Summary: World Hunger Sunday: God’s judgment will come on a people whose consumption habits oppress others and whose patriotism masks greed. But God will continue to send blessings on a people who will invest more in others.
The laws of physics say that what goes up must come down. You pitch a rock into the air and right away it comes down with a thud. Hendricks throws a football in a long arc out over the New York Giant defenders and knows that it will come down, he hopes into the hands of Monk or Clark or Sanders who in turn are pretty likely to come on down themselves, thanks to Lawrence Taylor. What goes up must come down.
Except, sad to say, where gasoline prices are concerned!
And so last week as we worked our way through the 147th Psalm together, we looked at the up side. We found that there were several places at which God’s upbuilding activity was laid out.
We saw that first of all, our God builds up, that He builds up those who feel that they have nothing to offer, that He builds up the nobodies until they become somebodies. God builds up.
And then we saw together that our God binds up; He binds up the wounded and heals their hurts. And we thought quite a bit about how wounded many of us are, but that our God has bound up those wounds and has made us sympathetic to one another, has made us compassionate for one another. God builds up and binds up.
And then we also saw that our God builds us up and binds us up so that we can share in His greatest work, lifting up the oppressed and the downtrodden. There are countless thousands of folks who feel oppressed and beaten, but our God wants these tear-filled eyes to be lifted up in hope, our God wants these tired faces to be lifted up in trust, our God wants these crushed personalities to be lifted up in confidence. And so we learned last week that the reason God has built us up as a church and the reason God is continuing to bind up the wounds of those of us who experience the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – the reason for that is that He wants to use us to lift up those whose needs have not yet been met.
That was the up side of the 147th Psalm: built up, bound up, and lifted up.
But what goes up must come down. And there is a down side to all of this upbeat stuff I gave you last week. There is a down side, a negative side; and it is that in a world of tremendous need, those of us who have been built up and bound up, if we do not lift up, are going to experience judgment, God does not suffer gladly those of us who have received from Him and do nothing with it.
And so this morning I am going to call your attention to the down side of Psalm 147, and I call it "cast down, scattered down, sent down."
I highlight these verses for you: "The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens which cry. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He casts forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold? He sends forth his word, and melts them … He has not dealt thus with any other nation."
The image endures and still gets laughter from my family every time we tell the story. Several years ago we were in Ocean City at a
restaurant, one of those that features an all-you-can-eat salad bar. You’ve seen those many times. The thing that was different about this place was that, since it was near the beach, and people tended to want to take their food back out on the sand, this restaurant offered Styrofoam plates on which you could build your salad and then carry it out.
My wife, my children, and I sat and watched in astonishment and then in horrified amusement as one lady, already built to somewhat generous proportions anyway, constructed what has to have been the world’s most ample carry-out salad. On top of the usual bed of lettuce went great heaps of veggies, several ladles of potato salad and pasta, and a couple of dozen olives. Next countless croutons, a big bag of bacon bits, and chock full of cheese.
Clearly such a concoction needs something to lubricate it and, in fact, needs a glue to hold it together, and so on top … well, you’ve seen those pictures of Mount Fuji in Japan, with snow crowning the peak and flowing down the sides? Imagine that with blue cheese dressing! The thing was about eight inches tall by now.