Number Your Days Properly
December 30, 2007 | Andy Davis
Two Journeys, Providence and Sovereignty of God
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a verse-by-verse expository sermon on Psalm 90:1-17. The main subject of the sermon is that we should know our days are limited and we must serve God according to that truth.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Almost exactly 300 years ago, the year was 1707, and a British fleet was crawling its way home slowly, because it was caught in the midst of a deep fog, and they didn't really know where they were. That particular British fleet was under the command of an able man, Sir Cloudesley Shovell. He was a capable sailor, but like most sailors of his generation, he really had no idea how far he was from home. He got all of his navigators together and they guessed where they were in the fog. One particular seaman who was afraid that they were underestimating how close they were to land, gave a warning to the captain, was promptly hanged for being insubordinate. That's the way it was back then. I would guess anybody else that wanted to give advice kept it to themselves at that point. Within a short time, great tragedy struck that fleet, and all of the ships ran aground just off land's end in the Scilly Islands and sank, hundreds and hundreds of sailors and all of the possessions on board the ship were lost.
It was a national disgrace for a seafaring nation like Great Britain was, and it underscored the need for a solution to a scientific problem that plagued them all, the problem of longitude. They didn't know how far East or West they were at any given time. It's precisely why Columbus thought he had discovered the way to India. He thought the world was a lot smaller than it really was. He had no way of knowing how many miles even beyond the new world that he discovered in India really was. And so it was whenever sailors left the sight of land and they were out in the middle of the ocean, they could readily find latitude, it wasn't really that hard, but longitude is a whole different problem. And over the next 54 years, many quacks and scientists and sailors tried to solve the problem of longitude. As a matter of fact, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientific geniuses of all time, who invented calculus, invented physics, invented optics, (that's a busy life) said it was the only problem he ever faced that made his head hurt. He could not solve it.
And 54 years after that fleet sank, a simple carpenter, a mechanic named John Harrison solved the problem, and he solved it with a clock. It was a pocket watch about this size, a little bit bigger than a pocket watch we've had, but it was a special clock in that it was not dependent on a pendulum, which would not work on the heaving deck of a ship. It had bimetallic strips inside it, so it could handle different kinds of temperatures no matter what climate they’re in. It could handle the humidity, and it kept accurate time to one second across a year. And with that clock, they had a clock set to London time and a clock set to the local time whenever they would look up and it was high noon and they could set the clock and be sure where they were at, they knew how far east or west they were. Problem solved.
Now, as I thought about that problem of longitude, I thought about how much it's like our own lives. As I thought about that British fleet that sank, I thought about us kind of crawling to the end of our lives in a fog, not really sure where the rocks are and not sure how much time we have left. And that would include all of us. No one knows the future. And as we come to the end of this year, 2007, as we consider the passing of time again, as we look ahead to 2008, if the Lord grants it to us, it's a good time for us to stop and take stock, isn't it, about our lives.
And I thought, what better Psalm to do that, than Psalm 90, the prayer of Moses, the man of God. It says in Hebrews 9:27, It is appointed to every one of us to die once and after that to face the judgement. The problem is, we don't know when that's coming. We don't know when it will arrive. And so, how can we measure time? Now, we're better at measuring time than during the 18th century, even after Harrison invented his clock, it continued to be developed, or we're way past the time of the sundial or the water clock, or the candle clock, or any of those things that people used to use. We're down to the accuracy of one 9 billionth of a second and more, and actually researches in Tokyo have found a way to make a clock even a thousand times more accurate than the atomic caesium clock, which is more accurate than you'll ever need or I. So we can tell the time with regularity, but you know in the Christian life, that's not really what matters, is it?
