Meditating on God’s Word

By Tom Wacaster

The first chapter in the Psalms is a wonderful description of the “blessed” man in contrast with the pitiful plight of the ungodly. In the first verse the Psalmist tells us that the righteous man is careful in his daily walk. He refuses to listen to the counsel of the ungodly. If he finds himself being inundated with unholy advice, he refuses to stand in the way of the sinner who gives such advice. In addition he will not sit with the scornful, knowing that fellowship with such individuals is forbidden by God’s word. 

On the positive side of the ledger, the Psalmist tells us this regarding the righteous man:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:2). There are some wonderful lessons to be drawn from this short verse.  Consider the following.

First, the righteous man has a single delight that far exceeds all other joys in his life.  There are many things we delight in. Some delight in golf; others in fishing; some in their jobs or their families. And while these things certainly can bring joy and cause us to delight, there is one thing in which we should delight that excels the pleasures of these mundane things. The Psalmist’s delight was bound up, not in the counsel of the wicked, but the law of the Lord.

Second, it should be noted that the Psalmist uses a term to refer to God’s word that most people today find repulsive. It is the word “law.” The political correctness and pluralism that has infected the thinking of many disdains any reference to law. The word suggests an absolute standard. It suggests that there are some things that are “negative” insofar as our responsibility to God is concerned. Unfortunately too many people turn a deaf ear to any command of God that even hints at law. Consequently our generation is, to a large degree, antinomian (against law). But not all “law” is bad. What would society be like if we did not have laws?  Chaos would rule supreme.  Society would, in fact, be “lawless.”  We should be grateful that our nation is a nation of laws. We should be even more grateful that our God has, in His Divine wisdom, chosen to give us laws that protect us and guide us in our daily life.

Third, it is said with regard to that law that the Psalmist does “meditate night and day.”  There are three words in the Bible that convey the thought process and its involvement with the word of God. The first word is “read.” Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). Reading is the assimilation of facts.  As sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, sir; just the facts.” The second word we find is “study.”  Paul also wrote to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). Study is much more than reading. Study calls for investigation, determination of the meaning of words, and careful harmonization of the words to determine the meaning. Study is hard work. The third word we find is this word “meditate.” It is the word that a Jewish farmer might use to describe a cow that chews its cud. Once one has read, and carefully studied to determine the meaning of the words thus read, he then meditates upon that word to determine how this applies to his life. 

Now please consider this. Very few in our generation ever get around to reading the Bible.  I read this week that only 1% of adult Americans read the Bible more than once a day, and less than 15% read the Bible on a regular and consistent basis. Of those who do read, fewer still ever take the time to seriously study. They are satisfied with looking at the facts, with little concern about the meaning of what they are reading. Of those who may happen to read and study, fewer still take the time to meditate on how that word applies to their life. Take a look at any congregation of the Lord’s body and you may find those who are very strict in their doctrinal stand but whose lives are in shambles, morally speaking.  

Until one takes the time to read, and study, and meditate upon God’s word, he will not profit from the message of God’s word as he otherwise might. Let me present a challenge to each of us. Keep up your daily reading of God’s word. Then, in addition, select one passage a week (say a chapter), and seriously study that chapter. Spend some time researching dictionaries, commentaries, and reference books to help you get a good understanding of what that passage really teaches. Then at week’s end, spend the same amount of time you spent each day in research simply meditating on what you have studied. If you studied on the passage for fifteen minutes each day, take fifteen minutes to meditate on what you have learned. It may surprise you how your life will change and how much more you will enjoy the riches of God’s word. 

When I was in the Coast Guard I served two years on board a weather cutter. I enjoyed taking a blanket and pillow from my bunk and lay out on the fan tail at night (that is seaman talk for the deck on the back of the ship), and gaze up at the stars. It not only reminded me of the power of God and His constant watch-care over me, but it gave me opportunity to meditate on many of the spiritual truths that I had learned in my youth. It is an undeniable fact that our world is changing, and not for the better. It would be easy to be anxious, to fret and fear over what shall become of our culture and our nation. If you are tempted to do so, go back to the 46th Psalm and read verse 7: “Jehovah of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” In fact, go back and read and meditate on the whole of this Psalm. Then follow God’s advice: “Be still, and know that I am God!”

