ďThe LORD Says To My LordĒ†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† August 3, 2014

Psalm 110

 

INTRO:Weíre going to have a contest.

Iím going to read a list of terms.All of these terms refer to the same thing.

†† If you think you know what it is, raise your hand.

†† Iíll call on you, and if you get it right, then you get a star for the day!

Iím going to do my best to recognize the first person who raises his or her hand.

†† But if you have your hand up and I donít call on you, keep it up.

†† Because if the first person gets it wrong, you will have a shot.

 

Here we go.A list of twelve terms.

†† century

†† twenty20

†† stumps

†† bails

†† creases

†† overs

†† wide

†† no ball

†† run out

†† bowling

†† pitch

†† Donald Bradman

 

The answer is cricket.All these terms are used in the sport of cricket.

†† Two and a half billion people watch cricket.

†† It is the second most popular sport in the world.

If I tried this contest in a church in Australia or India or England or South Africa,

†† I wouldnít have gotten past the second term before people would wave hands.

†† It would be like me saying here:touchdown, tackle.

 

Not only would you know immediately what those terms referred toó

the terms themselves would resonate with you.

Youíve cheered for touchdowns, you can describe great touchdowns.

†† Youíve relished or grimaced over tackles.

†† But none of us have cheered for a century or groaned because of a run out.

Hereís my point.Most of the big themes of the Bible donít resonate with people

†† any more than cricket terms resonate with Americans.

Kingdom, covenant, mediator, sacrifice, blood offering, priest, prophet, tabernacle,

†† Messiah, Passover, Day of Atonement, Day of the Lord, Year of Jubilee

Your average American does not say to himself or herself:

†† I sure am glad weíre no longer under the covenant of works.

†† Iím glad Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant.

Or, I hope my high priest is purified and that he offers an acceptable sacrifice.

†† I canít wait for the Day of Atonement.How much longer till Year of Jubilee?

But letís admit that even as Christians,

†† those great themes of Scripture donít resonate with us as they should.

 

Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted Psalm in the New Testament.

Depending on how you count, itís referred to from 25 to 33 times.

†† Jesus Christ himself quoted it in a famous argument with the Pharisees.

†† The Apostles and early church were enthralled by this Psalm.

†† It was their favorite of all the Psalms.

The reason is that it brings together a number of great biblical themes

†† about the Messiahótwo especiallyóthat he would be both King and Priest.

Christ is both the Son of David and Davidís Lord, seated at Godís right hand,

†† and he is a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

 

That fired up the early Christians.It moved them.They talked about it.

†† They worked out the implications.It had an impact on their lives.

Why did these themes resonate with them so much?

†† It was mostly because of the Jewish background of the first believers.

The world of the Old Testament was much closer to them that it is to usó

†† both chronologically and emotionally.They interacted weekly with the temple

†† priesthood and the sacrifices.They longed for restoration of the Davidic throne.

Those themes were the substance of their personal and national hopes.

†† So when Jesus came along and fulfilled the Messianic hope,

†† they read Psalm 110 in a new light and found it exhilarating.

††

But the world of the Bible is a foreign world to us.

†† For us itís like Americans watching cricket.Psalm 110 is a good example

We have to work to understand the themes and the threads that connect them.

We have to meditate on them, sing them, pray them until they start to resonate.

Itís work to study this Psalm, but itís good work.Itís worth it.

So letís look at it under two headings.

†† 1.Two themes in Psalm 110 that resonated with New Testament believers.

†† 2.Making these two themes resonate in your heart too.

MP#1Two themes in Psalm 110 that resonated with New Testament believers.

Those two themes are:

†† Christ seated at the right hand of God.

†† Christ a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

What I want to do is to give you a brief survey of the NT treatment of those themes.

 

First, there is this theme of Christ seated at the right hand of God in heaven.Vs 1.

†† The LORD says to my Lord:

†† ďSit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.Ē

 

There is a theological term for this.Itís called Christís session.

