This next post on Psalm 92-99 will focus on how creation itself will be impacted by the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. Remember that the Messianic Kingdom is the Messiah’s dynamic reign, or His right to rule. We have already seen that the LORD rules on His throne even before Messiah comes. As Messiah comes (as portrayed in prophetic apocalypse), He comes to assume certain ongoing duties of judging the earth. Let’s examine how this coming relates to the natural order of creation beginning with Psalm 93.
93:1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
4 The Lord on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.
5 Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O Lord, forever.
The LORD is pictured as currently reigning, being clothed in royal majesty. The world is pictured in a subservient position, yet the world is established in such a way that it cannot be moved. The establishment of the LORD’s throne predates the establishment of the (habitable) world. In fact, the LORD’s throne, His reign, really has no beginning. There is no point in time past when the LORD did not reign.
The floods have a voice. The floods here are simply any place with water that overflows, such as river banks, lakes, or oceans. Every time river rapids roar, or waves lap the shore of a lake, or ocean waves crash against the rocks, they are communicating a message. Yet as mighty as the voice of creation is, the LORD is mightier than this noise. The LORD is not pictured here as “in heaven” per se, but He is “on high” and happens to be mightier than creation. In context, perhaps David saw Him as ruling from the tabernacle since he mentions that holiness adorns His house in an eternal way.
95:3 For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95 contains the voice of the believing remnant during the time of persecution by the throne of iniquity. Since I have already blogged about this, I simply point out here the relationship of the LORD to creation. This remnant sees the LORD as being above all gods and as holding the deep places of the earth in the palm of His hand. The highest point on the hills belongs to Him, the sea is His because He created it, and His hands personally formed the dry land. So all things unseen (all gods) and seen (hills and sea) are in subservience to the LORD. As this believing remnant begins to sing the new song, this aspect of proclaiming the dynamic reign of the LORD over all creation is not lost. The fact that He is Creator is what gives Him the authority to reign. Notice a few key verses.
96:1 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
9 Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
As the new song is being proclaimed, all the earth is being encouraged to sing unto the LORD. His superiority to other gods is based on the fact that the LORD made the heavens. According to the repentant remnant, ALL the earth must tremble before Him. Now before someone raises the objection that this is simply talking about all people on the earth, and not speaking of creation itself, let us move to the verses which encapsulate the longing of creation for her Messiah.
96:11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice 13 before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.
98:7 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together 9 before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.
Here are two parallel passages in 96 and 98. Different translations have the poetry divided differently. I’m using NKJV, but I would recommend reading it in the ESV as well. I post both 96 and 98 to show the different aspects of creation that are listed in each one. Here we have heavens, earth, the sea, the field, the trees of the woods, the world and all who live in it, the rivers, and the hills – all praising God in their own unique way. The sounding forth of creation’s song is occurring while the believing remnant is singing forth among all nations that the LORD reigns in their new song. Now we hear the sea roaring, we hear the joyfulness of the fields and hills, we hear the trees of the forest rejoicing, and we hear the rivers clapping their hands. Why? The passage states that they also are proclaiming the coming of the LORD in order that He might reign over creation.
So while it is correct to hear the voice of God in creation, we must let the Word of God reveal to us exactly what creation is saying. Creation is telling us that there is a Creator who is coming soon to rule over her. When you hear the brook, it is babbling, “My Creator is coming to rule over me.” When you hear the trees in the wind, they are proclaiming, “The righteous rule of the LORD is close at hand.” When the mighty waves crash against the rocks we can hear, “There is a mightier voice than mine that will be heard soon.”
It is like Narnia longing for Aslan in the midst of winter. In the face of Sauron weaving his spell to unite all kingdoms under his evil rule, it is like the small band of believers in Middle Earth, composed of men, dwarves, elves, hobbits, and even ents, hoping that the rejected king will step forth to free them. It is like Creation has no caretaker who truly cares for her. All that is here is sinful man who only uses and abuses her. Please come rightful ruler. Take your rightful place over creation. This gives new meaning to Christ’s words when He stated, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” See Luke 21:40.
