Tuesday, September 1, 2015

God's Judgment Now in View of God's Possessing All the Earth Later

How does “for you shall inherit all the nations!” function as a ground for God to arise and judge the earth in Ps. 82:8? The reasoning seems strange. At least if you really think hard about what it is really saying. And, make no mistake, the psalmist is providing a reason for God to act as a judge. 

Well, at first glance (and perhaps second, and third, and so on), it might appear that Asaph is calling for the judgement of God at the end of time when he ushers in the eschaton and the final state in a new heavens and new earth. But that really doesn’t work. 

Likely written in the exilic situation in the ancient near east, under foreign domination and oppression, the psalmist is certainly calling for God to judge his present adversaries, at the time the psalm was composed, way back then, thousands of years ago—way before what we call the final reckoning, the great day of judgment. 

So how, then, does the second part of verse 8 function? Well, it must mean something like this. Since God is going to possess all nations, let’s get going on that work now, Lord, and bring about some of the advance—in the here and now of Asaph’s day (well before the final judgement). Judging Israel’s enemies thousands of years ago would've been fitting since God would eventually inherit all the earth for all his people in due course. 

Now that’s just not how we think. (And if it throws off our eschatological system, oh well, so much for our system.) And for evidence that we don’t think this way, try praying for God to judge justly on behalf of the Church now, or your local church, surrounded by her adversaries, thinking of and praying for God to act now on some specific injustice, and doing so on the basis of God’s taking possession eventually of all the nations. We just don’t pray that way. Because we just don't think that way. But we sure should. Asaph did. And so should we. 

Your kingdom come now, O Lord, because we know your kingdom will come in fullness and cover the nations. Jesus bought the nations with his blood, and will surely possess and subdue them visibly. So, we pray, act now in our nation, against the gross injustices right in front of our eyeballs, in view of your reign coming to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Amen. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.