PHILIPPIANS 2:14 – How to Stop Murmuring & Reap Blessings

1 THES. 5, 16-18 & PHIL. 2, 14 - FINAL2.jpgHow do we find true JOY in living a life that would please God?

Answer: Getting rid of murmuring and complaining.

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YOU CAN CHOOSE to be bitter or better.

YOU CAN CHOOSE to repay unkindness with kindness.

YOU CAN CHOOSE to  accept God’s will (Romans 8:28).

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How To Stop Murmuring and Complaining

Let’s begin with the words from the Book of Jude, verses 12‑16 (KJV):

“(12) These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (13) Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (14) And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (15) To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (16) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”

The Apostle Jude warned of concerns rising in his day (i.e. the gnostic heresy, which undercut the foundation of Christ), and each of us can look within ourselves to see that inclinations in this direction within ourselves are rooted out. But we need not suppose that all the things Jude spoke about must be found among brethren of our fellowship. In our own Bible Student classes of today, the same things will not be so manifest. Yet we all need to take care of course.

The Apostle Paul also warned the elders at Ephesus that after Paul’s parting, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).

The Apostle Peter similarly warned brethren of his day, that as there were false prophets among the Israelites, so some would appear teaching Christian principles and contrary to the sweet teachings of Christ. These influences would be harmful to the New Creature ways, and lead to the Truth being evil spoken of.

These words of warning from three apostles induce us to watch and pray.

BE HOLY STILL

Revelation 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

GOD allows experiences to manifest the heart attitude of every child of GOD. It is for us to follow Christian principles in each experience, and thus “be righteous still, and … holy still.”

Revelation 1:12‑15 pictures the “feet” members of the body of Christ as “fine copper.” The Apostle John saw the “Son of Man” (Jesus) clothed with a garment down to the feet, but saw the bright shining feet, suggesting the character of God’s people.

Copper represents perfect or justified human nature. This copper appeared “as if they burned in a furnace” (Revelation 1:15). It calls to mind the prophecy of Malachi 4:1, “The day … shall burn as an oven.” In a prophetic sense, we have been in that day since the return of Christ (his invisible presence, Parousia) in 1874. Thus “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

In the present ending period of the Gospel Age, God allows trials to purge us, as a furnace of affliction, so that the copper of our justification may shine resplendent in the light of faithful and tested loyalty to GOD.

As Jude suggests, we are not to be surprised if there be murmurers, seeking more or less to have their own will confirmed. Could this include us also?!

— If we are guilty of murmuring, then let us ask God to change us. —

Sin can be a gangrenous growth, like a little bit of leaven that makes the whole bread sour. So murmuring can become a habit, and how easy is it to change a habit?

—– It requires prayer, petitioning to the throne of Grace. —–

But with GOD all things are possible — He can mold us for change (Luke 1:37).

The more degraded one may become, the MORE WORK is required to reverse the damage.

Wishing to change won’t get us anywhere.

We MUST DO AND ACT, while continuously seeking, knocking and asking God, for His help.

WHAT IS MURMURING?

Murmuring is “to utter complaints in a low, half‑articulate voice; to feel or express dissatisfaction or discontent; to grumble; often with, at or against” (Webster’s Online Dictionary).

Murmuring indicates we are out of harmony with our lot. First it expresses dissatisfaction; then perhaps pride and covetousness, leading us to rebel against God’s providence. As roots of bitterness lodge in our hearts and minds, disappointment and dissatisfaction with our environment and our circumstances of life allowed by GOD in His love and mercy, will spring up and growth to DISASTER, in our spiritual life.

Have we been guilty of complaining in regards to the Lord’s providential leadings?

Dear friends, if that very circumstance had not been the very best the loving heart of our Heavenly Father could devise for our edification and upbuilding in Christ Jesus, He would not have permitted that circumstance to occur. Shall not the God of all the earth do right? Of course He will.

“Content whatever lot I see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

We are ALL guilty to some degree to having failed to measure up to the Lord’s standard in this respect.

In Philippians 2:14, Paul relates murmuring even with activity in the Lord’s service.

DO all things without murmurings and disputings“.

The word “do” here is one of the smallest words, but one of the most forceful! It is not that we are to do some things that are hard and murmur about the rest; it is not to be satisfied with some things and be dissatisfied with others.

DOING “all things without murmuring is the test of our own hearts and minds!