Session is an old word for sitting, particularly sitting with authority.

Congress in session when representatives seated, court in session when judge sits.

†† When church elders meet itís called the Session, because sitting to deliberate.

†† And kingís session is an old term for his sitting on his throne to reign.

What implications does New Testament draw from Christís session?

†† Iím going to give you this like a fire hose.Are you ready?

†† These are all quotations and references to Psalm 110:1.

 

His session shows he is greater than DavidóActs 2:37.

His session shows he is greater than the angelsóHebrews 1:13

His session affirms the submission of all spiritual beings to himó1 Peter 3:22

His session affirms his enemies will all one day be subduedó1 Co 15:25 Heb 10:13

His session grants him the exalted titles Prince and SavioróActs 5:31

His session is the basis for his interceding for usóRomans 8:34

His session marks the sending of the Holy SpiritóActs 2:33

His session is a proof of the Spiritís power within usóEphesians 1:20

His session is a spiritual focal point for believersóColossians 3:1, Hebrews 12:2

His session is mystically shared by believers as we rule with himóEphesians 2:6

His session signals the provision of purification for sinsóHebrews 1:3

His session signals the completeness of our salvationóHebrews 10:12

His session is a model of the reward for those who overcomeóRevelation 3:21.

 

All that from Psalm 110 verse one!

Do you see what I mean that this theme resonated with the early believers?

†† They loved this Psalm.

They thought deeply about the implications of the Son of David, who is also

†† Davidís Lord, sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, reigning.

 

The second theme that resonated with New Testament believes was

†† Christ a priest in the order of Melchizedek.Verse 4.

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind:

You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

Who was Melchizedek?

†† He was a mysterious figure who appeared just once, in Genesis 14.

 

This was the setting.Abraham had successfully rescued his nephew Lot

†† from a coalition of four kings who had attacked and overthrown five

†† other kings, including the king of Sodom, where Lot lived.

On his way back from the battle, Abraham passed a city called Salemó

†† which was the old name for Jerusalem.Hereís what happened.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ďBlessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.Ē Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

 

Thatís it, just three verses.

So who was he?There are some fanciful ideas, but the best answer is simply that

†† there were pockets of people in those days who had knowledge of the true God

†† and Melchizedek was one of those people.

The Bible keeps him deliberately mysterious because by doing so

†† he becomes an important type and foreshadowing of Christ.

So heís mentioned once, then drops out of the picture.

 

Fast forward 1000 years.David has become king in Jerusalem.

God had commanded the kings of Israel to read the law every day.

†† So we know David read Genesis often, and he had read about Melchizedek often.

It must have intrigued David to think that he was a king in the same city

†† where this great and mysterious man had ruled 1000 years before.

 

The thing that particularly intrigued him was that Melchizedek was both

†† a king and a priest.The law of Moses did not allow combining two offices.

†† One of the reasons God rejected King Saul was he performed priestly sacrifices.

David was very conscious of that.

†† But he read about this man who was the king of peace, what Salem means,

†† the king of righteousness, what Melchizedek means, and priest of God most High.

And by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit David realized that one day those

†† offices would be combined againóthat the Messiah would be King and Priest.

 

Fast forward 1000 years to New Testament times.

Many Jewish believers in Christ were getting pressure to return to Judaism.

†† Life would be a lot easier for them if they went back, and wondered how it could

†† hurt.After all, they would just be going back to the religion of the Bible.

But the writer of Hebrews says:No, no, no, you canít go back.

The whole purpose of Old Testament religion was to point to Christ.

†† Heís the fulfillment and heís come.

†† There is no salvation in rituals even in biblical rituals.

 

One of the arguments he makes is that the priesthood in the Old Testament,

†† the priesthood of Aaron and the tribe of Levi had a built in obsolescence.

Aaron and his sons were sinners themselves, so they could never be perfect priests.

†† They were mortal men, so when they died, priestly intercession interrupted.

†† They could only offer animal sacrifices and animal sacrifices do not really

†† secure forgiveness, they are just symbolic.

