Psalm 8. You have heard me mention on occasion something being cause for worship. I will see something God has done and pause to give Him the honor, praise and glory that’s due His name. Do you think about it, are you on the lookout for it? What in your life is cause for worship? Well, everything is, of course. But just saying that leaves it too general and nebulous. What specifically is cause for worship? Do you see it just in big things or do you see it in the little things, the countless little evidences of God’s love and kindness and presence with you? Psalm 8 is David noticing what is cause for worship in great big things and in small insignificant things. This is his celebrating the glory and grace of God. It’s David overwhelmed at who God is and what He has done. Do you hear his awe and the joy? It begins and ends with God, “how majestic is your name in all the earth.” And in between he attributes everything to God, the strong and the weak, the spectacular and the insignificant, the many and the few, infants and enemies, angels and men, beasts and birds, above the heavens and beneath the sea. It’s all from God and it’s all cause for worship. In 174 words he says what will take me almost 3,000 words just to start to unpack and draw out. And as I do we will see connections to the sanctity of human life on this Sunday set apart to acknowledge that.
Seeking to Understand, Daniel 8:15-19. Seek understanding. Seek wisdom, seek to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Pray for it. And when you do, God will be faithful to answer. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. Daniel seeks understanding and Jesus answers. He is the one with the appearance of a man. He has authority over the archangel and He commands Gabriel to be the interpreter with an interpretation. It’s hard to say which was worse for Daniel, not knowing, or facing the terror of a divine interpreter. We sit here casually reading this story and feel nothing of the fear and trembling of a holy archangel of God radiating the glory of heaven coming into his presence. We should reflect on how the Word of God affects us or on why it has so little affect. How is it possible to not tremble in the presence of holy things? Gabriel says the vision is for the time of the end and for the end of the indignation. This is not referring to the second coming of Christ. This is answering the question from vs. 13 about how long would this indignation be visited on God’s people, after 2,300 evenings and mornings. The end refers to what will be made clear in the interpretation.
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. day. In the past I have used this weekend as an occasion to reflect on what Scripture teaches about race. It is obviously a relevant topic since our county is embroiled in political hand wringing and debates about race relations, Black lives matter, immigration, refugees and secure borders. Soon to be president Trump has stirred up the debate with his rhetoric about building a wall on the Mexico border. I’m not going to wade into the politics of those issues. I do believe sovereign nations must have secure borders and fair immigration policies and ways to legally control and administer those policies. It is the Constitutional responsibility of our government to “ensure domestic tranquility” and “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare” of our nation. We must pray our leaders have godly wisdom and courage to do that. But most of us don’t have much of a role in those matters. The role we do have is how can we be salt and light in this politically and racially divided culture God has placed us in. How do we show love to our neighbors who are very different from us? I am interested in looking to Scripture for wisdom from God about how we as Christians should live and act and speak among sojourners and how we are to view them. The fact that Scripture speaks to these issues tells us that God thinks about these things, and it tells us that it’s important to Him and so it ought to be to us. Let’s begin be being reminded of why we should love our foreign neighbor, why we should be hospitable and not hostile. Six reasons.
We have concluded the historical section of Daniel which fills the first six chapters. In those chapters we saw how God sovereignly and powerfully worked in a pagan country and through pagan kings to aid and benefit His captive people. When we turned to chapter 7 of Daniel we came to the prophetic half of the book. Chapter 7 was the pivotal chapter. In chapter seven, in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a vision of a lion, a bear, a leopard and a beast with ten horns. The vision covered human history from the time of Daniel to the end of time, in other words chapter seven ended looking as a time that is far beyond our time. Daniel 7 is an overview of history, of what God is doing and going to do. It is a tool for reading the newspaper and listening to the news and putting our history in a larger context. This book is a survival manual for the saints. It removes unrealistic expectations and gives realistic expectations. It takes away the element of surprise just as Jesus did for His disciples:
Have you ever heard God’s voice? Peter, James and John heard it. What must it have been like up there on that Mount of Transfiguration to hear the booming voice of God? What did it sound like? Deep baritone or bass? Did it have an accent? Did it sound like Charlton Heston or Morgan Freeman or Liam Neeson? Was it terrifying, did it bring them to their knees? Have you ever heard God’s voice? I have, just this morning in fact, here in our text, the very words of God brought by the Holy Spirit from heaven to the apostle Peter and written down and given to us. God wrote a book.
Every beginning and every ending should be with prayer. Our first waking thought should be of God and His will, His Word, His power and grace for the day. Our last waking thought should be of God and His provision and protect, blessings and benefits, grace and forgiveness.