Asaph looked at the world around him and saw how evil flourished and how the people that could care less about God and His righteous ways, had wealth, power and seemed to avoid so many of life’s troubles. They were godless but had it so good. Apparently, he thought, devoting oneself to serving the Lord God was not all that it was advertised to be. He became discouraged and depressed (Psa, 73:1-14). Why wasn’t God doing something about all this unrighteous behavior and godless attitudes? This troubled condition remained with Asaph until he “came into the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:17). That changed him. There he was reminded of God’s fixed, ultimate realities.
Often as God’s believing people, we today have Asaph’s perspective, as we look at people with money and power who dominate the world stage, but have no use for God’s standards. These are often the “movers” and “shakers” in our culture. These can be found in great numbers in politics, business and in the world of entertainment and athletics. Many of them have a deep-seated hatred for Christianity. And they do what they can to set aside God’s standards regarding marriage, life and sexuality. They promote all kinds of evil. Concerning such people, the Apostle Paul states: “they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32). But nevertheless, these seem to prosper in many and varied ways. They seem to dictate our cultural life. The solution for any believer who feels like Asaph (which most of us have at one time or another) is to enter God’s sanctuary; that is, return to God’s truth and see what He has says is going to take place. Things which He, on oath, has promised to be true.
Let’s take a minute and get back into the Scriptures (enter the sanctuary of God), and be reminded of some things that God declared will come to pass. It is unlikely that Asaph learned brand new truths when he “entered the sanctuary”. But there he was reminded of truth that had drifted into the background of his thinking; truth which no longer was directing his day-by-day living. For believers today, the following two truths always helps us shed the “Asaph syndrome”.
- God’s Sovereign Control and His Predetermined Plan
The Almighty One is longsuffering when dealing with sinful people, but that must never be interpreted as indifference to evil or impotence in dealing with rebels. He has purposes which, without any doubt at all, will come to pass, and that perhaps very soon. King David, in Psalm 2, noted that the leaders of nations, as well as their people, rage against God’s standards and authority over them. They want Him out of their lives. These arrogant, foolish people actually think that the Creator can be dismissed from their lives. (Does this sound at all familiar?) Their wicked scheming and their power seem irresistible. And the believer appears powerless before them.
But the Almighty God is not at all impressed, nor is He intimidated by great men and powerful nations. The Prophet Isaiah put it this way:
“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales….All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless….He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:15, 17, 23-25)
Isaiah is pretty clear about how fragile and temporary are these “great” ones. This is clearly something we need to remember when having an “Asaph moment.”
Getting back to Psalm 2, David informs us that God “laughs” and “scoffs” at these leaders and their people. The time is coming, and perhaps right soon, when His patience will end and He will in “anger” and “fury” judge these arrogant creatures of His. God’s coming wrath on these, whether in the period of the Tribulation (Rev. 6-18) or at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:12-15), will silence these rebels forever. Their horrifying and crushing judgment will force them to bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord (Phil. 3:9-11). This undeniable truth regarding their terrible end is a significant point that shook Asaph out of his distorted, demoralizing thinking (Ps. 73:17) when he entered the sanctuary of God.
And the same holds true for us. These prideful, foolish unbelievers may appear to be unbeatable. They may seem to have irresistible power. But their time of fame and power are brief, and they face the anger and fury of the Almighty. This profound truth must not be forgotten or marginalized in our thinking. It is not fashionable today to speak about the judgment of God and His wrath to come. But unless these people repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, there are horrors that are coming upon them unlike anything they have experienced before, or even imagined. The coming wrath of God is very real and it does give perspective to us as we view our current culture.
- The Trumpet Announcing Our Last Days
Jesus promised that since He was going away to heaven, He would return for us, His people (John 14:3). And Jesus always keeps His promises. This return will be signaled by a blast from God’s trumpet, declaring the end of the church age on the earth and the beginning of our entrance into an incredible, magnificent, glorious future (1 Thess. 4:13-17). When we hear the loud sound of the trumpet, we will immediately be changed and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies, which will give to us a much greater capacity to understand and appreciate the great days that we will begin experiencing. Not only will the trumpet sound, but simultaneously Jesus will shout (“come up here”?) and Michael the Archangel will speak (ordering Satan’s forces out of the way?). What a moment of introduction that will be. (It does seem so much closer these days!).
Following this meeting in the air with Jesus and myriads of angels and saints, we will return to heaven and experience the amazing time of Jesus generously rewarding His faithful servants. This is then followed by that wonderful moment of the “marriage of the Lamb”, when the church is uniquely, and forever, united to Jesus. Great will be the rejoicing and the enjoyment will be unparalleled. Then, with King Jesus, we will return to the newly conquered earth where we will thoroughly enjoy the “marriage supper”, which is the millennial/messianic age. And what a time that will be. The dominant atmosphere of this age is that of joy (Heb. 1:9; 12:2; Ps. 45:6; Matt. 25:21). What a change from this age which is dominated by stress, pain, grief, disappointment and distress. The rule of Messiah Jesus will be characterized by peace, not by conflict between neighbors, families and nations (Isa. 9:6); characterized by righteousness, not by injustice, evil and hypocrisy (Isa. 11:4-5); characterized by prosperity and health, not by the curse, poverty and disease (Isa. 35:1-10). Our Savior reigns supreme and what a one thousand years that will be!
And then, if that isn’t good enough, the Creator God will bring into existence a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). It is a return to God’s “plan A” which was inaugurated in Eden. Forever, we will experience paradise conditions, full unhindered fellowship with our Savior-God; and lives that have meaning and satisfaction to them. And that is our forever situation. Eternity really is a long, blessed time!
When Asaph went into God’s sanctuary and got his thinking adjusted with biblical truth, he had to admit: “what was I thinking?” Or as he actually stated it: “then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psa. 73:21-24).
Have you been having some “Asaph moments” in recent days as you observe the juggernaut of unrighteousness plowing its way through this world of ours? It happens to most of us at one time another. Perhaps, at this moment you might find it helpful to spend some time in the sanctuary of God? We should remember two basic things. First, the best of times and the worst of times lie ahead, perhaps right around the corner. For unbelievers who remain in stubborn rebellion against God, it will be the very worst of times. For believers, our best days lie ahead of us, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.
And the second thing to remember is that we are placed, at this time and in this culture, to be lights in this ever-darkening world. Paraphrasing Mordecai’s word to Queen Esther: “We are not here by accident, but have been placed here in this culture at this time to shine for Jesus Christ”. This is not the hour to retreat to the safety of our basements to ride out the storm. Each of us needs to purposely and daily make ourselves available to the Light of the World. It is amazing what Jesus can do with the believer who is available to Him. And it is amazing the change in us when we “enter the sanctuary of God.”