 

Then he says:Theyíve been replaced by this better priest, Jesus, who is not

†† a priest from the line of Aaron and the tribe of Levi, but order of Melchizedek.

Unlike the priesthood of Aaron, the priesthood of Melchizedek is perfect.

 

Then he makes a number of connections.

Like Melchizedek seems to be a timeless figure without father or mother,

†† so Jesus Christ is an eternal and everlasting high priest.

Like Melchizedek was greater than Abraham by blessing him and receiving his

†† tithe, so Jesus Christ is superior the priesthood of Levi, Abrahamís descendants.

He draws attention to Psalm 110 where it says that God swore an oath

†† that his Messiah would be a priest in the order of Melchizedek and he says

†† that means his priestly office and work can never be rejected, like God sometimes

†† rejected Old Testament priests who failed in their work.

Then he springboards off this and elaborates on Christís priesthood in other ways.

 

Three whole chapters of a very important book of the Bible

†† are devoted to working out the details of these Melchizedek theme.

†† It resonated very deeply with New Testament believers.

But it sounds strange to me.I mostly get it, but it still sounds strange.

†† I donít know that Iíve ever addressed Jesus as my Melchizedekian priest.

†† But I should.Itís a biblical theme that should resonate with my heart.

 

 

So that brings us to the second point I want us to consideró practical, I hope.

MP#2Making these two themes resonate in your heart too.

How can I get as stirred up and excited and moved by Christís session

†† and Christís priesthood as David was and as early Christians were?

†† Well, Iíve got two very specific applications:

The first is this:

†† Bring Christís session to mind when you hear bad news.

†† And by bad news, I mean specifically news that is discouraging for Christians.

 

We are living in strange times.

Forces and philosophies hostile to Christianity are gaining ground and

†† influence in Western culture and even in America.

It would be foolish to think that this hostility is a new thing, itís not.

But up until recently, there was a general consensus that Christianity is

†† a positive, or at least, neutral influence on society.

It was understood that Christian churches and Christian institutions like

†† schools and colleges should have the same legal protections as other

†† institutions, particularly the right to determine terms of association.

It was understood that private citizens should be free to exercise their

†† Christian faith in every sphere of life, including the marketplace.

 

But unless youíve had your head in the sand, you know that all of these

†† are under attack and in many specific instances, Christian citizens and

†† institutions have run afoul of courts which call Christain views harmful to society.

I could cite numerous examples, but Iíll just mention one I read this week.

A Christian college in Oregon, George Fox University, which has been in

†† existence since 1891, does not allow students of the opposite sex to live

†† in the same roomsóa biblically sensible policy.

But the college is being sued by a transgender student who wants to live in the

†† dormitory of his or her newly chosen gender, I canít remember which.

And the threat is that unless the college backs down, it will come under

†† serious sanctions due to violation of Title 9.And Oregon courts are hostile.

 

We could multiply examples of Christian individuals and institutions in America

†† that this sort of thing has happened toójobs lost, businesses ruined,

†† rights of association denied, tax exempt status revoked.

It would be very easy to get discouraged but for one important fact:

†† The LORD says to my Lord:

†† ďSit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.Ē

And thereís another detail of Christís session that ought to encourage you.

Look at verse 2 of Psalm 110.

The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in midst of your enemies.

†† Most kings defend the borders of their kingdom, Christ is different.

†† He rules in the midst of his enemies.

In other words, itís his part of his strategy for his church to be surrounded by people

†† hostile to him.The negative changes we see in America and Western culture

†† arenít Christís failure, they are the way he has chosen to rule for now.

 

Now look at verse 3

†† Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty,

†† from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.

Who are his troops?We are.But weíre not defending a border, weíre fighting

†† in the midst of enemies.And how do we fight?

Says we are arrayed in holy majesty.Can be translated, in holy garments.

†† Itís a reference to priesthood.Thatís how we fight, like priests.

†† Praying for people, ministering to them.Living holy lives before them.

