21 Jan Living From The Heart (The Psalms) – Episode 8
The idea of righteousness means God always does the right thing in the right way—no injustice escapes His mind. In Episode 8 of Living from the Heart, we talk about the ways Christians react to injustices and uncertainty.
Welcome again from Gandalf the Great. To hear that chilling scene reminds me of a way that perhaps the believer in Christ ought to view the King. Let’s take a look at Psalm 110. It is a royal psalm; a Psalm of David; a psalm that has great significance in our New Testament thinking as well. The King is enthroned in heaven. The King rules on earth. The King will be a High Priest forever. Psalm 110:4 says, , “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Yahweh has sworn and He won’t relent. Melchizedek, of course, is a complicated and mysterious person. Melik is the word king in Hebrew and so tsedeq is righteousness. We’ve talked a little bit about righteousness, that God always does the right thing in the right way. No injustice escapes His mind. There will be a reckoning. Have you ever experienced an injustice in your life? As much as you can say you were innocent, that it shouldn’t have happened, that it was unfair, the results of that wound are deep. Some of us have a hard, hard time letting go. If I think about the injustices in my own life for very long I get very depressed. I’m not so much angry at God or ask Him why these things happen; I just don’t know why it happened at all and I have a hard time forgiving people who did certain things to us at particular times in our lives. I’m not a, “I can’t wait to see God get even,” type of guy, but I do put my hope in a righteous King. Melchizedek is a complicated idea and a real person. Melik, the King, tsedek. He’s the King of righteousness, we might say. He’s a king who embodies righteousness. He’s a righteous person who happened to be a king. It’s a complicated idea.
You know this story. Abram, this is before he’s Abraham, is in the area of Salem. It’s in Genesis. Melchizedek comes on the scene. Abram has won a battle and for whatever reason the text doesn’t tell us that Abraham recognizes Melchizedek as a person having authority over him. He gives him a tithe. He gives him a tenth of all that he has. Now who’s Abram? He’s the chosen man of God to be the father of the Jewish people. So who is over him? We all scratch our heads and being the Bible students we are, we make up stuff. We make up who we think Melchizedek is. Some great Bible scholars make up some great stuff. We just don’t know. Some popular beliefs are that he might be a theophany, a christophany; that he was the Christ. And Jesus occurs in the Old Testament a number of times, maybe not, maybe so, but whatever He was, He was a type of Christ. He’s a King, Melik, tsedek, and He’s righteous. And Abram was the man God picked to be the father of a multitude of countless people who would be His chosen people. He gives them a tenth. It’s a picture of worship. He recognizes them as the word play, Melchizedek, the king. You can’t miss the language, and this of course will come back in the book of Hebrews. “The Lord is sworn and will not change His mind,You’re a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Now let’s stretch our brains a little bit. Aaron is the priest. The Levites are the priests who carry out the sacrifices we’ve talked about. They bloody their hands. In fact, when Jesus comes on the scene, the shepherds are tending sheep that would most likely be used for the tabernacle and the temple complex sacrifices. That’s why they got it when the star came out and they heard about this baby who was born. They had been shepherding those paschal lambs for their entire lives. They understood it. The shepherds put these pieces together and start to connect the dots as Levitical priests;their job was to butcher animals.
Do we need the Levites anymore? We don’t need experts in knowing how to sacrifice. The order of the Levitical priest ended. It was time to have a new priest. He could’t come through Aaron. He had to come through Judah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. God in His super intentional plan says, I’m not going to have a bloody priest come through the Aaronic priesthood. I’m going to do something different. I’m going to pull him out of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. So the Levitical priesthood has ended and the Aaronic Priesthood is still recognized, but now we have a new Priest. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchiz…. Wait, wait. wait. What’s the order of Melchizedek? We’ve never heard about this guy. We have a couple of cryptic passages about him and that’s it. What does that mean? It means that this King comes from a line of righteousness, not a line of sacrifice.
