It’s difficult not to get incensed at the blatant ways evil makes itself known either in words (who enjoys social media ‘rants’?) or actions -large-scale systemic injustice or small acts of unkindness. This is why the line of the Lord’s prayer, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” actually creates a real tension because the will of God (everything that’s right, good and holy) is not always apparent.
Psalm 2:1-12, among others, gives us a backstage pass to what’s really going on: there are forces at work that “conspire” against the Lord and His anointed. The nations of this age are themselves manipulated by spiritual forces at work against the will of God (Ephesians 6:12). We are in fact in a contested territory on planet earth, where the Evil One is always trying to thwart the will of God, with some measure of success in the short term (1 Thessalonians 2:18; Revelation 12:9). However, in light of eternity, these victories are mere signs of his future demise (Revelation 12: 10-12).
God invites us also to see beyond the power struggle (the rancor of public discourse in our culture, for example) and embrace the reality that the rod of the nations (Isaiah 10:24) is no match to God’s rod of authority and power (Psalm 2:9). The reality is that God’s anointed, the Lord Jesus, carries a bigger stick, the sword of His Word (Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:15). So, when we say “your will be done,” we affirm we are getting ourselves into a big fight, but we are also affirming that God has already established his authority and that ultimately it is His will that prevails.
Isaiah 12:1-6 provides a powerful image of this reality and actually builds upon the revelation of who God is to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:3). The first part of Isaiah 12 (a psalm of victory) is an individual confession of salvation. To give thanks is actually to confess and to praise him. “He has become my salvation” alludes to the transition from fear of God’s punishment for our sins to embracing his comfort. When I am exposed to God’s holiness, the natural reaction is fear (Isaiah 6:3). When we pray “hallowed by thy name” (may your name be holy), we are in fact inviting God to show himself for who he is in our lives. He is infinitely holy, unlike any other created being. He alone is the Creator and He alone is holy. The whole earth is filled with his glory and there is none like Him. Once this realization of God’s holiness hits you, just as it did Isaiah, it will always creates a sense of restlessness and uneasiness, not because God is the source of fear (He clearly is not; God is love and perfect love casts out all fears 1 John 4:18). Instead the fear comes from within us, when we realize we simply don’t measure up before God’s holy presence. Isaiah says, “woe is me, I am undone, I have unclean lips!” (Isaiah 6:5). Now for a prophet of God, this is saying something! These are the guys who speak in the Name of the lord all the time. To speak the word of God is their tradecraft. But once Isaiah sees a glimpse of God’s holiness, he ducks for cover, because he knows he’ll always fall short of the glory and holiness of God. This is where we find ourselves too. We fear the judgement that our own insufficiencies can bring to us, we fear failure because we know that ultimately we cannot ever measure to the standard of perfection. This is why we put our faith in Jesus. He, the Holy One makes us holy, by clothing us with his holiness by faith in him (1 Corinthians 1:30). We as individuals have now received God into our lives as our Father; he no longer is our judge.
The real litmus test for everyone of us, is whether we still struggle with this idea. Do I fear God because he is going to punish me or do I fear him because I know he is holy and I fall short of that ideal (Isaiah 6:3)? Some of us struggle deeply with the fear of punishment. True salvation is that we are set free from that fear and we have embraced his love. As John says, perfect love casts out all fear. He also says, whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). To put it pointedly: do you know God this way today? Or are you still wrestling with the thought God is going to punish you for your sins. By faith in Christ, we believe he has taken upon himself at the Cross the wrath of God we truly deserve. He now is a source of comfort and no longer a source of anxiety (Isaiah 12:1).
Isaiah 12:3-5 switches to a corporate prayer in the plural ‘you.’ Because now we know Him and don’t fear but trust in Him, we engage the nations and make known His deeds = that He saves and rescues us. We proclaim His name and we praise Him. Instead of fear, there is now joy and we sing and shout aloud (Isaiah 12:5-6) because “the Holy One of Israel” is with us. The holiness of God is no longer fearsome but it is a source of joy and freedom to proclaim His love and forgiveness to others.
So, let the will of God be known among the nations, proclaim His love to the nations. These are vision statements that stick and give us a great sense of purpose at TCC and wherever the Lord calls us. We don’t simply exist to pay the bills and provide for our families and succeed at work but God has a higher calling on all of us to proclaim His name among the nations, whether they are across the streets or across the globe. When we pray, your will be done, we are actually commissioning ourselves afresh to fulfill the Great Commission to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel, whether in Wayland, Washington, or Western Samoa.
Questions for the week:
Do you see God as your judge or your Father? The temptation will always be for us to view ourselves in a way that is not in line with the way God views us. Maybe it’s time to reboot your relationship with God through Jesus and start seeing your own life God sees it. To believe in God is also to trust Him. So just as to trust in Him is a process, not an event, the faith journey from fear to trust doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t a one time event. Maybe some us need to recommit our lives afresh to Jesus.
Have you lost a sense of the big picture in your life? Let Jesus be your vision. He has a great plan for your life, a plan that includes the proclamation of His great deeds to the whole world. In what way can you start participating in this great vision? TCC is committed to World Mission and mission at home right here in MetroWest. Start seeking the Lord as to what ways you can feel part of this great vision. We are also committing to launching adult mission trips (stay tuned). For instance, I can think of over 9 opportunities for short-term overseas travel for 2020 for myself! I will obviously pare it down to one or two but the point is, opportunities to proclaim His deeds among the nations abound. Commit to praying as to what way you can be part of this great plan. This is the application of “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:” we become engaged in a stiff fight, we proclaim His deeds among the nations and we sing about His triumph over evil. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…who proclaim, our God reigns!”