Friday, February 22, 2019

A doorkeeper

(As published in Clarion)

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.—Psalm 84:10

Psalm 84 is a Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Dr. John Smith, speaking on this Psalm some years ago at a CRTS graduation evening, reminded us of the story of Korah.*

 The story of Korah is told in Numbers 16. Korah, together with Dathan and Abiram, rebelled against Moses and Aaron when Israel was in the wilderness. Korah belonged to the tribe of Levi. It was the task of the Levites to take care of the tabernacle.

Each levitical clan had a task to perform: chopping wood, drawing water, opening and closing doors, etc. The clan of Aaron were the priests, who brought the sacrifices and burned the incense.

At some point Korah objected to this. He said to Moses that it was not fair that only some of the Levites got to be priests. He wanted to be a priest too.

Moses asked him if it was not enough that God had put him and other Levites in charge of the tabernacle. By wanting to fulfil a task that God had given to someone else he was rebelling against God. As punishment the LORD made the earth open up beneath Korah, the other rebels, and their families, and they were swallowed up alive.

So very interestingly Numbers 26:11 says, “The line of Korah, however, did not die out.” The Lord, in his grace and kindness, had not brought a complete end to Korah's family line. Some of his children survived their father's rebellion and continued to serve the LORD at the tabernacle.

Also interestingly, much later King David made the sons of Korah doorkeepers (1 Chron. 26). The doorkeepers were responsible for opening the doors of the tabernacle, later the temple, and of making sure that only those who were qualified would enter the holy place.

We see some wonderful irony here: Korah had said, “Let me in!” He had tried to push his way through to do the task God had given to others. Now the sons of Korah were given the task of making sure that no one tried to do what their father had done.

These sons of Korah said, “Better to be a doorkeeper in the in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

Can you say that—that it is better to be the most humble servant of God's household than to live the life of the rebel?

You know, sometimes the tents of sin seem more appealing than the courts of the Lord. Sometimes it seems that non-Christians have all the fun while the Christian life is boring.

Don’t be fooled by that. It is a broad path—to destruction. Everything you see around you is going to disappear. The form of this world is passing away. The tents of wickedness and sin are going to shrivel up and disappear. We, however, will live forever, either in heaven or in hell.

And whether heaven or hell is our final and everlasting destiny depends upon whether or not we love Jesus. Better to be on the path to Zion than the highway to hell.

Ensure that you believe in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you may know that the Lord will withhold no good thing from you. May the sunshine of God’s radiant face shine upon you. May Jesus be your shield to protect you. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

Points to ponder: 

·         According to Mark 13:34, what must the doorkeeper be?
·         What task has the Lord given you to perform in the congregation?

*“A Doorkeeper in the House of My God ,” vol. 61, no. 23 (2012), p. 572ff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Alleluia! When Christ Arose

This is the next and fifth hymn based on the Heidelberg Catechism's elaboration of the Apostle's Creed, specifically Article 5 of the Creed, "On the third day he arose from the dead." This new hymn puts to verse and tune the prose of Lord's Day 17.

"Alleluia! When Christ Arose" by George vP

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Jesus Christ alone is God's Eternal Son

This song is based on the Heidelberg Catechism's explanation of the Biblical teaching of Articles 2b and 3 of the Apostles' Creed. It is is set to an old (14th c.) tune of a Dutch Christmas carol.

"Jesus Christ alone is God's eternal son" by George vP

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Meditation on Psalm 84:7

(As published in Clarion)

From strength to strength

George van Popta

They go from strength to strength—Psalm 84:7

In Psalm 84 the Sons of Korah, the authors and first singers of this Psalm, spoke about making the pilgrimage from some far off place to the temple in Jerusalem. Often it was a difficult journey. They mention, in verse 6, the Valley of Baca.

Baca means “weeping.” The valley of weeping. A Lebanese barber I went to many years ago told me that the Baca Valley is in Lebanon, to the north of Israel and Jerusalem. He was a Lebanese Christian who came from that area. The Baca valley, he said, is a dry valley but when it rains it is covered with puddles and pools of water. He told me that is the imagery used here in verse 6. It is amazing what you can learn from your barber.