If I haven’t already guilted you into it, you need to go to Israel. There you will visit a number of places that are owned by the government and that the Ministry of Tourism would like you to see. One of these places is the Jerusalem Institute in the Old City and there you will watch a little video and then see a few of the implements. They’re raising money to rebuild the shovels, the altar, the basins, and set up everything according to the Rabbinic specs they have in secret hiding. They don’t really push it on you, but they want you to give money so they’ve got one of the shovels they’re trying to recreate displayed inside a big, plexiglass box. They want to get the right materials, the right gold, beautiful, ornate stuff. The ones on display are made of bronze. I once asked one of the curates there, “How do they know all of this great detail? Because as I read the Bible it doesn’t say anything about all these details. We get some details about the temple, but nothing like this.” He replied,, “Oh, the Rabbis know.”
“Well, how do they know?”
“Oh, they know.”
And maybe they do. One of the greatest theories I’ve heard is that the Ark of the Covenant is probably a few hundred feet away from where it used to be, which kind of makes sense. When Titus came in 70 A.D. and destroyed, pillaged, and burned the city to the ground, did the Rabbis just sit there and let all the implements of the tabernacle complex be trampled upon by these Romans? By these godless pagans? By Titus and his armies? They weren’t stupid religious weirdos; they were brilliant men. And the so-called Rabbi’s tunnels may very well be. That’s a good Indiana Jones movie in my opinion. It could very well be in a box in Washington, D.C. too. That sort of makes sense in God’s sense of humor, but this priesthood will not come from the Levitical priest. Notice again in verse four“God sworn, He’s not going to change His mind. You’re a priest forever.” You don’t need Levitical priests forever because the sacrificial system is over. You need new priests and this one has to come from the order of Melchizedek.
“The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” When God the Father declares an oath just as He did with His covenant promise and chosen people, He doesn’t change. The character of Yahweh, Elohim, is such that if He says something, you can stake your life on it. That’s what it means to trust in His Word. Here we have the language stacking up on top of it. We don’t need this old form of sacrifice. Take another look at verse one. “He sat at His right hand.” Are you familiar with the old song about how there’s no chair in the Holy of Holies? I think it misses the point! The point is the priest had a job and the job never ended because the sacrifice never ended. But now there’s no more sacrifice. You can sit down Jesus. The priesthood is rested. We don’t need to butcher hundreds of thousands of bulls and goats and sheep and turtle doves and all these bloody sacrifices, because you also happen to be the one who fulfilled it according to God’s solemn oath.
He will not relent, He does not change His mind; the emotional aspect of this is that He doesn’t regret and He’s not grieved by promises He makes. Exodus 13:17 lets us know that God does not change His mind in the way volitionally we think of a person. Once He makes a plan He doesn’t alter it. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, You are a priest forever according to this righteous King order. The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations…He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.
The King will crush the opposition. He will judge the nations. The language becomes military; it becomes clearly victorious; it’s convincing; it’s devastating and this person, this King, is going to wreak some havoc. The New Testament offers the full revelation; we know the King is the divine Son, Jesus Christ. We know the Godhead is at work in this Trinitarian Doctrine we hold dear. All persons of the Godhead are present and the language is very cumbersome. For instance, in Psalm 110:4-5, when “the Lord is at Your right hand,” who is being talked about? It can’t be David because most likely “Your” is capitalized, indicating diety. Therefore, most of the conservative scholars believe the role has changed a tiny bit here.
In other words, Yahweh, is now at the right hand of Jesus. If that’s true and it’s what the psalm is saying, then there’s an inseparable ministry of Christ and the Father and a time will come in the dispatch when the Father will say, “Go to earth and go to Zion and let’s continue the program I set for maternity past.” If verse five is interpreted this way, then the Lord is now at the right hand. The role is not reduced; they are joined together. It makes some pretty good traction. I wouldn’t take it to the bull dogmatic bank, but nevertheless, this is part of what drives those Hebrew Scholars who are smarter than me crazy. God is at the right hand; it’s a place of service; it’s a place of dominion; it’s a place of great power–and in order for Him to be victorious, He must be at Your right hand. The effect of this will be that God shatters the enemies of Jesus; the enemies of Yahweh Elohim. It’s a fatal blow. The language is very visceral.
