I can be
I seem to have ready answers to the major problems facing mankind. The problem is no one listens to me. Even God seems to rarely take my suggestions seriously. Brilliant, careful, logical answers arise in my mind every day but no one takes me seriously. God ignores me and does whatever He wills all the time -- making my life that of a spectator in the stadium not the gladiator I wanna be. Every day I rediscover that God's plan and program are way better than the Dolphin Plan for World Peace (DPWP), or my definitive plan "how to succeed in running my own life"?
Worst of all, my friends know me better than I know myself. They may humor me, but few take me seriously.
Facetiously I tested my small home Bible class recently by announcing to them, "I am God." No one was surprised. No one challenged my absurd claim. When I asked them why, each admitted that they, too, thought they were god. None were pantheists (who believe everything is god, or an extension of God.) Soon it was clear: each was his or her own god (as one sees in Hinduism). The problem remaining was how to live together on an overcrowded small planet. I was amazed that no one defended the ancient and eternal view given to mankind by revelation.
The Scottish poet laureate Robert Burns, said he was seeking the ability of seeing himself as others saw him.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
This is the third article about my wrestlings with my selfish, fallen nature! See The I am god Problem and King Ego.
My mentor Ray Stedman wrote about topic this saying,
“When Jesus Christ comes into your life, he doesn't come to destroy your personality. He does destroy your ego, and it's good for it to go-that independent self that seeks always to be the center of the stage. He will wage relentless, unending war against that, and the weapon he uses is the cross, those hardships and trials and humiliating experiences which he brings you through that brings that ego to an end. It puts it where God put it-on the cross, in the place of death. He does not destroy the essential man; he indwells it, he enhances it, he glorifies it. The result is true manhood, true womanhood, attractive and beautiful and easy to live with. Man as God intended man to be becomes manifest in the world. That is incarnation!“
So I know the correct answer. Jesus Christ is the center of everything, not me. He is also the most amazing, fascinating person who ever lived. I first began to know Jesus personally fifty-eight years ago -- but after all these years I can see my search and discovery will continue for all time. It is getting better and better for me every day actually! See for thyself.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." (Philippians 3:7-12)
There is little doubt that "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
When I was baptized in water back in 1962 I agreed to be identified with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. The resurrection part, new life, appealed to me then but I ignored the dying part, and letting go of the past was less ego-gratifying. Yet the gate into heaven is the gate of the cross of Jesus. There is no new life available anywhere apart from knowing Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12:24)
The twenty-second Psalm vividly depicts the suffering of Christ on the Cross and His victory, written a thousand years before it happened in history.
1 To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A Psalm of David.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
6 But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
19 But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.
22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
Let your heart live forever!
27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the LORD’s,
And He rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.
Ray Stedman left us with several excellent studies of the Psalms. Here is what he wrote on Psalm 22:
We will conclude this series on the psalms with a study of the twenty-second psalm. In many ways this is the most amazing of all the psalms. In it we have a picture of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, painted by David the Psalmist one thousand years before Jesus Christ was born. It constitutes one of the most amazing predictions of all time.
At least nine specific events or aspects of the crucifixion are described here in minute detail. All of them were fulfilled during the six hours in which Jesus hung upon the cross, from nine o'clock in the morning until three o'clock in the afternoon. Moreover, the latter part of the psalm clearly depicts the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The probability that the predictions of these nine events would be fulfilled by chance in one person, on one afternoon, is inconceivably small. The chance that all this could occur by accident is beyond any realm of possibility our minds could imagine. Yet all was fulfilled as predicted in this amazing psalm.
All the world knows that on November 22, 1963, President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, while riding down a Dallas street in a motorcar. Suppose there had been in existence a document which predicted this event and which we knew to have been written in A.D. 963. That was about the time of the height of the Byzantine empire, when most of the Western World was ruled from Constantinople, much of Europe was only sparsely inhabited by barbarian tribes, and America was not yet discovered.
Suppose that a document had been prepared in that ancient day which predicted that a time would come when a man of great prominence, head of a great nation, would be riding down a street of a large city in a metal chariot not drawn by horses, and would suddenly and violently die from the penetration of his brain by a little piece of metal hurled from a weapon made of wood and iron, aimed at him from the window of a tall building, and that his death would have world-wide effect and cause world-wide mourning. You can imagine with what awe such a document would be held today. Such a prediction would be similar to what we have in Psalm 22. That hypothetical prediction would have been made even before the invention of the motorcar, or of firearms, and five hundred years before the discovery of America. It would be regarded as fantastically accurate. Yet we have that very sort of thing in this psalm.
The psalm has two major divisions. The first twenty-one verses recount for us the sufferings of an unknown sufferer who is all alone and is crying out unto God in his agony. Many scholars assert that these first twenty-one verses represent the thoughts which went through the mind of the Savior as he hung upon the cross, the full range of his thoughts as he was suffering there. From verse twenty-two to the end the sufferer is no longer alone but is in the midst of a large company and is praising God and shouting in victory. It ends with his claiming the worship of the entire world.