From the beginning, God ordained the cycle of seasons, ordained the rising and the setting of the sun to mark time in things called days. There was evening and there was morning, the first day. There was evening and there was morning, the second day. And so Moses gives us some wisdom. He says,” So teach us to number our days [properly] that we may get a heart of wisdom.” How many more days do we have? We really don't know. Now, God knows. He knows precisely. It says in Psalm 139:16, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” So God knows exactly how many days he's allotted for our lives. Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single cubit to his span?” I don't think he's talking about height, but he's talking about the finish line. The finish line is set. God knows it, and your worrying is not gonna push it back at all. Not at all. In Daniel Chapter 5, the wicked king Belshazzar brought in the articles of gold and silver, and he and his nobles, his wives and his noble’s wives, they drank from them and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand, and suddenly a finger, a hand with fingers on it appeared and wrote in the plaster of the wall, and instantly the party stopped for terror at this ghostly hand writing, this incomprehensible phrase up on the wall. And from this biblical passage came the expression, “He saw the writing on the wall”. He saw the inevitable. That's what it means.
And it was only Daniel, God's man who was able to interpret what it said. He said that the writing was clear to Daniel because God had given him the wisdom. It said,” MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN”. And he interpreted each of these phrases. The first one repeated, interestingly stated twice, “MENE”. God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. He said it twice. If you wanna know what “TEKEL” and “PARSIN” means you will have to read Daniel 5. I'll leave that to you. But “MENE” is, God has numbered your days, and in his good time, he will bring them to an end. The writing is on the wall for all of us, friends. For all of us. We are not going to be here forever. And so this brings us to Psalm 90. It brings me specifically to verse 12. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
The context, Moses, the man of God, in the midst of leading Israel, the people of God into the promised land. Some interpreters put the time of the composition of this Psalm, which I think is probably the oldest in this altar, probably the oldest Psalm, gives you a glimpse into just an ancient era, a time, perhaps as much as 35 centuries ago, Moses, the man of God. And interpreters perhaps put it at Numbers 20, and three events were on Moses' mind, perhaps when he wrote this, the death of his sister Miriam, his own sin in striking the rock that God had commanded him only to speak to it, and God told him, “Because of this, because you did not honor me in the sight of all Israel, you will be forbidden to enter the promised land. You will die in the desert.” And the third event was the death of Aaron, his brother. These three things, I think forced this man of God to think about time and death and to write this. And you know the tone is not morose. It's somber. It's serious, but it's not morose. It's not bitter. It's just realistic. To paraphrase a couple of famous sayings, he is no fool who prepares for the inevitable. Let's put those two together. It is not foolish to prepare for the inevitable, and so I think Psalm 90 can prepare us for the inevitable. We will die. So Teach us to number our days. To be prepared for that.
John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress, wrote a classic meditation on Luke 16. You remember Luke 16, verses 27-28, in there the rich man, and Lazarus, the rich man is in Hell, and he's begging that he might be sent back or that Lazarus might be sent back to his brothers to warn them, unless that they should come to this place of torment. He's concerned to warn them, and I think Moses has that same spirit. Concerned now, as an aged man as an elderly man, to warn the young that are following to not waste your life, to not waste your days. Bunyan in that classic, “A few Sighs from Hell” is an overwhelming theme that united those that were suffering in Hell,” I always thought I'd have more time. I always thought that I would have more time.” Well, you may have more time if God grants it to you, but it is wise for you to prepare for the inevitable, and the inevitable is the end of your time here on earth. And so Psalm 90 helps us.
I. The Eternal Greatness of God
Psalm 90 begins in verse one and two with the eternal greatness of God. And if I can just say directly, the way you prepare for eternity is to focus on God, to trust on God, to rest yourselves on the eternal God through his Son Jesus Christ. That's how you do it. Look what it says right at the beginning, verse one and two, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God alone is our eternal dwelling place. Moses, I think, was reflecting on all of his wanderings for he had been a great wanderer. He'd come to this realization; God is my home. God is my dwelling place. Everything else is temporary. Everything else is movable. Even the ground beneath our very feet is movable. He saw it happen twice. You remember at Mount Sinai when there was a great earthquake and the ground beneath their feet was shaken with the glory and the greatness of God and at the giving of the Ten Commandments. He saw it again during the rebellion of Korah and Dathan and Abiram when the earth split and people, whole families, fell down into the crevice and the earth covered them up. So even the very ground under our feet is temporary and movable.
