Prophecy Psalms for the Jews and for You – Part 2
By Steven J. Hogan
Everyone needs comfort, encouragement and hope. You have to have it, and you can’t live without it. Or else you will go trudging along with a soul weary and forlorn, discouraged and saddened by the problems and difficulties of life. You need to know why you are here and where you are going, with the grace of God to lift your spirit along the way. Now when I say grace I mean present grace and the hope of future grace. And in my opinion, Psalms is one of the best books in the Bible that talks about this grace and shows it in action.
Much is recorded in the Psalms about David, the man of God, the shepherd, singer, soldier and king, and how he faced so many trials. But he kept going because he continually experienced God’s grace in his life. If you are going through tough times, if you are saddened, discouraged, weary or persecuted, then Psalms is the book for you. I’ve been reading it most every morning now for over 45 years, and I find it so instructive, sympathetic, heartwarming, inspiring, comforting and motivating. I must admit that I couldn’t have made it without the Psalms, inspired words that have continually soothed and stirred my heart, giving me the grace, peace and hope that I need.
But in the past seven years I began learning more about the promises God gave to the Jews, about their land, salvation and King (Ezekiel 37:21-23); and this opened my eyes to see truth in the Psalms like never before. Now the Jews were in their land from about 1400BC to 70AD, with a brief sin caused exile in the middle of that time. And it was around 70AD that the Jews were rightly and greatly judged by God for their sin, and then scattered all over the face of the earth (Luke 20:20-24). The church age, the age of proclaiming to the world salvation through Christ alone, started soon after His ascension into heaven, and it continues on today. But God never canceled His plans for the Jews – they were only put on hold, only suspended.
The fact that the Jews have miraculously been returning to their land for the past 130 years makes it clear that their 1900 year suspension is over, and that God, at this time in history, is once again reviving His plans for the Jews (Ezekiel 36-37). This means it won’t be long before Christ comes back to rapture the church, redeem a remnant of Jews, and then reign over this world. It’s important that you see the big picture, that we are now living in the end times, and that God is wrapping up His work with the church, and renewing His work with the Jews, and that the Father will soon send His Son back to this earth.
But now we are talking about these Psalms written between 2500-3000 years ago that are still relevant today, and even more so now that we are living in the end times. They are so important, for when we go through troubles, then we need the present comfort of God, and Psalms is one of the best Biblical sources for this special grace. But going through tough times also necessitates that we have hope in our hearts, that we believe God has good plans for our lives in the future. Of course, there is a whole lot in God’s word that talks about this hope, but we need to see that Psalms has a lot to say about it too.
Last week we looked at some Psalms that talk about the hope of the Jews, a future that God has not nullified or negated because of their sin. This hope is a sure thing, guaranteed by God for every Old Testament believing Jew. But as I mentioned in the first article, the future of the Jews is linked with the future of the Christians. God’s promised work for the Jews is related to His promised work for the Christians. This brings us back to Psalms, a book that is no doubt about and for the Jews, but is also for Christians. You need to see this! Knowing, understanding and believing that Jews and Christians have a similar hope will help the Psalms come alive in your own mind and heart, and then result in great comfort and peace in your life!
Let me mention some New Testament verses that put all this together. Romans 15:4-13 talks about believing Jews and Gentiles, and their hope for the future, in the millennial kingdom. Do you see “that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.” This is speaking about God’s promises to the Jews regarding their land, their King and their salvation, and that believing Gentiles will be worshiping God. But what is the time frame? A little bit in the Old Testament, a little more during this church age, but a great deal more during the coming kingdom age. Romans 15:9 says, “I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Your name.” Surely this NT verse rendering of an OT verse speaking about the Jews and the Gentiles is for the next age, the kingdom age. But notice verse 12, “There shall come the root of Jesse, and He who arises to rule over the Gentiles – in Him shall the Gentiles hope.” This is speaking about Christ Himself, that He will reign as King over the world during this future millennial kingdom. But notice that the conclusion for church age believers is given in verse 13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We often isolate this verse, taking it out of context, but we must see that it is relates to the preceding passage (Romans 15:4-12). This hope God is talking about is the hope Christians have of joining with the believing Jews, and together giving praise to Christ during the millennial kingdom. Indeed, this is the incredible sovereign working of God, and a most encouraging hope that God has given to us about our future. Hebrews 11:13, 39-40 confirms this.
I say all this to help you see that the Psalms are given for believing Jews of old, and for believing Gentiles and Jews living during this age. These Psalms give us hope for the wonderful future God has for us all. Yes we live in this church age, and it is an evil age, but it won’t be long before we’re all together in a very good age, the millennial kingdom age when Christ is ruling and reigning over the entire world. Read the Psalms and be encouraged today by both the present grace of God, and the hope of the future grace of God, a glorious future.
