April 24, 2016 | text: Psalm 22
We read the full text of Psalm 22 at our Wednesday night Bible study. Jesus words from the cross – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – have been interpreted by many as a prayer directed toward God the Father. Based on the idea that God cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13) some reason that God turned his face away from Jesus as the sins of the world were placed upon him. Read Psalm 22 and consider the historic fact that first century Jews would have understood Jesus quote of v. 1 to be a reference to the whole thing. What if Jesus was offering words of encouragement when things looked to be at their worst? Let’s continue our study of David’s Psalm with this idea in mind.
Events in the moment were part of a bigger picture. David was writing about events of his lifetime but in that poetry we see prophetic images of Jesus on the cross. It begins in despair and moves toward a proclamation of what God has done and finally of what God will do. It means one thing in the context of David’s life and the people he led in worship and something else when Jesus recalls those words while hanging on the cross. And the poetic words of the psalm can take on new meaning when we consider them in our moment. Impossible for David but not for the Almighty, Everlasting Father who is the author of all scripture.
God knew what was going to happen. Genesis 22:1-14 recounts the near sacrifice of Isaac. When he told his father Abraham they had wood and fire but asked about the lamb, Abraham replied “God will provide himself a lamb.” We see prophetic words about the Lamb of God in that story; Abraham probably had no idea. But God knew what he was going to do on Calvary from the very beginning. This short story in Gen. 22 is a picture of what was to come. The night of the first Passover, Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, the Law given at Sinai, the construction of the tabernacle; these were historic events for the nation of Israel but also images of what was to come. God explained to Moses at the burning bush exactly how Pharaoh would respond to his request that he let God’s people go. He knew and he had a plan.
God had a plan. Psalm 22 was written in the moment and was prophetic of things to come. Isaiah 53 is a detailed description of the crucifixion written 2,000 before it took place. Crucifixion is a Roman method of execution, but the Roman empire did not exist when Isaiah was writing. The Hebrews stoned people to death; he had never seen a crucifixion. Hebrews considered Israel itself to be God’s suffering servant in Isaiah 53. Christians see something else. Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and then proclaimed “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) We should be amazed but only in the recognition that God is the author of history.
Events in the moment – for David, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah – were part of the bigger picture. The events in our moments are no different. Big things that affect us all, like the terror attack of 9/11 as well as individual events in your life and mine, are part of a bigger picture that God is painting. He knows. He has a plan. You are never alone.