Friday, 9 October 2020
Title: God’s Astounding Desolations
By: Ps Cheng Cheung

Psalm 46:8-9
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

As we watch the spread of the novel coronavirus, we worry about what might happen to our families and friends, our workplaces, our recreational destinations, places of worship, and our country. We fear the desolations that might come as this virus continues to infect thousands and effectively shuts down our world.

In Psalm 46, God visits desolations on the earth, desolations of a most astounding and shocking kind. But ironically, God’s desolations fill us, not with fear, but with hope.
Psalm 46 begins: “God is our refuge and strength . . . Therefore we will not fear” (46:1-2). Verse 8 of Psalm 46 extends this invitation to us:

“Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations HE has brought on the earth.”

We are invited to examine, not just God’s works, but also his desolations. Doesn’t this sound unsettling? We’d rather focus on God’s healings and blessings, not on his desolations. We understandably wonder what these desolations include. Perhaps God’s judgments on those who disobey him? His punishments for sin? Natural disasters? Or perhaps a plague of devouring insects?

The word translated in verse 8 as “desolation,” shamma in Hebrew, can mean “waste, desolation, horrific or atrocious event.” But then we continue on in Psalm 46 to see just what devastations the psalm writer has in mind:
Verse 9 [The Lord] makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

The things that usually bring devastation to the earth – war and its weapons of mass destruction – are the things, according to the Psalm, (which will be) devastated by the hand of God. We might say that God desolates the desolations. God destroys destruction and wages war on warfare and the architects thereof, thus bringing God’s true peace to the whole earth.

Behind Psalm 46 lies a vision of God’s coming kingdom, a day when peace and justice will fill the earth (Isaiah 9:7). In that future day, human violence will cease. Under God’s reign, people ”shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Deathly weapons will become tools for life-promoting food production and all conflict will cease. In the midst of this ever ascending crisis, we need this vision even more than usual because it is so easy to become focused only on our challenges, disappointments, griefs, fears, and of course, the number of daily cases. We easily lose sight of what God is doing and will do in the world.

Thus, Psalm 46 reminds us that disease, including the COVID-19 pandemic, is not what God ultimately intends for our world. We can behold God’s work – including his ironic desolations – not only in our vision of the future, but also in our current reality. In this time of history, it is hard to know exactly how God will use our current pandemic for good.

Yet, we can be confident that the God who is with us now is also at work in us, through us, and around us. We hold tightly to the promise found in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” If we keep this vision in mind and heart, it animates our lives and our whole existence, so we’ll be able to live both wisely and resiliently.

Prayer for Today:

Gracious God, how amazing You are! You do indeed bring “desolations” on the earth, desolating violence and warfare as You wage peace. Thank You for giving me confident hope in Your coming kingdom and allowing me to experience, even now, evidence of Your redemptive power.

Thank You also that You have worked through struggles in my life, bringing good in the end. Thank You for Your grace and goodness. These memories give me confidence in Your sovereignty today.

Inspire me by a vision of Your future, Lord. In a world so torn by inequality, violence, injustice, and disease, help me see with spiritual eyes the confident hope of Your inevitable return and rule.

O Lord, even in the “desolations” of this moment, be at work, in our world and in Your church. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

每日灵粮
星期五,2020年10月9日
标题:上帝令人震惊的荒凉
讲员:张祯祥传道
翻译:巫惠如姐妹

诗篇46: 8-9
你们来看耶和华的作为,看他使地怎样荒凉。
他止息刀兵,直到地极;他折弓断枪,把战车焚烧在火中。

当我们看到新型冠状病毒扩散时,我们担心家人、朋友、工作场所、娱乐中心、礼拜堂和我们的国家所遭受的影响。随着病毒感染成千上万人,我们也担忧世界再度停摆所带来的荒凉。

在诗篇46章,上帝观看地球上最令人震惊的荒野。但出乎意料的是,上帝使地球荒无人烟反而能让我们满怀希望,而不是恐惧。第46章这样开始:“上帝是我们的避难所,是我们的力量……我们也不害怕。”(1-3节)。诗篇46:8向我们发出这样的邀请:

“你们来看耶和华的作为,看他使地怎样荒凉。”

我们受邀看的不仅是上帝的作为,还有他的荒凉。这岂不是令人感到不安吗?我们宁可关注上帝的医治和祝福,而不是他的荒凉。当然,我们想知道这些荒凉包括什么。也许是上帝对那些不听他话的人的审判?他对罪的惩罚?自然灾害?或许是一种吞噬性昆虫的瘟疫?

第八节的“荒凉”在希伯来语(shamma)的意思是“浪费、荒凉、恐怖或残暴的事件”。 但我们看看这位诗人对这词的想法:

“他止息刀兵,直到地极;他折弓断枪,把战车焚烧在火中。” (第九节)

本篇指出,通常给地球带来毁灭性的事物, 列如战争及大规模毁灭性武器,是被上帝之手摧毁的。我们可以说上帝摧毁苍凉。上帝停止灭亡,引起战争来反击战争,从而给整个地球带来真正的和平。

诗篇46隐藏着上帝將來国度的異象:当那日来到,和平与公义将遍满全地(参赛9:7)。 在那一天,人类暴力将停止。在上帝的统治下,人们“要将刀打成犁头,把枪打成镰刀。这国不举刀攻击那国,他们也不再学习战事。”(赛2:4)

致命武器将成为生产粮食的工具,所有冲突都将停止。在这场急转直下的危机中,我们比往常更需要这异象,因为我们很容易只关注我们的挑战、失望、悲伤、恐惧,当然还有感染病例数。我们很容易忽略上帝在做什么,以及将要为世界做什么。

因此,诗篇46提醒我们,疾病(包括新型冠状病毒)并非上帝最终想要的。我们不仅可以在未来看到上帝的作为和令人出乎预料的荒凉,我们也可以在当前的现况中看见。真的很难确切地知道上帝会如何以这个病毒使万事互相效力。

然而,我们可以确信,与我们同在的上帝也在我们心里运行来成就祂的美意。让我们紧紧抓住罗8:28的应许:“我们晓得万事都互相效力,叫爱神的人得益处,就是按他旨意被召的人。” 如果我们把这异象放在心中,它将激励我们以智慧,坚韧地生活。

今日祷文:

恩慈的上帝,你真伟大!在带来地球和平的过程中,你确实使地球荒凉,却也让暴力和战争停止。感谢你给我对永恒国度有福的确据,体会你救赎的力量。

也谢谢你陪我度过人生的各个难关,最终都使我得益处。谢谢你的恩典和良善。这一切的经历都让我确信你在掌权。

求主以你对未来的异象启发我。在一个被不平等、暴力、不公正和疾病所困扰的世界中,让我属灵的眼定睛在你必再临统治万有的盼望里。

主啊,即使处在当下的“荒凉”中,求主与我们同在,在工作中,全世界和你的教会里。奉耶稣的名祷告,阿们。

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