The best and simplest way to approach this psalm is simply to read it through, making certain observations. It is so clear, so unmistakable, that it hardly requires comment. It starts, very strikingly, with the words Jesus uttered on the cross:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Psalms 22:1a RSV)
and the Psalmist goes on to add,
Why art thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest. (Psalms 22:1b-2 RSV)
These opening words have been called "the cry of dereliction," i.e., the cry of abandonment as the sufferer becomes aware that he is forsaken by his God. As we know from the New Testament, Jesus uttered these words at the end of a strange period of darkness which settled upon the land. For the first three hours as he hung upon the cross the sun shone brightly and there was normal daylight. But at high noon a strange and disquieting darkness settled upon the whole land around Jerusalem. No one has ever been able to explain it. It lasted for three hours. It was not an eclipse of the sun, because eclipses do not last that long.
There have been similar periods at other times in history. In 1780, for instance, there was a strange dark day which settled upon the New England states when for some still unexplained reason the light of the sun failed in only that particular portion of earth, so that it passed into a period of darkness in the middle of the day. Something like that happened at Jerusalem. Notice how the Psalm reflects this. It says that the sufferer cries out in the day and in the night -- in the light and in the dark -- but still God does not answer.
So here we have the strange mystery of the abandonment of the Son of God -- what some have called "Immanuel's orphaned cry" -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Jesus actually spoke these words in Aramaic. Because he cried out with a loud voice, passersby misunderstood him. He said, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? When the bystanders heard the words, "Eloi, Eloi," they thought he was crying for Elijah. But he was calling out for God, from the depths of his being, because of his sense of abandonment. The strangeness of that rejection by God is highlighted for us by his stated awareness of the faithful character of God:
Yet thou art holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted,
and thou didst deliver them.
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed. (Psalms 22:3-5 RSV)
He is remembering the history of men of faith in the past, and the fact that a faithful God never abandoned one of them. Even though they were sinful men, God saved them when they cried out to him. "But," he says, "I am a worm, and no man." For some strange reason God is treating him differently. Even the spectators reflect that difference of treatment:
But I am a worm, and no man;
scorned by men, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; [they say,]
"He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" (Psalms 22:6-8 RSV)
He is treated like a despised and hated criminal, as though he had lost his right to live in human society. Matthew records for us the fact that the crowd actually used these very words. The unthinking multitude passing by, looking at the sufferer on the cross, said, "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now," (Matthew 27:43a RSV). What an amazing prediction this is! The very words of a multitude which could not have been controlled, and who had no intention of fulfilling prophecy, are clearly foretold.
We are faced with the strange mystery of why the Son of God was abandoned by his Father. He goes on to press the point himself. He shows us that there are no grounds for abandonment in himself:
Yet thou art he who took me from the womb;
thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
Upon thee was I cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near and there is none to help. (Psalms 22:9-11 RSV)
How utterly forsaken he is! His friends have rejected him and fled. His disciples and family have left him alone; all have gone. Only God is left and now he senses that God himself is forsaking him. He knows no explanation for this. He says that from the very moment of his birth he was in fellowship with God. He was always the delight of God's heart, kept by his Father right from birth. And, you recall from the New Testament, as he began his public ministry the Father spoke from heaven and put his seal of approval upon his life, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," (Matthew 3:17b, Mark 1:11). There is absolutely nothing in himself to merit abandonment, and yet here he is, forsaken.
In his human weakness he does not even understand it, and so he cries out this strange cry of dereliction, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Now we know, of course, that it was because he was being made an offering for the sins of the world. All the ugliness and meanness and defilement and filth of our sin was laid upon him.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 RSV)
He goes on to describe the scene from the cross:
Many bulls encompass me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion. (Psalms 22:12-13 RSV)
In the beautiful method of the Old Testament poets he uses these figures to describe the onlookers. Like bulls, powerful, unopposable, they seem to be strong. Remember that Jesus said to his enemies at that very time, "... this is your hour, and the power of darkness," (Luke 22:53b RSV). They seemed to be irresistible, like great, powerful bulls. Then he changes the figure and says they are like lions, fierce, ravening, threatening, their fangs dripping with anxiety to be at him and tear him apart. He is surrounded by his enemies. Then he describes his own reaction:
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax,
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
thou dost lay me in the dust of death. (Psalms 22:14-15 RSV)
What a description of the exhaustion of the cross! Having hung there for five to six hours, his body suspended by the nails in his hands and feet, his bones are pulled out of joint. There is an awful sense of weariness and fatigue. His heart feels like melted wax within him. And he is gripped by a terrible, terrible, ravaging thirst. His body, dehydrated in the hot sun of that spring day, is gripped now by awful thirst. He cries out from the cross, "I thirst," (John 19:28b).