Complaining is being ungrateful! If we complain we are wordly!

The murmuring ‘domino effect’ will continue until a break is made, and a change is effected. Once this weakness of character becomes a strength of character, it means the test has been overcome. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

1 Corinthians 10, 10.jpg
ANALOGY

Suppose we see a man carrying a corpse along the street, making a public display of it, we’d be mortified! Perhaps we’d ask him the reason and probably someone would phone the Police! Suppose this man replies that he must, day after day, carry this corpse with him, with all its loathsomeness. Would we not think him insane? But do some of us do this metaphorically?

In Colossians 3:3 the Apostle Paul says, YOU HAVE DIED, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.”

Yet we hear the corpse complaining and murmuring every day, dissatisfied. What a peculiar corpse it would be from a natural standpoint, if after it was ready for burial we continued to preserve it, and it had the ability to murmur and complain against its condition!

Dear friends, if we bury the dead (and that is what we are to do with our fleshly interests, desires, wants, and preferences), then we must put it out of sight, put it in the tomb, bury it, and every time the “old man” complains, throw another shovel of dirt on him.

Live ABOVE the circumstances of your life.
“Set your affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2).

Then any temptation to murmur about the things below will be minimized by far!

EXAMPLES OF MURMURING IN THE BIBLE

We have many illustrations about murmuring in both the Old and New Testaments.

EXAMPLE 1.

The Old Testament book of Numbers could easily be renamed The Grumbler Chronicles. The Children of Israel grumbled against Moses, Aaron, and God.

In Numbers 12:1 we read, “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he married.”

Miriam and Aaron were displeased that Moses had married at all, and that he was foolish enough to marry without consulting the wishes of the family, and in addition, that he had been foolish enough to marry an Ethiopian woman. Yet the real reason for their murmuring was due to pride and selfish ambitions of their own hearts.

In verse 2 we read them murmuring, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” We can rest assured that the Lord will hear and regard every attitude of dissatisfaction with his plans and purposes that may manifest itself in our hearts and lives; it is to be indeed charged up against us!

Notice the results of murmuringMiriam became leprous. Leprosy is a type of sin. Miriam perhaps represents a certain class, leaders in this rebellion against the Lord, and murmuring against his plans and purposes. Miriam’s seven days of punishment is a picture of the eternal punishment (i.e. second death, Revelation 20:6-15) for those who will lead in rebellion against the Lord and his arrangements (Jude 1:13). Miriam represents such who fail to recognize Christ as the leader of spiritual Israel and who fail to honor those whom he uses as his mouthpieces and servants. R4037:5 In this type, Aaron reflects those who are busy-bodying in other men’s matters. R3061:4 A weak character; as shown on this occasion and when he made the golden calf. R5308:3

God probably favored this marriage so the Jews would not choose Moses’ children as his successors; they were supposed to look to the Lord as their leader. R3061:4 Of an alien race, she replaced Miriam as first lady, arousing Miriam’s jealousy on religious grounds. R5308:1 Zipporah, typifying the Bride of Christ. R1651:6 Perhaps Moses’ first wife had died, and Zipporah was his second wife. R5308:1

[NOTE: R – denotes Reprints from the Watch Tower which can be read at http://www.htdbv8.com or Google: “Harvest Truth Data Base” for the latest version.]

EXAMPLE 2.

Matthew 20:1‑16 ‑ In his parable of the vineyard workers, Jesus noted of disciples how those who worked from the first hour, having “borne the burden and heat of the day,” murmured because they received the same wages as those who worked only the last hour. Jesus declared that such labourers in the Lord’s vineyard who murmur over what seems to them are life’s inequities, actually are murmuring “against the goodman of the house.” (Matthew 20:11).

The goodness of the Lord is attested to in so many ways—mansions await!so let us not allow any ungrateful thought to creep into the mind!

EXAMPLE 3

In the latter portion of Jesus’ ministry he began to be more direct. He declared that he was to be the true bread which came down from heaven, of which if any man would eat he would live forever; that God would raise him up at the last day. His hearers began to murmur inquiring, “Is not this the son of Joseph, the Nazarene, whom we know? Have we not been acquainted with him since the days of his youth? And he says he came down from heaven.” 

Oh, they murmured!

