The Lord reigns! Psalm 97

The following words are from an old engraving on a cathedral in Labeck, Germany:

You call Me Master and obey me not,
You call Me Light and see me not,
You call Me way and follow me not
You call Me Life and desire me not,
You call Me wise and acknowledge me not,
You call Me fair and love me not,
You call Me rich and ask me not,
You call Me eternal and seek me not,
You call Me gracious and trust me not,
You call Me Noble and serve me not,
You call Me mighty and honor me not,
You call Me just and fear me not,
If I condemn you, blame me not.

It’s an old saying – familiarity breeds contempt. Certainly that is as true of Christians as anybody else when it describes our attitude to God. The whole of church history has never seen a generation of Christians more familiar, more casual, more relaxed, more intimate with God.
This could be a very good thing. If we are able to be familiar with God because we have realised the tremendous privilege of coming to God as our Father instead of our judge, if it is because we have truly appreciated all the riches of blessing we have through Jesus Christ our Saviour, then that closeness to God is a good thing.
But on the other hand the whole of society has become more casual. People have become much more familiar in their approach to traditional authority figures like police – or teachers – or bosses – or clergy. The days of giving respect where respect is due have almost gone, and the church is no different in that. So maybe many people are so relaxed in their approach to God because they have never learned how to show proper respect to anybody, and that’s NOT good.

But maybe as well some people are so familiar with God because they don’t recognize how great, how awesome, how majestic, how wonderful, how glorious, how ALLmighty God truly is. I’ve chosen as my text for tonight a simple phrase. We sing it so often it comes easily to our lips. The phrase has become familiar to us – but perhaps so familiar that we don’t truly know what it means and what it implies. I want to remind us all tonight,
The Lord reigns, our God reigns!

Psa 97:1 ¶ The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

We find the same phrase elsewhere in the Psalms.
Ps 93:1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
Ps 96:10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
Ps 99:1 The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.

The Lord reigns! We can get confused because the title “Lord” has a number of different meanings in the Bible. Throughout the Bible the title “lord” spelled without any capital letters is sometimes used where in English we would use the word “sir” or perhaps “master”. That is quite a weak word – just a polite form of address.

But the name the LORD spelled with Capital letters throughout, is used 6551 times in the Old Testament. That is our translators way of writing the name of Yahweh, the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, “I am who I am,” “tell them, `I AM’ has sent you.” The LORD Yahweh is definitely not a weak word!! The Jews in the time of Christ held God in such awe and respect that they wouldn’t dare to speak God’s name aloud. They would substitute it with a phrase like “the Name”. That’s how much respect they had for God’s name!

Then there are many places in the Old Testament where “Lord” is used to translate names for God, with just a capital L, in phrases such as “the Lord Almighty” or “the Lord of hosts” or “supreme Lord”, or “Lord of all”. Certainly not a weak word! And in the New Testament the title of Lord is sometimes applied to the Lord Jesus Christ with all of that meaning, “supreme Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!”

When we call God “Lord” that should never be a weak word, or an overfamiliar word. Christians in the Early Church were martyred for refusing to recognising the authority of the Roman Emperor and holding to their profession of faith, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” When we say “Jesus Christ is Lord” we are declaring that Jesus Christ is the supreme ruler of the whole universe.

Eph 1:20 (God raised Christ) from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the
heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,

“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not declare, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’”

The Lord reigns – our God reigns – Jesus Christ is on the throne – He is Lord of all!
Let’s make no mistake. As the children were told in the Narnia books, ASLAN IS NO TAME LION!

“The Lord reigns” is a summons to
AWE AND WONDER FOR ALL PEOPLES!

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.

Ps 18:11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him- the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of
lightning.

Mic 1:3 Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling-place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth. 4 The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.

Bow down and worship – for this is our God!

These verses remind us of the time the LORD descended on Mount Sinai to reveal the Book of the Law to Moses.

EX 19:16-19 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.
17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

This is the God of the Bible. We must beware of becoming too familiar with this King of King and Lord of Lords, Creator of heaven and earth. The letter to the Hebrews gives us a solemn warning.
Hebrews 12 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.

Then Psalm 97 goes on to tell us that the declaration “The Lord reigns” should bring
TERROR TO GOD’S ENEMIES

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
7 All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols- worship him, all you gods!

FIRST TWO COMMANDMENTS
Ex 20:3-4 You shall have no other Gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

But we live in a world full of idols.
A two inch long discolored eyetooth is reverenced by 400 million Buddhists as the most sacred object on earth. The tooth is supposed to have been reclaimed from Buddha’s funeral pyre in 543 B.C. and was brought to Ceylon 800 years later.
Today the tooth sits upon a golden lotus in the glorious temple of the tooth in Kandy, Ceylon. It is surrounded by rubies and tons of flowers.
Each year a hundred thousand faithful Buddhists come from many countries to gaze at the sacred tooth. They bring gifts of gold, silver and jewels to place within the temple.

That kind of idol worship is not so much an issue in Chelmsford or North Springfield. But instead so many people in the world around us are worshipping those false gods MONEY and shopping and success and entertainment.

Book of Bible I don’t ever remember reading before. SCARY warning of Judgement!
Nahum 1:1-8 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 ¶ The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. 5 The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. 7 The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of [Nineveh]; he will pursue his foes into darkness.

The Lord reigns – and that should strike terror into all of God’s enemies – whether they are his enemies because they do acts of unspeakable evil or whether it is because they simply reject and ignore God and act as if He doesn’t exist. A day of reckoning IS coming! The Lord reigns!

But then also “The Lord reigns” is a declaration of
COMFORT TO GOD’S FRIENDS

Psa 97:1 ¶ The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

Psa 97:8 ¶ Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O LORD.
9 For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

God is on the throne. We can put our trust in Him, and call on him, and rely on him for help.
Whatever is happening in our lives we can put our confidence in the certainty that the Lord reigns.

C. H. Spurgeon There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne…for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.

“The Lord reigns!!” This is not just a theoretical declaration, relevant to those of us who have put our trust in Jesus Christ but disconnected from everyday life. The truth that “the Lord reigns” changes absolutely everything – for everybody! The BBC News today opened with these words. Norway awoke this morning to the greatest loss of life it has experienced since World War II. Yesterday a lone terrorist exploded a massive bomb outside government buildings in the centre of Oslo. Shortly after he opened fire with a machine gun on a summer camp of young people. At least 92 people were murdered and others are still missing. Around the world dozens lost their lives in a train crash in China. And in East Africa, especially Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, over 10 million people are facing starvation and needing humanitarian aid in the worst drought for 60 years.

We see natural disasters, accidents and instances of man’s inhumanity to man? How should we react?

The fact that the Almighty and Eternal God, the Judge of all the earth is on the throne should bring us peace in the midst of the troubles of the world. The Lord reigns! God is in control.

And whatever problems we and our loved ones may be facing – God is with us. He will defend and protect us. He will save us!
10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Psa 97:1 ¶ The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

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