Let’s look at some more Psalms that give us hope, that talk about the future God has for us.
Psalm 96. This Psalm describes how the Jews were to witness to the world. They were to sing to the Lord, proclaim good tidings of His salvation, ascribe to the Lord His glory and strength, worship the Lord, and tell the nations that “the Lord reigns.” And why were they to do this? Because the Lord is the Lord, the Creator, Savior, Judge and King. In the time when the Jews were first occupying their land over 3000 years ago, this is what they were to do. And I’m sure the instructions of this Psalm were fulfilled to some degree. But by no means was it ever completely carried out, for Judah and Israel were often very sinful, rebellious and idolatrous, and eventually were exiled out of their land, not once, but twice. And yes, in this church age, we can carry this out, at least to some degree. But the fulfillment of this Psalm will never be seen until the millennial kingdom, when Christ is King and reigns over the world. How wonderful and God glorifying that will be. But what does the Psalm say will take place before this happens? “He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness”, and then a remnant of Jews will be saved, and the kingdom age will start, and Jesus Christ will begin His reign, and everyone will know that “the Lord reigns.”
Psalm 98. God encourages us with this special Psalm that speaks of the future salvation of the Jews, and the resulting great joy during the millennial kingdom. Verse 2 tells us that this salvation is in reference to the Jews for “He has remembered His lovingkindness and faithfulness to the house of Israel.” And the entire world will see this, for the “Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.” This no doubt is referring to the salvation of the Jews in the end times, for in verse 8 we read that the Lord is coming back to judge this earth, and this is referring to the Day of the Lord, a just punishment of the unbelievers on this earth at that time. This redemption of a remnant of Jews will occur after the rapture of the Christians, after the initial judgment of God upon this earth, the Trumpet judgments, and at the very end of Daniels’ 70th week. (Romans 11:25-26). Then Christ’s reign will begin with the result that the whole world will be rejoicing! Now I believe that the world will be renovated at the beginning of this millennial kingdom, but not completely transformed until the end of this 1000 year kingdom age (Revelation 21:1). But the initial change in the physical character of the earth during this millennial kingdom will be such that the sea is roaring, the “rivers clap their hands”, and “the mountains sing together for joy.” It will be a time of great celebration, for the promise to the Jews of their eternal salvation will have finally come true (Jeremiah 31:31-34). A great number of Jews will have been miraculously saved to serve the Lord and bring Him great glory. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things… Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth, break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” Verses 1, 4
Psalm 100. This is an upbeat, joyful, God glorifying little Psalm. Some very important instructions were given to the Jews and to the entire earth back in the Old Testament days, commands for their good and for the glory of God. They were to shout to the Lord, to serve the Lord with gladness, to sing to the Lord, and to enter His gates with thanksgiving. And why? Because the Lord is God, Creator and Shepherd, but also because He is good, faithful and loving. But the Jews, let alone the whole earth, weren’t even close to carrying this out during their time in Israel. But this was God’s purpose and goal for them. And now during this church age this should be our goal, at least in a spiritual sense, either though we know we will never see these instructions completely carried out. But think about the next age, the glorious kingdom age, for at that time believing Jews and Gentiles from all over this earth will be shouting and singing to the Lord like never before. This is when this Psalm will be fulfilled to a much greater degree, for glorious praise and wholehearted thanks will be given to God. And then, if you can imagine this, a great number of believers will be in Jerusalem with Jesus Himself, and will literally “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” But might we shout, serve and sing during this church age, knowing that we will be doing this in a much greater way in the future, for this is our hope, and the hope of all believing Jews and believing Christians. And finally, after this age and the next age, there will be the eternal kingdom, and then these commands will be perfectly carried out. Psalm 100 tells us our future, and the future plans of the entire world.
Psalm 102:12-22. This Psalm takes us from great personal affliction (“my days have been consumed in smoke… the loudness of my groaning… I have become a lonely bird… I have eaten ashes…“) to great hope for the nation of Israel. Then we see this dramatic change in the Psalmist, for he got his eyes off himself, and with God’s truth in his heart he then had hope, for he saw the glorious future of the Jews. The turning point comes in verse 13 where we read God’s promise, “You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come.” This speaks of a future time planned and set by God Himself, to bring redemption to Israel. We know this was written in Old Testament days, but it was written for a future generation, and now that we are living in the end times, then we know it won’t be long before we will say, “the appointed time has come.”