As Jesus continued to say that unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they had no part or lot in the matter; others turned back saying, “This is a hard saying, who can bear it? This is difficult, hard to comprehend. Who can bear it? Look at the reproaches it will bring; look at the disturbances it will make in our life”. They do not like the reproach of the cross of Christ nor to bear the shame or to be made of no reputation. Recall the exhortation of Apostle Paul, “Let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)

They said Jesus had a devil and was mad. His course was contrary to the world, and the world began to berate the Apostles, and they declared, “Lord we have left all and followed thee, what do we get in return? Others are turning away, what remains for us?” (Mat. 19:27) Jesus said, “Doth it also offend you?”(John 6: 61) Here, those who had followed Jesus closely began to be offended at him, and murmured.

The same spirit of pride and rebellion, discontent, eating at their very hearts, began to manifest itself under the severity of the tests that were coming on them. As it is written, “There are some of you who believe not.” (John 6:64) At one point Jesus turned longingly and lovingly to them, and said, “Will ye also go away?” Apostle Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Indeed, to whom would he go? To whom will you go, if you go out of the Truth? If you are dissatisfied, discontented, with God’s plan and providential leadings, if you turn aside, unto whom will you go? And what is the remedy for murmuring?

With God’s help through prayer and petition, here are some helpful tools in regards to :

HOW DO WE STOP MURMURING?

Here are 6 suggestions:-

1. REALIZE THAT COMPLAINING IS A DANGEROUS SIN.

We know the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to fulfill God’s intended purpose for our lives. If he can’t derail me, or you, because of lust or immorality in our private lives, then the devil will seek a different bait for his trap. For many of us, that snare is the temptation to gripe, grumble, and complain against God (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13).

Murmuring is a sin. Here are 10 reasons why :

1.It is questioning God’s capacity, in the face of all God’s assurances to us in the Bible to display that He does care about us (Romans 8 :28, 1 Corinthians 15:22).

2. It is a rebellion against’s God’s will, (Job 23:2) and thus, dis-satisfaction with what God sees as the perfect experiences for us and in His perfect time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Joshua and Caleb urged the murmuring Israelites not to “rebel against the Lord” (Numbers 14: 9). But rather than listen to reason, the Israelites were ready to elect new leaders who would oversee their rebellious plans.

3. It is another form of mocking God’s plan of salvation, where despite acknowledging God, one criticizes His ways by wanting things to be done in our ways, even though our ways are much lower ways. (Isaiah 55:8).

4. It ignores God’s potential. The report of the ten spies (see Numbers 13) reflected a godless perspective. God had opened the sea to save the Israelites, the heavens to feed them, and the rocks to provide water for them. He had defeated mighty armies throughout their wilderness trek. He had freed them from perhaps the most powerful nation on the planet (the Egyptians). Certainly He could deal with any problems the new land might present.

5. Murmuring leads to self-pity. “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14: 2).

Murmurers often feel sorry for themselves and focus on how they have been mistreated, misused, and let down.

6. Murmuring is born in the context of bad report. Sins of the tongue that spread negative reports (beguilement, gossip, slander, false witness) create an environment in which murmuring can thrive.

Are we such complainers?

7. Murmuring also drains us from the energy we need to RUN the race of the High Calling set before us and energy to carry our cross. The cross can only “be light” as Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:30 if we do not carry the extra unnecessary and dangerous baggage of sin: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV)

8. Murmuring distorts good judgment. The murmurer misinterprets and misrepresents reality. For instance, after God gloriously delivered them from Egypt, the Israelites began to speak of their former life in Egypt as better, saying, “Yahweh delivered us out of Egypt only to kill us and our children in the desert. This Yahweh is no redeemer; he is more cruel than Pharaoh himself.” Here we see the utter inability to interpret reality correctly. And eventually these murmurers tried to stone Moses and return to Egyptian bondage, like a dog returning to its own vomit.

When people murmur, their hearts become darkened and they become incapable of interpreting reality correctly. Thus, good is evil, and evil is good: autonomy is good, and the Lordship of Christ is bad; worldly friends are good, parents and other authorities are bad. The sons of Eliab told Moses, “Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us?” (Numbers 16:13).

9. A murmuring spirit is quick to jump to the wrong conclusion. Just like the Israelites wanted to return back to Egypt.

10. Murmuring thrives in an atmosphere of fear. Twice Joshua and Caleb exhorted the people not to be afraid (Numbers 14:9). But the Israelites’ fear of the unknown fanned the sparks of grumbling in their midst. They were in a situation beyond their control, and they felt threatened and insecure. Their faith disappeared as their fear increased.

