“I think it is a great lesson to learn in spiritual things, to believe in Christ and His finished salvation, quite as much as when you are down as when you are up, for Christ is not more Christ on the top of the mountain than He is in the bottom of the valley. And He is no less Christ in the storm at midnight than He is in the sunshine of the day. Do not begin to measure your safety by your comfort—but measure it by the eternal Word of God which you have believed and which you know to be true—and on which you rest, for still here, within the little world of our bosom, ‘He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap’ ” (Ecc 11:4).”
“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.”
(Psalm 75:8–10, ESV)
Trials, difficulties, and challenges have a way of making clear where we place our faith. For those that are believers in Jesus Christ, the times when we are most challenged in our faith offer us a time not only to test the faith we have, but also to grow in our faith and trust of Christ.
“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” (Psalm 75:8, ESV)
The references of God’s wrath being like a cup of mixed wine is a familiar metaphor used throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, wine was often mixed with spices and used for special occasions, usually for the purpose of intoxication.
In other places, this picture of the wrath of God as a cup of wine pictures the wicked as reeling, vomiting, crazed and prostrate. God is giving them what they so richly deserve. He is giving them a dose of their own medicine. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The retribution is terrible, it is blood for blood, foaming vengeance for foaming malice. [If] the very color of divine wrath is terrible, what [must] the taste be?”
But how does this encourage us when we are in the midst of the trials? It once again shows that God is sovereign, in control over the wicked. And the encouragement that we receive is in relation to his sovereign grace that he has poured out upon us.
When you recognize the fact that all of mankind sins “and fall short of the glory of God” and that “the soul that sins must die,” you see that you and I are worthy of this cup of staggering—this cup of God’s hot, spiced wrath.
We are so worthy of his eternal punishment. But God poured out his wrath upon our Savior Jesus instead of us. We received mercy because of the abundant grace of God towards us. And it was given to us because of God’s sovereign choice. Undeserved and overflowing.
8. It Encourages Worship (v. 9)
“But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 75:9, ESV)
Because of the surety of the justice of God, the psalmist expresses his delight in God through praise. The title “God of Jacob” used sin verse 9 is both an endearing name as well as a covenant name. Although our God is indeed the God of all the nations, the psalmist personalizes his worship by expressing praise that the God of the universe is also the personal God who loves, cares for, and protects his people.
Have you thought much about why you worship God? Most of us would probably say that we worship him because of what he has done for us—for his love of us, most clearly shown in personally saving us from our sins.
But here in verse 9, the psalmist gives us another perspective about praise. It includes praising God for who he is which drives what he has done, including bringing us salvation. In verse 9, the psalmist is praising the Lord for his vengeful wrath which he will pour out upon all unrepentant sinners. Now, to most of us, that seems like a weird thing to praise God about—maybe even inappropriate. “Praise God for crushing sinners and sending them to hell?” Is that right?
To clarify, we shouldn’t delight in the punishment of sinners with a ghoulish delight. But we should see that it is very appropriate to praise the Lord for his justice and hatred of evil, by which he will make right all wrongs, and punish the wicked for their rebellion against God.
Look at Rev. 19:1-3 when you have an opportunity. If you read it, you will see the rejoicing and praise of God’s people. Then in verses 6-18 you will read about two feasts of celebration—the marriage supper of the Lamb (in verses 6-10) and the Great Supper of God prepared for the birds of the air (in verses 17-19).
So, we should think about God more deeply and meditate on him as we seek to worship him. Our Great God is worthy of worship for all of his attributes, not just the ones we benefit from and are tied to our comfort. His so-called “negative” attributes along with his positive attributes all make up the character of God—and everything about our Great God and Savior is worthy of praise.
9. It Drives Evangelism (vv. 9-10)
“But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.” (Psalm 75:9–10, ESV)
There is a question about what exactly the “it” in verse 9a means and how it ties in with verse 10. Some scholars have said that the “it” of verse 9a refers to what God said he would do to the evil. And I think that that is part of it, but not all that the “it” refers to.
There is a bit of a puzzle in verse 10 as well regarding who is speaking, but I believe the most logical and probable answer depends on the word “it” in verse 9. I believe the psalmist is stating that he will declare God’s words of impending judgment. It would read something like this, “But I will declare [the coming judgment of the Lord] forever; and I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.”
And then, verse 10 makes sense. It is a reiteration of what he has already said about bringing low the proud “horns” of the wicked.
Now if that is what it means, then here is what I think that means for us. I think the impending judgment of the Lord should have two responses that impact our evangelism:
First, it should drive us to share Christ because we believe in the reality of the coming judgment of God. How can we say we believe in hell and the torments of a Christless eternity and yet still remain unmoved to share Christ?
