On many occasions, I am simply amazed at the numbers of times our congregational readings will interface with the subjects of Sunday morning sermons. Rarely do I choose a reading that purposely corresponds, since we are reading through the psalms each week taking them in order. I find the same coincidences (?) when teaching the Fundamentals Class on Wednesday evenings. I find myself constantly telling the class I do not want to divulge Sunday morning material, but we often tread the same ground without purposely arranging it. I would relegate this to mere coincidence if I did not believe the Holy Spirit is in charge of the entire ministry of Berean. If you wonder who plans these services—God does!
Some years ago, I was speaking with another pastor who was surprised our preaching schedule is planned more than one week at a time. He said he preferred to be “fresh” so the Spirit could speak immediately to the needs at the moment. I would maintain that a God who is omniscient and who chose us and planned our salvation before the foundation of the world is well capable of seeing a month or two in advance. He knows this congregation’s needs and the timing of them without consulting with me!
This be as it may, Psalm 66 crosses over into today’s sermon territory, because I believe it speaks of the praise that will be offered in the millennial kingdom. Our subject for today’s message is the reasons we believe there will be an actual Messianic kingdom on the earth. It delves into the citizens of the kingdom and the criteria of judgment for their permission to enter.
As I read this Psalm, I was reminded of Isaiah 53. This great chapter is perhaps the most well-known in the Old Testament, aside from Psalm 23, and is about redeemed Israel in the millennium as they contemplate the great crime of crucifying Christ in the first advent. They did not realize the wounds they inflicted were for their own salvation. Having come to this understanding and having trusted Him as their only redeemer, they can only reflect with amazement at His willingness to suffer so much for them when they shamefully despised Him and put Him to grief.
Psalm 66 steps beyond this as now they think back to the former days when God showed His mercy to Israel. He performed countless miracles on their behalf to ensure their survival. How sweet are the words of verse 9: “Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.” How different will Israel’s attitude be towards the Messiah when He brings them through the Tribulation and gives them the glorious kingdom promised to their father David: “For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.” (2 Samuel 7:24) In the first advent, He was not their God: “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14) It will be different in the kingdom age when they look on the one they pierced and recognize Him as Messiah King (Zech. 12:10).
It blesses the heart of the preacher when the Holy Spirit so skillfully blends the worship with appropriate songs, readings, and sermons. Praise God He controls the service, and we worship according to His plan, not ours. Give all the glory to Him!
Pastor V. Mark Smith