2. TRUST THAT GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING –

GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING! So let us let God be in charge of what He sees must be our experiences if we have given up our wills to do His.

Look at Joseph – He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold by them into slavery, unjustly accused of fooling around with Potiphar’s wife, thrown into prison forgotten by a friend he had helped – and yet Scripture does not record even a single complaint!

Joseph could have become bitter against his brothers…
Joseph could have smashed his fist against the prison walls and complained that his circumstances were unjust...

But did he do that?

No. He surrendered to God’s power. He had TRUST IN GOD.

Let us not forget, through Joseph, to look unto Jesus, who suffered being tempted, yet without sin; who was slandered, and persecuted, and …“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

What was the secret of Joseph’s complaint-free life?

The answer is in Genesis 45:5-8 where we find Joseph, now the Governor of Egypt, addressing his starving brothers,

(5) Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (6) For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Three times in four verses Joseph says – “God sent me here”. Talk about perspective that comes as a result of an uncommon faith in an Omnipotent God. Joseph grasped the truth that God is in control, and that He knows what He is doing.

3. “GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS – 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

4. FOCUS ON OUR BLESSINGS we receive from the Lord, such as:

  • That our sins can be forgiven thanks to Jesus’s precious blood paid as the Ransom price to free all mankind from the prison house of death.
  • The assurance that God and Jesus are with us (Matthew 9:2; Hebrews 13:5).

HEB 13, 5&6.jpg

  • That situations of stress (from which such murmuring would emerge) are actually THE TESTS we are wanting to pass to develop CHEERFUL patient endurance in ALL things. (Colossians 1:11, Romans 5:4 & 12:12). The sooner we do this, the greater shall be our joy, in turn, in doing the Father’s will (John 4:34, John 15:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, John 6:38).

Don’t wish to trade your difficult experiences for anything as this is where all the effects happen — the positive changes in character, in the face of adversity, by God’s help, developing the New Creature in Christ to be fully surrendered to God’s will and delighting in fulfilling God’s will to bring the Heavenly Father greatest joy through cheerful, willing self-denial and self-sacrifice.

Here is a helpful prayer starter:

“Almighty Heavenly Father, could Your will be done in (E.g.) my life concerning … in this experience… in my relationship with …

“Heavenly Father, I do not know what to say … what to do …. Could You please show me. I trust in You. Please put the words in my mouth… Please direct my steps… Please put a seal on my tongue … Please let me not fail you … Please let me be like your Son in character … 

Have the DISCIPLINE to NOT COMPLAIN!
Pray for this DISCIPLINE of CHARACTER.

5. BE OF GOOD CHEER, BE CHEERFUL

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV)

Cheerfulness comes from COURAGE which comes from implicit TRUST in God. TRUST comes from firm FAITH in God – which develops from a life where one ‘walks and talks’ with God. (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:4-6, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 3:6, Joshua 1:9)

Being of good cheer is contagious and in Proverbs 17:22, we are told it is “good medicine”.

6. BE GRATEFUL & CONTENT – for God gives us what we NEED not necessarily what the flesh would at times want, as He knows best what would develop in us greater love towards doing His will, and thus, what would help us BE RIGHTEOUS – without which no one can please God. (Hebrews 12:14)

Hebrews 13:5-6 (KJV) – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Other tips for how to be grateful:

  • Begin your prayers with all the “thank you’s” to God.
  • Each morning/day think about (or write out) all the things you are grateful for.
  • Lower your expectations of others, and rather, have implicit TRUST in the Heavenly Father’s precision and perfection of ALL details in your life!
  • Accept the circumstances.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Deal with the circumstances by relying upon God’s help through Christ.
  • Do your best.

CONCLUSION

Let us, then, “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and follow him all the way to the Heavenly City with singing. Let us give thanks in everything, knowing our Redeemer is with us to keep us from falling. He to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given is telling us, “Go into the world of trouble, and I will be with you always, even unto the end of the ages.”

Take encouragement from Paul’s message in Romans 8:35-39:

“(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.”

May God help us not to murmur, but to pray and praise him in the midst of our problems, knowing there is divine design in every trouble he has ordained for us. May we rejoice, knowing that trouble is for our good, to humble us and test us, and may we believe in God’s promises and render him complete obedience, that it may be good for us in the end. Amen.

