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I remained silent...But I will not be quiet any longer

May 14, 2017, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Elder Jonathan Lee (Psalm 50:1-23) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Psalms
Preached at a Bilingual (Mandarin-English, Sunday) service

Tags: Asaph

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Title: I remained silent...But I will not be quiet any longer
Date: 14th May 2017
Preacher: Elder Jonathan Lee

Shalom.
Blessed Mothers’ Day to all mothers, not forgetting those in the cry room. Can we invite all mothers to rise, those whom can’t stand for long may continue sitting. Let’s give them a round of applause for all their hard work and sacrifices.

Let’s stretch out our hands and say a prayer of blessings to all the mothers. Let’s pray.

Today we shall continue to explore the Psalm of Asaph, in Hebrew “Ah-saf”. The name means “gatherer” or “collector”. As we enter into our 4th week of reading the Psalm of Asaph, can anyone tell me who Asaph is?

Asaph is a Levite, he served as a temple singer and a “choir leader” in the Holy Temple; he is one of David’s chief musicians. He used Psalms to worship and give praises to God, similar to our worship songs of today. Psalms were mainly used in temple worship in the earlier years. Many Psalms have melody to sing along but it’s a pity they didn’t have music notes then to pass down.

It is interesting to note that the composition of the individual Psalms covered a period of more than eight hundred years. Psalms survived two major events whereby the Holy Temple was destroyed and temple worship came to a stop. The first temple, temple of Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonian army in 586 B.C. The second temple, built 70 years later, was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. There was no restoration of the temple or temple worship until about 200 years later.

God the Judge (v1-v6)
Now, let’s go into Psalm 50. The first section from v1 to v6 is similar to the worship songs we sang today, giving praises and declaring God’s glory, and introduced God as the judge over his covenant people.

(PPT: v2 - 4 ERV
2 God appeared from Zion, the city of perfect beauty.
3 Our God is coming and will not keep quiet.
Fire burns in front of him.
There is a great storm around him.
4 He tells the sky and the earth to be witnesses as he judges his people.)

In verse 3, it described God’s glorious entrance, He shines with glorious radiance, fire devours everything in His way and storm rages around Him. Wow, what a majestic entrance in a worship song!

(PPT: V5 – 6 NLT
5 “Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
6 Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.)

In verses 5-6, God came to plead with his people, to accuse and judge the ungodly. He was silent, not because He approved of the inappropriate doings but a delay of judgement. However, He will no longer remain silent as He himself will be the judge.

When there is a lack of social justice, or when we see people suffering, we question why God is not doing anything. We can be judgemental and impose our expectations on how things should be.

A counsellor consulted me recently on how not to be judgemental when counselling a Christian client. In her mind she was thinking, “As a Christian, how can you think and behave this way”. She was judging her client and was affected when client’s behaviour was not in line with her belief system.

Just a month or so, there was huge tsunami in the social media over a Court ruling on a mega church doings. Christian and non-Christian alike commented and criticised the judgement aggressively, many were harsh and critical. I was taken aback by the unkind words and pondered what would Jesus do.

Not sure if anyone participated in those discussion, but my suggestion is to let the sovereignty of God take over. It is for Him to judge and not us.

When God is silent, we wonder why? He is not giving approval or lacks concern, He is gentle and patient, He is waiting for His people to repent, to open up to Him so that He can embrace them with His love and be their guide.

The Worship that God desires (v7 – v15)
Verses 7 - 15 spoke on the worship / sacrifices that God desires.

v8-v9, v13 (NLT)
8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?

Israelite understanding of the sacrifice became defective, believing that their sacrifices are essential to God to meet His needs. Further, they were only going through motion when they brought their sacrifices, with no genuine praises and thankfulness. They have forgotten that the sacrifice is a mechanism for their benefit; the animals die on their behalf as they acknowledge and repent their sin, giving thanks for divine deliverance and celebrate communion with God.

In Leviticus 1, it spoke about what and how sacrifices are to be carried out. In verse 3, it is clearly stated that “Bring the sacrifice to the entrance of the Tabernacle, so YOU”, the person may then be accepted by the Lord. In verse 4, the person is to lay his hand on the animal’s head, signifying the person’s sin being transferred to the animal. And God will accept its death in the person’s place, purifying the person and making him acceptable to God.

(PPT: 3 “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the Lord.
4 Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.
5 Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord’s presence………………)

We thus see that the sacrifices are for the people themselves, God has no need for them as He is the owner of His creation. The very act of sacrifice showed that they were once committed to follow God wholeheartedly, but it seems that they have forgotten its meaning and the act is merely a ritual now. God wants his people to worship him with a thankful heart rather than performing mere ritual.
What God truly desire is that His people keep the Shema in Deut 6,
(PPT: 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.
5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.)

He desires His people to love Him with all their heart, all their soul and all their strength; to commit wholeheartedly to Him, to offer “Thankfulness” as a sacrifice, and not outward performance of ritual without connection to Him.

v14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

A “thankful” sacrifice acknowledges total dependence on God’s grace and mercy. It is this humility and dependence that is the core of appropriate sacrifice.
When we come to church every Sunday, worshipping and singing praises, are we doing it because it is a Christian ritual? Does our worship honour God when we congregate at this Outram Hill but we ignore the needs in the community?

Each time we bring our tithe and offering before Him, what goes on in our mind and heart? When the offering bag is coming toward us, do we look into our wallet and pick the smallest note, putting it into the offering bag to signify that we have done our duties? Do we put in our tithe and offering with a thanks giving heart?

