24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24–25
Here is a sermon I recently preached at Meadow Creek Chuch on Psalm 100. Enjoy!
In Psalm 22 the deliverance of the king brings redemption to the nations. While it is true that David wrote this Psalm and that he experienced something of the like of which the Psalm speaks, the Psalm most clearly is a prophetic typology, which I define as follows:
Actual historical experiences of the anointed one, of those under his reign (believers in Yahweh), and of his adversaries (enemies of Yahweh), in the Psalms, that also serve as prototypes of escalated actual and historical experiences of Christ, of his people, and of his enemies.
David’s experience speaks prophetically and typologically of the experience of the new David.
In Psalm 22:1–21a he describes his trouble, confesses trust in Yahweh, and cries out for Yahweh to deliver him. Bulls and dogs, deadly animals, surround David, seeking his life (Psalm 22:12–13, 16–18). According to verses 7, 12, and 13, his enemies mock David’s trust in Yahweh—“He trusts in Yahweh; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him” (Psalm 22:8). This objective trouble, mockery, and insults, result in severe inner turmoil for David. David feels that he has lost his nature and become a worm (Psalm 22:6), he has no inner strength to sustain him (Psalm 22:14–15).
In the mist of all this objective and subjective turmoil, David confesses sound theology. His trouble has not changed his God, even though it is changing and transforming David from a human to a worm. Yahweh is still holy and is reigning on the praise of his people (Psalm 22:3). Yahweh is still the one who has cared for David for all his life (Psalm 22:9).
Above all these, David recognizes that while his trouble is real and that enemies actually are seeking his life, Yahweh is sovereign over it. Yahweh is the one who has laid David to the dust (Psalm 22:15c). Yahweh has forsaken him (Psalm 22:1–2). In the present David can only remember that Yahweh once delivered (Psalm 22:4–5), but all he sees is a chasm between Yahweh and him.
Although his prayers to this point have not been answered and Yahweh has turned his back on him, David prays without ceasing. Although he is forsaken by Yahweh, he plead “Be not far from me” (Psalm 22:11, 19), “Come quickly too my aid” (Psalm 22:19), “Deliver my soul” (Psalm 22:20), “Save me” (Psalm 22:21).
Yahweh responds to David’s prayers and rescues him and draws near to him—“You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen” (Psalm 22:21b).
This prototypically points to Christ, who was surrounded my deadly leaders who sought his life. He is the Messiah whom Yahweh truly rejected and lay him in the dust of the earth. But when all his enemies thought they had their final word, Yahweh spoke the Final Word, rescuing Christ from the grave—“He has done it” (Psalm 22:31).
David vows to praise Yahweh (Psalm 22:22, 25), a vow the writer of Hebrews attributes to Christ (Hebrews 2:12). The Anointed one calls on God fearers to Praise God (Psalm22:23) based on his deliverance (Psalm 22:24). Both the rich and the poor of the earth are affected by the Anointed One’s deliverance (Psalm 22:26, 29–31).
In Psalm 22:27–28, we see most clearly the redemptive blessing that the new David’s deliverance will have on the nations.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations (Ps 22:27–28).
On this passage, I will ask and answer five questions:
Since they are coming to Yahweh, they are most likely remembering that Yahweh is Israel’s covenant God. What this means is that the whole earth lay in oblivion until Yahweh rescued his Anointed One, Jesus, the new and better David from the grave. The god of this age had and has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from remembering that Yahweh is King and Israel’s covenant God in whom they must trust.
The phrase “families of the nations” reminds us of Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham in which he said, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Yahweh has fulfilled his covenant with Abraham by rescuing Jesus the new David from the grave and through him now is causing the families of the earth to remember and return to him for their salvation.
The nations will remember through preachers of Yahweh’s reign and name. David says, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22). This proclamation of Yahweh’s name will result in worship among the Jews. Given that the house of Jacob praise because the Anointed One’s preaching, we can assume that the nations will remember and worship Yahweh because of the same proclamation, which Christ now does through his church. How will they remember except someone preaches to them (Romans 10:14).
Worship is the goal of salvation. To be saved is to be a worshiper of Yahweh. The structure off verse 27 is what most interpreters call “synonymous parallelism,” where the first line and its parallel restate and explain each other. The thought in the first line corresponds to that of the second line. With this understanding, verse 27b restates 27a.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh, and
All the families of the nations shall worship before you
The correspondence shows that salvation means to worship. To return to Yahweh in faith is to worship Yahweh. Yahweh is not only on the business of saving people from hell, as good as that is, he is about making worshipers for himself.
Jesus shares the same sentiment when he parallels salvation with worship in John 4:21–24:
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
When God saves, he makes worshipers of God.
