Text: Psalm 96 | Listen to Message
The Psalter has a collection of songs known as “the Royal Psalms” that extol the virtues of a great king. While some of these celebrate a human king like David or Solomon, many of them point to a divine King with ultimate authority.
Psalm 96 speaks of such a divine King. A King whose greatness surpasses the greatness of all other kings and gods. A King who is both beautiful and powerful. A King who is worshipped by all creation. A King who is returning one day to judge the world.
The psalmist seems eager to tell us about not only the existence of such a King, but also how we ought to respond to him. We are called to “sing to him” and “speak of him.” Our response to King Jesus is to worship and to witness. These are not two separate actions; rather, they are two related facets of an Advent life.
Our Advent lives are to be shaped by worship. We are waiting for the glorious King to come again and make all things new. In the meantime, we praise him for both his character and his conduct. He is and he does only good. So we ascribe to him all the glory due his name.
Our Advent lives are also to be shaped by witness. When the King returns, he will judge everyone “in righteousness . . . and in faithfulness.” He will punish every evil deed and reward everyone who trusts in him. We want others to experience his grace, not his wrath; therefore we declare to them his glory, and we invite them to come and worship him too.
We can make life about so many petty and transient things, can’t we? But is the point of life to be comfortable and to get by with as little effort as possible? Is the point of work to make money so we can buy cool stuff . . . that breaks in 3 minutes? Is the point of our relationships to use people as a means to our own happiness? Is the point to race for an early retirement so we can amuse ourselves to death? Is the point of even Bible study cramming our heads full of knowledge for the sake of knowledge? Or does it really all come down to this: worship and witness?
Interestingly enough, the King did something significant during his First Advent that fuels both our worship and our witness as we await the Second Advent.
Many expected the divine King to come and judge the nations – destroy them for all the horrible things they did to “God’s people” over the years. But instead of judging the nations, Jesus was judged by and for the nations. Instead of sitting on the bench, Jesus sat in the dock. Instead of condemning sinners, Jesus allowed himself to be condemned by sinners. The Judge became the judged.
Why? Why did Jesus not fulfill the expectation of his covenant people, judge their enemies, and set them free? Well, first of all, God’s covenant people were just as guilty as their enemies. If Jesus had judged one group of people, to be equitable and fair he would’ve had to judge all people. No one would’ve been saved. All would’ve perished. So Jesus was judged for our sins. He was slain to atone for our sins.
Do you see how the First Advent fuels your worship? Jesus came to be judged in your place so that you could have peace with God! Then he rose from the grave, defeating sin, and death, and hell.
And do you see how the First Advent fuels your witness? Jesus died for all mankind. He came to give hope to every people, every nation, every tribe, and every tongue. He conquered death not only to reconcile us to the Father, but also to reconcile us to one another – to make one people in place of the many.
Give your life to this one Advent response: Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations; his marvelous works among all the peoples!