Thursday, December 4, 2008

The City of God

Psalm 48

I. The Great God Has a Great City

A. God [Jehovah] is great in His own city; city is the classical term for a state or civilization. A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.” (Psalm 48:1)

1. The great triumph of God's city has begun; people who do not see it are looking for the wrong thing. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2) “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

2. Scripture leads from Genesis to the vision of a magnificent city, the New Jerusalem. “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:10-14)

B. The beauty of Christian culture brings joy to everyone; all people benefit when Biblical law prevails over the best thinking of the godless. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” (Psalm 48:2) Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” (Isaiah 60:18-20)

C. God's city is a refuge unlike the dying cities of humanity. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” (Psalm 48:3) Augustine wrote a magnificent work in 22 books called The City of God to explain this doctrine for Christians watching the Roman civilization slump from the world stage into history.

D. Remember Luther's vision of the Holy City. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” (Psalm 46:5) A Mighty Fortress

II. The Enemies Have Been Instructed

A. Human kings have gathered against heaven's rule and learned the foolishness of their dreams. “For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hasted away.” (Psalm 48:4-5) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” (Psalm 2:2-5)

B. Picking a quarrel with Biblical government has long-term consequences which call to mind the way in which pregnancy is easier at the start than at the delivery of a child. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.” (Psalm 48:6)

C. God takes care of His own; the Holy City does not pass with the years as human empires come, go, and transform. “As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.” (Psalm 48:8)

III. Enjoy the City

A. Everything in the Holy City reflects the love of God. We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.” (Psalm 48:9)

B. Righteousness has an appeal even for pagans who refuse to practice it. “According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.” (Psalm 48:10)

C. Believers cannot avoid being happy when God establishes the New Jerusalem in His own way.Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.” (Psalm 48:11) Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” (Revelation 15:4) “And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)

D Believers benefit from simply looking around for themselves rather than listening to unbelieving detractors.Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.” (Psalm 48:12-13)

E. The greatest thing to observe is the eternal reign of our King. “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48:14)

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