May 3, 2017
Psalm 121:1-5, 7, 8 (English Standard Version)
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In January of this year, the members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board set the Doomsday Clock at two and a half minutes to midnight – a 30 second change from the year before, and closer to the ‘end’! What is the Doomsday Clock? It is a symbol in the form of a clock face which represents the likelihood of a global catastrophe – nuclear, climate change, cyber threats and the like. Conceived in 1947, it was then set at seven minutes to midnight (midnight being nuclear of existential catastrophe). The closest-to-midnight setting (two minutes) was in 1953, after the US and Soviet Union tested thermonuclear bombs. The furthest point from midnight – 17 minutes before the end of modern civilization – was following the 1991 signing of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by the same two countries!
According to reliable sources, the latest change is because of the Rise of nationalism, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and the supposed problems due to climate change.
And so I feel like crying out with the psalmist, “From where does my help come?” Here is most of what he wrote in Psalm 121:1 through 5, and verses 7 and 8 (English Standard Version):
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My
help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will
not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not…sleep. The
LORD is your keeper….The LORD will keep you from all evil; He
will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your
coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Yes, many may cry out, “From where does my help come?” But only those, like the psalmist, who respond with the next phrase have any real peace about it all! The next phrase? “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” There are several things in this Scripture that stand out:
• Verse 1 – “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?” I see here that this is the best man, in his own natural power, can do! Ever since sin entered into the heart of mankind, his eyes (his mind) go no higher than the hills! It is as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3:10 and 11: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God.” We are created with a human spirit that is designed to be dynamically connected by the Holy Spirit with our Creator. But when sin entered in, the human spirit died! As Paul said in Ephesians 2:1, “…you…were dead in trespasses and sins….” With a dead human spirit in us, there is no capacity for man to connect with God! In other words, He cannot lift up his eyes higher than the hills! That is why Jesus told Nicodemus (and us) in John 3:7, “You must be born again.” That dead human spirit must be given new birth and new life in order for us to lift our eyes above the hills and behold the true God in heaven! This is why, when we ask Jesus in our hearts and lives to be our Savior, He comes in by the Holy Spirit, bringing new life by us being born again! (See John 14:16-18; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 5:17).
• Verses 3 and 4 – “He who keeps you will not…sleep.” It is one thing to have help, support, and protection from some source other than God. But only Jehovah God never takes a break from watching over His children! As it is written in II Chronicles 16:9 (Contemporary English Version): “The LORD is constantly watching everyone, and He gives strength to those who faithfully obey Him.” You might say, if you want God constantly on your side, stick to His side!
• Verses 5 and 7 – “The LORD is your keeper….The LORD will keep you from all evil….” This idea that He is our keeper is emphasized in many ways throughout Scripture. But some have trouble with the concept that He will keep us from all evil! They might say, “I am a believer, but bad things sure seem to happen to me in abundance!” I think the Scripture that best explains this dilemma is Romans 8:28 and 29:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He fore-
knew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He
might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Too many Christians recite the first part of this Scripture (verse 28), even leaving off the last part of the verse, and all of verse 29! They say, or think, “This sure feels good to me, so it must be from God, according to Romans 8:28! But not this, because it does not feel good! ”
✞ But for whom do all things work together for good? “…to those who are the called according to His purpose.” There are many Christians who are concerned with their own purpose – their own agenda – more than with God’s!
✞ And just what is God’s ultimate purpose? This leads us to verse 29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God’s ultimate purpose is to conform His children into the image of Jesus Christ! (See Matthew 10:24, 25; II Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10; I John 3:2).
The process of all this is not necessarily comfortable! As a matter of fact, sometimes such conformation is downright painful! Why? Because there are a lot of unChrist-like things in our lives that need to be changed! But such divine work is necessary – if we are ever going to become like Jesus! Keep this in mind, and keep looking unto God and depending on Him! (See Hebrews 12:2).