Power of the Pen

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to His name, for that is pleasant Psalm 135:3 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-3 William Randolph Hearst invented sensationalized journalism. Some folks blame him for starting the Spanish-American war in 1898. Hearst is blamed for sending Frederic Remington to Cuba to cover that war. Remington telegraphed: “Everything quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. Wish to return.” Hearst is alleged to have replied, “You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.” He used “fake news” to goad the United States into declaring war! Hearst and his editors used the “power of the pen” to sell newspapers. How much ink caused such a great flow of blood! The “power of the pen” can cause a war or it can motivate praise of God. Psalms 135 (a collection from other Psalms) and 136 give reasons to praise and thank God. Quote: The three main themes of Psalms are that God is good, He chose Israel, and He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. First, God is good. The Psalms repeat this theme over and over (16:2; 25:8; 34:8; 73:1; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 136:1; 145:9). Second, God unconditionally chose Israel as His representative nation (Genesis 12 & 15; Psalms 41:13; 48:1-14; 72:18; 78; 87; 102:13-17; 105:7-11; 135:4; 147:19; 148:14). Romans 9-11 makes this very clear in the New Testament. His choice implies great responsibility on Israel’s part! Third, God is great and He does great things. What a contrast to the idols (“nothings”) of the heathen! They are worthless, blind, dumb, deaf, and lifeless. Those who make them are spiritually worthless, blind, dumb, deaf, and lifeless! As one poet wrote: “The great god Ra whose shrines once covered acres is filler now for crossword puzzle makers.” Idolatry degrades people. The Greeks and Romans imputed their own vices to their home-made gods. Then, they became even more vile by imitating the gods they made! Isaiah (44:14-17) says that man takes a tree that the rain has made to grow, uses some wood for fire to stay warm and bake his bread, and builds an idol with the rest of the wood. Then he bows down to the idol! How stupid! The man carries his god around in his pocket! Do you carry your god (money, pleasure, degrees) around in your pocket? Fourth, God is sovereign (135:6). This means He causes or allows all things that happen. He does as He pleases! No ruler rules without His permission. Fifth, God controls weather (135:7). As you read these words, 1,800 thunderstorms are surging across earth’s surface, causing 6,000 flashes of lightning every minute of the day. God chooses when and where they will erupt! Rather than cursing or trying to change weather patterns, we should praise God. The weatherman is powerless to change the weather and often inaccurate in predicting it! Sixth, God overthrew Egypt (the world’s most powerful nation) to free Israel (v. 8-9; 136:10-15). He killed her first-born sons, destroyed her religion, and drowned her soldiers! Egypt has never been the same! Seventh, God led hundreds of thousands of Israelites through the vast desert for 40 years. He fed and clothed His people. He put up with their complaining! Eighth, God killed many kings (over 30 kings ruled in Canaan) to give Israel their land (v. 10-12; 136:17-22). Sihon and Og were pagan kings east of the Jordan River (Numbers 21). Tradition says they were brothers of a race of giants named Rephaim. Ninth, God is eternal (v. 13). He doesn’t change (“immutable”). He will always be good and He will always be great! Tenth, God vindicates His people (v. 14) He remembers them (136:23- 25), frees them, and feeds them (Ephesians 2:4-5). Sidebar: Israel and the Church One cannot understand scripture without realizing that God chose Israel to reveal Himself to mankind. Beginning with Abraham, an idol- worshipper without merit, God designed a plan to bless all mankind (Genesis 12)! The greatest part of God’s plan was to incarnate Jesus Christ as a Jewish man and offer Him as the sacrifice for the sins of the world! Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, was rejected by His own people (John 1:11- 12), and God temporarily set aside Israel (Romans 9-11) to call another group (“church”) to glorify His name. The church is not mentioned in the Old Testament, though Israel should have recognized that God reaches Gentiles (Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 42:6-7, 65:1). The church began in Acts 2. Today, God offers personal salvation to “whosoever will” (Jew or Gentile) place faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Very soon, God will “rapture” His church (John 14:1-3; I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; I Corinthians 15:50-58) and resume specific dealings with the Jewish nation. Daniel’s “Seventieth Week” seems near (Daniel 9:24- 27). The prophet Jeremiah called the approaching tribulation the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Though she is hostile to Messiah, Israel will finally recognize the One they have rejected! Only then will great blessing follow, as He reigns from Jerusalem for 1,000 years (Millennium). God’s purpose for Israel will finally be realized (Romans 11). God’s promises to Israel differ from promises made to the church. God promised Israel land and an earthly kingdom. The church is promised a heavenly home. Israel is promised deliverance by the destruction of her persecutors. The church is promised deliverance by the removal from her persecutors. Israel prayed for the destruction of her enemies. The church is to pray for the salvation of her enemies. Israel lived under law, while the church is under grace. Israel is given a scepter, and the church is given a cross. Every individual of every age is saved from sin by personal faith in the Messiah—Jesus Christ. The Old Testament sacrifices revealed faith in a God who would send the Lamb to die once for all sins. The Jewish people looked ahead across the centuries to the cross. Today, we look back to the same cross where the Lamb of God was slain. The cross is the pivot point of history, the true “Statue of Liberty” for all men. Praise the King of Kings and LORD of Lords! Psalm 136 is called the “Great Hallel.” Jewish worshippers made a statement about God and others responded with “His ‘hesed’ endures forever!” “Hesed” is translated as both “love” and “mercy.” Jesus will return and reign from Jerusalem (135:21)! The entire world will praise the LORD Jesus Christ! Then, all will sing, “Joy to the world, the LORD is come!” Praise the LORD Who controls the weather? What has God done for Israel? What has God done for you?