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

CHORUS

He leadeth me! he leadeth me!
By his own hand he leadeth me.
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by his hand he leadeth me.

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea‑
Still ’tis his hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur or repine‑
Content whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God thro’ Jordan leadeth me.

URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/10/philippians-214-how-to-stop-murmuring-reap-blessings/

Understanding Psalm 50 — “Gather My saints together unto Me”

Psalm 50, 1.jpgThis Psalm is a Psalm of judgment. It opens with a proclamation.

VERSE 1: “The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.”

The various names of God here are impressive. He is called “Yaweh El Elohim,” or Jehovah the mighty one of mighty ones, or Yaweh, the God of Gods. Clearly, we understand the powerful God we are dealing with here.

The Psalm proclaims that this mighty One “hath spoken.” How does Jehovah speak?

The answer is, almost always through intermediaries.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [ages]” (Hebrews 1:1,2).

Paul explains here that in the times before Christ the mighty Jehovah spoke by the prophets, but in the first century, he spoke by His Son, Jesus.

This first verse reports Jehovah calling the “earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.” This interesting expression is used to mark the beginning of the Millennial Age. It occurs twice in Malachi.

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts (Malachi 1:11).

This is a clear reference to the Millennial Kingdom. Only in that Kingdom will the name of Jehovah be “great among the Gentiles,” and only in that Kingdom will incense be offered “in every place.”

With healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall (Malachi 4:2).

Who would deny that this beautiful metaphor is a reference to Jesus himself?

Our Lord Jesus, with Kingly power and love, will heal the nations in the Millennium.

A text in Psalms speaks of the same thing. Note the link between “sun” and “bridegroom.”

“Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race” (Psalms 19:4,5).

Here the line or rule of God’s glory goes out through all the earth. This describes the sun in a tent which is opening up, and compares it to a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

The work of the Mediatorial Kingdom is to raise mankind to perfection… to re-stand them where Adam once stood… to resurrect them!

Having achieved that and put down all enemies, Jesus surrenders his oversight back to the heavenly Father.

“When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

This idea is further advanced with an observation about Hebrews 7:17, “He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The word “forever” is from the Greek eis ton aiona (Strong’s #165). It means “for the age” (“unto the age” in Marshall’s Interlinear). In other words, Jesus functions as a Priest for the world only during the Millennium. Once mankind is made perfect, they need no intercessory Priest, they need no Mediator. They can stand holy and pure before God without fear.

Zion, the Perfection of Beauty

Verse 2: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.”

The literal location of “Zion” was in Jerusalem. It was the location of David’s throne. Looking in God’s word for uses of this word, “Zion,” we find several references to the heavenly government of Christ, the heavenly phase of the Kingdom. Here are a few:

  • “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalms 2:6). The second Psalm is prophetic of the conflict in the earth when the Kingdom is being set up. Jehovah himself installs Jesus as King, “upon my holy hill of Zion.” The heavenly Kingdom—God’s holy hill—is said to be of Zion.
  • Similarly, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King (Psalms 48:1, 2).
  • “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah…Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her” (Psalms 87:2-3; 5). Verse 5 refers to the faithful followers of Jesus, who, like Jesus, will be born in Zion and comprise part of that Heavenly government.
  • The Apostle John refers to this same class in the book of Revelation. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
  • They are mentioned again with emphasis in chapter 14: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion [Zion], and with him 144,000, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). The light of God shines forth out through this government, and this shining is done through Christ and his completed Bride.

Verse 3: “Our God cometh, and doth not keep silence: A fire devoureth before him, And it is very tempestuous round about him.”

This “fire” reminds one of Sinai where the Law was given. Fire also is a general symbol of discerning judgment and purification.

God has kept silence during the permission of evil. It is necessary for man to learn about the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But the time for judgment eventually comes. The symbol of fire is often connected with judgment, both positive and negative. When Israel came to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, Jehovah “came down” upon the mountain. Fire is included in the manifestations of the presence of the Lawgiver (Exodus 19:18).

The picture of Israel receiving the Law and standing before the great Judge foreshadows the same activity for the world at the setting up of the Kingdom. But in this period of judgment, the judgment begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Malachi provides a positive example where judgment begins with the servants of God.

“Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi … as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:2-3).

The fire of judgment reveals the true character of each one.