"Moses, I think, was reflecting on all of his wanderings for he had been a great wanderer. He'd come to this realization; God is my home. God is my dwelling place. Everything else is temporary."
Moses' ancient ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were strangers in the Promised Land. They lived in tents. They moved around from place to place. Moses' immediate ancestors had been slaves in a country, not their own. Nothing was theirs. They didn't possess anything. Moses himself had fled from Egypt after murdering an Egyptian, and he had come to live in his father-in-law's house. And at age 80, when God called him to his service, he was tending his father-in-law's sheep. Would you read a book on success, “How to tend your father in-law's sheep at age 80.” This is not a great leader, a great man to be emulated at that point, it seems, so what a wasted life. He doesn't even own his own sheep. He's tending his father-in-law's sheep. He doesn't have any possessions. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place, from generation to generation.” He is in a position to meditate on these things. And he meditates on the eternality of God.
Short time ago, I went down to Miami for the funeral of my father's sister, my aunt. She had no husband, no children, and with her death ended that whole family line, my father's family line down there in Miami. And it was a strange thing for me to go with my mother and my brother into my aunt's house, that had been my grandparent's house before, and I had some memories. We didn't go down there frequently, but to look at that small collection of possessions, what was left behind, some photos, some other things, it's a sobering thing. You know what I'm talking about, in a sense of the end of a life. There was a time that that was her home, and now that time is gone.
You see, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place, from generation to generation.” The eternality of God. Moses compares the transience of life spent wandering on the earth with the eternality of God, that God alone is eternal. He alone is timeless. He alone is permanent, unchanging, an immovable rock on which you can build your life for all eternity. Verse 2, look at it, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” The mountains are old. God is older. The earth is ancient. God is more ancient. Implied here, I think, is the immutability of God, that God never changes. You get the sense, you could say, from eternity past to eternity future, “I Am”. He never changes. He is the eternal God. The experiences of our lives leaves us with this one sense of that which never changes and that's God alone.
II. The Temporary Frailty of Man
So you begin your meditation on the fleetingness of your own life with this, the externality of God. He never changes, but he goes from there to the temporary frailty of man. Look at verses three through six, “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’ for a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-- though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.”
We are like dust in the wind. The dust of death. The winds of time, and its place remembers it no more, so Isaiah tells us. The dust of death. Man, originally was created from the dust of the earth. God through his infinite skill was able to make a human being, Adam out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. But after Adam sinned, the death penalty came down, because God told him it would, and God is faithful to his word. And in the curse on Adam, it says in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” That's the curse. It's on the whole human race. All of us stand under it because we're all descended from Adam. He is our first father, and when he sinned, we all sinned in him.
I remember well, when I was a boy growing up in the Catholic church, I was an altar boy, and I remember Ash Wednesday when the priest would take a little bit of ash and make the sign of the cross on our forehead. And he would say these words, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust, thou shalt return”. It's a sobering message. But it's true. However, it is not a mere accident, a freak of nature or of luck, bad luck that we return to the dust. That's not what the text says. Look what it says. Moses writes this, “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’” God is directly active in the death of human beings. He is the one that ordains it. It is his decree that brings it about. It's his actions. It's not an accident. “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’” No one on the face of the earth dies accidentally in the sight of God. It's not possible. Rather, it is God who gives life to begin with, and it is God who takes it back again, when he so chooses, and so the dust of death.
