Restoration vs. Reconstruction (Jeremiah 30:1–24)


“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (Jeremiah 30:8–9).

I’m no Rushdoony Reconstructionist, nor a Bahnsen Theonomist but I do believe the law of God informs the Christian concerning justice and truth. It tells us, with absolute authority, what to advocate for and what to protest against. Still, and here’s the kicker, the cultural mandate is a mandate, not a promise. So, if you’ve got a few of those fancy five dollar theology words in your back pocket, you might venture I’m not a postmillennialist. Roger that. But don’t then libel me a pessi-millennialist. I am opti-millennialist. I am optimistic; fully believing that the kingdom has broken in and will fully come. This age is fading away like a mist. The age to come is raining down and a deluge is coming. God will gather every soul which the blood of Christ has ransomed and not lose one. His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and His praises will be sung in every language. Nothing happens but that which advances His kingdom according to His plan. Our God never sounds retreat. His strategies may confound us, but we privates shouldn’t doubt the strategy of the general. After all, He did deal the deceive blow by clothing Himself in weakness and dying on the cross. In other words, I’m not optimistic about man’s obedience to the cultural mandate. I’m optimistic concerning the church’s obedience to the great commission, though not because of the church herself, but because all authority has been given to Christ who has promised to be with her.

This world is a Babylon and it is doomed. Whist we remain, let us seek her welfare, for in it, we will find our own. Our hope is not in a Babylon built up, but torn down. Our hope is not in Babylon redeemed, but destroyed. Our hope is not Babylon lifted up, but Jerusalem coming down (Jeremiah 29:10).

When the bonds of Babylon are burst, we then serve Yahweh our God and the Son of David, our King, whom He has raised up for us. These burst bonds do not result in any Bolshevik Revolution. The tyranny of the one is not to be replaced with the anarchy of the many. Neither is the hope a democratic republic founded on God’s law. No, the hope Jeremiah speaks of is a monarchial theocracy. Our hope is neither that of Animal Farm, nor Manor Farm, but of Narnia. As Trufflehunter explained to the irascible Nikabrik,

“I’m a beast, I am, and a Badger what’s more. We don’t change. We hold on. I say great good will come of it. This is the true King of Narnia we’ve got here: a true King, coming back to true Narnia. And we beasts remember, even if Dwarfs forget, that Narnia was never right except when a son of Adam was King.”

Yes, our King sits at the right hand of the Father ruling the nations, but things will not be made fully right until those nations are ultimately broken with a rod of iron, Zion descends, and His throne is manifestly established on earth. Then, things will be put to right. Then, all will be restored. This mountain is built, not by the nations, but on top of their crushed rubble. Our part is to be faithful to God’s law within the city of man, preaching His gospel, our hope—the gospel of Christ and the city of God ruled by His King.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 30:1–24 || Restoration || Josh King

The Apologist: If the Universe Sounded Awful

There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage‘s total chance music, as he was bowing to acknowledge the applause there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musiaans behind him who were hissing. Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience boo at him they are, if they are modern men, in reality boomg the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There

God Saves, We Sing (Exodus 15:1-21)

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang…

I will sing to the LORD, for

—Exodus 15:1

God saves, Israel sings, this is the story of salvation.

God saves, we sing, this is the Christian faith. Certainly there are some vital qualifying adjectives, but nonetheless, this is the essence of our faith. The Christian faith is not we sing, then God saves. We see this in other religions. God is not looking down from heaven on our show responding, “Great performance! Now here’s some salvation. Keep up the good work.” In false religions, and false Christianity, worship isn’t a response, but an attempt to elicit one. Mantra and chants are a performance hoping to get a hand from God. True worship is a response because God has given a hand. Not a helping hand, but a nail scared hand that saved us when we were dead, in bondage, and without strength.

The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

—Exodus 15:2

If Jesus isn’t your song, you don’t know His salvation. The saved, the rescued, the pardoned, the forgiven, the redeemed, the ransomed, the delivered, the justified, and the reconciled SING!

Some folks, of the highly educated sort, think this song is odd in its placement. This is ridiculous on a number of levels. Where else would you put it? Would you like Moses to insert it following the instructions for the golden lampstand? Further, such persons reveal they not only  know little of salvation, they know little of life.