One conclusion that we must not reach, is that when Messiah comes, that He will do away with creation. Nay, instead He comes to set creation free from the curse of sin. The text is clear that, “Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.” But those who know the scriptures will ask about heaven and earth passing away, and the new heaven and new earth. Surely these things do not contradict each other. When Messiah comes, it will result in a new order, but creation will not vanish. Creation will have the Messiah ruling over her for some time. This is the Messianic Kingdom that we have seen in Psalm 45, 46, 50, 72, and 102. If heaven and earth are to be completely done away with, it must follow a period of time known as the Messianic Kingdom.
97:1 The Lord reigns; Let the earth rejoice;
Let the multitude of isles be glad!
2 Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about.
4 His lightnings light the world;
The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
This is the actual apocalypse portion of the entire opus. Notice how creation reacts to the manifestation of the Messiah. Some might think this cruel of the LORD to burn His creation in this way. We have to remember that creation doesn’t feel pain in the same way that we feel pain. Right now creation could be in pain for things that we have no empathy for. Here, when Messiah is revealed, the earth sees and trembles. This is a holy reverence for the person of the LORD. Then at the presence of the LORD the mountains melt like wax. These mountains are humbly bowing before her King. Creation is giving way, yea, yielding to the rightful heir of the throne which will rule over her. So rather than viewing the earth as being destroyed by this burning, we should view this as creation’s way of expressing worship for the Messiah/God/King. Messiah comes and the earth trembles, melts, and bows before at the presence of the LORD of the whole earth. That’s the essence of Psalm 97:5.
This theme is directly tied to Christ being the last Adam. Adam was originally to be the caretaker of the planet. Adam forfeited his position, but God promised to send a redeemer who would be a man. So this coming redeemer would buy back Adam’s original position as the caretaker of creation.
Now here at the end of this post, I’m going to speculate as to why I believe Psalm 98-99 acts as a refrain for Psalm 96-97. The similarities cannot be denied. Psalm 96 and 98 both begin with the new song, the body of each psalm is the proclamation of the LORD’s reign, and the end of each psalm is the LORD physically coming to reign over creation. Yet there are subtle differences.
Psalm 97 and 99 share similarities as well, yet the differences are even more pointed than the differences between Psalm 96 and 98. The beginning of both Psalm 97 and 99 contain an apocalypse, or better put, a revealing of the LORD previously hidden. In 97, creation yields to the appearance of the Messiah. In 99 the LORD is revealed to be sitting between the cherubim, but He is also in Zion. Psalm 97 ends with the saints (previously persecuted) being completely delivered from their enemies. Psalm 99 ends with a history of the shekinah glory as revealed through the tabernacle up to this point in time. Remember that David wrote at the closing era of the judges. A point is made that God forgave Israel in time past in spite of their wrongdoings. God’s past actions show His heart for future forgiveness for the nation of Israel in spite of their current hardness of heart. Here is my thesis.
David wrote 92-97 as one continuous song which was later divided up by the translators as being several psalms. It is titled “A Psalm For The Sabbath” because it reveals humanity and creation both entering into that Sabbath rest. After writing this psalm, David wanted to expand on the theme at the end. He had demonstrated how the Messiah would come to earth and creation would bow before Him, but David’s references to the nation of Israel were sparse. So David reformulated the ending, perhaps as an alternate ending, to show that Messiah would fulfill God’s promises to the nation of Israel, 98:3, to show that the Messiah would physically reign from Mount Zion, 99:1-2, and to show that this reign would be a continuation of the revelation of the shekinah glory as revealed through the tabernacle. God’s New Covenant promises are rooted in the covenant plan of God, not completely disconnected from them. The God who would come to reign from Zion is the same God who revealed Himself at Sinai.
So Psalm 92-97 could have 98-99 as an alternate ending substituted in place of 96-97. 96-97 and 98-99 are parallel passages. They each have points that are unique to them, but they tell the same story. One focuses more on Messiah ruling over creation, the other focuses more on Messiah ruling over the nation of Israel from Zion with the shining forth of the shekinah glory, see also Psalm 50:2, 102:13, 16. But they both tell of the same Messiah. Multiple aspects of the Messianic Kingdom are shown to exist during the same time period.
The Messianic Kingdom will be creation transformed, the nation of Israel exalted, and Messiah’s literal, bodily, perfect, righteous rule to be realized – all at once.
Creation longs for her Messiah. Do you?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman