Recently I noticed that the last ten Psalms begin with an earnest plea for God’s intervention against the enemy but progressively reflect an attitude of praise and adoration that reaches a climax of all-out exhaltation in the last Psalm. I haven’t studied this pattern enough to know if the arrangement is totally intentional, but it certainly had that affect on me. Overwhelmed with the need for God’s grace the writer (or arranger) is ultimately lost in the wonder of God’s amazing greatness. It is as though the author finds the resolution of life’s dissonance in the wonder of God’s majesty. Near the center of this section, we find these two extremes combined in this expression (Psalm 145:17 – 21):
The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked. I will praise the Lord, and everyone on earth will bless his holy name forever and forever (New Living Translation).
Isaiah 13 and 14 offer and apt description of the real nature of our corrupt world and its self-serving leadership. Isaiah is seeing something at the end of the tunnel of time that is as real to him as if it was happening in his day. Epitomized by the image of ancient Babylon, a proud and self-seeking world is headed for a most dramatic judgment. “Babylon, the mot glorious of kingdoms, the flower of Chaldean culture, will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed them” (13:19 NLT). And at last, he who ruled with ruthless exploitation as the King of Babylon will be utterly and forever destroyed. And God’s people — those who have opened their lives to His salvation — will be vanquished. “In that wonderful day when the Lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains, you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say, ‘The mighty man has been destroyed. Yes, your insolence has ended … at last the land is at rest and quiet. Finally it can sing again! Even the trees of the forest — the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon — sing out this joyous song: ‘Your power is broken! No one will come to cut us down again” (14:3, 7,8 NLT).
In Matthew 10, Jesus prepares to send his disciples out into His kind of ministry among the people of Israel. Their assignment is to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. And they are to demonstrate this reality by healing the sick, raising the dead, curing those with leprosy, and casting out demons for He has given them His divine authority for this purpose — not a lot unlike the authority He has conferred on all of His people by His Spirit even today. He reminds them that their task will not be as easy at it appears for in spite of their authority, they will still be subject to the will of those among whom they are sent. The image of their situation couldn’t be more graphic; He is sending them out — as sheep among wolves! Though it will not be easy, they will prevail by the power of Spirit. Their experience will be much the same as His. For “a student is not greater than the teacher… The student shares the teacher’s fate” (10:24, 25 NLT). Yet they need not fear for “the time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public” (10:26 NLT).
It strikes me that ministry in Christ’s Name hasn’t changed a lot in 2000 years. Those who have been sent by His authority are still subject to the unsubmissive wills of self-righteous people. But their vindication is that a day is coming when everything will be exposed to the light and truth of God’s eternal record. Though ministry is extremely rewarding, it often resembles the sufferings of Christ.