Paul used a similar expression. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest … the day shall declare it … it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

Gathering of the Saints

Verse 4: “He calleth to the heavens above, and to the earth, that he may judge people.”

The twin symbols of “heavens” and “earth” often refer to the religious and civil powers in the world during the reign of sin and death.

This judgment is of God’s true and professed people, both. Christendom at this time comes under intense judgment revealing their true nature. Recall that the tares of Jesus’ parable are burned (Matthew 13:40).

The individuals who are the tares are not necessarily destroyed; their professions are exposed as false. Following this begins the process of making the new heavens and new earth.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away (Revelation 21:1).

Through this judgment comes what is the hope and joy of all of the consecrated at the end of the age, namely, their gathering to Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1).

Verse 5: “Gather my saints together unto me, Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” This gathering occurs simultaneously on two fronts.

  1. The gathering of the saints out of Christendom during the Harvest (Mark 13:27; Luke 17:30, 37; Revelation 3:20).

Even our conversations are being gathered and recorded. This evidence is compiled to determine who will eventually make up the Kingdom, the “jewels” of Jehovah.

  1. The gathering of the saints beyond the veil to their heavenly home (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

This is the gathering in glory, the ultimate recognition and reward for faithfulness and willing cheerful (in the spirit) sacrifice.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Presenting ourselves in sacrifice is our vow or covenant of consecration until death which we can do only thanks to the gift of justification by the blood of Jesus which makes us acceptable and holy in the eyes of God. This verb “present” is a specific act, as indicated by its use in Luke 2:22. There, the baby Jesus is presented before the high priest, as prescribed in Leviticus 12:1-4,6: And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.”

That our “covenant by sacrifice” is a sacrificial death of the flesh is seen in Romans 6:3-6:

“So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death … we are buried with him by baptism into death … If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Note the following parallels that Paul makes:

Verse 6: “The heavens shall declare his righteousness; For God is judge himself. Selah.”

These heavens are the new heavens, for the old heavens seldom honored God for His righteousness.

Distinctions in the Service of God

Verse 7: “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.”

Remembering that the Psalm is about judgment, we see in this verse a return of attention to nominally Christian organizations for judgment, just as in ancient times. The testimony now is against those who claim to be God’s people but do not behave accordingly, as seen the texts above.

Jesus said there would be true, devoted, faithful followers, as well as nominal followers for whom Christianity exerted no real power in their lives. We also have those among the truly spirit begotten that lose their way and lose their focus. These, while accepted of God, nevertheless fail as respects that HIGHEST reward due to a dilution of their consecrations.

In this regard, we might enumerate the classes of Christians that exist during the Gospel Age:

  • The Little Flock, faithful and zealous to the end (Luke 12:32).
  • The Great Company, ultimately faithful, but lost focus and zeal during their walk (Revelation 7:9-17).
  • The Second Death Class (Hebrews 10:26-30).
  • Nominal Christians, Christians in name only. They believe they have some sort of relationship with Christ, but have nothing of the sort in reality (Matthew 7:21-23).

God, through Christ, deals with all of these classes in one way or another.

Verse 8: “I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.”

Burnt offerings bring to mind the law for free-will offerings (Leviticus 22:18-21).

God does not criticize or “reprove” free-will offerings, that is, good works. But “good works” are not sufficient in the Day of Judgment. Many nominal Christians view their service to God as if it were a monetary exchange, where God owes them something for their good works to Him. But God does not. He sees no obligation when an offering is made. The next two verses make this clear.

Verses 9-11: “I will take no bullock out of thy house nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls … and the wild beasts of the field are mine.”

God is not interested merely in things. Anything that they design to give Him, He already owns! All of the animals offered on the altars of ancient Israel were the property of Jehovah–the assets of God!

In addition, when someone makes an offering to God with the expectation of reward, they exhibit an ignorance of what God really looks for. This can be tragic.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22,23).

Is this not sad? How careful we must be not to imbibe of the spirit of nominalism.

God owes us nothing. He blesses us out of His own love. We are creatures OF GRACE who have the PRIVILEGE of knowing him and worshiping him.

Verses 12, 13: “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”

Recall that this Psalm began with a majestic introduction of God—El Elohim, Yahweh! This is the Grand Creator, the source of all energy and life. God is not intimate with any nominal believer. He does not share with such His needs for they have no resource to meet His requirements. On the contrary, it is their needs that require God’s resources!

Our Thanksgiving to God

Verse 14: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.”

