The Pain of Victory (Ps 129)
“These Uncertain Times”
“These Uncertain Times”
we hear this often right now. SCOTUS just passed a majority ruling that changes the very definition of gender. The sexual revolution continues to gain momentum. Not to mention the perpetual danger of economic collapse and a global pandemic.
All the while, the church is in the crosshairs of many.
A loss of tax exemption. the shutdown of nearly 90 days. The Biblical household itself has been named as the target of different movements in our country. The rejection of Biblical sexuality. Homeschoolers (many of whom do so for religious reasons) are being locked in on.
Soon is coming the day when we will be ostracized. Or mass revival will break out. “Revival or bust” as Pastor Brandon says. And I think he’s right.
So what if it’s “bust”? Will we be ready? Will we stand faithful?
This is nothing new. Think of the history of the entire Bible.
Egypt, Assyria, Mideon, Babylon, the list goes on. The oppression and the subjection of God’s rings throughout the OT.
The NT church “we are being sent away as sheep to be slaughtered” 11 of 12 apostles executed, one dying alone in exile, prison.
The early church - Nero’s gardens.
The modern church - persecution ringing throughout the world.
And today… our “uncertain times”
It’s here, that I believe this psalm has a very important thing for us. In this day in which we stand on such “uncertain times” we lean in to the counsel of God and we wait.
First - We’re honest about it.
v1-2 - Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth - let Israel now say - Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth.
statement there twice - “Now speak up!” an encouragement from the author.
In other words - the disposition is not “suck it up” in the face of persecution. It’s not light-hearted, it’s not casual. It’s honesty.
Things are bad. And you can say it.
Why is this significant? One, I think it frees us to no longer have to imitate the culture. The happy clappy success stories. Sometimes we believe that in order for Christianity to be represented to the world well we have to present it in such a way that it looks appealing. But that’s not what jesus did.
“Count the cost” he said “the way is narrow” “if you don’t hate your family… if you come to be but will not leave your family, friends...”
That’s not appealing. Definitely not the contemporary marketing strategy of the church. But yet… “Let Israel now say!”
Wake up church, and when times are hard for you because of faithfulness, you can say it.
First, because it’s what Jesus did and it’s the pattern he lived out.
Second, if we aren’t honest about the situation… we rob God of his glory in the rescue.
v2 - Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me.
a hint of what’s coming.
out of the ashes of slavery in Egypt - the kingdom of Israel.
From the subjugation of the Mideonites, the victory of God through Gideon’s 300.
From the Babylonian and Assyrian conquests - the way is made for Christ.
From the death of Christ - the rescue and cleansing of his church.
From the ashes of the faithful bodies in Nero’s garden the church rises and leads Rome to Christ.
The enemy. Never. Wins. And he never will.
THIS is how God’s church flourishes in persecution.
The times, they are hard. But the enemy hasn’t won. And he won’t. Even in death, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
But there’s a temptation here… the same temptation that hit Gideon. In the times of victory, we think it’s because of what WE did.
Gideon, at the end of his voctory, made himself an ephod and set it up as an object of worship for Israel. He made things about himself.
But here, the psalm shows us the right way to walk.
v3 - “the plowers plowed upon my back, they made long their furrows… The Lord has cut the cords.
v3 - “The plowers plowed upon my back, they made long their furrows”
the gore. the grotesque honesty and picture that paints. plow shares and swords. They need rescue… and it comes.
v4 - “The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.” They know who and how, and then they sing about it.
Closing - They intentionally remember. They set up monuments throughout the OT to remember. God rescued. The sing it from their toes on their annual pilgrimage.
The enemy never wins, because God wins. Not because we win. Not because we’re tough. Not because we’ve pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.
This is why we are the worshippers and he is the worshipped.
And this is why we can have confidence in times of true persecution. Not because we’re strong, because we aren’t. But because we serve the victor. Who’s death has secured for his people and eternity of bliss.
So. Do you look on the horizon in fear? That’s ok. Be honest about it. But stand in the confidence of the most high. The victory has been won. Death has been defeated. The grave conquered. Bring it on.