Psalm 129 focuses on the persecution endured by Israel, and in the two previous parts, we looked into some of this. This last part ends the Psalm, but it still has persecution as the theme.
[A]. LET US RETURN TO PSALM 129 – PERSECUTION IS THE PLOUGH/PLOW
Psalm 129:3 “The plowers plowed upon my back. They lengthened their furrows.”
A metaphor is used here to demonstrate the work of the persecutors. Their work is likened to a plow raked across the nation’s back. Lengthened furrows further expand the extent of that persecution. All the evil that has been done to Israel in the past, in the present, and in the future is being stored up by the Lord, and it will burst on the world in retribution in the Tribulation. Another interesting observation on this comes from Jonathon Cahn at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viH03bO9gxg
The writer of this Psalm had no idea of the suffering his nation has endured for the past 3,000 years. The Jews have been the most persecuted people throughout history, and Christians are the most persecuted people today. The world hates God’s people because they are the antithesis of what the evil people are. There are only two camps – the righteous and the unrighteous. The unrighteous hate the wicked a bit like the man Esau hated Jacob.
I guess you know today that Christians are persecuted for not acknowledging homosexuality. Some are dismissed from their workplace, and some professional sportsmen are sacked because they will not bow down to the Pride flag. Others are dismissed for not teaching WOKE and gender destruction in schools.
I mentioned earlier about doing research to find the persecution of Jews through the ages – the plowing of long furrows across Israel’s back. Let me just share a few examples of those. These are from “Religious Tolerance.org Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance” and from “the Museum of Tolerance in Hollywood, CA.”
[B]. PERSECUTION OF JEWS BY “CHRISTIANS” IN THE FOURTH CENTURY AD:
The initial persecution of Jews was along religious lines. Persecution would cease if the person converted to Christianity. These were the early days of persecution by the church, and it continued from there to grow worse and worse. This was following the years after Constantine, who was supposed to be the first Christian Emperor; however, I think he was not a Christian but used the Christian faith for his own advantage. He brought thousands of unconverted soldiers into the church, and they brought along their paganism, which, like leaven, spread false doctrine and practices throughout and grew up into the great abuses of the Roman church. Here are some of the persecutions in the fourth century – just a selection:
>306: The church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse, and community contacts between Christians and Jews.
>315: Constantine published the Edict of Milan, which extended religious tolerance to Christians. Jews lost many rights with this edict. They were no longer permitted to live in Jerusalem or to proselytize. (Constantine was not a born-again Christian).
>325: The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: “For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people… we ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews… our worship follows a… more convenient course… we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews…. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded.”
>337: Christian Emperor Constantius created a law which made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death.
>339: Converting to Judaism became a criminal offense.
>343–381: The Laodicean Synod approved Cannon XXXVIII: “It is not lawful [for Christians] to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.” 5
>367–376: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephraim refers to synagogues as brothels.
>379–395: Emperor Theodosius the Great permitted the destruction of synagogues if it served a religious purpose. Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire at this time.
>380: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.”
How deep the plow has done its pernicious work. In the following centuries, it got worse and worse and worse, and continues today.
[C]. THE RIGHTEOUS LORD SATISFIED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS OF GOD FOR US
Psalm 129:4 “The LORD is righteous. He has cut in two the cords of the wicked.”
Recognizing the righteousness of God is pointing one in the correct direction, for we must start with the proper understanding of God’s character. If the world did this today, we would not have the evil in the world. Homosexuality and gender mutilation, the adoption of paganism, and the whole of the WOKE stuff would be discarded, and we’d pay attention to what God has decreed.
Most of the Western nations have now discarded God and have adopted godlessness and all the outcomes of that. Not only the leaders have chosen that path, but also the people themselves are of the same mindset. There is a saying that a nation gets the government it deserves. I can understand why people say that when they look at many of the reprobate leaders leading nations today, but I like a better statement, which is this: “A nation gets the government that best reflects themselves.” Evil people elect evil governments; they will never elect a “good” government.
The Bible shares some of the chief positions/attributes of God. We are just looking at one (The Lord is righteous). Another is “God is holy,” and another is “God is a consuming fire.” I do not dare try to divide up the attributes of God, for puny man cannot comprehend the vastness of the God of awe and wonder.
Righteousness and holiness are extremely important when it comes to the sinfulness of man. The holiness of God says that man must be destroyed because of sin. Nothing sinful can ever enter God’s presence. The righteousness of God cannot abide the sinner because wickedness is overtaken by God’s righteousness. The dilemma with all this is how can man be made fit for God’s presence to be accepted?
This is where appropriated righteousness comes in. The way has been paved by the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by His Calvary work, has made a way of escape so that man can live in the righteousness and holiness of God in complete harmony. On the cross, the great transaction was made, and what was that? Look at this verse – Isaiah 53:6 “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” There we have the operative key, and it is SUBSTITUTION. Our iniquity/sin was taken by the Lord Himself and made His own. But there is more than just taking our sins as His own.
Sin must always receive the just/righteous penalty. That penalty is death. Isaiah adds more about the work of Calvary – Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely our griefs He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried, yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted, but He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, AND BY HIS SCOURGING WE ARE HEALED.” There you have the next part: through the death of the Lord on the cross, for they crucified the Lord of glory, but it was His suffering that has healed us (meaning it has cured the problem of sin and death for us).
