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Psalm 100
A Psalm for giving thanks.
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

 

The purpose is established: to bless His Name! And who are they who will bless Him through thanksgiving and praise? According to this psalm, it shall be all the earth.  Not that every living being will do so for Scriptures do portray that there will be those who would call upon the mountains to fall upon them when the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ, shall return as King of the Ages to rule with an iron rod upon the nations who raged against Him (Rev. 6:15-16; Psalm 2:8-9). But this term ‘all the earth’ shall be those described in verse 3: the people belonging to Him, the sheep of His pasture.  Psalm 100 is termed as a “psalm of ascent”. It was meant to be sang as the believers stream towards the temple of God upward to Mount Zion where God has appointed to meet His people that they might worship and serve Him.  Although God is omnipresent, He has nevertheless appointed the temple at Jerusalem to be the place He will meet His people. Although this psalm, at the time it was being penned, strongly suggests a gathering of Jews and non-Israelite proselytes who worship the Lord (YHWH) at an appointed occasion in the annual Jewish calendar, it legitimately points forward to a time appointed by God when His Son, Jesus Christ, will be gathering  all who believe and trusted in Him, mediated by the Holy Spirit, into His  heavenly temple  for a grand assembly of redeemed to give thanks and praise….to bless His Name!

Jesus Christ is the type of that temple. In Him alone will God meet us. John the apostle wrote that when the Son came into the world in human form by means of the virgin birth, He dwelt among men (John 1:14). The Greek word for ‘dwelt’ is eskenosen, an old verb that means to pitch a tent (in the past tense). The term ‘pitched tent’ refers back to the first tabernacle (tent of meeting) designed by God and handed to Moses. From this began God’s gracious condescension with His people on a regular basis to instruct them, lead them, receive their worship and offerings, to bless them and be glorified among His chosen people. In John 14:6, Jesus plainly said that no one comes to the Father except by Him. He is God’s Tent of Meeting – the tabernacle or temple – where man is given the only means to reach, meet, commune with God and nowhere else. Repentance and faith in Christ alone are the only Holy Spirit-given graces for us to possess the right to enter into a relationship with God through Christ Jesus (John 1:12-13).

Jesus Christ describes His sheep as those who listen to His voice, those whom He knows and these are they who follow Him (John 10:27). He differentiates His sheep from those who are not – John 10:26 – these are those who do not believe Him.  And it is the believing flock that is referred in the psalm on both sides of the time-space history continuum in relation to the cross at Calvary.  This shall be flock that will enter finally into the presence of God forevermore at the return of Jesus Christ when time ceases to be and eternity begins for all the sheep of His pasture. On that day, there will be

 …no more temple for the Lord Almighty and the Lamb [Jesus Christ] shall be the temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, not anyone who does what is detestable of false, by only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – Revelation 21:22-27

As each sheep of the Lord looks forward to that day of grand assembly in the presence of the Almighty, His steadfast love and faithfulness are continually proclaimed today, as in the past, to all generations. First, as an ongoing reminder among the redeemed to keep their hearts undivided and thankfully serving the One who saved them. Secondly, as the Gospel to the rest of humanity, so that they may know that  the day of reckoning shall one day finally come. And before that day, the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins in the Lord Jesus Christ – who died on the cross and rose again from the grave on the third day –  is available still to all who will repent and turn to Him in faith. This is the good news and the testimony of God’s unchanging love through His only begotten Son. Blessed be His Name, both now and forevermore!

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Reading the Caananite woman narrative in Matthew 15:21-28, my ESV translation puts a subtitle: The Faith of a Caananite Woman. I agree that the woman’s faith was indeed exemplary compared to the Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-20) who are a part of the lost sheep of the house of Israel to whom Jesus Christ was sent to (15:24) . But according to the advise of many wise bible teachers whom I respect, I must get used to reading the Scriptures without the subtitles and verse numbers.

Looking to that particular narrative, what jumps out of it are the two ways the Caananite woman called the Lord.  First, as “Lord, Son of David” to which the Lord Jesus answered her about what we have noted above (15:24). You see there was nothing essentially wrong about the title because Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of David who has come – a messianic title if you please. However, her second call was markedly different (15:25), “Lord…”  Did you notice that?

Someone might say she was persistent that is why she got her answer. I am sure she was persistent and good for her! But the real difference was that the first call, she seems to be identifying herself with the Israelites by saying “Son of David”.  This gentile woman does not have the Jewish covenant to merit the help.  By the Lord’s answer, He stressed that she does not belong to that household. But, then you see the dramatic change; all of a sudden the pretention was removed. She no longer tried to identify with the Jews but came to the Lord plainly: a person who does not deserve anything (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” 15:26) but begged Him who is merciful even to the lost outside the household of Israel.  She simply called Him, “Lord”.

And from where she stood, the Lord richly commended her and on which readers twenty centuries later are still marvelling at (15:28)!  She was not like the Pharisees who praised Him with their lips, yet whose hearts are distant from Him (15:7-9), but she was drawn to Him… now exhibiting a heart that was so poor, as someone who waits for crumbs that would fall from the master’s table, drawn by the very Lord of mercy who alone can heal both body and spirit.  There was nothing in the text that tells us explicitly that she was following Him constantly but she could have witnessed or heard all His marvelous works from chapter 14 alone. These miracles were indeed significant for even Herod the tetrarch could have sworn that the power (the Holy Spirit whom Herod does not know) in John the Baptist – who had no physical miracles to display and yet so powerfully proclaimed the word of God – is all the more at work in Jesus who had both the powerfully proclaimed Gospel accompanied by miracles to prove that He is indeed Immanuel (Matthew 14:1-2; 1:21-23).

And yes, the Caananite woman’s daughter was healed but more importantly, she went home with the greatest miracle – a heart that was transformed by the same Holy Spirit and be drawn with great faith to the Lord Jesus Himself .

Glory be to the Triune God!

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