Then we have a most amazing and unmistakable description of death by crucifixion, written at a time when crucifixion was simply unknown. This was set down when no one, so far as history tells us, put anyone to death by crucifixion. Certainly the Jews did not, for their method of execution was to stone someone to death. But here is One who clearly describes his own crucifixion:
Yea, dogs are round about me;
a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet --
I can count all my bones --
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my raiment they cast lots. (Psalms 22:16-18 RSV)
It is absolutely impossible to explain that verse on any natural basis. It is clearly a God-given picture of the crucifixion. The Psalmist says that he is surrounded by "dogs". This was the common Jewish term for Gentiles, and especially for the Romans. Roman executioners are all around the cross here. He decries the fact that he is surrounded by these alien people. They have stripped him; he is naked. He can see all his bones and, worse yet, he can feel them. And the crowning indignity is that at the foot of the cross they are actually casting lots for his garments. The calloused, hardened Roman soldiers were trying to divide the spoil of his clothing (Matthew 27:35, Luke 23:34, John 19:34). Because they did not want to rip his seamless robe apart, they cast lots for it. It is impossible that this could have been fulfilled by the collusion of the Roman soldiers. Yet here it is, clearly described 1000 years before, so that Jesus' death by crucifixion is unquestionably in view.
Now we get the final prayer of this sufferer:
But thou, O Lord, be not far off!
O thou my help, hasten to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion,
my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen! (Psalms 22:19-21 RSV)
The "sword" would be a symbol for the authority of the Roman government. The "mouth of the lion" would be the picture of the invisible powers, the satanic forces. In the figure of the "horns of the wild oxen" it is as though he were impaled upon two great, widespread horns, and he is crying out now in final extremity for help from God. And you recall, this is exactly what the Savior did in his last words as he hung upon the cross. He cried out, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" (Luke 23:46b RSV)."If anyone is going to save me, it has to be you, Father. If anyone is going to lift me out of the dust of death, raise me up again, it will be you. I trust myself to you". And so, in this closing prayer we have reflected his commitment at last to the hands of the Father.
Verse 22 constitutes a clear change. Without a word of explanation the same speaker goes on and says,
I will tell of thy name to my brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee: (Psalms 22:22 RSV)
Well, what is this? Here, unquestionably, is the resurrection. The same one who has just suffered and died is now in the midst of a company whom he calls his brethren. The writer of Hebrews picks up this theme. In chapter two he applies these very words to Jesus. He says that it was the will and purpose of God the Father to bring many sons to glory, and that it was fitting that he should make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering. And, he continues,
That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,
"I will proclaim thy name to my brethren,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee." (Hebrews 2:11b-12 RSV)
What a wonderful picture of the result of the resurrection -- the calling out of the people of God who are one with him and share his life, and who are joint heirs with Christ, members, like him, of the family of God. And so he says to them,
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! (Psalms 22:23 RSV)
Why? Because this is the One who has answered the prayer of a dead man and raised him from the dead. The resurrection is the ground of Christian worship, he says,
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalms 22:24 RSV)
Again, the writer of Hebrews says to us, at the end of his letter,
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, (Hebrews13:20-21a RSV)
This is what constitutes the ground of praise for all Christians: we have a living Lord who has been raised from the dead and whose life is now shared with us so that his life is ours, and ours belongs to him. He goes on to tell us just that:
From thee comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him. (Psalms 22:25 RSV)
That is, "I will fulfill my word to them. I will do for them what I have promised to do." What is that?
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live for ever. (Psalms 22:26 RSV)
Is that not great? His promise is that, out of the resurrected power which he holds, he will give us everything we need. So we will be satisfied. And, as Peter puts it in his second letter,
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3 RSV)
There is not one thing more that we need than what already has been made available. Thus it is true, as Hebrews7:25 tells us, that, "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
The next verse goes on to trace out the effect of this power, as it moves out across the face of the whole earth.
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations. (Psalms 22:27-28 RSV)
It is the fulfillment of Jesus' great commission that his Gospel shall be preached to all nations. And out of every tribe and nation shall come those who respond, who fear him, because God is the ruler of all and he will see to it that his message reaches all men. We are living in the very days when men from every tribe and nation are coming to Christ.
The final picture encompasses the utter subjection to him of all peoples and all creatures everywhere in the universe:
Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive. [i.e., the poor, obscure, weak, and helpless]
Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it. (Psalms 22:29-31 RSV)
Those last words are amazing! In the Hebrew the last phrase is literally, "It is finished." So what is really said here is that "there shall be proclaimed deliverance to a people yet unborn, that it is finished." It is striking that this psalm both opens and closes with a word of Jesus from the cross. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34 RSV). And, as he cried with a loud voice just before he died, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). All is done. There is nothing left to do.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3 RSV)
Is that not tremendous? What a psalm! What an anticipation, and what a fulfillment, of this amazing event!
The Holy City
--by Jessye Norman
--by the London Philharmonic
--by Mahalia Jackson
Come, Sweet Death
A Glorious Church Without Spot or Wrinkle
Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned
Come as you Are
My Music Selections
Jesus Plain and Simple
A Wedding Invitation from Jesus
The Wedding Psalm 45
Entering God's Rest
The Connected People
Software not Hardware
If the Rapture Happened Today
A City in Space
New Bodies for Old?
A Joint in Time and History
The Revirginized Bride
The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
The Wife of Jehovah, The Bride of Christ
The Left Behind
The Eightfold Way to Knowing God
A Glorious Church
City Living in New Jerusalem
This Series: The Ego Papers
Email Lambert Dolphin
October 25, 2020, June 14, 2021