Psalm 110 (part 5)
Psalm 110 (part 5).
Just over 40 years ago a DC10 aircraft, carrying 257 people, flew straight into the side of an active volcano in Antarctica [P]. It made a bit of a mess! A story we all know well. 257 people died! You do not walk away from a crash like that! An accident investigation was held; and the cause was attributed to “the pilot continuing to fly too low when he was unsure of the plane’s position”. It was deemed: “pilot error”. However, later a royal commission revealed that the course that the aircraft had been programmed to fly on, and which the pilot had been briefed on and had plotted on topographical charts was changed the night before and the aircrew were not informed. Sector whiteout rendered Mount Erebus invisible; but the aircrew had not been briefed about this insidious phenomenon either. The airline had programmed the plane’s inertial navigation system to fly into a mountain that the pilot couldn’t see! Of course, the pilot wasn’t there to defend himself. We all know the arguments that have gone on for decades. But still, the pilot was held responsible, the airline maintained its innocence, to prevent it and the CAA having to pay out vast compensation. Now, finally, last year, 40 years after the event; Jim Collins, the pilot, has finally been vindicated [P]; the prime minister issued an official apology. It took a long time; but vindication came! Have you ever been unjustly accused of something? I don’t expect that there isn’t even one of us who hasn’t. What is your instinctive response when that happens? To stand up for yourself, justify yourself, to vindicate yourself. We get this all the time at work; a mistake is made, so they want to find out how it happened. You explain what you did so that they know that it was not your fault. There is an ingrained sense of justice and fairness that makes this desire for vindication very strong. If something is not your fault and then you get the blame; something rises-up within us and we rile against the accusation. It is expected that we will vindicate ourselves. That is what is so unusual about Jesus; there He is on trial before the Roman governor: [Matthew 27:12–14 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.] Pilate was totally amazed! He had had many men appear before him for judgement, men accused of crimes; they all, without exception, defended themselves. He had never encountered this before, someone who didn’t vindicate Himself. Of course this was what was prophesied of Jesus, in verses that we know well: [P] [Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet [P] He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that [P] is silent before its shearers, so [P] He did not open His mouth.] Boy, how hard it is to keep your trap shut when someone is accusing you of something and you are totally innocent! It is practically impossible. Yet, we who are born again, have Christ living in us; His life that is in us, is also lived out of us. This we do and can do; by the Divine power in dwelling within us: His Holy Spirit. In fact, to this we were called: to live just as Jesus did in this regard. This is what Peter said: [1 Peter 2:18–23 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favour, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. (you are falsely accused). For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favour with God. [P] For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, (we are to do what He did! And what did He do?) who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;] It is not that there is no justice, that we tolerate injustice; rather, we allow justice to come from the One who is just. LET GOD VINDICATE! Justice belongs to Him: Abraham, interceding for Sodom said: [Genesis 18:25 Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”] יהוה Himself said: [Deuteronomy 32:35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution.] The same is said in the New Testament: [Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”] Vengeance belongs to God; it is His domain, not ours. It is His business – leave it to Him. We are not to vindicate ourselves, that is to trespass on His domain: [P] [Romans 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.] It is far better for יהוה to vindicate than for us to do so. He will take care of it, leave it in His hands! That is what Jesus did: [P] “He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” Jesus did not justify Himself; He left vindication in יהוה’s hands; and that is what His Father did. There He is, on trial, before the Sanhedrin. We see exactly the same thing: Jesus did not answer to defend Himself but left vindication in His Father’s hands: [P] [Matthew 26:59–66 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. (Jesus was falsely accused, it was unjust) But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? (Jesus didn’t answer back, defend Himself) What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Jesus was put on oath before יהוה, He had to answer) Jesus said to him, [P] “You have said it yourself; (still He didn’t defend Himself, He left it in their own mouths; but …) nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” [P] (Does that sound familiar? Jesus didn’t testify concerning Himself, He let Scripture testify. He was quoting Scripture? Where? Yes, you’ve got it! Again, Jesus refers