On managing finances, I would like to share with young parents how to guide your children. When I started giving pocket money to my children, I would tell them that one tenth is for Jesus, and another one tenth for saving. I would deliberately give them ten one dollar coin, then show them, one coin for Jesus, and one coin into the little piggy for saving. This one tenth to me is only tithing. Offering is on top of tithing and should come from our saving.
When we sacrifice our time, our effort, our money for church ministries, we sometime question why people don’t appreciate our contributions and sacrifices. “I spent so much time serving in different ministries, I have done so much for the church but I don’t feel appreciated”. Is it about I me and myself; or recognition from people, or sacrifices with a thankful heart to Jesus?

We serve Him because of what He has done for us, not what we have done or deserved. It’s not about us, but about Him. Do we count our blessings and give thanks each day? Or do we keep looking at what we do not have and lament over them? I shared about the Half Glass Empty syndrome some time back.

Many people come to me for counselling because of depression or anxiety. When we explored further, many of them appear to have this Half Glass Empty syndrome. They have the tendency to look at what they do not have and thus fell into a negative mental state. Let’s learn to count our blessings each day.
To all the parents on this mothers’ day, teach your children how to be thankful, to be reminded daily of the half glass full and not focus on the half glass empty. Every night before we go to bed, my children and I will spend a short time to recount the happening of the day and give thanks. Cultivate this habit and you will have happier children, and parents.

On Right Conduct (v16 – v23) NLT
Verses 16 to 23 spoke about the right conduct.
(PPT: v16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?
17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.)

In verse 16 – 17, God named the people whom perform mere lip service to the covenant but lack inner commitment to Him as wicked. They know His teachings, but failed to follow them, thus treating His words like trash.

(PPT: ERV - 19 You say evil things and tell lies.
20 You sit around talking about people, finding fault with your own brothers.)

In verses 19-20, they sit around talking about untrue things about people and finding faults with their fellow brothers and sisters.

Have we fallen into similar situation? We worship in style, we read the bible, we appear busy serving in church, we are so warm toward non-Christian, but we can be harsh and critical toward fellow Christian brothers and sisters, including our family members. We put on a kind and gentle front when we try to attract the non-Christian into our community.

Before I continue, may I know if there is any new comer today? What I am about to share is about us being the work-in-progress, imperfect self, and our God is still shaping us each day. Thus, please do not be frighten and run away after service.
So, when we meet a new comer, we approach them warmly: “Welcome to Jubilee” “Come and join us for cell group” “God bless you”. We are so engrossed in shaking hands that we forget to let go.

But when we are with our fellow brothers/sisters, we may transform into a different person. We walked pass them on Sunday without acknowledging them, our eyes in a daze staring at the far horizon, or we may be critical and accused them of things they have done or neglected. On one hand, we quote the bible and talk about love; on the other hand, we failed to live out the doctrine of grace. Have we become a Pharisee? Some people call us hypocrites. Have we unconsciously treated His words like trash?

A word for the husband and wife, have we been using hurtful words during our argument or disagreement? Are we more courteous toward the waiter / waitress whom served us at the restaurant?

To the young people, I know the changes in your body hormones resulted in your irritability, thus rude tone and unkind words may come out from your mouth unintentionally. I am not sure how true it is but that’s what my son told me when I corrected him. Is it pleasing to God when we are rude or use harsh words toward our parents? How are we treating our siblings?

v21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care.
But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.

This is the 2nd time Psalm 50 spoke about God being silent. God remained silent as He is still waiting for His people to repent, but they assumed that He is unconcerned or approved of their doing. God no longer keep quiet and rebuked out of love. It sounded as if God is going to punish His people for all their wrong doings.

v22 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
Wow, it sure sounds very serious. But God gave the people another chance, asking them to repent, rather than destroy them.

However, man failed God again and again. We saw in history that kingdoms rise and fell due to man’s doing. God as the rightful judge, can “tear them into pieces”.

Let’s watch what God did, and may the Spirit speaks to you through this video.

God remained silent, but when He said “I will not be quiet any longer”, we thought he was going to punish His people. Instead, He sacrificed himself on the cross, and suffered the pain and heart aches of human kind, he became the sacrificial lamb and died on our behalf.

No matter how imperfect we are, God did not give up on us, so we should not give up on ourselves.

In verse 15, God says “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
What an assurance! He wants us to call on Him, regardless of how imperfect we are. How should we respond?

v23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me (God). -------
Once again as in v14, God wants us to offer a sacrifice of “thanks giving” as it honours Him. Giving thanks is admitting to total dependence on God, and thus gives true meaning to the worship / sacrifices.

As His Spirit continues to speak to us, we are reminded through Psalm 50, that God is the rightful judge; He desires genuine worship/sacrifices from our hearts; He delights in our conduct of love through words and deeds; and it honours Him when we give “thankfulness” as our offering. Let’s learn to count our blessings and give thanks to Him each day. Amen.

Psalm 50 (Listen)

A Psalm of Asaph.

50:1   The Mighty One, God the LORD,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.
  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.
  Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
    before him is a devouring fire,
    around him a mighty tempest.
  He calls to the heavens above
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
  “Gather to me my faithful ones,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
  The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge! Selah
  “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
    O Israel, I will testify against you.
    I am God, your God.
  Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
    your burnt offerings are continually before me.
  I will not accept a bull from your house
    or goats from your folds.
10   For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
11   I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.
12   “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for the world and its fullness are mine.
13   Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?
14   Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
15   and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
16   But to the wicked God says:
    “What right have you to recite my statutes
    or take my covenant on your lips?
17   For you hate discipline,
    and you cast my words behind you.
18   If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
    and you keep company with adulterers.
19   “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.
20   You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother's son.
21   These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I was one like yourself.
  But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
22   “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23   The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!”

(ESV)