Often we are traveling through life, weeping for any number of reasons. You might be crying because of the death of a loved one, due to an illness, or because of pain caused by a chronic condition. But as you travel toward your heavenly Father and your Lord Jesus the place of weeping becomes a place of joy and refreshment.

Let us go to Zion, to Jesus, who will wipe away our tears and refresh us.

Today travel is quite easy. We motor along in our cars and stop at one of the many Tim Hortons or Starbucks along the way. But in the days of this Psalm travel was often difficult. It could be so very hot and there were not many places to rest. And yet they went from strength to strength.

From the late Rev. Van Dooren, my first professor of preaching at CRTS, I learned that the expression “strength to strength” should make us think of oases in the desert. The Children of Israel, wandering in the desert, went from oasis to oasis, and at each one they were strengthened. Instead of getting weaker along the way they grew stronger.

How will you become stronger and stronger as you travel life’s journey? Only by following the Lord Jesus. If you do not follow Jesus you will become weaker and lose your way. But if you follow him you’ll grow stronger and stronger, until you appear before God in Zion.

Believers who die appear before God in Zion. That is where they now are: before God in the heavenly Zion. They went from strength to strength.

Though they may have become mentally and physically weak, yet they went from strength to strength because they always stayed close to Jesus.

Both my mothers became very old. At the time of their death they were like little birdies—weak and frail—but they knew where they were going: to Jesus!

Parents, teach your children about the importance of following the Lord Jesus on their pilgrimage through life.

You who are weeping, follow Jesus and you will travel from strength to strength.

Follow Jesus and you will arrive at the good destination—before God in Zion.

Some things to ponder....
  • Consider Elim, an oasis mentioned in Exodus 15:27. How would it have been a place of refreshment for the Children of Israel?
  • Why was the Psalmist, in Psalm 42:3, weeping?
  • Who will wipe away the tears from your eyes? See Revelation 7:17 and 21:4.

I Believe in Jesus Christ

This hymn is part of the continuing effort to put to song the questions and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism that address the 12 articles of the Apostles Creed.

"I Believe in Jesus Christ" by George vP

The pertinent questions and answers are:

29.   Q. Why is the Son of God called Jesus,
            that is, Saviour?
        A. Because he saves us from all our sins,1
            and because salvation is not to be sought or found
            in anyone else.2
                    1 Mt 1:21; Heb 7:25.
                        2 Is 43:11; Jn 15:4, 5; Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Tim 2:5.

30.   Q. Do those who seek
            their salvation or well-being
            in saints, in themselves, or anywhere else,
            also believe in the only Saviour Jesus?
        A. No.
            Though they boast of him in words,
                 they in fact deny the only Saviour Jesus.1
            For one of two things must be true:
                 either Jesus is not a complete Saviour,
                 or those who by true faith accept this Saviour
                 must find in him all that is necessary
                 for their salvation.2
                  1 1 Cor 1:12, 13; Gal 5:4.
                        2 Col 1:19, 20; 2:10; 1 Jn 1:7.

31.   Q. Why is he called Christ,
            that is, Anointed?
        A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father,
            and anointed with the Holy Spirit,1 to be
            our chief Prophet and Teacher,2
                 who has fully revealed to us
                 the secret counsel and will of God
                 concerning our redemption;3
            our only High Priest,4
                 who by the one sacrifice of his body
                 has redeemed us,5
                 and who continually intercedes for us
                 before the Father;6
            and our eternal King,7
                 who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
                 and who defends and preserves us
                 in the redemption obtained for us.8
                        1 Ps 45:7 (Heb 1:9); Is 61:1 (Lk 4:18); Lk 3:21, 22.
                        2 Deut 18:15 (Acts 3:22).
                        3 Jn 1:18; 15:15.
                        4 Ps 110:4 (Heb 7:17).
                        5 Heb 9:12; 10:11-14.
                        6 Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1.
                        7 Zech 9:9 (Mt 21:5); Lk 1:33.
                        8 Mt 28:18-20; Jn 10:28; Rev 12:10, 11.