to Psalm 110:1; and the latter part is a reference also to Daniel 7:13) Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”] Jesus did not vindicate Himself, does not defend His Messianic title; what He does, is quote a Messianic Psalm. The high priest recognized it as such; that is why he took it as blasphemy. What was Psalm 110:1 saying? Why did Jesus quote it? Being at “My right hand” is in the position of highest honour, this implies vindication of Jesus byיהוה Himself. The chief priests and elders questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah at His trial. When questioned on this point directly, Jesus did not vindicate Himself, but said that they had said so and also, by quoting this verse, said that יהוה Himself would vindicate Him as being the Messiah by exalting Him to the place of highest honour and by Him returning in glory. This verse from Psalm 110:1 was saying that יהוה accepted Jesus’ work and person, vindicated Him as His Messiah by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him into His presence, giving Him the highest honour and the highest place! Glory to His Name! The same thing is recorded in Mark 14:61–62. We have been looking at the use of Psalm 110 in the New Testament: [P] we saw, in another occasion when Jesus cited this verse, that He took this verse to indicate that the Messiah was more than just the son of David [P] – in fact, He is the Son of God! Exalted in glory! Praise His Name! Then we saw how the writer of the book of Hebrews used this verse to show that Jesus finished His work [P]; and that work was “the cross”. The One exalted in glory, humbled Himself, descended to the deepest depth – a criminal’s death. Last time we saw that this One who descended, also ascended [P] – returned to that highest place from whence He came. What Jesus was saying before the Sanhedrin was a very similar thing. This verse prophesied the ascension of the Messiah; but that ascension was יהוה’s vindication of the Messiah. [P] The Messiah did not vindicate Himself; יהוה Himself did! Hallelujah! Jesus ascending to the place of highest honour, the right hand of יהוה Himself; was יהוה’s vindication of Him. יהוה was saying: “This One is My Son, He has done no wrong, He did not deserve condemnation and death. You falsely accused Him; but I vindicate Him as righteous, faultless, not deserving death but deserving the highest honour that can be afforded. You condemn Him, unjustly accuse Him (accusation is the devil’s business); but I declare Him as faultless, in the right. You are wrong, He is right.” Jesus is vindicated! Hallelujah! How did יהוה vindicate Jesus? By giving Him the highest possible position to give – seating Him at his own right-hand side. Jesus didn’t vindicate Himself, He left it in His Father’s hands; and, (praise the LORD!) His Father came through; His Father did vindicate Jesus, as Messiah, as God. That is what the ascension did; that is what Psalm 110:1 prophesied! That is how Jesus understood Psalm 110:1. The Messiah didn’t vindicate Himself; יהוה Himself did: [P] [1 Timothy 3:16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, …… taken up in glory.] The ascension was the vindication of the Messiah. And we are to walk in His steps; leave vindication with יהוה. Jesus’ ascension in glory and His vindication by the Spirit of God Himself are closely associated; so too, is a third thing: ascension, vindication, and exaltation [P] – they are really different aspects of the same thing; and I was going to deal with them all together but separated the ascension in order to bring a message for Christmas. Jesus’ ascension was יהוה’s vindication of Him as Messiah, righteous, His Son, having fully completed the work He had been given to do. There was nothing more for Him to do on earth – it was all perfectly carried out. So, He was received back with honour, exalted in glory! Praise His Name! The vindication of Jesus was by His exaltation. Now, the astute amongst you may wonder what the difference is between ascension and exaltation? I mean, ascending is “going up”; and when you exalt something, you make it high, make it “go up”. Really, I guess, there is no difference; but I think of “ascension” as a positional thing – Jesus ascended to heaven, to a high place, it is where He is positionally; whereas, I think of “exaltation” more of a thing of status – Jesus is exalted to glory, to honour, authority – the highest status. If you like, ascension refers to where Jesus is; whereas exaltation refers to who He is! Which is of infinitely more interest! When I went to school, sport was compulsory. Now, I didn’t, and still don’t, like sport. So, I had to suffer, first cricket and then softball. But, I applied myself diligently to sport: first I would angle hard to be last in line; and hope like crazy my turn didn’t come to bat – have people throw balls at you at 100mph – crazy! Then, I studied diligently at probabilities to work out where the ball was least likely to land; and place myself there for the interminable second half of fielding. But I continued to apply myself diligently and came up with the absolute inspiration of: taking tennis! [P] Now, tennis was played by the super keen and athletic, those who want to make a name for themselves as sportsmen and not be lost in the anonymity of a team. But because they were keen and ambitious, all eager and wanting to play; and