But we also have the winds of time. Not only do our bodies return to dust, but also the dust is scattered by the wind, and its place remembers it no more. Even if you're very famous, and a wind swept plain in ancient Persia, modern Iran, there's a memorial in Pasargadae in modern Iran. It's a simple monument, it's a little stone house, and it's built on six stone steps, and you can go in it, but there's nothing there. It's been looted. And there's nothing on the walls either, although the ancient historians tell us that there was at one time an inscription on the walls. The tomb, it seems belong to Cyrus the Great of Persian, and the inscription read this, “O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know you will come, I am Cyrus who won the Persians their empire. Do not therefore grudge me this little earth that covers my body.”
However, you can't read those words anymore, because apparently the wind of time has effaced it, erased it. It's gone. But the historians tell us it is what it said. Cyrus the Great, at one point, at the height of his power ruled over an empire of 127 provinces, it went into modern Greece and it went as far as India, the Indus River. Almost 3,000 miles east to west, almost as big as the United States, the largest empire the world had ever seen up to that point. And he's reduced to this little stone house, and now we're not even sure whether it was his or not. Were not a 100% sure. Life therefore is brief, and after it's over the place remembers it no more.
Later in the Psalm, Moses will comment just on how brief human life is. Look at verse 10, "The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." This is directly contrasted in verse four with God's eternity. "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Time is nothing to God. A thousand years are like nothing, like a watch in the night. Another verse says it plainly. “Do not forget this one thing, dear friend…” It says in 2 Peter 3:8,” With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
But for us, humans, time is brief. Death stands over us at every moment, and it reminds us of our frailty. Look at verse five. "You sweep men away in the sleep of death." As I mentioned, Moses is almost certainly thinking about his sister Miriam. When Moses was just a little baby, his mother placed him in a basket covered with pitch and sent it floating down the Nile River. You know the circumstances. Pharaoh was hunting down all the boy babies. And his sister, Miriam, traipsed along the edge of the Nile to see what would happen to the basket, and it was she that made the connection that enabled Pharaoh's sister, who plucked Moses out of the river, to bring the baby back to the baby's own mother. And so, the mother got to raise Moses. It was Miriam that did that, his big sister. Now she's dead. She's gone.
And then, there's Aaron, his brother, his mouthpiece. Remember, he said, "I'm not good at speaking, O Lord." And He said, "Well, here's your brother Aaron. Go back with him. He'll be your mouthpiece." And so, the two of them stood together and they faced Pharaoh, and they said, "Let my people go." And Aaron was his mouthpiece, and now he's gone. He's dead. And then, there's Moses’ own sin, and how bitterly he regretted that. Just a flash of anger, and he disobeyed God. And you think, "You know, I've done far worse things than that." But Moses was in a position of leadership, and he had seen the back portions of God's glory and he was put in a position of honor, and he couldn't afford that kind of error. And so, he struck the rock, instead of speaking to it. And the water flowed. God was gracious and he gave the people what they needed, but he punished Moses. And he said, "You will not enter the promised land." And how bitterly he regretted that, and how much he prayed and asked that God would relent, but God would not. And Moses did in fact die on the other side of the Jordan. He never entered. And so, I'm sure that Moses was thinking about these things.
Therefore, the wisdom of God, for us who live our lives under the death sentence, is very plain in James Chapter 4. It says, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’" Do you say that? Is it in your heart? If it is the Lord's will, I will live. You oughta say it to yourself. So, our life is brief. But you know something? Our strength is even more brief. Our strength is briefer than our life. Our life flies by quickly. Our strength flies by even more quickly. Look at verse five and six, "…they are like the new grass of the morning-- though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered."
We reach our peak, physically, in our teens and 20’s, develop it, reached physical prowess, perhaps, mid-20’s. And I have discovered, it's all downhill from there. Oh, there are some that are older than me that say, "You're not done discovering that, dear brother. It's even further downhill then you're at right now." Oh, don't discourage me. I can already see it coming. I'm looking down into the valley. I can't avoid it. I'm heading that way. And those of you that haven't reached the hill, you know, over the hill, you haven't reached the top yet, it's coming for you, too. You don't think it's going to. It will.
