April 28 2023
Today, Friday April 28
Psalm 50:7-15 "Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices Or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
"If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
The Psalmist introduces this message with a reminder that God is a holy and righteous Judge (vv. 1-6). In the first verse we read: “The Mighty One, God the LORD, has spoken….”. My friend, when God speaks, we better listen. Now in verse 7 we learn what God what wants us to hear. “Hear, O My people, and I will speak…” He speaks first as Judge to His own people. This reminds me of 1 Peter 4:17: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
If the world is in a mess, it is not because of all the wicked sinners doing their evil deeds. It is because of Christians who are not fulfilling the Great Commandment and loving the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength. And it is because we are not living out the Great Commission, to go into all the world preaching the Gospel to every creature, discipling them to obey everything the Lord has taught us in His Word!
Yes, it is our fault because we have become “heartless worshipers”. We are good at giving the Lord “lip service” instead of heart worship. Jesus noted this in Matthew 15:8-9: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me…”.
"Hear, O my people" has a majestic ring to it (Deut. 4:1; 5:6; 6:3-4; 9.1; 20:3; 27:9). The Lord speaks first to those who are indeed His people, but their hearts are not in their worship. Their devotion is faithful but only routine. Like the church at Ephesus, they had "left their first love" (Rev. 2:4) and were worshiping the Lord out of habit and not from the heart. Outwardly, they were doing what the Lord commanded and honoring the daily sacrifices (Ex. 29:38-42), but inwardly they lacked love and fellowship with God.
They forgot that God wanted their hearts before He wanted their sacrifices (Isa. 1:11-15; Jer. 7:21-23; Hos. 6:6; 8:13; Amos 5:21-26; Mic. 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-34). Remember what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."
The sacrifices that the Lord commanded were indeed important to the spiritual life of the nation, but they did no good to the worshippers, unless there was faith in the heart and a desire to honor the Lord. The animals they brought belonged to Him long before the worshipers ever saw them! The world and everything in it belong to Him (v. 12; Psalm 24:1; 89:11; Acts 17:24-25; 1 Cor. 10:26), and there is nothing we can give to God. Some of the pagan religions of that day taught that their gods and goddesses "ate" the animals that people sacrificed, but this was not a part of the Hebrew religion (Deut. 32:37-40).
What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything (vv. 14-15). But the Lord doesn't want ritualism or formalism. He wants our worship to come from the heart.
When we are in a relationship and fellowship with the LORD in this way, we can be assured that we can, “Call upon Him in the day of trouble and He will deliver us and we will glorify Him!”