“It’s not natural for this song to be here.”

“Have you ever eaten an exquisite steak?”

“I don’t follow.”

When you experience something good you want to praise it. Lewis observed, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” Praise is a response to the praiseworthy. Songs of praise are a response to the exceptionally praiseworthy. Israel had reason to sing. She had to sing. We have reason all the more. The “then,” “for,” and “because” of our singing have been more fully revealed. Because of the incarnation, the perfection, the death, the resurrection, the ascension, the session, and the promised return of Christ, let us sing. Because of the redemption, ransom, salvation, propitiation, regeneration, reconciliation, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification we have in Christ, let us sing.

The history of salvation is sometimes described as a drama—the drama of redemption. However, this drama is actually a musical. It is impossible even to conceive of Biblical Christianity without songs of praise. —Phil Ryken

Despising the Shame of the Psalms for the Joy of Greater Glory (Psalm 3)

I’m afraid many confess to love the psalms as many confess to love Jesus; it’s a sentimental love based on imagination. Like a piece of childhood nostalgia revisited, upon inspection, many find the psalms aren’t as pure and good as their flannel graph memories. The psalms might be the most warmly affirmed yet least known portion of Scripture. We speak of them like we would a great ancestor, but are later shamed to learn that he held slaves. What are we to do with language like this?

“Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked (Psalm 3:7).”

“O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock (Psalm 137:8–9)!”

I think perhaps the truth that helps us to understand such difficult passages, and to rightly understand less difficult ones is this: often, though not exclusively, as Augustine said, Jesus is the great singer of the psalms. We can sing the psalms, but our covers never match Jesus’ original. “Arn’t these psalms for congregational worship?” Yes. “Can’t we sing them?” Yes. But, I believe you’ll find it is when the voice of the psalm is taken out of your mouth and put into the mouth of Christ that it is most sweet and meaningful. The second psalm teaches us this. That psalm not only speaks of Jesus, in it Jesus speaks, and thus we should approach many psalms of David. As psalms of God’s king over God’s people.

On problem we have is out distance from monarchy. Consider Britain’s anthem, “God Save the King.”

God save our gracious King!
Long live our noble King!
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On him be pleased to pour,
Long may he reign. / May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the King.

We’d do better to sing the psalms like a Brit. Our individualism too often infects the psalms as we want to make them like our modern worship choruses, centered around ourselves and our emotions. But the psalms, like the truly great hymns of the faith, are centered around Christ. If we’d approach this psalm more like a patriotic anthem, rather than a personal lament, we’d hit closer to the mark.

One might think I’m trying to rob them of the psalms, but this doesn’t mean we sing the psalms less, but more. The King’s personal lament, that we are assured was heard by God, means that we sing His lament as a song of praise. Jesus’ sorrow means our joy.

David knew that his personal welfare and the blessedness of the people of God were linked together because of God’s covenant (Psalm 3:8). David’s zeal for his enemies’ destruction wasn’t personal vengeance, but holy worshipful zeal. Opposition to David was opposition to God (Psalm 2:2–3), and to the good of God’s people.

Now consider how this is fulfilled in the King. Jesus was surrounded by enemies, enemies who were close to him. Judas betrays with a kiss. His fellow countrymen who had welcomed him into the city shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” soon cry “Crucify him!” wishing him to be driven from the city. Like David, Jesus departs His city, the place of His rightful rule. He is driven outside to be shamed and mocked as forsaken by God. But unlike David, who was only being chastened in love, Jesus is forsaken in wrath. Like David, Jesus is suffering for sin, but unlike David, Jesus isn’t suffering for His sins, but the sins of His people. But God lifted up the head that bowed saying “It is finished.” and bestowed on Him the name above all names. In Christ our enemies’ teeth are shattered. The serpent has been de-fanged by the crushing weight of his crucified heel, and we boast with Paul “O death where is your sting?”

How do we sing this psalm, and many others? In Jesus’ name and for Jesus name. Maybe if our reading of the psalms was Christocentric then our worship would be, or, maybe if more contemporary worship music was Christocentric, we’d be better readers of the psalms.