Think of the story in Judges 5, of Sisera, when Jael drives the tent peg through his skull. That’s a great Sunday school story for junior high boys. Teach them stories like this and they will be entertained and interested in the Bible. That’s how you interpret them in the Bible. It’s a very gross story, but it’s the same word. These images aren’t just there for literary brilliance. These images are there because Yahweh Elohim and His kingdom will crush His enemies and He will destroy them. The Lord will have bodies filling the valley.
Some would dispute the concept of Armageddon, but if you go to Israel, you’ll find state parks where you can buy a big parks pass. You can drive yourself or take a tour bus. You park your car and it’s very safe, by the way. The worst part is the flight over there. It’s miserable, and coming home is worse. Just take some Ambien and you’ll live. Go in March; that’s my recommendation. You can visit Mt. Carmel and you’ll see a picture of Jerome, and then there’s a little Catholic Church. Then you’ll go up and see Mt. Carmel Church and a statue of a guy with a knife; it’s Elijah. Then you go to the top of this little Catholic Church and on a clear day you can see clear across the valley of Megiddo.
If you’re of the military persuasion, you’ll notice on the ground an airstrip; two of them, like a skinny x. There’s an entire wing of American Fighter planes underground there owned by the Jews. An observant eye will see the runways and might even see the soldiers do their touch and gos depending on the day. That’s where they are based out of. It’s not a huge area; just big enough for two airstrips. But Megiddo, Har-Megiddo, the Valley of Megiddo becomes Armageddon in Revelation. Some scholars debate whether or not there will actually be a battle there; some believe this is just the stand, but there’s no battle at this place because it’s already taken care of. It does give you a picture of a valley full of nations that come against Yahweh and it’s servant Jesus Christ and of who try to destroy Him, and it will take months to bury the dead. You can read more about this in Ezekiel 39:12.
Gary Haugan, the Founder of International Justice Mission, went to Rwanda after the Rwandan massacres had been uncovered. He was the lead investigator for the United States government on the Rwandan massacres. IGary tells a story and asks, “How do you investigate a crime?”
He answers, “Well, first you go to the crime scene.”
So they took a little United States entourage to these shallow graves as far as the eye can see, bodies decomposing at various levels with shallow dirt covering them. They estimate eight hundred thousand people were murdered in the Rwandan massacres. That’s the equivilant of three 9/11s every day for six weeks. And Gary was the lead investigator.
He says, “After you traipse around shallow graves for several days, the next thing you do as an investigator is you talk to the survivors.” The first survivor was a young Rwandan girl who was about thirteen years old. They had shaved her head because of the lice, and bugs and other problems she had. They had a little wobbly wooden table with two little makeshift chairs on a dirt ground under a tarped area, and he sat down and said, “Hi, my name is Gary.” What would you ask her? She has machete scars on her neck and shoulder and she was left for four days among the decomposed bodies before someone found her alive.
My mind runs to the eschatology. Rwanda will look like a small field. There will be armies that rise up against Jesus Christ. I don’t think this is figurative language to be ignored, to say somehow that’s figurative of what’s going to happen in the heavenlies. I think this is a literal concept. He will judge among the nations. He will fill them with corpses. This is the Messiah we don’t talk about. He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. Broad country probably means Israel. It’s a euphemism for the idea of Israel. Here the word chief is a singular word. It causes people who believe in prophecy and eschatology to run to the book of Revelation, to favor the idea that, yes, there’ll be many who will come against Messiah, but there will be a leader. If so, that fulfills the prophecy very neatly. He will shatter the chief men over this broad country. The leaders and the leaders of leaders, just like inRevelation 19:20, Revelation 20:2, and the imagery of enmity in Genesis 3:15.
In verse seven, the psalm concludes this man, this leader, this King, “will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore, He will lift up His head.” Have you heard of a whattie? You will learn about whatties when you go to Israel. You’ll be riding along in a nice, air conditioned,luxury tour coach, also known as a bus, and you’ll see all these little ravines that are just low lying areas. They are barren desert areas without a green stitch of plant life as far as the eye can see. It’s whattie this and whattie that, whattie kelt; and you’ll say, “What is that?”
