By Russ Mitchell
Russ is the field director for One Challenge (OC International) in Romania – www.oci.ro.
Take, for example, the judgment theme. Three times the psalmist says the Lord will judge the peoples, each time stressing a different attribute of God:
“He will judge the peoples with equity” (v. 10).
“He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness” (v. 13).
By emphasizing God’s character in relation to judgment, the psalmist suggests that the peoples can escape the coming judgment by turning to the Lord now.
God’s future judgment of the nations heightens the importance of the message we have to proclaim to the nations. Christopher Wright well states this point:
“If it were not the case that all nations stand under the impending judgment of God, there would be no need to proclaim the Gospel. If it were not for the fact that God deals in mercy and forgiveness with all who repent, there would be no gospel to proclaim.” (The Mission of God, p. 462)
By stressing that God is coming to judge the world in righteousness, the psalmist presents a strong motive for people to turn to the Lord from the vain worship of idols.
God’s future judgment of the nations is also a strong motive for us to go beyond our own people, our own nation, our own culture, to those people groups who are least reached, because their eternal destiny is at stake.
Theologian Carl F.H. Henry once said, “The Gospel is only good news if it arrives in time.” For many in the world today, the “good news” is not arriving in time.
Specialists estimate that 40% of the population of the earth is least reached and 28% virtually have no chance to hear about Jesus because there is no viable, witnessing church in their culture. Some 66,000 people die each day never having an opportunity to hear the good news.
Should not these least reached peoples also have an opportunity to hear about the greatness of God? Indeed!
But this will require hundreds of thousands of wholly devoted believers working together to fulfill the Great Commission. It requires a new generation of young people intent on proclaiming God’s glory among the nations. Are you a part of their number? What will your response be?
How Should the Peoples Respond to God?
This leads to the final point of the psalmist’s message: how should the peoples respond to God?
First, he calls the peoples to become true worshippers of God, turning from the worship of idols to serve the Lord.
Second he calls the peoples to become message bearers, proclaiming “good tidings of His salvation from day to day,” telling “of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples,” saying, “among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’” We too must challenge people to respond to the Lord by becoming true worshippers and to take the good news to those who have not heard.
I am amazed by the breadth and depth of the psalmist’s knowledge of God! He speaks clearly about the identity of God and what he is like. He speaks of the Lord’s mighty deeds as Creator, Savior, Lord and coming judge. He points out how the peoples should respond to God. This is a very well rounded message, one we would do well to use as a model for our own.
An Even Greater Message Today
Still for us today, who know the rest of God’s story, we have an even greater message for the nations. We can complete the message recorded here by adding Jesus is God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1,2).
Jesus is Creator.
“All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).
Jesus is Savior!
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
Jesus is Lord!
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Jesus is coming again!
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:27,28).
What a great message we have for the nations!
“But we, who know the rest of the story, also have an even greater motivation to take the glad tidings of God’s salvation to the peoples as we look forward to and hasten the day when “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
May God find us faithful to the great mandate that he has given to us.