because there were a limited number of tennis courts available; if you played your cards right, you didn’t have to play sport at all: “No, it’s alright, I don’t mind, you play instead of me”. All this to say that I ended up playing tennis. Well, on the wall there was what was called a tennis-ladder. It was a length of wood with slots in it, and in the slots were placed cards with the tennis players’ name on them. You could challenge someone above you on the ladder, and if you beat them you swapped places on the ladder. As you can imagine, not playing and not challenging anyone, my name soon sank off the bottom! But if you were good, you ascended the ladder. Not being physically high on a ladder; but high in rank; exalted in status, reputation, honour, respect, renown, glory. That is what exaltation is about! Being high in rank and honour and glory. Even me, with my active disinterest in sport, know the names Federa and Djokavic and Nadal! They are high above the rest. That is Jesus – highest; exalted in rank, honour, status and glory. In Psalm 110:1 [P] “Sit at My right hand” is a command. יהוה is commanding the Messiah to sit at the position of honour, right next to Himself, where He Himself is! And where is יהוה?! HE IS EXALTED! Praise and glory to His Name! Just a small selection of verses to prove the point: [Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of יהוה, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.] Why did God make the universe so big? So that when we look out there at the heavens, we get an inkling of how high God is. The heavens are vast; so vast that my mind cannot comprehend the numbers. But the Bible tells us that the “heavens are His throne, the earth His footstool” – He is exalted above that vastness! And in: [Isaiah 12:4 And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to יהוה, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.”] Yes, Isaiah knew something about how exalted יהוה was; you see he had a revelation: [Isaiah 6:1–4 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord! (he had a vision a revelation! He saw יהוה!) sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is יהוה of armies, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.] Here were these glorious heavenly beings; yet יהוה is exalted far above them. Exalted above all: [Psalm 97:9 For You are יהוה Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.] Have you ever stood gazing at the majesty, the grandeur of the lofty mountains? They are so high; yet it says in : [Psalm 83:18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is יהוה, are the Most High over all the earth.] Yes, יהוה is MOST HIGH! EXALTED! Not just a positional thing, but in status, honour, glory, majesty, in respect. [Psalm 9:1–2 I will give thanks to יהוה with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.] Yes, יהוה is higher than we can conceive. No matter how great you imagine יהוה to be; He is far greater yet than that! That is where He is ABOVE ALL! So, Jesus is commanded to sit where יהוה Himself is, to be exalted as יהוה Himself is. The command to “sit at My right hand” is exalting Jesus, the Messiah, to the highest position – exalting Him to glory, honour, position, authority, respect. יהוה is the highest! Supreme! And the place of highest honour is at “My right hand” – this is the position to which Jesus was exalted because He fully carried out the work that His Father gave Him to do, ignominious though it was. This is what the writers of the New Testament saw prophesied in Psalm 110:1 and fulfilled in Jesus! [P] This verse declared that the Messiah was more than just of human descent through David – He is God! He finished the work that His Father gave Him to do, which was the cross – descending from that place of glory, to the abyss of death as a human criminal. But Jesus ascended, which was יהוה’s vindication of Jesus and the work He had accomplished. יהוה honoured Him with the highest honour, exalting Jesus, [P] the Messiah, to the highest status possible: His own right hand! This is what they saw in this verse. For instance: Paul prays for the believers in the church in Ephesus: [Ephesians 1:18–23 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, (He is praying for revelation) so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (these are incredible things! Beyond our comprehension! That is why they needed Divine revelation to understand them. They are totally beyond human comprehension let alone capability! Thus they require Divine power to bring about:) These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (God’s power) [P] which He brought about in Christ, (effected in Jesus) when He raised Him from the dead (the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us!) and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all (far above, is exaltation – there is Psalm 110:1 and it is speaking about the exaltation of Jesus) rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (an exaltation in status, over and above everyone else) And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.] Paul saw in this Psalm the exaltation of Jesus FAR ABOVE ALL! That is what Jesus Himself saw in this verse: Jesus, before the Sanhedrin, at His trial said: [P] [Luke 22:69 “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” ] – this is the same occasion where we saw earlier, it speaking