We tend to have a short view of history.
It’s a side effect of our me-centric Western culture. We are obsessed with evaluating whether things are true or applicable or good based on how they have shown themselves to be such in our own little lives. The problem is, we have not been around very long. Some things take longer to ponder than 30, 50, or 70 years.
One of the beauties of living in the communal culture of the people of Israel is that they enjoyed a shared history. They relished in their identity as a people. Which means they asked and answered questions very differently than we do.
Let’s say you were in a deep conversation with a friend about God and faith and life. And she asked you, “Is God faithful? Does He really answer prayers?” How would you answer?
I know what I would do. I would start recounting stories from my own life. Stories of how God pulled through when I was in the midst of a tough time. Tales of how the undeserved blessings of God have been poured out on my life.
And these stories are good. They are true. But I also wonder if they are enough.
Because what about the others who have not had that experience? Those who have been faithful to God but have not seen or felt his blessing in return? Does that mean God has not been faithful to them?
God’s faithfulness extends beyond our personal experiences. We must take a longer view of history.
Psalm 66 is a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness. And though it includes appreciation for the Psalmist’s personal life experiences, this is not where it begins.
The Psalmist recounts the quintessential acts of God’s faithfulness to Israel. He praises God for the passages on dry ground: across the sea, in their escape from Egypt, and across the Jordan, in their entrance to the Promised Land.
Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in him. – Psalm 66:5-6
We read about these deeds so often in the Bible, we begin to tune them out. We think, “Well, if that happened to me, I guess I would praise God, too. I wish He was as obvious with His actions today as He was then.”
And in the midst of that thought, we forget about the timeline of the Bible and the long view of history.
We don’t know who wrote this Psalm. But it is imbedded in the Davidic Psalms, so it’s probably safe to assume it was written around the same time as his words.
Which means it was written around 500 years after the Exodus. This Psalmist is personally praising God for something that happened hundreds of years before he was born.
Have you ever looked back 500 years for signs of God’s faithfulness?
It just so happens that Martin Luther wrote his ninety-five theses about 500 years ago. Think of all that has happened in the history since then. The Church has had its low points, to be sure. It has defended slavery and oppression in ways that could have destroyed the biblical witness. But it didn’t.
Because leaders have risen up time and again to point us back to who God is and what He is calling us to in this world.
Governments have risen and fallen, leaders who used to rule the masses have been forgotten, but people have not stopped talking about Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate measure of God’s faithfulness. He was the embodiment of God on earth, and He continues to be the embodiment of a God who is present with us. Experiencing our pain, walking with us through the ups and downs of our days, and empowering us to live differently.
God is here, He is active, He is present.
He is faithful.
How have you seen God's faithfulness? In history? In your life?
Link up your post about Psalm 66 below. Make sure to read the posts of others, too. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 67.