So, we reach our peak physically early on. We reach our peak intellectually and mentally further on than that. Our peak professionally, maybe, further on. But our time of strength and capability is very brief. It does not last long. What is the application? Make the most of every moment. You don't know how long you have before the evil days come, Ecclesiastes 12. And you have no strength anymore to do the things that you wanted to do.
III. The Sinfulness of Man and the Wrath of God
The time is flying by quickly. And behind all of this struggle and strife and difficulty is the sinfulness of man and the wrath of God. In verses seven through 11, it says, "We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet, their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you."
There are no secret sins in the sight of God. God sees our secret acts. He knows our secret thoughts. He sets our secret acts before him in the light of his presence, it says. Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." There's nothing secret before God. Connected with that is God's just wrath and the humiliation of death. God's wrath is the just punishment for human sin. It is his emotional and passionate response to the virus that has ripped apart his universe. We cannot expect him to have no feeling about it, he does. He has a passionate feeling. It's called wrath. And God, the Bible says, expresses his wrath every day.
Now, the lost person, the person who is not yet come to faith in Christ, it says very plainly in John's Gospel, God's wrath remains on him. He lives under the wrath of God every day. It says it right here in verse nine, "All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan." God's wrath also causes the difficulties that sinners have on earth. Verse 10, "Their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." It's difficult here on earth. We were talking before the service about a pastor that talks about having your best life now. My friends, it's not possible for you to have your best life now. I don't want my best life now. I want my best life eternally then. But we have misunderstandings about what kinds of joys and happiness and successes we can have in this life. The span is trouble and sorrow. But I say to you this, no matter how much difficulty you have in this life, this is nothing compared to the wrath that awaits the sinner who has not repented and trusted in Christ. I don't care where they spent their life, even in a concentration camp or dying of AIDS in a bed. There is no suffering here on earth that compares with the eternity of suffering in Hell.
Verse 11, "Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you." Revelation 14, "…he too will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night." That's what awaits every single person who has not repented and trusted in Christ. That's where every single one of us would be going if Jesus hadn't shed his blood for us. Who knows the power of God's wrath and his anger?
IV. Man’s Dependence on God’s Grace
And this leads us immediately to verses 12 through 17, and that's our total and complete dependence on the grace of God. And thanks be to God that there is such grace available, amen, that there is a river of grace flowing from the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. Amen? But if you don't walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not rightly prize what Jesus did for you on the cross. And you may think, "What a dreary way to end 2007." It's not dreary it all. It is reality. We will die, and thanks be to God for it. For Jesus has removed the stinger, that's later in the sermon. I'll get to that in a minute, but I just couldn't help but say it. Jesus has removed the stinger from death, but we beg God for his grace.
Verses 12 through 17 is just a series of prayers that Moses the man of God makes based on the grace of God. Look at verse 17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us." Do you see it? We must have grace. We must have his favor. If we do not, we will perish. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us." Verse 17. And so, it's just a series of requests that he, as a spiritual beggar before the throne of grace with nothing in his hand to bring, comes and asks God for first, grace to number our days properly. Amen? Number your days with wisdom. Look at verse 12, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Naturally, we are foolish about the passage of time. Naturally, we assume it will always go on like this forever. That's just the way we are. We're built that way. We think little of the day of our death until perhaps we get the illness that may take us out of the world. If we have time to think about it, then we will consider, “It is very possible I may die from this.” And then, you might have time to think.
But Moses knows that the proper numbering of our days comes as a gift from God, does it not? This heart of wisdom, it comes from God. To properly number your days comes from God. And so, he asks for it. Now, we don't know how many days we have, and God's not gonna give us the information. Would you want it? Would you wanna know that you had another 10,463 days left, if you had that many? Would you wanna know you had four days left? God has hidden that in the counsel of his own decrees. We don't know. But Moses does give us a very practical guideline here, doesn't he? 70 years or 80, if we have the strength. That's pretty practical and it holds pretty well, doesn't it? So, you have a sense of that.