Those who worship God with “spirit and truth” (John 4:23) must offer “thanksgiving” and pay their “vows.”

The Hebrew word for “thanksgiving” is todah (Strong’s #8426) and it means “a thank offering or praise.” It is interesting to see the various meal offerings that were to be offered with “thank-offerings.”

“If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice … unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Leviticus 7:12,13).

Four types of bread were to be provided with a “thank-offering”:

  1. Unleavened cakes mingled with oil — Our Justification and Sanctification. Unleavened bread is a symbol of purity, of sinlessness, and brings our minds to the state of justification, being declared righteous through the blood of Christ. The mingling with oil brings to mind our spirit begettal, as olive oil is often used to signify the holy Spirit, as in the holy anointing oil.
  1. Unleavened wafers anointed with oil — Our hope of glorification: A wafer is translucent. Light passes through it but not with clarity, though one can discern shadows and shapes. This suggests our hope of glory. It is not yet seen clearly, but it is an anchor for the soul which purifies us (1 John 3:2,3, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Hebrews 6:19).
  1. Fried cakes mingled with oil— Our Fiery Experiences. The church must be severely tried. Without such experiences, no one can expect to receive the divine nature. As Jesus had to endure, so must each one of his followers. These trials are like refining fire. They purge and purify!
  1. Leavened bread — Thankfulness in spite of our sinful flesh. God justifies us, but does not make our flesh perfect. We must serve under difficult conditions of sin in our flesh and in the world. We must not allow these conditions to break our thankfulness! They are important in our development and allow us to show how much we love our God.

The second key Hebrew word in verse 14 is “vows.” It is from the Hebrew word nedar (Strong’s #5088) and it simply means vow. Vows under the law were associated with blood sacrifices (Leviticus 22:18-21).

A true consecration during the Gospel age involves vows unto death and “dying daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). This association with sacrificial death is even stronger in Psalm 116:14-18,

“I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant … thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.”

Nested between the two references to paying vows is the thought that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Also notice the particular details mentioned in these verses:

  • “In the presence of all his people” — this is a public display of loyalty and faithfulness!
  • “Precious” — this is how God values our consecrations. From a study of what is precious to Jehovah, here are five items:

– Psalm 49:8; 72:14 — The Ransom Price.

– Psalm 116:15 — The Death of his Saints.

– Psalm 126:6 — Seed, representing the freeing of captivity.

– Psalm 133:2 — Ointment, representing the Holy Spirit.

– Psalm 139:17 — The thoughts of God.

  • “Death of his saints” — death in the service of God is the fate of the consecrated, the called ones, the “saints.”

Final Deliverance and Blessings

Verse 15: “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

Making vows unto God and giving him daily thanksgiving will often result in persecution. Our loving heavenly Father promises deliverance from these. He is with the Church at all times and will strengthen us in times of trouble. Although the deliverance may be through death, there will be a final deliverance and blessings. What a deliverance that will be!

“Unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

We may only come into “the presence of his glory” through death. But awakening in the first resurrection will certainly be with exceeding joy!

In verses 16 through 22, the Psalmist considers those who do not have the spirit of consecrated sacrifice unto death. As mentioned earlier, this is a judgment Psalm, and the judgment against the wicked and those who falsely take on the mantle of God’s servants is severe. Particularly, Christians who are but nominally so need to take heed. Their pretensions will be unmasked in the sight of all.

Verse 23: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” This final verse shows the value of praising God.

It is not that Jehovah needs our praise. Rather, our God understands from our makeup that praising Him will not only bring us the greatest joy in life, but will also develop an attitude and character that will preserve us for all eternity. Praising God is good for us!

The word “conversation” here is from the Hebrew derek (Strong’s #1870). It means “way, journey, habit, course of life.” This verse speaks of our conduct as worshippers of God. We must “order” our lives to be in harmony with the Divine will. Doing so will bring us to “the salvation of God.”

Among the many lessons from this Psalm we may make three important observations:

  • The 50th Psalm is a prophetic Psalm that shows the judgments of God and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom.
  • We must make sure that our “covenant by sacrifice” defines our lives so that we may be gathered with the saints to our heavenly home.
  • We must not fail to pay our vows and we must die a precious death.

 

Acknowledgement: Br. David Stein

This post’s URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/31/understanding-psalm-50-gather-my-saints-together-unto-me/

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