God the great and powerful (and warm and wonderful)
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Sat Nov 30, 2013
by Andrew Weiseth
I say, “Help comes from God.” I tell people, “You’re not alone.” Both are empty phrases if I don’t live as if I believe them.
The author of Psalm 121 spotted this problem. The ancients believed the gods dwelled on the mountains, but the psalmist says otherwise: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1–2). But what if the Creator falls asleep on the job?
God Doesn’t Sleep
In contrast to the belief that gods drifted into the underworld and consequently awful things happened, the psalmist explains that God is always present: “ He will not let your foot be moved . . . He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep”
(v. 3–4). We think we are different from the ancients, but we, too, link terrible things to God’s supposed ineptitude or his judgment. But the psalmist says the opposite: God is a shelter from the elements.
God Doesn’t Get Sunburned
Even though people believed the sun and moon gods brought unbearable weather, the psalmist says: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night” (v. 5–6). Again, we think we are more advanced than the ancients, but we have the insurance clause for “other acts of God.” Rather than viewing the LORD, or the gods, as the cause of unexpected disaster, the psalmist views him as a protector. But why would God protect us?
God Doesn’t Blush
It seems that any creator would look at what we have done to the world and either hate us or be embarrassed. Instead of blushing, God turns his face towards us. God teaches the priests, via Moses, to request his presence. Psalm 121 echoes the famous priestly blessing found in Numbers: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” God follows this by saying, “So shall [Aaron and his sons, the high priests] put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Num. 6:24–27). God’s undaunted presence marks believers. Here’s how we can be enveloped in that presence.
Find Help in Jesus
Just prior to his arrest and betrayal, Jesus prays, “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world . . . Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). Our acceptance of Jesus makes us one with the Father. Consequently, we are protected. But help is not for hoarding. We are called to use God’s protection to create community.
Find Help in Community
Jesus prays for love, which is at the center of good community: “. . . that [the believers] may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23). When believers unite in Christ’s love, the broken can be helped.
Bring Help to the World
The fruits of our Bible study should not be private. We have to live what we believe. Jesus ends his prayer by saying, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). We should show the love God has shown us—to him and to others.
Let’s take our needs to God, watch him act, and then make him known.
This post is published courtesy of Bible Study Magazine, which is published by Logos Bible Software. Each issue of Bible Study Magazine provides tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from people like John Piper, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Kay Arthur, Randy Alcorn, Barry Black, and more. Originally published in print: Copyright Bible Study Magazine (July–Aug. 2010): pg. 8.