TODAY’S READING: Psalm 102–104
It’s pretty intuitive that God by definition must have universal worship. If indeed He is God, then all peoples from all places in all the creation must worship Him and be only, fully satisfied in and by Him. You can’t be God and not have universal scope, whether that be power, knowledge, presence, or worship. If God will not be glorified everywhere by everyone in everything, then He is no true God. The wonder of free will must be interpreted through its limited period of operation—we can choose to worship God now, but day is coming where every knee will be compelled to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The Psalms merely remind us of what we willfully forget: “O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty… O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions… You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke” (Psalm 104:1, 24, 30–32). Because God by definition is worthy of universal worship, it is academic that the course of history inexorably marches toward that end. All the peoples will praise Him—it’s just a matter of time.
We can resist this inevitable future (all creation and all peoples joyously worshiping God forever), but it is futile resistance. We can rebel against this certain end, but frankly, that means we align with the devil and his demonic host, and at the end of the beginning (when King Jesus comes back to rule and reign over all nations and peoples), those efforts are overwhelmingly defeated. We can worship other things (including ourselves), but that only disappoints now and eternally. Or we can “sing praise to the Lord as long as [we] live… [We can] be glad in the Lord” now and forever (vv. 33, 34).
The wonder is not so much that the God of glory, the God so worthy of worship, the God who made us to be most satisfied when we are satisfied in Him allows humans a period of choice. The wonder is that this awesome Lord does not consume us for rejecting Him and disrespecting Him. Perhaps the definitive description of God in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 103: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy… The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (v. 8, 17). The fact that God is slow to anger indicates that anger is a legitimate, wonderful, and necessary part of being God. It reminds us that one day indeed sinners will “be consumed from the earth” (104:35), but first there is a season of grace where mercy allows escape from deserved wrath. How foolish, even wicked, is the suggestion that God is harsh to unleash His wrath. This line (even unwittingly) is a slap in the face to the Lord of mercy. We should not wonder at the God who destroys; rather, we should marvel at the God who saves.
Psalm 102 states: “You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time has come… So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory…that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord…to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord” (vv. 13, 15, 18, 21–22).
We live in the age of incredible mercy. God created mankind and gave us all the privilege of will, which everyone living and dead has abused to worship self and a range of idols, causing great pain. God should destroy us all, but God astoundingly declared a fixed period of amnesty, a time to favor His people, a time to have His people announce God’s mercy to all the peoples of earth. The Lord of mercy blessed Abraham so that the not-yet established six million Oromo of Ethiopia would be warned to flee the wrath to come, to take advantage of God’s amnesty, and to remember that “the Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all… Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion” (103:19, 22). Missions is both blessing God now and announcing a period of God’s merciful amnesty globally so that all peoples can bless Him eternally.