Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Psalm 46 God of All Nations

KEY TEXT: Psalms 46:8-11 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

KEY THOT: The three major monotheistic religions in the world (Christianity, Islam and Judaism--each with its own name for God) represent 54% of total world population: Christianity leads by 31% (2.2 billions), followed by Islam 22% (1.6 billions) and Judaism 0.2% (14 millions). All three religions claim to worship the God of Abraham. The Jews worship their God as Yahweh.  Christians address him as Abba, the Father of our Lord Jesus. Muslims call him Allah. If the three major religions agree they worship the God of Abraham, then why do they say they're worshiping different God? Where then do they differ? The Jews believe that Moses was their Prophet, the Muslims believe Mohammed was their Prophet while Christians believe Jesus was and is their Prophet--and more than just a Prophet but also the Son of the Father. 

This is unlike other major religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism is polytheistic with millions of "gods" associated associated with it. Buddhism is agnostic/atheistic and has no God associated with it--only bodhisattva, elevated humans who have attained enlightenment. However, both Hinduism and Buddhism are held together by a common worldview defined by reincarnation. This is a cyclical view of history. On the other hand, the three major monotheistic religions with their roots in the God of Abraham believe in resurrection of the dead before the final Judgment. They have a common linear view of history: history has a starting point (Creation) and an ending point (Judgment Day). And together, these two major worldviews (reincarnation or resurrection) represent roughly three-quarters of the worldviews of present humanity. The third worldview (secularism) has no view of history as they do not believe in life beyond the grave. For the secularists, history is going nowhere. It is neither linear nor cyclical--it is just individual. Everything starts (birth) and stops (death) in one's own life-time.

So, what is the point? However much one may love or hate the Jews, we cannot deny that Christianity and Islam owe them a spiritual debt: "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob (Jews) is our fortress" (Psalms 46:7,11). Without the Jewish Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), written by Moses around 1300 BC, we would not have known the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And they are the patriarchs of the Jewish people. To deny this fact is to deny history and be guilty of revisionism (re-writing history to fit one's narrative).

We thank God that He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. He has given to Abraham and his Egyptian maid Hagar a promise: "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation" (Genesis 17:20). The Arabs claim Ishmael as their ancestor and their religion (Islam) is a consequent of the promise God made with Abraham. Though Ishmael is not the son of promise, nevertheless because Ishmael was Abraham's son via his maid Hagar, he was also blessed. This is the biblical perspective. But salvation will come through the seed of Abraham, traced all the way to Jesus in the New Testament who came to die for our sin to reconcile all humanity back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Many stories are now coming out from Islamic countries that tell of mass conversion of Muslims turning to Christ in recent years as they reach out to the God of Abraham they worship. Most of these conversions came through Jesus' self-disclosure in their dreams. God has not abandoned the descendants of Ishmael as He has promised Abraham. And neither should we who share the faith of Abraham.

Our God is the God of all nations and all history--He is not just the God of the Jews or the Christians. He is the God of all nations. But in a special sense, He is also the God of Islam--even though many still refuse to acknowledge the fact that Allah is none other than the "God of Jacob": "'Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!' The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress" (vv.10-11).

The Indonesian Bible translates God as Allah. They sing praises in their churches to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus as Allah. They don't separate Allah from Jesus, or Yahweh.  For the Indonesian churches, Allah is the God of Jacob.



Father, may the name of Your Son be exalted among the nations, particularly among Islamic nations that they might find the God of Abraham through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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