Today at theGATHERING Connection we walked through Psalm 90.
Life in the desert is hard.
Being constantly reminded of your sin and poor choices makes the dessert that much more barren. Thinking about what could have been... if only... and the anger of God in the midst is a tough place.
Moses was writing to the people of of Israel in the midst of some desolate circumstances--unbelief, rebellion, cherishing God's power, but not wielding to His faithfulness. All of these brought about a 40 year sentence of aimelessly wondering around in the dessert. The same millions of people who experienced the thrill of victory at the Red Sea, who should have entered the promise land, wrotted as corpses in the wilderness. Consider the vantage point of Moses as he writes this Psalm.
Where does Moses begin?
God is eternal and man is dust (verses 1-6)
God, you're eternal. God, we don't have any dwelling places here in the wilderness. We live in tents. We're laid open and bare before the threat of our enemies; yet, you have been and will continue to be our dwelling place through all generations. Moses begins this song of lament and praise with a faith recognition of God's character in the midst of suffering and regret.
In contrast to the eternality of God, man is dust. A day or year may seem long to us, but to God a thousand years passes like one of our days. Moses, through his circumstances and through his wanderings, has learned a new measure of humility before God. Man is a dream, fleeting and momentary. Man is like the grass that springs up in the morning and then is burned by the weight of the sun. While many try to appeal to your inner-idol of self, an appropriate view of ourselves before God as we start 2011 is "I am dust and will return to dust."
Why is man like this? (verses 7-11)
Moses reminds us the purpose, the grace behind our limited lives. God limits our lives because of the plague of sin. After 70 or 80 years, if we have the strength, we are brought to the end of life by God's anger and wrath for our iniquities and sins. Pretty somber and non-inspiring... I'm dust and I die. Yet see in this psalm the glorious grace of God! We should remember that death exists because it points us to our main problem--sin. The main problem for Israel was not the wilderness, it was their rebellious, sinful hearts. Yet, death also points us to the only hope that we have--the One who conquered death on our behalf, Jesus Christ. Note the hinge, the switch that takes place in the next vereses. God is God. Man is dust. Man deserves wrath... SO
Teach us to number our days.
Why? Why did Moses want to live in light of a short life in the span of God's eternal plant? So that hee might have a heart of wisdom. Knowing that life is short changes the way one lives it. If you knew that you had 30 days to live, you'd most likely make some significant changes--priorities, relationships, and time spent on temporal things. So often we lack this eternal perspective, living from one weekend to the next or one Spring Break or Summer holiday as beacons of purpose. Moses' prayer is that we might live the rest of our days that have been numbered for the things that really matter--God is our only hope, eternity is near, the deadline of death is approaching.
Prayers from a wise heart that knows grace
In addition to praying for wisdom for how to spend the days, he prays that God would give him grace, compassion, or pitty (depending on your translation). Remember Moses' vantage point, everyone from the age of 20 and over was dropping dead like flies during the wilderness. Moses' prayer was answered in the day that Christ took on sin for our behalf, to bring us grace, compassion and pity upon our sinful state. It took place when the wrath that was reserved for you and I was absorbed in the King's flesh; the fountain of Emmanuel's veins that brought everlasting hope.
Oh how I wish that we would experience the depths of Psalm 90 over this year. Knowing God. Having a correct estimation of ourselves--dust. Hating sin in our own heart, tenaciously making war against it. Asking for wisdom to not waste 2011. Asking for grace, which is so unmerited in this desert that we're in. 2010 may have been a desert wandering for you. Maybe you were experiencing the deep scars of regret or the barren wasteland of remorse. Be encouraged by Psalm 90. Be encouraged by Jesus. Then, finally... read the rest of the chapter. These are the prayers that come from the wisdom in our hearts and the compassion through Jesus:
- God alone will not only be my dwelling, but my satisfaction.
We realize that our identity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone. He alone. It alone will bring us satisfaction. All of our fountains are in Jesus (v14)
The tie over between our time together and the Worship service was uncanny. You fill in the blank, "Lord, satisfy me with ______________." In the case of the Lucarellis, it is sleep right now! Anything that is in the place of Christ... Rest, comfort, new job, marriage, power, approval, comfort, control, hassle-free living, my agenda being accomplished, needs met... If these fill in the blank, you've got a major gospel gap. You are bowing down to worship an idol. Anything that brings more affection than Jesus. Anything tha stirs your heart more than His grace and goodness; it is an idol. I must admit, Jesus through the Spirit has been exposing some hardcore idols in my heart. I am so thankful for his grace and how He sovereignly led me once again to pray through Psalm 90. May we ask God to only satisfy us with His lovingkindness poured out in the gospel.
God knew they were in the wilderness. God knew the adversities and the sufferings. God was faithful even in the midst of punishment--He didn't allow their sandals to wear out or their clothing to tatter, He fed them, He continued to lead them. God used the spiritual sufferings of Israel to produce good. Though they just wanted God for His power, through judgement He showed them His faithfulness. Yet, God desires the same for us. God desires for us not only to see Him as powerful, but faithful and good. He desires our renewal for His glory. God is good and can renew us despite our afflictions. Take heart, the days of your affliction will pale in comparison with the days that you will spend throughout eternity enjoying and making much of Jesus.
May you spend some time this week meditating on how small you are and how big our God really is. May your prayer, as Moses was, be for wisdom, grace, and work that is established by His hand and for His kingdom.