Sunday, September 14, 2008

When I Consider Thy Heavens

Have you ever gazed down into the Grand Canyon or looked up at a tall mountain – and felt small in comparison? Have you ever looked up at the stars, thought of how small you were in the midst of the universe – almost like a speck of dust in comparison with the vastness of space?

I believe that is some of what the Psalmist, David, felt when he penned Psalm 8 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 8:1, 3-6 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens... When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

The definition Strong's Concordance gives for mindful in verse 4 is, "properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention." In light of all that God created, what is man that He would remember or think about us?

Several other Biblical writers asked similar questions:

Job 7:17-18 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?

The word for try in this passage means, "to test (especially metals); generally and figuratively, to investigate:--examine, prove, tempt, try (trial)." Why would the Lord God be so concerned about mankind that He would try them as precious metals are tried, that He would put them in the fire and test them, that He would prove them to see what their worth was in His sight?

Psalms 144:3 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!

Lord, why would you pay attention to man? Is it simply because You created us - or is there more to the picture?

In the NT book of Hebrews, we find Psalm 8 quoted. It is interesting to note the meaning of several of the words used here:

Hebrews 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Mindful - "to remind, i.e. (middle voice) to recall to mind:--be mindful, remember." Visit - "to inspect, i.e. (by implication) to select; by extension, to go to see, relieve."

God calls man to mind. He visits man. The word for visit in the OT carries the idea of both visiting "with friendly or hostile intent." Searching through the Scriptures reveals that He does so in several ways: by way of judgment and by way of help.

Visiting judgment on those who worship and serve idols:

Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Visiting judgment on Israel's rebellion:

Exodus 32:31-34 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

Visiting mankind in judgment for their sins:

Exodus 34:6-7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Job 31:14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Visiting the nation of Israel with chastisement when they go astray from the Lord:

Psalms 89:30-32 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

Visiting judgment on those who oppress His people and who rise up against them:

Psalms 59:5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

Isaiah 10:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

There are several other similar passages that also deal with this theme of visiting judgment (especially in the book of Jeremiah), but I wanted to focus on the Scriptures that speak about the Lord visiting His people to relieve their distresses or trials.

Visiting Sarah and enabling her to conceive in her old age, and visiting Hannah who was previously barren:

Genesis 21:1-2 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

1 Samuel 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Visiting the nation of Israel and setting them free from their bondage to the Egyptians:

Genesis 50:24-25 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Exodus 3:16-17 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

Exodus 4:31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Visiting the nation of Israel and relieving the famine they were experiencing during the time of the Judges:

Ruth 1:6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Visiting Job and preserving his life:

Job 10:12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

Visiting Jeremiah in his distress - because of his faithfulness to the Lord:

Jeremiah 15:15-17 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Visiting Israel and releasing them from their Babylonian captivity:

Jeremiah 29:10-11 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting mankind with salvation, through His death upon the cross:

Luke 1:68-70 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting Israel (and the world) through His incarnation (God being manifest in the flesh):

Luke 1:77-79 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The Lord Jesus Christ visiting Israel through healing and raising others from the dead:

Luke 7:16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

The majority of the nation of Israel did not realize that Jesus Christ was their Messiah and was visiting them - that He was walking among them - and therefore rejected Him as their Saviour and King:

Luke 19:41-44 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

In the same way, many in this world refuse to believe that Jesus is the only Saviour that came to die for their sins - and as such, they will be surprised (though God's people will rejoice) in the day of visitation, when He returns to judge the nations and rule from Jerusalem:

1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Many reading this study are probably familiar with the popular chorus, Lord, I Lift Your Name On High. While I am not endorsing the author or particular performers (or performances) of this chorus, I do appreciate the lyrics:

"Lord, I lift Your name on high;
Lord, I love to sing Your praises;
I'm so glad You're in my life;
I'm so glad You came to save us.

You came from Heaven to earth;
To show the way,
From the earth to the cross,
My debt to pay,
From the cross to the grave,
From the grave to the sky;
Lord, I lift Your name on high!"
(Words and music by Rick Founds)

What is man that God is mindful of him? Someone whom the Lord loved enough to leave the glories of Heaven for, to come down to earth as a man - so He could one day die for their sins upon the cruel cross. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour that died in our place, that was buried and that rose again victoriously from the dead three days later. Jesus paid the complete penalty for sins that we deserve - and Jesus paid it all! There is nothing man can do to save himself. God fulfilled His part - our part is to repent of our sins and receive the Saviour, turn from our own way to the Living Way, Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

What is man? Someone that God loved enough to set this plan of salvation in motion and to carry it out despite the tremendous cost to Himself.

What is man? Someone that God set His love upon, despite their sin and rebellion - and offered a way for their sin to be forgiven and cleansed, and for them to have a relationship with Him.

Have you received Jesus' free gift of salvation?

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Acts 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

Are you one of those that God has saved, that God has taken out of and redeemed from a life of sin and rebellion? Has there ever been a time and place in your life that you responded to and received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?

What is man?

The next time you consider the heavens that God has created, think about His love for you, His goodness toward you, and the gift of salvation that Jesus died to give you.

September 14th/08
Jerry Bouey

Note: this devotion uses some of the same passages as another study I put together in 2005 entitled What Is Man?, though I have taken this one in a different direction. If you appreciate this study, you may also be interested in the one written earlier.


Suzy (Kitagrl) said...

Great devotional, as always! Always good to remember the love of God, sometimes I think that is the hardest attribute of God for me to really truly understand in my heart.

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent devo, Bro. Jerry!!! It is quite humbling to know that the God of Glory would be mindful of me!!! I was truly blessed by this!!!

Bro Tim said...

Bro Jerry what a great post. I am thankful that the Creator of this universe wants to know me and hears me.

Bro Tim

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