Come and See What God Has Done (Psalm 66)
Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man. (Psalm 66:5)
Our Psalm says, "All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name" (v4). Why does all the earth praise God? Certainly because He is the Creator. But it is not just for His creation that God is praised for. But for His preservation as well. His preservation of all creation for the sake of His Church. These awesome deeds the Psalm praises this morning. Praises that tell us, "Come and see what God has done" (v5).
Come and see "He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot" (v6). The beginning of God's awesome deeds for His Church is Exodus. God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape from Pharaoh's slavery. The waves were held back until the great multitude had crossed. They crossed on dry land. Saved through Moses. As St. Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 10:1-4):
- Our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
God preserved His covenant people through the Red Sea, baptizing them "into Moses". He chose them to bring about the first Gospel promise of the Bible: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15). The woman's Offspring would come through the covenant people of Israel. So would His forerunner.
John the Baptizer preached a Baptism of repentance in the region around the Jordan. The same river God parted through Joshua to allow the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land (Joshua 3-4). It's no coincidence that John is baptizing in the Jordan. Just as the children of Israel entered the Promised Land through the Jordan, the promised Offspring would enter His ministry to the children of Israel by passing through the waters of the Jordan in Baptism. John was "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Luke 3:4; Isaiah 40:3). God's messenger who "will prepare the way" before Jesus (Malachi 3:1).
John preached repentance to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6). "Calling sinners to repentance, since the Kingdom now is here" (LSB #347.3; Advent Proper Preface). To help them "shout for joy to God" (v1). To cry out "that the Lord is nigh" (LSB #344.1). To comfort the people waiting for "the Savior promised long" (Isaiah 40:1; LSB #347.1; #349.1). Salvation is shown through John's preaching as he points them to the Messiah--the Lamb of God (John 1:29)--that will release them from Satan's bondage (LSB #349.2). Salvation because they have passed through the Jordan in John's Baptism, waiting for the Christ to come.
We rejoice in His deliverance. The Israelites rejoiced in great celebration on the eastern bank of the Red Sea (Exodus 15). On the western bank of the Jordan River, the Israelites rejoiced in solemn celebration. Setting up twelve memorial stones from the river as sacred pillars (Joshua 4:19-24). Rejoicing may be with celebratory dancing and singing as in Exodus. Rejoicing may also be solemn and reflective remembrance as in Joshua. Either way, we rejoice as we "Come and see what God has done."
Come and see His "eyes keep watch on the nations" (v7). God continues His preservation of creation. As we sing in the Nunc Dimittis after receiving His gifts in Communion, Jesus is not just the Savior of the Jews. Jesus is the "Light to lighten the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32; LSB p. 200). God didn't choose Israel to be His "treasured possession" (Deuteronomy 7:6) to tell the rest of the nations, "The Israelites are the only people going to Heaven. Everyone else is going to Hell. Neh-nah neh-neh neh neh!" God is not the God of double predestination. God did not choose some people to go to Heaven and some to go to Hell. God created NO ONE to be condemned. God created everyone and everything to live IN HARMONY with Him forever. God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
So God keeps His eyes on all the nations. Israelite, German, Norwegian. Every nation. "There is neither Jew nor Greek ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). In Christ, there is no ethnic distinction. Jesus is the Savior of every nation, not just the Jews. The Jews were to walk the straight line of God's Word as an example and sign to the nations surrounding them. Jesus tells us, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14). Unfortunately, those who find Jesus' true way will always be few, despite God's desire.
But "let not the rebellious exalt themselves" (v7).
Come and see He "has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip" (v9). Every breath we have comes from God. Without His grace and mercy, we would die. He preserves everyone, good and evil alike. He does not desire the death of the wicked. He desires that all come to Him with thanksgiving for the blessings that He gives to everyone. Every step we take is on firm ground because God has made it so. In Christ, the Psalms continue to remind us, He has made your feet like the feet of a deer, secure upon the heights (18:33). We can be sure of ourselves because He upholds us by His gracious mercy. Even when it doesn't seem like He's holding us up, He's with us even more.
Come and see God has tested us (v10). Often we find ourselves in the fires of God's testing. Sometimes it's a diagnosis of a dreaded illness. Sometimes it's the loss of a job. Sometimes it's simply the general uncertainty of life in this fallen world.
"For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6).
"You have tried us as silver is tried" (v10).
"You have brought us into the net" (v11).
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen.
"We went through fire and through water" (v12).
John's Baptism vs Jesus' Baptism (Luke 3:16).
"You have brought us out to a place of abundance" (v12).
What is our response to God's awesome deeds? "I will come into Your house with burnt offerings" (v13). We come into His presence. We see His awesome deeds. We give offerings of thanks and praise.
"I will perform my vows to You" (v13).
"Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul" (v16).
"Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!" (v20).
"Come and see what God has done" for you (v5). "Shout for joy to God ... sing the glory of His name" (vv1-2).
Thanks and praise be unto You, God of all grace, because You have delivered our souls from the bondage of Satan, and have saved us through the Red Sea of the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Cleanse us evermore with His blood that, with all Your saints, we may continually praise You. Amen.