Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Psalm 8 Co-regents of God's Creation

KEY TEXT: Ps 8:5-6 Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. (RSV)

KEY THOT: Scholars are divided regarding how to translate elohiym as found in Psalm 8:5. Most translations follow the Septuagint (Greek OT), which translated elohiym as angelos, or angels. But the Hebrew elohiym is elsewhere in the OT a reference to God: e.g. in Genesis chapter 1, elohiym is used for the Creator and translated consistently as “God.” Elohiym is a plural noun, derived from the singular el, which is a generic word for God; so we get el-shaddai (God almighty), el-elyown (God most high), etc.. But elohiym (with a few exceptions like Psalm 8:5) is consistently translated in the OT as God. It denotes God as plural, rather than singular. The doctrine of the Trinity (plurality of persons in the Godhead) is suggested by this Hebrew word for God. So Psalm 8:5 tells us that man is made a little lower than God (RSV, NLT, NASB), not just lower than the “heavenly beings” (ESV, NIV) or the “angels” (KJV, NKJV).

That is why David marvels that the Creator-God who made the sun, moon, stars has granted humans such a high status in His Creation, to be His co-regents to rule over all creation on his behalf. In fact, Paul went even further to say that one day, we will also rule over the angels: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor 6:3). On the other hand, Satan is busy down-grading humans to the level of an ape or amoeba. His aim is to destroy the image of God in every human and undermine their authority over him.

For believers who are now seated in the heavenly places with Christ, we are already superior to angels: “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels” (Heb 1:3-4).  So, there is no such thing as ordinary Christians: all Christians are extraordinary and supra-natural—we have God’s authority and power within us as His children.

Many Christians have a low self-image because they believe the devil’s lies more than God’s truths. As God’s co-regents, we are called not to escape from this world but to engage in this world, to exercise our authority and power in Jesus’ name to transform society and the environment. I've observed that some congregations in Singapore have become escapist communities, becoming self-focused and keeping themselves busy with religious programs and activities for self-edification, while ignoring the pains, struggles and darkness surrounding us. 

While many churches are actively engaging the community in on-going social welfare projects, not enough are engaging the community in on-going evangelism by bringing the gospel into the community. Our evangelism consists of extracting people out of this world into the safety of the church community instead going out to engage the community with good works and good news. Jesus did not just do good works; he also proclaimed good news. 

My wife and I have been conducting marriage preparation courses for engaged couples targeting anyone in the community for the last few years. We allow pre-believing couples to join in, but we do not apologise for the fact that the marriage course is Christian-based. We do good works by imparting the relational skills to them. But we do not shy away from telling them that unless God is at the centre of their marriage, they are going to find it challenging at times to love. We tell them the good news that with God, their marriage can be built on a strong foundation of agape-love. We are called not just to do good works but also to proclaim good news.

Father, thank You for appointing us as Your co-regents to co-rule with You over Your creation. Help us as Your people not to shy away from declaring that we stand and serve in Christ’s authority and power, not on our own authority. Amen.

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