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January 2, 2012 / Daniel

Psalm 98 (The Renewal and Praise of God’s Creation)

In the second and third stanzas of Psalm 98, the poet focuses on our response to God.  How should creation respond to God?  The answer is with joy.  With singing.  In worship of God.  Look at vv. 4-6.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

The author commands everyone to worship our God.  He says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”  Worship is not optional.   Everyone is commanded to sing.  And this only makes sense.  If “the ends of the earth have the salvation of our God,” then the logical conclusion is that “all the earth” must praise God.  Verse 3 makes verse 4 possible.  He commands us to worship God with all kinds of instruments.

“Make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!    God is the King over all the earth.  Therefore, the whole earth must worship Him.    Look at vv. 7-9.

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Here the author commands even the sea, the rivers, the world, and the hills to worship God.   To rejoice.   And this includes all that fills them.  So, we’re talking the sea and the fish.  The hills and all the animals.  So, all this joy and worship is not just for people.  It’s also for plants and animals, birds and fish.  Even the trees are to worship God.

I realize that this is poetry and the author is using very flowery, emotive imagery, but I think that it suggests that God actually intends on renewing this physical planet.  And that only makes sense.  When Adam sinned in the Garden, what did God do? He cursed the ground.  So now, thorns and thistles grow.   Turn in your Bibles to Romans 8:19-23.  Paul writes,

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

When Adam sinned in the garden, creation was subjected to the curse.  Our planet is in bondage to corruption.  Everything decays.  Everything falls apart over time.  Our bodies grow old.  We decay.  And this happens not just to human beings; it also happens to plants and animals.  To rain forests, mountains, and maybe even polar ice caps.   There is not a square inch on this planet that has not been impacted by sin and death.

And Paul says that creation groans.  It longs for redemption.  It longs for the day of resurrection.  And he uses the analogy of childbirth.  I have had the privilege to witness of two children.  And God-willing, in April I will have the privilege to witness the birth of our third child.    Child-birth is not a pleasant experience.   It’s a very painful experience.   When Mae was born, I felt like a real wimp because the doctor told me, “Daniel, if you feel like you’re going to faint, sit down.”  Here my wife Shelley is going through this horrible painful experience and the doctor was worried that I was going to faint.

Because of the curse of sin, creation is in labor.  It’s in agony.  But any time now it could give birth to a new world.   God will renew his creation.  Creation longs for the redemption of our bodies.

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