And finally, a warning of the coming judgment of God should be included in our gospel messages. Many versions of gospel presentations have been “cleaned up” and sanitized like some Disney movie. No blood or gore. Everything packaged up into a neat and clean “Jesus loves you” gospel. Even John 3:16 is inadequate in itself because “perish” is so vague. Unpack this when you proclaim the gospel. Let sinners feel the fires of hell. Don’t let them go unwarned!
When we remember the fact that our God is seated upon his throne, it changes everything in our outlook. And the reverse is true as well. When we forget or minimize the sovereign rule of God over this world, we also cast ourselves in a place where we were never meant to be, carrying burdens we were never meant to carry. For the unbelieving world, this is how it functions. But for the child of God, may we not only say that Jesus is Lord, but may we live daily in the beautiful light of this truth and embrace each day as a gift from our sovereign God.
In his famous hymn “This is My Father’s World”, Maltbie Babcock wrote these comforting words:
This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget/ That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: The battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heav’n be one.
This stanza pulls together two truths that confront us in this world—“the wrong seems oft so strong” and “God is the ruler yet.” In the next three post I want to address this from the biblical perspective of Psalm 75. Over each of the next three posts I will lay out a total of Nine Ways in Which the Sovereignty of God in Dealing with the Wicked Affects Our Attitude Toward our Present Circumstances. Let’s begin…
1. It Makes us Aware That God is Always Near Us (v. 1A)
Psalm 75:1a “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.”
The reason for the psalmist’s thankfulness was that the “name” of God was near. The “name” of course, points to the presence of God himself. David wrote about this nearness in Psalm 139:1-12 when he spoke of the Lord intimately knowing mankind from when he knit us in our mother’s womb as well as every other aspect of our lives. There is nowhere that we can hide or be hidden from his presence.
This is a comforting reality in times of need and pain. God really is right here with us. He hears your prayers. He sees your enemies as they attack. He sees it all.
2. It Gives us a Thankful Heart (v.1b)
Psalm 75:1b “We recount your wondrous deeds.”
Along with his nearness was a legacy of remembering that brought forth a thankful heart.
Remembering and reciting aids in developing a thankful heart. We are forgetful people, aren’t we? The Lord knew this, and so he constantly calls his people throughout the Scriptures to remember, even instructing them to set up memory aids, special dates, rites, and festivals. In the Church Age, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be done “in remembrance of him.” Why? Because as monumental as the cross of Christ is for our eternity, we still forget about it if left to ourselves.
Psalm 78:4 speaks about the need for parents to recite these memories to their children. It says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
We can grow anxious and weary when we forget that God is in control. We can begin to see ourselves as helpless, awash in the chaos of the world, victims of chance. But if you sit down and read through the pages of Scripture, you will quickly begin to see that God has always been in control. Reminding yourself of this fact will change your outlook radically.
3. It Teaches Us Patience (v. 2)
Psalm 75:2 “At the set time that I appoint, I will judge with equity.”
Here we have a change of speakers—the song has moved from Asaph speaking (or the priest who led the singing) to God himself speaking. The Lord says that “at the set time that I appoint…” This language in Hebrew refers to seasonal time, not clock time. Clock time spins fast. Seasons don’t work by a clock. Fruit doesn’t ripen according to your watch. God doesn’t punch-in to work.
Let there be no mistake, God will judge—he says so. But he will judge at the set time that he appoints. We can’t say “Amen” to God’s sovereignty and then be impatient when he doesn’t act on our schedule, can we? We can’t be like Martha, Lazarus’ sister, who got so upset that Mary wasn’t helping her prepare the food in the kitchen that she stomped right into the middle of Jesus’ teaching time and demanded that the LORD command her sister to help her! It appears Martha thought Jesus needed a little help leading the world. He doesn’t.
When you become impatient and wonder when God will judge, remember that God is in control as he has always been. Be still and know that he is God.
He is risen! On this beautiful Resurrection Sunday morning, there is eternal hope for every believer in Christ Jesus. Although they are fun, the easter egg hunts, baskets, pretty Spring dresses, and bunnies cannot compare to the joy that rises in the heart of those who have placed their trust in Christ. In this final post of our great resurrection hope, we will look at the crushing of the enemy and the final victory that we are assured. Our hope is not a wishful thinking but an assured confidence.