1) Yahweh has rescued the new and better David from the greatest enemy, death. David’s deliverance, symbolic of Christ’s deliverance, results in the nations returning to Yahweh. Note the two future tenses in verse 27—will return, will worship. Christ’s deliverance makes this certain.
2) Yahweh has bought these promises with the blood of the new and better David. All the “shalls” and “wills” of Yahweh are bought with the precious blood of Christ, the new and better David. “All the promises off God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter your Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
3) Yahweh is faithful. Even when circumstances change Yahweh remains holy and enthroned (Psalm 22:3) and trustworthy (Psalm 22:9). So he will fulfill every promise of his. If Yahweh has bought his promises for sinners by the blood of his Son, we can be sure that he will fulfill each one of them to show his Son that his blood is indeed sufficient.
4) Yahweh rules over all the nations on earth—He is sovereign over the nations and will ensure that his promises find fulfillment. Psalm 22:28 grounds the promises above in the control that Yahweh exercises over the nations. The “for” gives the basis of verse 27. Kingship is Yahweh’s and his reign is not restricted to the borders of Israel, he rules over the nations, who must come to worship before him. His reign means that no president, king, queen, tyrant, closed-country will hinder his purpose.
The work of evangelism in our neighborhood and church planting among the reached and unreached is bound to succeed because Yahweh is King over the nations. Let us go to our unbelieving neighbors with the confidence that Yahweh is King over them and will save them by the power of our proclamation of Him
Advent celebrates the miraculous intervention of the unique divine man, Jesus, into human history to redeem the children of death. From a biblical theological perspective, this miraculous birth is a fulfillment of a pattern in Scripture, which shows that Jesus is a new and better offspring of Abraham, a new and better Joseph, a new and better Samson, and new and better Samuel.
In Luke 1–2 Elizabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancies as parallels, with Elizabeth’s forecasting Mary’s. Elizabeth stands in the line of the barren women in the Old Testament whom God graced with unique sons. Following in the path of the barren women in the OT, whose wombs Yahweh opened and gave children who had great significance in his redemptive plan, Elizabeth prepares us to receive the news of the virgin birth of a King.
The description “had no child,” “barren” and “both were advanced in years” recall Genesis 18:11, where Abraham and Sarah share a similar experience. Abraham was God’s chosen, whose offspring was to bring blessings to the nations, but Sarah’s womb was dead. We find this pattern repeated several times in the Scriptures: Sarah (Genesis 11:30), Rebeka (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 29:31), Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mother) (Judges 13:2), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5), and now Elizabeth (Luke 1:7, 18), then the completely staggering finale, Mary whose is not only barren like the others, she’s never known a man sexually (Luke 1:27).
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
The crescendo of the pattern in the conception and birth of Jesus shows that he fulfills and exceeds the roles of the sons born of the miraculous conceptions in the Old Testament:
Jesus is a new and better Son of Abraham. He sacrifices himself as the substitute sacrifice for the sins of those who would believe in him and is received from the grave never to taste death again (cf. Hebrews 11:19)
Jesus is a new and better Joseph. He is sold and betrayed by his own people but becomes the means of their salvation, but even more than that he is their Salvation,
Jesus is a new and better Samson. He defeats all the enemies of God’s people by his death. Whereas Samson killed more at his death than his life (Judges 16:30), Jesus not only killed more enemies by his death but kills death itself.
Jesus is a new and better Samuel. Like Samuel, he grows in stature and favor with God (1 Samuel 2:26; Luke 2:52), God is with him (1 Samuel 3:19), but God does not only reveal himself to Jesus by his word like to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:21), Jesus is the Word of God and reveals God to all.
The pattern of miraculous conceptions find their ultimate and mouth-stopping conception of the virgin who gives birth to the Creator of the Universe, the great substitutionary sacrifice, great Deliverer, the Destroyer of death, the Word of God who alone reveals God.
The mature man, who is he? He is responsible. He takes responsibility for his own life and that of others. The mature man is responsible and grown up, in contrast to the one who is irresponsible and childish. He takes personal and moral responsibility – in his home, at his work-place, in the church and in society. The Bible calls us to realize this mature man. And I am deeply convinced that the exhortations that are addressed to men and fathers in the New Testament will contribute to this taking place. Many are obviously skeptical to that today. Because question-marks are being put to the validity of the exhortations, both to those that are directed to the man, but, not least, to those directed to the woman. But let us approach the subject by listening first to some voices from our own time.
