meditation for the materialist (Psalm 14)

Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem

Is there really no evidence for God’s existence? Granted, in a scary world the concept of a deity would be a comforting concept, and granted, this comfort could then have been exploited by others to secure their own accumulation of power and wealth. All of this is possible, but is it plausible? Consider the evidence as presented in this Psalm.

One line of evidence for consideration is the corruption of humanity. Why is it that human beings are capable of such vile things? Why is it that no one lives completely by the standards of what is right that they know innately within? The Bible’s explanation for the problem is something called sin, which is the idea that humanity has rebelled against God and thereby become corrupt.

A second line of evidence for consideration is the persistence of righteousness in the world. Given the vile things humanity is capable of why does any righteousness exist? This Psalm says it exists because of “God’s company in the presence of the righteous”. Sometimes, even in this cruel world, the poor do find refuge, and this is a righteous thing.

A final line of evidence for consideration is the historical claim of the resurrection. The author of this Psalm looked forward to a day when “salvation for Israel would come out of Zion.” In a literal sense Zion denotes one of the hills in the city of Jerusalem. Yet ‘Zion’ was often used in the Old Testament to refer to the entire city of Jerusalem, or even the entire nation of Israel. In this Psalm the most natural of these possible meanings is the second: “oh that salvation for Israel would come out of Jerusalem.” This is precisely what happened when Jesus rose from the grave after being crucified on the cross. This is a historically verifiable claim that can be evaluated with commonly accepted standards for historicity.

So much for the part about where salvation came from. Who was it for? Israel. But what then does the author mean by ‘Isrsael’? Consider these verses from Hebrews chapter 12:

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The blood of Abel speaks condemnation while the blood of Christ speaks reconciliation. And here Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the church are all seen as one and the same. What a special place and assembly we have in this thing called church.

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