Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


Reading the Word of God

September 5, 2021 in Bible - NT - Revelation, Lord's Day, Meditations, Word of God, Worship

Revelation 1:1–3 

1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. 

It is always dangerous to introduce things into the worship of the Triune God that have no grounding in Sacred Scripture. The reason is that we human beings are corrupt and prone to idolatry. We drink iniquity like water. We find ways to subvert the worship of the true and living God and to replace pure worship with the traditions of men.

And so it is always good to ask questions of our service of worship. Are the things we are doing reflective of the patterns and principles laid out in the Word of God? Have we introduced certain practices simply because we think they are good ideas or because they faithfully reflect biblical principles?

The text in Revelation today addresses one of these practices. It helps us understand why the Church has historically included the reading of Scripture in the service of worship. For if we look carefully at the words in verse 3 we find this practice mentioned:

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

John pronounces his blessing both on the reader of the biblical text and on the hearers. In other words, the Apostle John expected that the Word of God would be read in the public assembly of God’s people. 

Knowing that our practice of reading the Word of God aloud each Lord’s Day is biblical requires us to ask another set of questions. For it is not enough to read the Word of God aloud and to hear its vibrational tones in our ear drums. We must read in a particular way and we must hear in a particular way.

First, how ought we to read the Word of God? The answer, quite simply, is that the Word of God should be read as though it were the Word of God – divinely powerful and authoritative, living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing as far as the joints and marrow, separating light from darkness, and wisdom from folly. The Word of God should be read as though we believe it.

Second, how ought we to listen to the Word of God? We ought to listen so as to be transformed by it. Notice that the blessing in the passage is pronounced not on the one who notices the general hum of the passage in his otherwise preoccupied mind, but on the one who hears and keeps the things revealed in it. We should listen to the Word of God in order to be transformed by it.

So what of you? Those who read for us, are you considering the passage carefully as you prepare, paying attention to meaning and tone? You who hear, are you using each Lord’s Day as an opportunity to train your ears to listen attentively to the Word of God? Are you training your ears, and the ears of your children, to listen with care – allowing our Lord to speak and transform us for His glory? Are you listening carefully, that God may break up your fallow ground and teach you to live in fear of Him all your days? Or are you treating the reading of the Word as simply one more activity to check off in worship so that you can get to the donuts? 

Reminded of our calling to read and listen to the Word of God in faith, let us acknowledge that we often fail to read His Word and to give heed to it as we ought. We are often distracted and inattentive. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. 

The Head of the Home

August 22, 2021 in Authority, Bible - OT - Joshua, Meditations, Responsibility

Joshua 24:14–15 

14“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

What does it mean to be a man? That is the question that we began to address last week. Joshua models for us the central idea in our text today. To be a man is to be the head of the home, the one responsible to God for the condition of the home. This is our identity as men. So let us flesh this out. Joshua calls us as the heads of our households to lead our households (1) to fear the Lord, (2) to serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and (3) to put away idols.

First, a man’s calling is to lead his household to fear of the Lord. A man knows that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; fools despises wisdom and instruction” (Pr 1:7). Further, he knows that the pathway of the fear of the Lord is the Word of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Ps 111:10). Hence, a true man reverences God, worships Him, refuses to take His Name in vain, and hallows the Lord’s Day, regularly leading His family to worship and praise the Lord – both at home and in the company of God’s people. Why? Because he knows that in God’s presence is true safety. “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Pr 29:25). In short, a man is to serve as the spiritual leader of his household.

Second, a man’s calling is to lead his household to serve God in sincerity and truth. A godly man walks in integrity and abhors all hypocrisy and duplicity. He does not put on a show. His devotion to the Lord is not a front or a façade. In particular, a man views his work as a calling from God not a matter of mere necessity. Hence, he does his work, “not with eyeservice, as a men-pleaser, but as a bondservant of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:6). He serves God in his work. While doing this work to provide for his household, a man remembers to lay up treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy; for he knows that “better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice” (Pr 16:8). In short, a man is to serve as the provider of his household.