Now, don't misunderstand, that is not guaranteed to you. You'll not be able to say to God, "You owed me 75 years, at least." That he does not owe. He doesn't promise you that. He's just giving you a general guideline. We'll not go on forever. And so, therefore, from God alone comes the wisdom to number your days, and from God alone comes the proper heart attitude, the humbling that death is. It's a humbling, friends. It's humble to die. It's a humbling. And so, therefore, we're humbled under the hand of God that he may lift us up in due time.
"From God alone comes the wisdom to number your days, and from God alone comes the proper heart attitude, the humbling that death is."
Secondly, grace to limit God's disciplines for sin. Look at verse 13, "Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants." Moses spent much of his prayer life before God, once he was leading the Israelites out, praying this kind of prayer, "God, please don't do it! Don't destroy them! Don't wipe them out!" He would pray these kinds of prayers. And so, he's asking God, "Hold back the discipline and the wrath that we deserve. Give us a space where we may flourish. Do not treat us, O Lord, as our sins deserve." Grace to limit God's disciplines for sin.
Thirdly, grace to satisfy us richly with God's love. Look at Verses 14 and 15. "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble." Living constantly as we do in the valley of the shadow of death, how can we have any joy at all in this place, this place of death? Well, there is a way. In his presence is always the fullness of joy. And if he will walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us, then we can be joyful. "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love."
I think John Piper, who's one of my mentors, one of his greatest insights, perhaps his greatest insight, in Desiring God is, "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him." This is a prayer. "God satisfy me with you. Please weed all of the idols out of my heart. Get them out. Your gifts are good, but you are better, infinitely so." And it's only by the grace of God that Job, having everything stripped from his life, can worship the Almighty God, satisfied with God, and intensely satisfied with God at the end of his encounter with God, none of it being restored yet, and he's deeply, richly satisfied with the infinitude of God, with his presence. That's enough. I don't need anything else. Or Paul and Silas, beaten for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Satisfied with Christ alone. Satisfied. But look how practical he is here, "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love." There was evening, and there was morning, the first day. "Teach us to number our... " What? "…days." The day begins with what? It begins with morning. Okay, this is basic. Have a quiet time in the morning. Get up in the morning, and say, "God satisfy me now with your unfailing love, so that I can serve you happily, so I can sacrifice for you cheerfully, so I get my compass set properly on you. Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love."
Fourthly, grace to see God's mighty works. “May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” Moses had seen, up to that point, more miracles than any man in history. He had seen his staff turned into a serpent and back into a staff again. He'd seen his hand turned leprous, white as snow, and then perfectly healed again. He had seen the 10 dreadful plagues in Egypt, one after the other, a great display of the power of Almighty God. He'd seen all that, including the plague on the first born in the Passover. He had seen the Red Sea crossing with the water walling up on the right and the left, and then Pharaoh's huge army swept away. He'd seen that. He'd seen water from a rock. He had seen manna from heaven. He had seen God himself descend on Mount Sinai, and speak to the people. He had seen the glory of God, the hindquarters of the glory of God, as God hid him in the cleft of the rock. He had seen the Glory of God fill the tabernacle. He had seen miracle after miracle, and yet, look what he prays. "May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children."
God's not gonna keep doing miracle after miracle after miracle. It's enough that he did it and it's been recorded now by Moses. Can I say to you, you won't see the deeds of God apart from faith? The Israelites, they saw the deeds of God. They didn't believe God. Pharaoh saw the deeds of God. They didn't believe God. He's actually praying here for the faith to see the deeds of God, to see them for what they are, acts of Almighty God. You can see them yourself, you just pick up the Bible and with eyes of faith, you can see the deeds of God, his greatness.