And by fighting that way, under the banner of Christ, we become refreshing dew.

†† When you hear news of hostility toward Christianity and the church,

†† get out our Bible and read Psalm 110 and meditate on Christís session.

 

Now, hereís the second application, and itís closer to home.

Bring Christís priesthood to mind when you canít forgive yourself.††

†† There are enemies on the outside that threaten believers,

†† and there are enemies on the inside.

One of the biggest enemies you face is the voice of self-accusationó

†† as sense of guilt and shame for things youíve done or failed to do,

†† the people youíve harmed, the vows youíve broken, the self-control youíve lost.

And one way people express that sense of self-accusation is by saying:

†† I just canít forgive myself.God may have forgiven me, I canít forgive myself.

 

Itís interesting that the Bible never talks that way.

†† It says absolutely nothing about forgiving yourself, and thatís instructive,

†† because the concept of self-forgiveness is flawed.

It implies that the final key for forgiveness, the experiential key,

†† the key to feeling forgiven and feeling clean lies with us.

But the Bible never says that.

†† It says that it is the work of a priest to deal with our your guilt and declare your

†† forgiveness.You canít be your own priest.

And when you try to be your own priest, and try to forgive yourself,

†† and make yourself feel better and alleviate your guilt, you end up trapped

†† by sins that are completely off the radar screen.

Like pride.Sometimes when a person says, I canít forgive myself, he means.

†† I still canít believe I did that.Iím not that kind of person.

You need a priest to come and gently say:Yes, you are that kind of person.

†† But I died for you and Iíll make you into a new person if you let me.

 

Idolatry.Sometimes when a person says, ďI canít forgive myself,Ē because the

†† thing he did ruined his chances for getting something that he had his heart set on.

He had his heart set on a certain standard of living, getting married,

†† having wife and children who respect him, advancing in his career, whatever.

†† But the bad thing he did blew all of that, filled with regret, self-accusation.

You need a priest to come and say:Youíre repenting for the wrong thing.

†† Quit bothering yourself about that bad thing you did, and start repenting for

†† making these other things idols in your life.That will give you relief.

 

Self-righteousness.Sometimes when a person says, ďI canít forgive myself,Ē

†† he means, I feel bad about myself because I havenít lived up to someoneís

†† standardsóIíve failed my parents, my children, myself, my God.

One of the deepest desires of our hearts is to be righteous in the eyes that matter.

†† You need a priest who will come to you and say with convincing authority:

In my eyes, and I stand between you and God with his authority, you are right.

†† So believe me and lift up your head.

 

You do have a priest like that.His name is Jesus.

†† And God has sworn that he will be a priest forever.

†† Which means that his sacrifice for you and his intercession for you will never fail.

You have to convince yourself of that.You have to believe it.

†† You have to believe, as the end of Psalm 110 assures us, those final violent

†† verses, that Jesus the Priest King is going to destroy all his and our enemies.

And that includes those enemies inside you that rob you of your peace.

 

So when youíre low and feeling the assault of guilt and accusationó

†† read this Psalm and think about your Priest King Jesus,

†† a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

 

 

CONC:Several times over the course of this study of the Psalms

†† Iíve read to you what the father Athanasius said about the Psalms:

Within them are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the

†† human soul.They are like a picture in which you see yourself portrayed, and seeing, may

†† form yourself upon the pattern given.

 

In other words, the Psalms help us understand the things we feel and experience

†† inside our souls.Iím feeling depressed, Iím feeling angry, Iím feeling joyful,

†† Iím feeling grateful.We see all those and more in the Psalms.

They help us make sense of those, validate them in a sense,

†† as we bring them to God in prayer and worship.

 

But, Athanasius is also saying the Psalms show us how we should think and feel.

†† They provide us a pattern for forming a healthy, rich, believing spiritual life.

And like Psalm 110, they show us the great things about Jesus Christ

†† that ought to resonate in our hearts.

So letís do all we can to make his priestly reign more real to us every day.