Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.Psalm 41:13
I love this verse – it’s such a refreshing truth to reflect on today as the insidious and soul-destroying doctrine of multiculturalism eats its way into the public mind, infecting our spiritual heritage. If ‘multiculturalism’ only meant ‘multi-nationalism’, it would be expressing an important Biblical truth:
- “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.’” (Psalm 2:6-8);
- “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” (Genesis 18:18);
- “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.” (Psalm 22:27);
- “that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (Psalm 67:2);
- “The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations.” (Isaiah 51:4);
- “all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10);
- “And I … am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.” (Isaiah 66:18);
- “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people.” (Zechariah 2:11);
- “In [the Promised Messiah’s] name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21);
- “Remember that at that time you [Gentiles] were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13);
- “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9); etc; etc.
But, firmly embedded in the doctrine of ‘multiculturalism’ is the idea that ALL religions are worshipping the SAME God under different names and in different ways. Nothing could be further from the truth which the One True God has revealed to his whole world in his Word.
So let us be loud and strong in our ‘praise to the LORD [the Covenant Name foreshadowing JESUS], the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting’. It is THIS God who has spoken to us so clearly in the Scriptures and in his Son, the TRUE ‘Israel’. It is THIS God who has sealed with his own blood his EVERLASTING Covenant with us. Let us never be ashamed to declare to a lost world what Jesus himself claimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. NO-ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” (John 14:6). AMEN AND AMEN
The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”Numbers 11:23
Moses’ account of God’s provision of the quail in Numbers 11 is a powerful challenge to all of us today as we face the difficulties associated with the pandemic. How much are we prepared to persevere in our TOTAL dependence on God when his providence in our lives tempts us to doubt or even to give up on him altogether?
In Israel’s case, not only during the 40 years in the desert but also throughout their later history in the Promised Land, there were two quite opposite aspects of God’s providence that ALIENATED them from him: when they complained because they had too little; and when they forgot him because he blessed them too much. In this context, one of the ‘sayings of Agur’ is relevant: “… give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8b-9). Israel’s complaining about the manna the LORDwas so generously providing for them, combined with their longing for the ‘free’ “fish … cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” of Egypt (5), had its source in the same sinful mind-set as stealing – dissatisfaction with God’s provision and a failure to TRUST HIM to care for them.
The godly grace of ‘contentment’ is something for which we all need to strive; for to fail to do so is SIN. The Apostle Paul in his letters often emphasised this: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11b-13).
Eight centuries after Moses, the prophet Isaiah would remind Israel of this important truth: “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Many of us are being taken through very deep and scary waters at present, and are looking at a fairly dark future, so let us learn this lesson well, or we too might end up eating ‘quail’ “until it comes out of [our] nostrils and [we] loathe it.” (Numbers 11:20)!
Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: … Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me – those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?Psalm 49:1-2, 5-6
This is a timely and appropriate word from the Lord for us to reflect on today. As the ‘sons of Korah’ compose this song, they are obviously in a situation that is not unlike ours. Their world consists of wealthy, powerful, influential people who have little concern for truth, or for the desperate plight of the vulnerable who are caught up in circumstances that are best described as ‘evil days’.
These sons of Korah have an important divine declaration for ALL people EVERYWHERE. The rich and powerful might think they can relax and rest in the comfort and security of their material possessions and not have to give a second thought to those in need. But when evil times come, what really matters is not what the material world can (or, rather, can’t) offer. What really matters is our relationship with the Creator God of the Universe! The sons of Korah can speak ‘words of wisdom’ (3) because they knew that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10).
Because ‘the fear of the LORD’ was at the very heart of their being they could each say with confidence, “Why should I fear when evil days come.” Our present experience of the Coronavirus pandemic means that we all face devastating financial stress and hardship (some more than others), but it is a good time to really assess where our true and lasting values lie. Are WE with the ‘sons of Korah’, or with ‘those ‘who trust in their wealth and boast of (ie put their hope in) their great riches’? The Lord Jesus said: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34). I have to ask myself, “Do I look up to my mighty God with such awe, respect and trust that I can truthfully say with conviction, ‘Why should I fear when evil days come’?”