What do today’s people think about being a man or a woman? The answers are not unambiguous. One can sense insecurity. Men especially have become more insecure about what it means to be a man and a father. The ideal of equality can lead to the blurring of the differences between the sexes. But the thoughts and emotions are not always in accord. Listen to what the well-known Norwegian author Erlend Loe says in an interview:
We have grown up in a time of fundamental changes. Not of the kind ‘the nation must be built up, we’re threatened by an external enemy’, but of something as important as what is a man and what is a woman. Boys and girls were meant to be so very identical. Even as a child I realized this was rubbish … And so they (the parental generation) have upset the gender role pattern, which is good, completely necessary, but it has had some consequences. I believe my generation will experience long term effects with relation to something as big as daring to believe in love. You only have to speak to people who have been the victims of divorce; they struggle for years afterwards … The number of possibilities and amount of information means you have to be a rock to see what is important. There is so much garbage. I think many get lost there. And when the responsibility for your life only depends on you, I think the development will leave many disappointed and half-bitter destinies behind in the ditch (from the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet 06.02.04).
This is thought-provoking! Loe sees the necessity of questioning the traditional gender-roles. But at the same time he sees that the extreme equality principle is what he calls ‘rubbish’. The question of what it means to be a man or a woman is for him ‘fundamental’. But then there is also the problem that ‘the responsibility for your life only depends on you’ … It’s here that we Christians can answer : No, God has created us as man and woman, each with our own identity. And the responsibility for our lives doesn’t rest on us. We have a divine word that points to a design for being a man and for being a woman!
Are we who want to follow the apostle’s words about men and women promoting an old-fashioned and reactionary masculine ideal? When we still want to claim that God has given the man a special responsibility in the home and the church, are we then upholding a masculine ideal that is oppressive and outdated? No way! For there are many voices in our time that express a longing for this mature man who takes responsibility.
In an interview with Dagbladet (The Magazine 12.01.02) the well-known Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad says this among other things:
I dream of a “Carl Larsson home”. A large, white house at Vindern (a place in Oslo) with garden furniture, a jug of fruit juice here and a bunch of flowers there. And then I stick my head out to the children on the veranda and call out that the buns are ready …
What does your future husband look like? He must be someone who wants something. Who has a project that is greater than himself. And greater than me (!) One who pulls me along with him and has drive. If not I get exhausted. Since I am so self-willed he has to be someone who stands up for himself and says: “Yes, Åsne. We’re doing it” I don’t think it’s so easy to find him.
No, he isn’t so easy to find! But perhaps we can help her by boldly building up men of authority in the image of Christ through our preaching and teaching! Because it is after all thought-provoking to read what Åsne Seierstad says. She wants a strong and mature man who desires something. Thus she confirms something that I’ve always claimed: No woman wants soft men they can manipulate how they want. They want kind, but mature men.
Listen to another voice of the time, the well-known Norwegian crime writer Fredrik Skagen. He has helped to start an organization called ‘Men against violence’. The main aim of the organization is to work towards men behaving with respect and courtesy towards women, respecting boundaries and refraining from any kind of violence. In an article in Adresseavisen newspaper (15.04.02) he says the following : “Some people think that this [the work of the organization] is going to be an affair for soft men. They’re wrong, completely wrong. It’s a part of the very most important aspect of a man’s identity to take care of women and children. That’s what it’s about, that and nothing else” (My italics).
What else are these voices other than a cry for mature, adult men who will be both strong and mild, firm and sensitive? The way is not far to what the Bible calls us men to be. No these voices are in fact confirming what the Bible says.
A last example. Let me take a detour to something that happened in my student days at theological college, in the beginning of the 70s, when the feminist movement seriously hit our society and lead to the college altering its view on women priests. “Man and woman” was strenuously debated. Professor in Systematic Theology, Leiv Aalen, took part actively in the debate. I remember that many laughed at him when he once said something along the lines of “the man represents to a greater degree the active and persistent principle, the woman the more passive and receptive”. This was really to speak “against the current”, and as I’ve said, the old man was laughed at. But look : At Aruna Development and Culture Centre in Son in Norway the couple Lisbeth Lind and Øivinn Øi work with courses on living together. In an interview with the newspaper Aftenposten (22.01.95) they say: “We try to accentuate and not least to enhance the typical gender differences. And because in our culture we’ve been so preoccupied with smoothing over them, that in itself becomes an important thing. – While the woman in her foundation is love itself and constitutes its passive principle, the man is created to love, to be the practicing part. Because he constitutes the firm, unshakeable principle, it matters more for the woman to find a man she likes the ‘direction’ of and whom she can stretch herself after, than to influence him to see things differently. Otherwise she can quickly end up with a weakling or the negative cold shoulder”. This couple would scarcely have laughed at professor Leiv Aalen! But theological students did. Now those who’ve been quoted here will scarcely rejoice over a view that leads to a No to female pastors, But my claim is that what we read here about man and woman is closely tied up with the masculine ideal that we find in the Bible, yes, amazingly close to the Bible’s thoughts about men and women and their differences.
