Thursday, July 17, 2014

Set Free to Worship

Do you know that God sets people free from something and also to something? Do you know that his deliverance is not an end in itself, but only a beginning? Consider the words of Psalm 105:43-45. “So he [the Lord] brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord!”

We learn several important, worship-evoking truths from these words. First, God brought his people Israel out of Egypt, that is, he delivered them from something. This fact was a fountain of joy and singing for them because they lived with the conscious memory of being freed from their long oppression and suffering. And oh what joy there is in being released from captivity!

Second, God not only delivered his people from something, he also delivered them to something which he prepared in advance. Specifically, God brought his people into the Promised Land and allowed them to take possession of riches that they didn't earn. He lavished unspeakable grace on them, because he's like that: he’s a gracious and bountiful God.

Third, the purpose of delivering his people from something and to something was that they might listen to him, learn from him, and gladly submit to him all the days of their lives. It was to praise the Lord, to give thanksgiving and glory to him who had been so gracious to them.

In other words, God freed his people for worship.

The grace of the Lord upon the people of Israel was a sign and symbol of the grace he would one day pour upon all the nations of the earth, and indeed is now pouring. His desire and design from before the foundation of the world was to redeem worshipers for himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and through the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ he's doing just that.

Accordingly, the Lord delivers each and all of us from something. For me it was drug and alcohol abuse, among other things. For others it was something else, but what’s common to us all is that God delivers us all from something.

Furthermore, God delivers us to something. He brings us all into a spiritual land, namely, the heart and soul and mind and strength of Jesus Christ, and this land is full of great and glorious things that now belong to us, though we didn’t earn them. By God’s grace, we have been united with Jesus Christ, and being united with him we have been granted riches that are literally beyond measure, riches that are not to be compared with the finest gold and the choicest silver in the world. And these riches are the free gift of God in Christ given for his glory and our joy and the blessing of the nations.

The primary purpose of these twin graces is that we might draw near to God in Christ and listen to him, learn from him, gladly submit to him, and praise him all the days of our lives, and indeed for eternity. God set us free that we might sing his praise and give him thanks forever!

So may the prayer of the Psalmist be the deep prayer of our hearts as well: “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise” (Psalm 106:47).  

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