“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
(1 Corinthians 15:24–26, ESV)
Christ’s Resurrection Guarantees the Defeat of Every Enemy of Christ (vv. 24-26)
When Jesus Christ died upon the cross, he set into motion the assured and final victory over every enemy of God. This includes Satan and the demons and every human being that have rebelled against God. (v. 24)
Jesus Christ will destroy every rule, and every authority and power that will not submit to him. Not a single enemy of God will remain. His reign will last until every enemy is conquered and put under his feet (v. 25)
The final enemy shall be death (v. 26). Until the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death was the undefeated champion of every fight fought. Nobody faces death and walks away. Some might escape for a few more days or even years, but death always wins. But in Jesus Christ, death has met its match. Jesus Christ is stronger than death.
The great enemy of mankind that began in the Garden will finally be stopped. All the dead who have trusted in Christ will have been raised from the dead and transformed into glorified bodies, just like Jesus has been. There will be no more death at all.
The death of death will have come because of the death of Christ. All things will be made right.
This is the hope we have in Christ. This is what the resurrection means to Christians. It directly affects each of of us.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains.… Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot block a man’s pathway for even a moment. The shadow of a dog can’t bite; the shadow of a sword can’t kill.” Christ Himself took the full force of death’s destroying power by dying and paying for our sin, then rising from the grave. Trusting Jesus may not remove death’s shadow, but remember, shadows can’t hurt us.”
The resurrection reminds us of this truth. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We have nothing to fear, even death itself. We shall be raised from the dead, because Christ lives!
And all the enemies of God shall be dealt with as well.
That leads me to ask a question of you this morning. Do you have this hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? That would depend upon whether you have placed your faith and trust in him.
Jesus’ resurrection guarantees the resurrection of his followers. But it does something else. It points to the fact that he always keeps his promises. Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead. And he promised that he would come back. Not just to raise his disciples from the dead, but also to judge the unrighteous.
So, this Easter, what have you placed your hope in? Is it in the salvation in Jesus Christ or is it in yourself? Only salvation in Christ offers the great hope that we have this morning. Everything else is like a hollow chocolate bunny.
Christ’s Resurrection Gives Hope for the Future (v. 23)
“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:23, ESV)
Right now, we all see the effects of sin all around us. We feel it in our bodies. Sickness, disease and death are constant reminders of our fallenness.
Sin has a corrosive effect in society that has plunged us into spiritual darkness that it seems we will never recover from. Crime, war, famine, hatred, and all sorts of human suffering is never far away. We see it in our news feeds every day. We can’t ever seem to get a day of relief from the bad news.
We are desperate for some good news. The resurrection of Christ is the best news. It tells us not only that Jesus is alive, but that he is coming back to judge the world and he will raise us up from the dead and glorify our bodies to never die again.
Verses 50-57 describe this even in the future that we as Christians look forward to when we will be made imperishable and immortal. These verses say:
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 15:50–57, ESV)
In 2015 the UC Berkeley Alumni magazine California ran an article about cryonics. Not sure what that is? Let me quote a small portion and you’ll understand,
“Before launching the first cryonaut, they had sandwiches and coffee. It was a Thursday afternoon in January 1967, in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. The ad hoc medical team—a physician, a chemist, and Bob Nelson, a voluble TV repairman and president of the newly minted Cryonics Society of California—huddled around the dead man’s bedside. In front of them lay the body of James Bedford, who earned his master’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1928. A retired psychology professor and vocational guidance expert, the 73-year-old had died of liver cancer an hour earlier. All of them, living and dead, were about to make history.
The team went to work. Adapting techniques from the field of cryogenics, which studies materials at low temperatures, they injected medical-grade antifreeze into his neck, diluting his blood. To minimize damage to his brain, they kept oxygen pumping through his system with a machine called an iron heart. Then they slipped the professor into a coffin-shaped capsule filled with dry ice. (Later, the capsule would be placed in a cylinder cooled by liquid nitrogen for permanent storage at -196°C.)
Four hours later the task was completed: They had frozen the first man.
At a triumphal news conference a few days later, Nelson, the TV repairman, explained the purpose of the professor’s “cryopreservation.” Bedford, he told the assembled reporters, “will be kept frozen indefinitely until such time as medical science may be able to cure cancer, any freezing damage that may have occurred, and perhaps old age as well.”
Here we are, over 50 years later, and that Berkeley professor’s body still awaits the cure for cancer, and the science to be able to bring him back to life and heal him of his cancer. If it had been done before, then maybe there would be more hope in cryonics. But this has never been done before. Not even once. Not even close. We don’t have that sort of hope as Christians.
The hope we have is assured. It isn’t a shot in the dark. It’s not a gamble or a pipe-dream. Church, Jesus Christ is alive today! Jesus Christ went through death for us, and he rose again before us. He will come again and we shall be raised from the dead just as he was!
Christ’s Resurrection Gives Hope for the Future to those who follow Jesus Christ as Lord. But what about those who do not believe in Christ and do not follow him? What about death itself?