Today’s readings.. (Exodus 21), (Psalm 74), (Mark 7)
Our Psalms reading today (No. 74) was obviously written when God’s nation was in distress and their temple destroyed. Asaph is a later Psalmist and some of his words are very appropriate to our situation now; the few faithful in Israel were surrounded by scoffers, not dissimilar to what we will soon read in Exodus. Real faith in God is a challenge, the Eternal does not make his presence so evident that there is no need for real faith, but the evidence is there for those who really apply their minds to ‘know’ God.
It is evident Asaph had to cope with a lot of scoffers. He writes, “There is no longer any prophet and there is none among us who knows how long” [v.9] Today we also ask, “How long?” He then asks God, “Is the enemy to revile your name for ever?” [v.10] The Psalm becomes a petition, “Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs and a foolish people reviles your name” [v.18] So also today, the very existence of God is scoffed at and believers are sometimes reviled, especially in print, also – by implication – on TV.. More and more the mass of people accept the idea that they are only the highest form of animal and they evolved through endless accidents of pure chance.
In the generations from when the Bible was available for all to read many nations built up a ‘moral bank balance’ of spirituality – but this ‘balance’ has now all been used – and there are no ‘securities’ available for Governments to borrow against to build up the moral fibre of their people – even if they wanted to!
We note Asaph’s plea to God, “Arise O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day long!” [v.23] This is now our plea in prayer to God, and it will become more and more urgent. What kind of answer are we expecting God to give?
The next Psalm gives God’s answer, “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars” [75 v.2,3] We must not let our faith be undermined by the scoffing of the foolish, indeed we must be increasingly positive drawing on our ‘bank balance’ of scripture strength!
Asaph in yesterday’s Psalm expressed his personal relationship with God, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory … there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” [v.23-26] May we say ‘Amen’ to that with all our heart.