When it rains in Israel, the earth doesn’t absorb the water well. Two or three inches of rain can cause a flood in a whattie because the water just rolls down like water off black top and just rushes through. There are accounts in the seventies and eighties of people losing their lives in floods in the Judean wilderness because the watershed comes off so quickly and those whatties that look like they’ve never had a drop of water in them become raging rivers and drown people. That’s the image here of the brook by the wayside. It’s the word whattie. This conquering King will drink from what was once a barren, dry, gulch, and it’s a picture of the blessing of the land; it’s a picture of the conquering King. Remember the number one thing you need in Israel: water. You’ve got to have water. The image says, He’ll drink water. Life comes from death. The Judean wilderness will no longer be so because of the blessing of God.
It’s a nice touch of scripture that reminds us of the glory of the King. He will therefore lift up His head. We hear many expressions that tell us He’s the lifter of our head, and it’s the idea that Messiah has won. Messiah is King. It goes back to verse one, our Chiastic devices again. The Lord says to my Lord, and in verse seven, He’s going to lift up His head. He’s the victor. He’s the last man standing because He’s the God, King. The King will be filled with honor. He will be exalted in eternal heavens. He’s enthroned in heaven. He rules on earth for a time. He becomes the Priest forever, fulfilling the ironic Levitical priesthood that could not fulfill its mission, and then He will judge the nations forever.
Passages like this for those of us who like them are fun and interesting. For those of us who don’t, you might ask, “Michael, why did you pick that psalm?” I picked it because this is the one Jesus talked about; this is the most quoted one in the New Testament. It speaks very specifically about the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. So it should give us hope and comfort. I am not optimistic about our country. I’m not optimistic about our world. I’m not optimistic about government bailing out financial institutions. I’m not optimistic about these programs. I hope they work. I would love to be proven wrong. I would love to see America become once again, the great shining city on a hill. I’m sorry; I’m a cynic. I think Korea and China have taken our place. That’s good. It’s sad for us, but I have hope and comfort in a different outcome. A political leader who you and I vote for or against is probably not going to do much significance unless God uses him or her. If He does, wonderful. I’ll be excited and I’ll be ready to bless God. But you know what? We have nothing to fear.
I’ve been afraid since 9/11. When I talk to people who do this for a living, I’m even more afraid. I have a friend whose job was to oversee all of the shipping cartons. If you go to California or Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, you’ll see shipping cartons as far as the eye can see. These are enormous things that are carried over on boats. We don’t know what’s in them. You know those magnetometers in the airports? Well my friend said they are trying to design those for shipping cartons. He said, “Number one, do you know how hard it is to see inside something that big and deep?” He said, “Number two, it would take us years to look at what we’ve got on the shore.” You want to be afraid? Next time you see a bunch of eighteen wheelers going down the street, just imagine they’re full of fertilizer. Send fifty of those to the Pentagon one day and see if you can stop half of them with all of the devices we’ve got running around Washington, D.C. in the sky. It wouldn’t take so many to make a big dent. There are so many ways the enemy can get at us.
Am I getting you scared? You don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid. I know men and women who do this for a living. I’m glad they do it for a living. God bless them. Tap my phone all you want. I don’t care. I’ve got nothing to hide. You want to look at it; go right ahead. My hope and comfort does not come from my friends on the hill and my friends who swore an oath to God and this country. My hope comes from this passage. We have a King. One day He’s going to come down here and He’s going to set it right. Nobody will stop Him. There’ll be no Aminadab who will be successful. There will be no Al Qaeda terrorist who will die a foolish martyr’s death for some cause he doesn’t understand because we have a King. We have nothing to fear as believers. So we comfort and encourage one another and we live in Christ, according to His righteousness, and that’s what we’re called to do.
During the course of our lives, we face uncertain times. It may be in our twenties. It may in our sixties. It may be in our eighties, but we face those cliffs as it were and wonder about this world and the next. You know, as you face your future, as you face eternity, we’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? What are your questions? What are your concerns? What are your confidences in the future? You can email me at michaelincontext.com. You can visit the website, michaelincontext.com. Drop us a note or leave us a voicemail. We’d love to hear from you.