Summary: Discovering the ’right’ response to the story of our reconciliation to the Father in the birth of Jesus.
RESPONDING TO THE STORY…
In a northern section of Berlin lies a Protestant church whose front yard used to straddle the Communist wall. Its ironic name: the Church of the Reconciliation. The building itself used to be in East Berlin, while the sidewalk was in the West. A 10-foot brick wall stood between. However, the church seems to have lived up to its name as it finds itself on the very border of what was once separated but is now reconciled.
We have all, I’m sure, experienced the emotion of reconciliation – that which happens within when something or someone is restored to us. Perhaps the greatest biblical example of this is to be found in the parable of the prodigal son who returned home to a joyous welcome, as he was reconciled with his father.
One Sunday night the famous American preacher, Dwight Moody, shared on this very text of the prodigal son. After he had finished, a little boy was brought to the platform by an officer who had found the child wandering in the crowd. Mr. Moody took him in his arms and asked the crowd to look at the lost child. He said: “The father is more anxious to find the boy than the boy is to be found. It is just so with our Heavenly Father, for long years He has been following you. He is following you still!”
At that moment a man elbowed his way to the platform. The boy saw him and, running, threw himself into his father’s outstretched arms. The multitude that witnessed the scene broke into a mighty cheer. “Thus,” cried Mr. Moody, “will God receive you if you will only run to Him today.”
Perhaps the greatest moment of reconciliation occurs when we turn to Jesus and are restored to a real relationship with our heavenly Father.
My message this morning is about restoration, the story of our restoration in the birth of Jesus and the response which that story so naturally and powerfully evokes. In order to deal with this we are going to take a close look at Psalm 126 and ask ourselves how the response of the Jews, to the story of their restoration, should be mirrored in our own lives as we respond to our own restoration in the Christ event.
Now, let’s read Psalm 126…
1 When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with singing;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are glad.
4 Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
as the streams in the South.
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
bearing seed for sowing,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Charles Spurgeon once said that this Psalm divides itself into four sections: 1) A Narrative, to be found in verses 1-2. 2) A song of joy, to be found in verse 3. 3) A prayer of thanksgiving, to be found in verse 4. 4) A promise of hope in verses 5-6.
In this Psalm, in the first section, we have an introductory story that sets the scene, the reason as it were, for Israel’s response. This story deals with the restoration of freedom to the captive nation of Israel. Whether this be freedom from Egyptian slavery or Babylonian captivity, no one is certain, but this one thing is clear, the Lord has brought them out of darkness and restored their freedom to them. This is an account of how God set his people free and the response that it brought about. I would like us now to consider, briefly, the threefold response that was shown by the Jewish nation.
I. Song of Praise…
The first response we come across in verse 3 is that of a song. A song of joy and praise for what God has done. The natural response to being set free from bondage is one of gladness and we see this clearly in the case of the Israelites.
John Hume writes about this verse, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; and if the heart be glad, the tongue is glib; Joy cannot be suppressed in the heart, but must be expressed with the tongue.” In truth, the nation of Israel was so deeply overcome with joy that could not contain themselves but broke out in songs of praise.
II. Prayer of Thanksgiving…
The second response of the Jewish people can be found in verse 4 and takes the form of a prayer. A prayer of thanksgiving, clothed in a desire for God to do more of what he has done. Their experience of freedom led them to pray for those that have not yet experienced it and to ask God to affect the same goodness for those as he did for them.