Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Asaph's Cry in light of Injustice

Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?"
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
Psalm 73: 1-13

How many of us have felt like Asaph? Like there is no justice in the world? the wicked prosper, you see them get rich or get away with murder, you see how they have all they want in life and never seem to struggle. They never seem to deal with disease and, unless they have some sort of accident for drunk driving or overdosing on some drug, they usually live long. And yet those who trust God and are faithful to Him by His grace suffer persecution, sometimes live in poverty, are accused unjustly, are afflicted with disease, are scoffed and scorned, and it seems as though the more we trust and live for God the harder it gets.
See, Asaph saw how those who scorned God, those who were wicked and did many wicked things boasting in their wickedness and proud of it, were prospering. They were getting away with their wickedness, oppressing the poor and God's people, and spoke haughtily saying there is no knowledge in God and thinking God does not know the things they do . And so naturally the people saw how the wicked prospered and they turned to follow them thinking surely this is the right way.

"All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed the generation of your children." Psalm 73: 13:15

And Asaph envied the wicked, he thought surely all he had done to honor God was in vain, how can the righteous be afflicted and the wicked prosper? How many of us have felt this way? But oh my friends it is foolish to think like this, just like Asaph says a few lines later, it is Brutish to think this way. Because when we realize their end, when we know what will happen to the wicked, to those who die without Christ, we are humbled just as Asaph was. It is no good thing that awaits the wicked. People may get away with murder or adultery, or lying, or stealing, or any wicked thing in this world, but when we all stand before God in the day of judgement ALL things will be laid bare.

"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done." Revelations 20:12

"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Psalms 73:16-22

So what should our response be when we see things like this? First of all we need to realize that we don't honor God because of the good things we will receive in this world that is soon to perish, we honor God because of what Christ did on the cross for us. We love and honor God because HE loved us first. Because HE redeemed us. Because HE died for us while we were yet sinners. Let us not forget, EVER forget, that:
"we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:3-67

Asaph knew this as well, even back then in the old testament times, this is his response:
"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. Whom have I in heaven but you? And 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.Psalm 73:24-26

And finally what of them? the wicked? shall we leave them to their wickedness and let them perish? I know if someone hadn't prayed for me or witnessed to me I should have been as one of the wicked, I would've perished and gone to hell rightfully. But my friends whom God had delivered from their sin prayed for my soul and witnessed to me and God was merciful to save me, so according to what God teaches us in scripture I say we do what Christ has commanded us, "we should love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us"(Luke 6:27-28). And while a specific person might not be OUR enemy, they are God's enemy, and we should pray that God will deliver them from their wickedness just as He delivered us. And if we are given the opportunity we should witness to those who hate God. We should proclaim the loving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the wicked and rose again defeating the power of sin and hell so that we may have the hope of eternal life and forgiveness of sins in Him.

"For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." Psalms 73:27-28