This tells us that God will look down and “hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those doomed to death, that men may tell of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem.” This speaks of the not too distant future salvation of a great remnant of Jews, for compassion will be shown to them, and they will be set free from death and be spiritually saved. Jesus Christ, at His 2nd coming, will appear in His glory, and prayers for mercy will be answered, for Jews will be saved, and then they will praise and serve the Lord. Not only that, but do you notice that the physical garments of the earth will be changed at the beginning of this millennial kingdom? “Like clothing you will change them and they will be changed.” It will be a brand new day and a new age, the start of the millennial kingdom. And speaking of the Lord we will gladly say, “Your years will not come to an end.”
Psalm 105. This Psalm affirms the Abrahamic covenant, the promise of God to Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit a specific portion of land (Genesis 13:14-17, 15:18). This indeed is an everlasting covenant, a promise God would never revoke. “God has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac, then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land Canaan as the portion of your inheritance’” – the eternal nature of this promise can’t be any clearer. The entire Psalm also shows God’s sovereign character for “He sent a man before them… He made him lord of his house… He caused His people to be very fruitful.” Anytime we think of God’s purposes being carried out, then we must know that it’s not by the will of man but by the will of God, by His sovereign grace. The Psalm talks about God’s people journeying from Canaan to Egypt, and then into the desert, and then the initial phase of this promise is fulfilled, for they enter into their land (at least for a while). “He remembered His holy word with Abraham His servant; He brought forth His people with joy, His chosen ones with a joyful shout. He gave them also the lands of the nations that they might take possession of the fruit of the people’s labor… Praise the Lord.” Psalm 105:42-45
Psalm 106. This covenant Psalm begins with praise and thanks being given to God for His goodness, love and faithfulness to Israel. Like Psalm 105, this is a history of the Jews from their beginning days in Egypt. But it goes further, for it also covers their entire time in the promised land clear up to being exiled to other nations, a period totaling about 1400 years. But a sad and noteworthy feature of this Psalm is the vivid detailing of the Jews’ sin against God – “we have sinned… we have behaved wickedly… they quickly forgot His works… they worshiped a molten image… they exchanged their glory for an image of an ox… they despised the pleasant land… they joined themselves to Baal-peor… they provoked Him to anger… they were rebellious against His spirit… they mingled with the nations… and served their idols… they even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.” This is why “He gave them into the hands of the nations… and their enemies also oppressed them” (verses 40-42). And after all their sin, what is most amazing is God’s continued grace and mercy for His people. But why? We read that “He remembered His covenant for their sake, and relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.” Then the Israelites prayed, “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise.” God then gathered His people, and as we know now, not just once, but twice. And so here we are, 2500 years after the writing of this Psalm, and the Jews are again back in their land, just like God promised. It’s obvious that God is still working for His people, still working for His glory, and will soon be faithfully fulfilling His promises to them. And we will say with all believing Jews and Gentiles, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the peoples say, ‘Amen.’ Praise the Lord.” Psalm 72:19
Psalm 110 – This prophecy Psalm is filled with truth about the future of Christ, the believing Jews, and believing Christians as well. First we read God’s promise to His Son, “Sit at My right hand until I will make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Do you see that this is being fulfilled during this church age, for Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the Father, and His enemies are being defeated. But at the end of this age, Christ will return for His climactic battle with the Antichrist and his armies, and will quickly and soundly defeat them. But not all people and not all kings living in the coming age will be saved. Do you see that the Father is instructing His Son to “rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Yes, there will be great peace, joy and gladness during the millennial kingdom, and that’s because Christ will be ruling the world with a rod of iron. “Your people”, that is, all believers from all of time, will be serving with the Lord, righteously assisting Him in His reign over the earth. Then we read of the day of His wrath. Now is this referring to the Day of the Lord at the end of this age (Revelation 19:20-21), or at the end of the next age (Revelation 20:7-10), when God’s chief enemy, Satan, and the remaining evildoers on earth will revolt, and then be destroyed? I am not sure, but either way, Christ will be a great Victor and King. 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 confirms the truth of this Psalm, for in speaking of the millennial kingdom, it says, “He (Christ) must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” Might we be very encouraged that God has it all planned out, and with Jesus Christ and the angels and saints, He will be altogether victorious, and then during the eternal kingdom there will be perfect peace and love, and glory to God forever and ever.
I encourage you to read and study the Psalms, and I pray that you see both its present and future value. The Psalms is most encouraging and comforting because it speaks of the grace we can receive during this church age, but also of our hope, the grace and glory we will receive in the ages to come. “The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:5.