Fifth, and finally, grace to establish our works. Our own works. Verse 17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands." If our lives really are dust in the wind, can we really achieve anything of eternal consequence? Moses actually here is praying that our own deeds would be established and not swept away with the dust of time, that our actions in this world would actually count for eternity. Is it possible that our actions in this world could count for eternity? I've said this before, and it bears saying again. The greatest loss a human being can ever experience is the loss of their own eternal soul. For what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Your soul is worth more than all the world and all of its deeds and accomplishments within it. But the second greatest loss a human being can experience is the loss of the time of their life, and of the good works that God had ordained for you to do, that you should walk in them, that you wasted them through selfishness and faithlessness. That's the second greatest loss. And that's spoken of in first Corinthians three, when all of your works, the gold, the silver, and the costly stones, the wood, the hay, and the straw are tested by fire, and what remains will last for eternity. And so, he prays boldly that God would establish the work of our hands.
V. Christ Our True Dwelling Place
Now, Christ alone is our true dwelling place. Lord, Jesus Christ, you have been our dwelling place from generation to generation. There is only one rock that is unshakable on which a human being can build his or her life, only one, and that's Jesus Christ. Look to the cross of Jesus Christ. Look to the empty tomb for the remedy to all of the sadness and the distress that this Psalm accurately reflects. Our sin, the wrath of God dealt with completely at the cross of Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, our substitute, he died under the wrath of Almighty God. He shed his blood that God's wrath might be completely satisfied. Look to Christ. Perhaps you have never trusted in him before. This is the time. This is the day. Before 2007 ends, before this day ends, look to Christ and trust in him for the salvation of your soul.
But you know the cross didn't end it. You also have the empty tomb. Oh, you believers, look to both the cross and to the empty tomb, for Jesus has taken away the sting of death. And for us, the tomb is just a gateway into eternal joy. It's a little bit of a trick in your outline here. Look at the second point here. The eternal greatness of God. Do you see that? Number two, the temporary frailty of man. Is our frailty temporary? Yes, it is, in Christ. In Christ our frailty is temporary. Listen to what it says, in first Corinthians 15, "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power." There it is. There goes frailty. Gone forever. Sown in weakness. Raised in power. “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Look to Christ. Trust in him. He is your eternal dwelling place and he will give you a body just like his, a resurrection body, and the frailty will be gone forever.
The future is bright, friends, and it's coming soon. Revelation 22:12-14, Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." That is the eternal city, our eternal dwelling place with God.
VI. Application: Teach Us to Number Our Days
Alright, practical application. How do you number your days? Well, I don't think you need to go to the insurance company and get an actuarial chart and figure out how many days you'd have left, statistically. Just know that there's a finite number of them. And you really don't know how many more you really have, because accidents can take you out. You might not make it home today. You might make it home another 1,000 or 10,000 times. I don't know. But live your life daily in light of eternity and understand there are special dangers for us here in 21st century America. We are a very distracted people. There's lots of ways to waste your time more than ever before. And do you know what? There's some really smart people working today, on Sunday, thinking of new ways for you to waste your time. They'll come out with it in time for Christmas next year. They will come up with new ways for you to waste your time. Can I urge you not to waste your time? For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may give an account for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. You will give an account for how you spend this afternoon; you'll give an account for how you spend the rest of your life. And we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God ordained in advance that we should walk in them.
So, it's New Years. I bet you're saying, "This is what the pastor does every year. This is the New Year's Resolution sermon.” Okay look, you don't have to set New Year's Resolutions. I think the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands. That's in Isaiah. So, make noble plans. If you don't wanna write them down, that's fine. You probably won't do them. But it's okay, write them down anyway. Set goals. Say, "Where do I wanna be spiritually a year from now? How do I want to mature? What character flaws do I see in myself that I'd like to not see?" If you're married, you have a great advantage in answering that question. Just ask your spouse. He or she will be delighted to tell you what ways you could improve. I'll say it graciously though, because you ought to answer with this question, "How can I improve too?" And there might be some information coming back. Help each other. Grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. Hebrews three seven and eight says, stop procrastinating. Stop putting it off. If God has laid something on your heart, do it today. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.