are you ready?
Psalm 96 (CSB)
Psalm 96:1 Sing a new song to the LORD; let the whole earth sing to the Lord.
Psalm 96:13 … for he is coming– for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his faithfulness.
This is another one of those missions psalms. It challenges all the nations of the earth to turn toward God and get themselves ready, because God is coming to judge the world.
Nowadays, we know a lot more about how God is coming to judge the world than the ancient Hebrews did. We know that God sent his only Son to die on Calvary’s cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to him before he comes to rule the earth. We now know that God’s Son is going to return to the earth and set up his eternal kingdom here. We know he is going to restore the earth to the glory that has been marred by the presence of sin. We know that God is going to destroy sinners in hell, and reign in righteousness among the saved forever.
But with all our new knowledge about God’s plan, the world is still not ready for what God is going to do at the second coming of Christ. Getting the world ready for what God is going to do is what this psalm is all about. It is a challenge for God’s people to get the nations ready for the coming of God as a righteous judge.
I want us to look at each section of this psalm, because each section highlights a way we can get the world ready for what God is going to do.
The first section encourages us to get the world ready by acknowledging the uniqueness of God.
Psalm 96:1 Sing a new song to the LORD; let the whole earth sing to the LORD.
Psalm 96:2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; proclaim his salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96:3 Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples.
Psalm 96:4 For the LORD is great and is highly praised; he is feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Psalm 96:6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
One of the first things that any Jewish believer would ever learn is the Shema — It sounds like this: “Shema Israel, Adonay Elohenu, Adonay Echad. It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 — Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
What was so amazing about that? Well, all of the nations around them had their gods as well. Many of them, like Egypt — had a whole host of gods. How could God be one if there are all of these gods?
The answer is found in today’s psalm. Verse five says “all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” Our God is different. He is not an idol, a fabricated god designed and manufactured by a human being, and incapable of creation. Our God made the sky, and the birds in the sky, the sea, and the fish in the sea, the land, and the people on the land.
Because our God is real, and permanent, and powerful, we do not just sing about him, we can sing to him.
Our God is unique among all those deities of the nations. Compared to him, all the gods of the nations are impostors. They have a time coming when they all will be gathered together and thrown into the lake of fire. The Bible says that they will all die like men, but our God will live forever.
The world is not yet convinced that our God is unique. It is our mission to teach them that.
The second section encourages us to get the world ready by teaching them how to worship God.
Psalm 96:7 Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Psalm 96:8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; bring an offering and enter his courts.
Psalm 96:9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.
Worship involves two things: adoration and respect. Adoration is the recognition of beauty and wisdom. Respect is the recognition of power and authority. We worship our God because his glory and holiness in unsurpassed. We worship our God because he deserves our respect.
There is something wrong with sacrificing to a stone. God wants the whole earth to tremble before him. He wants every nation to acknowledge his power, and adore his glory. The world is not yet ready to do that, and it is our mission to teach the world to worship God.
The third section encourages us to get the world ready by submitting to the reign of God.
Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations: “The LORD reigns. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. He judges the peoples fairly.”
Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound.
Psalm 96:12 Let the fields and everything in them celebrate. Then all the trees of the forest will shout for joy
Psalm 96:13 before the LORD, for he is coming– for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his faithfulness.
This text requires a bit of explanation. The psalm was originally written in Hebrew, and Hebrew only has two tenses. They don’t have past, present, and future. They just have perfect and imperfect. The imperfect tense can be translated as either present or future.
All the verbs in verse 10 are imperfect. So, verse ten could be translated like this:
Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations: “The LORD will reign. The world will be firmly established; it will not be shaken. He will judge the peoples fairly.”
The psalmist was calling on his nation (Israel) to get the other nations of the world ready for God because he is going to come and judge.
I will also have to explain the meaning of that word ‘judge.” We are used to judges presiding in court. But that is not the kind of judging that God will be doing. The judges in the book of Judges were military leaders who rescued Israel from oppression.
Now, what the psalmist is saying is that God is going to come to the world on a cosmic scale as a judge for all the nations. He will not just rescue the Israelites, but he will rescue people from all the nations.
So the psalm calls on everything and everyone to get ready for God – who is coming to rescue the universe.
It sounds like that song they used to sing back in the 70’s
“Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me.”
The psalmist’s point is that everyone and everything can start rejoicing now because our rescuer is coming. But he is coming to reign. We can only share in the joy of his rescue then if we submit to his reign now.
Jesus Christ is God’s rescuer-judge. Isaiah prophesied about him “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations” (42:1).
So, God’s people knew that the Messiah would come to rescue not only Israel, but people in the other nations as well. It was their mission to get the nations ready for when the Messiah was going to come.
That is our mission as well. Since Jesus is coming to reign, we have to convince all the people in all the nations to submit to his reign. We do that by submitting to his reign in our hearts today.
So, I ask you, brother — sister — are you ready? You cannot get the world ready for Jesus, if you are not living for him yourself.
We have a mission. Let’s teach people how to worship God. Let’s show them how to obey God. Let’s get them ready for the coming of Christ!