Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Short and Sweet

"God be merciful unto us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us--
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among all nations."
(verse 1)
This sounds like a benediction given at the end of church, a blessing, well because we probably have heard it said over us by a pastor.  We do need mercy.  We do need blessing.  We do desire that God's face towards us would be a happy face, a shining face, not a condemning, angry face.  When Moses spent time with God, his own face shone.  That is what we yearn for. 

I know for a fact, that I had a merciful mama.  I wanted her face to shine down on me.  I usually wanted and received her blessings because I wanted to be a good girl.  It was my salvation, to know that I was loved, and I was blessed.  But  I remember what her tight-lipped disappointed-in-me look was also.  It was enough for me to want to  straighten up right quick like.  Our punishment, it usually involved my siblings, was to sit upon separate couches and to put our noses into an issue of  "National Geographic" until such time as we were thought to have reformed.  In the meanwhile, we were introduced through that magazine of cultures beyond ourselves, those who needed the "salvation among all nations," and to be thankful for what we had.

The very nature of God's salvation is that it is not a selfish one: it's not just about me.  It is about "us'ins."  Mercy to us.  Blessings to us.  Face shining upon us.  Plural, not singular.  There is a saying that if I were the only one on earth, God would still die for me.  That's a bit of a stretch because we are not the only ones.  We have been raised to think that "I am special."  Yes, we are, but so are others.  We are not entitled.  We cannot afford to be selfish with salvation.  When Christ died, he stretched out His arms upon the cross.  There were two suffering, one on either side, and all of us past, present, and future.  Salvation is for all, not just us nice guys, not as a nationalistic or Protestantism, or Jewish badge.   If we receive His mercy, and we do--if we receive His blessing, and we do--if His face shines upon us, and it does--it is so that His way may be known to all on this earth and His salvation may be known among all nations, beginning with the Jewish nation.

"'That Thy way may be known.'  That Thy will, gracious designs towards the children of men,--Thy way of reconciling them to Thyself,--of justifying the ungodly and sanctifying the unholy, may be known to all the nations upon earth!  The whole Gospel is called '(the) Way.'" (Acts 19:9)A.C.

"'Thy saving health.  Thy salvation.'  The great work which is performed in God's way in destroying the power, pardoning the guilt, cleansing from the infection, of all sin; and filling the soul with holiness, with the mind that was in Christ.  Let all nations, the whole Gentile world, know that way and this salvation." (Adam Clarke) 

"Let the people praise Thee, O God;
Let all the people praise Thee.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy:
for Thou shall judge the people righteously,
and govern the nations upon the earth.
Let the people praise Thee, O God;
Let all the people praise Thee."
(KJV, verses 3-5)

"All will give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift.
They shall be made happy in Thy salvation...
God will be acknowledge the Supreme Judge;
their laws shall be founded on His Word;
and the nations of the earth shall be governed
according to justice and equity (impartiality)."
(Adam Clarke)

Back in the day, when we sang hymns, a fancy singing one for the men to shine in their bass,  was "Let All the People Praise Thee," based on this Scripture.
"O magnify the Lord with me, Ye people of His choice. (everyone)
Let all to whom He lendeth breath Now in His name rejoice.
For love's blest revelation,
For rest from condemnation,
For uttermost salvation. To Him give thanks.
O praise Him for His holiness, His wisdom, and His grace;
Sing praises for His precious blood Which ransomed all our race (mankind).
In tenderness He sought us; From depths of sin He bro't us;
The way of life then taught us.  To Him give thanks.
Had I a thousand tongues to sing, The half could ne'er be told
Of love so rich, so full and free, Of blessings manifold;
Of grace that faileth never.  Peace flowing as a river
From God, the glorious Giver. To Him give thanks.
Let all the people praise Thee.
Let all the people praise Thee.
Let all the people praise Thy name
Forever and forever more."
(Lelia Morris, 1906) 
I kinda miss it.  Do you?  It was good to join in song together, in harmony together, to proclaim this truth together in this hymn.


"The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth
may fear Him.
What does it mean for God to bless us?  "He shall ever be speaking good to us, and ever showering down good things upon us."  This is not the Gospel of prosperity, but  speaks of the good things of the very nature and heart of God.  That heart is not selfish, but seeking converts to share in the blessings of God, to be fruitful and multiply.  What happens if your garden flourishes?  You share.

God had a beautiful Garden once, lovely in all it's produce.  "As the ground was cursed for the sin of man, and the curse was to be removed by Jesus Christ, the fertility of the ground should be influenced by the preaching of the Gospel; for as the people's minds would become enlightened by the truth, they would, in consequence, become capable of making the most beneficial discoveries in arts and sciences; and there should be an especial blessing on the toil of the pious husbandman.  Whenever true religion prevails, every thing partakes of its beneficent influence." (Adam Clarke)

Sadly, as was true in the Garden, the temptation to want to be like God, to take the credit instead of giving the glory to God, is more often the case.  In that sense, instead of a Renaissance, we slide back into the Dark Ages.  However, the holiness movement in the British Isles was given credit for  changing the welfare of the people, thus the nation, more than any political climate had been able.
The blessings upon the founding of our own nation which began in an effort of honoring God was evident, blessings which we have enjoyed and seek to protect.

The old Psalter says,
"Blis us God the Fader:
and our God the sone:
and blis us and multipli us God the Hali Gast;
that swa dred him God,
all the endis of erth;
for he will comme to deme rightwysly
 that  unrightwysly was demed.
He that kan dred him,
he ceases nought to lufe him."
(I think it means, He will come to damn/judge righteously that unrighteousness will be damned/judged. He that can dread/fear Him, He will not cease to love him.)  To sum it up...

"That thy way,
Thy will, word, worship,
may be known upon earth...
for mercy brings knowledge of God and His goodness;
and this knowledge  brings praise...
All shall praise--not mutter or meditate praise,--
but make it illustrious...done frequently...done cheerfully,--with a glad heart;--
not words merely, but affections of praise."
(Adam Clarke)

Let ALL the people praise Him.


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