Today’s men are often insecure about their own identity. The reasons can be many. But one of the main reasons is undoubtedly the fact that so many boys grow up alone with their mother, or experience difficult situations when a new partner moves in with her. The absence of a good man is a fundamental problem for all too many young boys. The fact that so many boys today grow up without a faithful and good father at their side is, according to the Norwegian social anthropologist Jan Brøgger “without historic parallels”. The results of this are among other things an increase in violence, because male energy isn’t being channeled in a healthy way. The police inspector Arne Danne in Stockholm said therefore in an interview several years ago, “The reason for the violence is that men no longer bring up men. In the whole of the western world the need is the same : positive manliness”.
Eivind Berggrav, who was a bishop in Norway, wrote the book The Man Jesus in 1921. He characterizes Jesus with these qualities : wise, manly, strong and free. He stresses the balance in Jesus’ personality : “In Jesus’ character there is a remarkable interaction between the authoritarian and the mild”, he says. Jesus has power and strength in himself. He is the man of action who wants to improve, change, lift and ennoble. Berggrav compares Jesus to the male figures within Buddhism and Islam : “When we think about Buddha’s crossed arms and place him next to Jesus whose hands are always active, then in spite of all its spiritual refinement and beauty Buddhism nevertheless becomes a bed-ridden religion”. On the other hand in Islam the man appears as one-sidedly cold and oppressive. “He may have a certain fire, but lacks depth and warmth”, writes Berggrav. In the book The Wild Man Richard Rohr is preoccupied with similar ideas. The man’s energy has to be tamed, he says. The man’s authority must be a compassionate authority. Manliness implies action, responsibility, decisiveness.
It is this we find in perfect balance in Jesus. He is the Lion of Judah. He is the Lamb. He grasps the whip and clears out the temple court. He cries at the grave of Lazarus. He had the courage to reprimand the Pharisees and the scribes. He dared to show weakness when the trial was at its hardest—in Gethsemane. We see that love and strength, tenderness and firmness, mercy and truth are in perfect balance in him. Therefore Jesus is in a special way the true model for all men.
The Christian man is obliged to live in the same way that Jesus did in relation to his bride, the church. There is no text in the whole Bible that will protect women and children better than a brave and practical preaching of this passage. For this is how the husband must live, says Paul : Just as Jesus invests his whole life in service for his bride, so shall the husband’s life be a continuous service for his wife and his children. We sing about Jesus : “He walks by my side, he leads me along, he doesn’t grow tired as I do. And in mercy he guards me the whole day long, he never lets me down”. As men we can feel a great inadequacy in relation to such an ideal. Who of us does not get tired? No, we are only human beings. None of us can be wholly and completely like the Master. But what a marvelous picture to aim at! The man Paul portrays for us is the one of authority and maturity who takes responsibility. He is a servant. He wants to lift and protect his bride, love like Christ, forgive, comfort, listen, lead. God has laid on him a responsibility that every husband should be aware of—in Jesus’ name.
C.S. Lewis has some interesting observations on this: “Christian law has crowned the husband. It has given him—or should I say ‘inflicted on’ him—a kind of leadership. The perfect embodiment of this leadership is not in the husband we all wish to be, but in him whose marriage is more like a crucifixion. The anointing for this dreadful coronation is not seen in the joys of a man’s marriage but in its sorrows. The husband who has a leadership that is Christ-like—and that is the only kind that is allowed—will never give up”. Lewis is thinking here of the difficult marriage where the partner is difficult, demanding, unloving—and whatever it may be. As Christ loves sinners and endures, so will the husband’s Christ likeness become extra distinct when he remains faithful during “the bad times”.
In Isaiah 32:2 we find a beautiful picture of the good man: He shall be “like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” This is a picture that is wholly in line with what modern psychology has said about the ideal relationship between the man, the woman, and the child : The woman must embrace the child, the man must embrace both the mother and the child! The man as protector and guardian, as life-giver and as the firm rock. Again: We will never manage it fully. We need God’s grace and power. But is there a more lovely picture to paint for our time?—A young couple visited me in church a while ago. They were living together. “I don’t know if I dare get married”, he said. No, this lack of courage to take on commitment and responsibility marks more and more people. The young of today can “bungee jump”, seek the challenges of extreme sport and set off for remote corners of the world in search of adventure. But the courage for commitment and responsible love “in good days and bad” is being lost by steadily more and more. The Church of Christ and we who preach God’s word must give them that courage and call them to their true image, in Jesus Christ!