STRENGTHENING THE BARS OF OUR GATES

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2011

(Part 11)

STRENGTHENING THE BARS OF OUR GATES

 

January 7, 2011

 

Today’s reading

Psalm 147:12-20

 

 

Man has grown in unprecedented strength. The scientific advances boggle the mind–communications technology, medical breakthroughs, space exploration, nuclear power, etc.

But man’s strength has failed in providing for a better world. Scientific advances have in fact helped bring humankind to the brink, where medical developments such as the ultrasound have been used to expand abortion, where GMOs are helping produce food that is adversely affecting the health of people, where nuclear power has brought the world closer to total annihilation. The wonderful Internet technology has helped pedophiles more easily target and abuse children. Even the United Nations, supposedly a tower of strength in bringing nations together in peace, has pushed the anti-life agenda and depopulation efforts, aside from being unable to stop wars.

What then do we see in this world that has grown in unprecedented human strength? We see family breakdown and the murder of the unborn in the womb. We see poverty and hunger for the great majority of the world’s population. We see war, both internecine violence within a nation’s borders and also destructive conflict between nations. In fact, technological strength in the form of nuclear power is threatening to bring the world to a cataclysmic end. The world right now fears what North Korea, Iran or Pakistan will do with its nukes.

What we know is that instead of man’s strength resulting in greater peace and prosperity, none of us are safe and secure in life. We are afraid of being mugged in the street, raped in our home, made sick by the food we eat, blown up in the sky by a terrorist.

 

What the world clearly needs is not man’s strength, but God’s strength. In fact, man’s strength is only attributable to God. If man does not recognize that, then in the haughtiness of his spirit he certainly will go astray. It is only God who can provide the true peace and prosperity that we all seek. It is only God “Who has strengthened the bars of your gates” (Ps 147:13a).

In olden times, cities like Jerusalem were fortified by strong walls that were high and thick. But for people to ingress and egress, breaks in the walls were needed. These breaks were then provided with gates, and the gates were made secure by bars placed across them when the gates were closed. The city was protected in effect by these bars on the gates. When a city was attacked, the attacker would try to break down the gates so they count enter and assault the city. The bars kept the gates closed. Whether the enemy would succeed in breaking down the gates and ultimately destroy the city depended so much on the strength of the gates’ bars.

With strong bars on the gates, the people were protected and reaped the benefits. Their children and families were blessed, they were at peace, and they enjoyed prosperity. God, “who has strengthened the bars of your gates, blessed your children within you, brought peace to your borders, and filled you with finest wheat.” (Ps 147:13-14).

 

How do we take on the very strength of God? If we are truly God’s people, then we will experience His strength. If we become like Christ, then Christ lives in us and we can act in his strength (Jn 14:12). If we become the instruments that God intends for us to become, then the Holy Spirit Himself acts in and through us in power (Acts 1:8).

How then do we become God’s people, act in Christ’s strength, be powerful instruments of the Spirit? We need to obey God, and we need to be faithful to our covenant. This is how God can form us as His people and as His instruments. God has already told us how to live our lives. “The Lord sends a command to earth; his word runs swiftly!” (Ps 147:15). In particular, God calls and forms His people. “The Lord also proclaims his word to Jacob, decrees and laws to Israel.” (Ps 147:19). The Church today is the new Israel. Our covenant is the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. Christians are inheritors of the promises to Israel.

Unfortunately, as we have seen, nations have ignored God’s word. Even as the new Israel has spread throughout the world, “of such laws they know nothing.” (Ps 147:20b).

Thus the world goes about its own way in its own strength, and plunges deeper into darkness. God knows where we are going, and allows the alarming developments to be warning signs that should keep us from going further to our own destruction. “The Lord foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples.” (Ps 33:10). If only we would look to His perfect ways! “But the plan of the Lord stands forever, wise designs through all generations.” (Ps 33:11). Then we will experience the peace and happiness that the world longs for. “Happy the nation whose God is the Lord, the people chosen as his very own.” (Ps 33:12).

What does the world need to do? Know and fear the Lord. Obey His commands. Live His way of life for His creatures. “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell in the world show reverence. For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place.” (Ps 33:8-9).

 

We need to recognize, accept and worship God. “Glorify the Lord, Jerusalem; Zion, offer praise to your God.” (Ps 147:12). We must know that apart from God we are nothing.

God has the most wonderful plan for His people. We are destined to live and serve in His very power and strength. Let us turn our lives over to Him, obey His laws, be faithful to our covenant, and then truly be able to say: “My God is now my strength!”

 

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