised to all those for whom Christ died, which are all the Elect. We read in Psalm 33:18,

Ps 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Ps 33:19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

What is God saying in verse 18? God's protective and watchful eye is "upon them that fear Him". This is not a condition for our salvation, but it is a fact resulting from salvation. Those who have been saved are those who have received a "Born Again" soul, and these are the people who fear the Lord. First the fear of Hell starts as the beginning of wisdom. It is the belief that there is a life after this one, that God is the Judge and that there is Hell to pay. Then we beseech the Lord for mercy, and when we read the Bible we come to know that our faith is an indication that God had mercy on us. But faith without works is dead, and if we indeed have been saved, we begin to receive an urgent desire to do those things that are pleasing in God's sight. We no longer fear Him for sending us to Hell, but we honor and adore Him as our King and the Ruler of our life. It is then that we, "hope in his mercy", which means that for the rest of our life we put our confidence in the cross of Christ to see us through every tight spot we have worked ourselves into because of sin. The cross of Christ tells us every time: "You have been forgiven. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1). We are not forgiven for what we know, but for Whom we know. Let me read to you from:

Jer 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jer 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Our God is a merciful God who delights in mercy, He keeps our hope in mercy, and He keeps us alive in mercy. Also God says in Psalm 33:19,

Ps 33:19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

What kind of a famine is this? Our soul needs spiritual food every day, like our body needs physical food every day. Our spiritual food is the Word of God. We must feed our soul every morning with reading the Scriptures, or else our soul will starve to death. If we have been saved, God will see to it that we develop an urgent need to read His Word every day, because God delights in mercy. We should check this out and look at our life, and see if God is at work in us, "both to will and to do of His good pleasure". If we see God at work in us, we will derive from it a greater confidence that God will keep our souls from death, even when the greater famine of the Word of God comes upon the earth. You know that before the end of time comes there will be a Final Tribulation Period (FTP) where the true Gospel will be scarce. Let me read to you from Amos 8:11-12, where God says,

Am 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Am 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

This describes the FTP when all kinds of false gospels will surface, and many people will be led astray. This is a dreadful time when many of those who are close to us will be led astray. But if God is at work in us, then we can be confident that His irresistible grace will keep us safe and He will keep us in the true Gospel. It means that God will see to it that we remain safe until we die, or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first.

At this point, let me try to summarize what we have covered so far. #1. We have seen that the God whom we worship is absolutely sovereign. It means that His decree is His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. #2. We have seen that the counsel of the Lord includes all the inhabitants of the earth, including those whom He has chosen for His own inheritance to be the Bride for His Son. #3. We have seen that we should not speak of God's permission, for also sin and all the wicked deeds of men and of angels have a place in the counsel of God, in the counsel of His will, without making God the author of sin. #4. We have seen that God keeps us alive in mercy, which is the mercy on display at the cross, and He keeps us alive in famine, even in the famine of the FTP.

Now we have come to point #3 of our sermon outline, which means this is the application. We find the application right here, toward the end of Psalm 33.

#3. The Lord Is Our Help and Our Shield (Psalm 33:20-21)

We read here in Psalm 33:20-21,

Ps 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Ps 33:21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

How is our soul waiting for the Lord? We are anxiously waiting for His coming. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day that He comes. We do not know, and we do not count on it that He comes tomorrow. But this we know: When the Lord comes, will He find us prepared for His coming, or will He find us doing our own sinful pleasures? Will we be working for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, or will we be doing things for our own worldly pleasures. But if the Lord really has done a wonderful work in our soul, how can we turn our backs on Him? It is not possible. If within us a Metamorphosis has taken place, how can we go back to the former life? Just like a butterfly does not fit back into her cocoon, so we cannot go back to the life we formerly led. It is not possible. "Our soul waits for the Lord" and "He is our help and our shield". When we have a sleepless night, or when viruses and bacteria attack us, or when we are attacked by dogs that bite, or when we feel attacked by people of the world, or when we are inundated by jobs pulling us in all directions and we do not know how to end it all, we should say to ourselves: "The Lord is our help and our shield". He certainly knows what He is doing and we shall come out of this predicament victorious and stronger. We will continue to trust Him, because God has blessed our soul with the knowledge of Christ and His way of salvation. This is the God whom we worship. Then we read in verse 22,

Ps 33:22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Now that is a remarkable prayer. According to the measure as we hope in God let Thy mercy be upon us. According to the measure of confidence we have in God, the measure of trust in His providence, accordingly give us Thy measure of mercy. Are we not blessed to know that our God delights in mercy, and He will not partition His mercy according to the hope and trust we have in Him? His mercy will cover all our sins, to the very last one. But this verse does put a finger on a sour spot: There are people in the local church who trust God just a little. They do not see Christ as the Great Good Shepherd who is Almighty God, but as a little shepherd of about our size, and they are filled with fears for the future. This verse says, "They plead for mercy according to their hope, which is not much, and they will have their wish". It means that they remain unsaved.

But if God has done a marvelous transformation in our souls, we have become a new creature, and we cannot do anything else than have full confidence and assurance that Christ has removed all our sins, there will be no judgment on us whatsoever, and He has made us sons of God. That is why we will have full confidence in God's providence, the hands of God, that He is infinitely wise, that we can trust what He has written in His Word even if we do not completely understand it, and we can trust in His promise that He will take us into the NH&NE at His second coming. This hope we have in Him will be our second nature, because we have become a new creature. And we have become a new creature because God promised that to Himself, in His counsel before the foundation of the world. This is the God whom we worship.

AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.