of Jesus’ vindication, but the emphasis in Luke is exaltation to “the right hand of the power of God” – a position of status and power. It is the same occasion, Jesus speaking the same things; but Luke brings out a slightly different emphasis; not just vindication but exaltation to a place of power. Earlier we saw the writer of Hebrews use Psalm 110:1 to show that Jesus had finished His work; but he also uses it to speak of Jesus’ exaltation. The big theme of Hebrews is to show that Jesus is better than everything and everyone else. Some Jewish Christians were tempted to revert back to Judaism – but this letter was written to show them convincingly that what they had in Jesus was out of all comparison! Infinitely superior! In chapter one He compares Jesus with angels: [Hebrews 1:4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.] He goes on to prove this by quoting a series of Scriptures in (v.5-13), the last verse he quotes, (you guessed it!) is Psalm 110:1: [P] [Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”? ] He quotes the verse to show, that this, spoken of the Messiah, was never spoken to any angel. These Jews were revering angels. Indeed, they are glorious beings. Remember that heavenly vision Isaiah had of the glorious seraphim. But Jesus is greater, higher, exalted above angels. They are in glory; but Jesus has a way higher status! Glory to His Name! They have not been told to sit at יהוה’s right hand as Jesus has. Look, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John, Daniel had heavenly visions; they fell down, weakened by the glory, the overwhelming weight of the vision. You see them groping for words to express what they have seen. We are totally overwhelmed by such glory; but Jesus is FAR GREATER! Hallelujah! Glory to His Name! WAY ABOVE! EXALTED! Praise His Name! Peter saw the same thing in Psalm 110:1; he said, concerning Jesus: [P] [1 Peter 3:22 who is at the right hand of God, (there’s Psalm 110 again) having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.] Yes, heaven is where Jesus has ascended to – that is where He is positionally; but also, angels, authorities, powers have been subjected to Him. He has been exalted to the position of highest authority, power and dominion, over all the heavenly beings. That is exalted in status! He has been placed over them. Look, there are spiritual beings with great authority and power. The Bible reveals that they are behind the powers that we see at work in the world. But there is ONE who is higher! Praise His Name! One to whom they are subject. The world is not out of control! Trump, Putin, some Ayatollah is not wrecking the world; Jesus, the Messiah, is in control, has dominion, is over all other powers. JESUS IS EXALTED! Praise His Name! יהוה has exalted Him because He humbled Himself, because He was obedient, because He descended and finished the work He was given to do, because He humbled Himself all the way to taking on human form and submitting Himself to a criminal’s death without vindicating or defending Himself: [Philippians 2:6–11 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [P] For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.] In the place of highest honour! Absolutely everything bowing in submission to Him. Although Jesus is exalted, you notice that He didn’t exalt Himself; it says: “God highly exalted Him”; “יהוה said, ‘Sit at My right hand.’” It is יהוה who does the exalting. Don’t exalt yourself!! Please! I plead with you! I know that it is the opposite to what our natural mind thinks and to what we hear all around us. We are being told to: “Assert yourself!”; “Be assertive”; “Make something of yourself”; “Climb the ladder”; “Look out for number one”; “Dream a dream”; “Make it happen” It is all about exalting yourself, seeking the road to glory for yourself. Tell me, who does a better job of exalting: yourself or God?! It is futile; we are unable to exalt ourselves – it is as possible as pulling yourself up by your own shoelaces. No, [P] [Psalm 75:6–7 For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.] Jesus told a little story: [Luke 14:7–11 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honour at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honour in the sight of all who are at the table with you. [P] “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”] In Peter it is written: [1 Peter 5:5–6 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,] Let God do the exalting! That is the path Jesus walked, the steps which we are to walk in. Jesus didn’t vindicate Himself, He humbled Himself, God did the exalting. Jesus left vindication in יהוה’s hands; and יהוה highly exalted Him. Jesus is at His right hand; clothed in glory, arrayed in splendour and majesty! All is subject to Him! He has the absolute highest place! We sing: “We place You in the highest place” – but we don’t do it; that is what God has already done, and He alone can do it. יהוה delights in His Son, is well-pleased with Him, has honoured Him above all else! He is way above all that we can, with our little human minds, conceive! To Him, and Him alone be all blessing and honour and glory forever! [Revelation 5:11–14 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.” [P] And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.] Jesus is exalted! The only appropriate response is to fall down and worship!