Finally, a man’s calling is to lead his household to put away idols. A man recognizes that there are those who hate God, hate His commandments, and who would like nothing less than the destruction of his home – physically and spiritually. He stands between his family and danger. Hence, he warns his household of the threat of idolatry, urging them that they “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2). A man realizes that the chief threat to his home is internal, not external. For the human heart is, as John Calvin once remarked, an idol-factory. Hence, the godly man keeps watch over his own heart and urges his household to watch over their hearts, for “from the heart spring the issues of life” (Pr 4:23). In short, a man is to serve as the protector of his household.

What does it mean to be a man? To be a man is to lead our household to fear the Lord, to serve Him in sincerity and truth, and to avoid idols – it is to be the spiritual leader, provider, and protector of our homes. The more faithfully we fulfill this calling, the more we reflect the character of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ. For like the lesser Joshua, our greater Joshua stands before His Father and speaks for His people, represents His people. He says to the Father, “What they have done wrong, blame me. What I have done right, bless them.” He did not live for Himself, He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life on behalf of His people. And so this is our calling as well. This is what it is to be a man.

So what of you men? How are you doing? Are you leading your households well? Are you modeling the fear of the Lord? Are you working to serve the Lord, not laboring as a men-pleaser, but as a bondservant of Christ? Are you protecting yourself and your family from idols and enemies? This is your calling.

So reminded this morning of the high and holy calling that God has given to us as men, of our calling to lead our families in the fear of the Lord, let us confess that we are often conformed to the world rather than transformed by the renewing of our minds. And as we confess, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. 

The Key to Long Life and Fruitfulness

August 8, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 10:27–30 

27The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. 28The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. 30The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth. 

What is the key to long life and fruitfulness? This is a pressing question that our generation continues to ask. However, because we have turned away from the Living God, our answers are many and vacuous. We suggest that the key is public education, or sexual liberation, or social justice, or state funded health care, or confiscatory taxation, or particular diets, or essential oils, or violating our marriage oaths. In our polytheistic culture, everyone seems to have their own answer.

But Solomon tells us that the correct answer is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord prolongs days. It is the one who hopes in the Lord that will experience gladness; the one who walks in the Lord’s ways, observing His moral law, that will be strong; the one who listens to the Word of God and implements it, that will never be moved. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord…he shall be like a tree planted by streams of living water, which yields its fruit in its season and does not wither. The key to long life and fruitfulness is the fear of the Lord for the righteous has an everlasting foundation. When the winds blow and the rains fall, it is the one who builds his house on the rock, who hears the words of Christ and does them, who will stand. Indeed, even if he perishes in this life, he knows that when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, he will be raised eternal and will serve the Lord in gladness forever. The fear of the Lord prolongs days.

So what is it that will bring death and desolation? Is it climate change, overpopulation, intolerance and discrimination, sexual repression, an unhappy marriage, poverty, capitalism, processed foods, vaccinations? Solomon tells us that the correct answer is wickedness: the years of the wicked will be shortened, his expectation will perish. The one who works iniquity, who violates God’s moral law, will be destroyed and will not inherit the earth. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Though the wicked may prosper for a time, God will bring their plans and expectations to naught. He will destroy them and the earth will vomit them out. They are like a foolish man who builds his house upon sand – when the rains and floods come, his house will be destroyed. And this destruction will reach its culmination when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. The wicked will be judged according to the things written in the books and they will perish eternally. The years of the wicked will be shortened. 

So where have you placed your hope for long life? What do your habits and passions reveal about your beliefs? Have you been distracted by the cacophany of voices surrounding us? Or have you remained centered on the answer that Solomon gives? Is the majority of your time devoted to knowing and serving God, to understanding His moral law and obeying His precepts, or have you become distracted by other things? Where have you placed your hope? 

Reminded that righteousness is the key to long life and fruitfulness, and that wickedness brings destruction, let us confess that as Americans we have abandoned the living God and embraced wickedness, and let us confess that we, the Church in America, have become confused by the foolish answers given by our neighbors. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. As we confess our sins to the Lord, let us kneel together as you are able.