That is not quite the full story. Remember, God is a God of righteousness and holiness, and we cannot bypass those attributes in any way. What the death of the Son of God did on the cross was to satisfy the very last vestige of righteousness and holiness so that not even an atom of penalty resides with those who have come by faith to receive the Lord Jesus as personal Saviour. Paul has summed that up beautifully – 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” There it is – perfect substitution and appropriation. That is how it is for us today in the New Covenant.
However, for Israel, God gave the Law, and the people kept breaking the Law, usually through idolatry. God’s righteousness would protect His earthly people, but it would also condemn them if and when they turned from him. Looking at this verse again – Psalm 129:4 “The LORD is righteous. He has cut in two the cords of the wicked” – the pilgrims singing as they made their way to Jerusalem for the feasts knew and saw the righteousness of God in action as He defeated Israel’s enemies. That is why they could be jubilant in their singing of this Psalm of Ascent. However, a righteous God must judge sin, and some 300 and 500 years later, Samaria and Judah were overthrown by the righteousness of God.
This verse – Psalm 129:4 “The LORD is righteous. He has cut in two the cords of the wicked” will again be sung when God defeats all the nations’ armies at Armageddon, all those who entered Israel to overthrow and exterminate the Jews. Indeed, the cords of the wicked will be cut asunder.
[D]. THE LINE OF DIVISION AND THE REQUEST AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES
Psalm 129:5-7 “May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward. 6Let them be like grass upon the housetops which withers before it grows up; 7with which the reaper does not fill his hand, or the binder of sheaves his bosom.”
The great fallacy is to believe that this request/prayer was for a specified time, and then God abandoned Israel, and that ended Israel. The prayer in verse 5 has its origin in a verse we looked at earlier in this Psalm, and here it is again – Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Do not think for one moment that this promise God spoke to Abraham was only for his lifetime. This is a universal and enduring promise and will last until the final Gog/Magog revolt at the end of the Millennium. (This is not the same Gog/Magog group described in Ezekiel, which we covered last message.) –
Revelation 20:7-10 “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war. The number of them is like the sand of the seashore. They came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are also, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
That is a most significant passage. It is the last of sin and rebellion forever. After this, righteousness and holiness will reign eternally throughout the new heaven and the new earth. In the passage above, Satan is thrown into the lake of fire as the third person to be cast in there (the beast/Antichrist and the False Prophet being the first two).
How sad it will be that straight after Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, so will all those unsaved from the beginning of Genesis, who will share that eternal fate – Revelation 20:13-15 “The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them, and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds, and death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.”
If the Lord has led you to hear this message or to read it somewhere, and you have never given your life to Jesus Christ in full repentance, then you will end up in the lake of fire. This is not a fairy tale. Please repent and be converted so that your sins may be blotted out. The Lord Jesus went to the cross for you and died to save your soul. Please give yourself to Him right now.
Here is a verse – Psalm 137:5 “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill.” That verse has an eternal aspect to it. God will never forget Jerusalem. He has enjoined us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The enemy hates Jerusalem, and that is why we see such hatred against the city from the UN and Obama and Biden and Albanese (Australia). Please do not write Jerusalem off. God has not!
[E]. FOREVER IS FOREVER – JERUSALEM WILL BE EVERLASTING
Because Israel is not written in the Apostles’ Creed church confessions, some statements of faith, or church constitutions, people think Israel is irrelevant and not worthy of consideration or has succumbed to the erroneous doctrine that all that applied to Israel now belongs to the Church. That is so wrong. God has a high standing for Jerusalem in the future. Consider these verses:
FOREVER MEANS FOREVER – Joel 3:20 ESV “But Judah shall be inhabited FOREVER, and Jerusalem to ALL GENERATIONS.”
WHEN JESUS RETURNS, JERUSALEM IS THE FAITHFUL CITY – Zechariah 8:3 ESV “Thus says the Lord: I HAVE RETURNED TO ZION AND WILL DWELL IN THE MIDST OF JERUSALEM, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.”
Let us make a comment on this verse – Psalm 129:6 “Let them be like grass upon the housetops which withers before it grows up.”
The previous verse speaks about putting to shame all those who hate Zion (understand that as Jerusalem/Israel), and then verse 6 is the simile of grass upon the housetops. It was not uncommon for some homes to have grass on the rooftops as it had a cooling effect on the inside of the house in a hot climate. The imagery here is of vibrant green grass that has sprung up and looks strong but then withers away before reaching maturity. It is a fitting image because all those who hate Israel will wither away and be as nothing, but the City of the Great King will endure.
Isaiah 60:14 “The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, and all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet. They will call you the city of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 48:2 “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.”
Psalm 129:8 “Nor do those who pass by say, ‘The blessing of the LORD be upon you. We bless you in the name of the LORD.'” May the Lord bless Israel. Difficult times will lie ahead, but when Israel blooms in full blessing, it leads the world. Isaiah 19:23-25 “IN THAT DAY there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. On that day, Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt, My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and ISRAEL MY INHERITANCE.'”
Remember, though, that Psalm 129 is all about the persecutions Israel has (and will) endure.