On the lighter side: Pancho was a well-known outlaw to Texans. A lesser-known story involves his demise in a Mexican bar. A tough Texas Ranger had trailed him through the desert and caught up with Pancho in a small village. With both guns drawn, the ranger approached the criminal and ordered him to turn over the one million dollars he had recently robbed from a train. From the other side of the bar a small man said, “SeƱor, Pancho does not speak English. I am his translator.” The ranger growled, “Tell Pancho I came to get the million dollars he robbed from the train. If he doesn’t hand over the money, I’ll fill him full of holes.” The man translated. Frightened, Pancho told the interpreter the money was two miles outside of town buried thirty paces east of an old abandoned well. The translator turned to the armed ranger and said, “Pancho says, ‘I’m not telling—go ahead and shoot.’” “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” —Prov. 17:22

America’s Two-Hundred-Forty-First Year

Tom Wacaster

Today, July 4, 2016, we celebrate 240 years as a nation. Since this bulletin article goes to print on the 6th, by the time you read this the United States of America will be into her 241st year as a nation. Few nations have lasted this long; none much longer. One political moralist accurately pointed out that America is living on borrowed time. That may very well be the case; only God knows for sure. Over the years I have written numerous articles having to do with national righteousness, moral uprightness, and occasionally, a politically “hot” issue. While the gospel is not a political message, it cannot help but cross paths with politics, especially in those nations where the people play an important role in selecting their leaders. It seems to me that Christians can render a significant influence in the direction a country goes by simply taking the time to vote. I want to share with our readers a couple of short articles that I have written over the years that, so far as I know, have not appeared in the Handley Herald. I hope that they will encourage all of us to maintain the course, keep the faith, and do all within our power to be a preserving element for this nation.

When The Euphrates Dries Up
(first appeared in my commentary on Revelation)

Revelation chapter eight ends with the sobering words, “And I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a great voice, Woe, woe, woe, for them that dwell on the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, who are yet to sound” (Rev. 8:13). Three woes would come upon “them that dwell on the earth.” The doomsday prognosticators would have us believe that John is describing some far off event in which the world and all mankind will be engulfed in a catastrophe too horrible to describe; an event that would immediately precede the return of Christ. They view the apocalypse through the eyes of a materialistic mind-set and fail to grasp the message God intended for the readers of this book. In keeping with the figurative language of the book of Revelation, John warns those who are earthly in their thinking, who seek not the things that are above, that they will, if they persist in their sin, bring upon themselves sorrow and woes of indescribable nature. Such are those who “dwell on the earth.” The “woes” of chapter nine are self inflicted and come upon humanity as a result of their rejection of God’s word and/or their obstinate rebellion against the Father. The “smoke out of the abyss” (9:2-3) is John’s way of describing the woes that come upon men as a consequence of their determination to allow error and false philosophy to blind them to the truth (cf. 2 Cor. 4:3-4). Once blinded, all that awaits is the horrible “sting” of sin from the “locusts” that will descend upon them. Satan and his allies will rush down upon those who have turned their back on God and His word like horsemen prepared for war, and the final outcome will be complete defeat for those ill prepared to meet the onslaught of the devil and his forces.

The second woe in Revelation chapter nine envisions a situation in any given society wherein the righteous element is no longer strong enough to ward off the devil and his evil intentions. The preserving element will have disappeared and the only thing that awaits a nation at that point is God’s complete wrath. At that point the “four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates” will be “loosed,” and divine judgment will descend upon men (Rev. 9:13-15). There are those who would suggest that the “Euphrates” represents the dividing line between the people of God and the people of the world. That river was the eastern most boundary of the Promised Land. Once the Euphrates dried up, the enemy would have easy and unrestricted access into the land where God’s people once dwelt. In like manner, our “Euphrates” is the holiness of God’s people. Our “Euphrates” is the line of demarcation that separates us from the world, a line that marks us as being distinctive, holy, and the “peculiar” people God so desires us to be. When our “Euphrates” is breeched, there is nothing to hold back the full release of sin and the onslaught of the enemy. If we take this position then this sixth woe describes a world where that dividing line between God’s people and the people of the world is no longer distinguishable. The righteous “remnant” is no longer able to hold back the evil that would engulf the world with this horrible “woe.” The same kind of situation existed when God destroyed the word with the flood (cf. Gen. 6:5). Prior to the destruction of evil men in the flood, the “Euphrates” (figuratively speaking) had been dried up, and the world had reached such a state of evil that God’s longsuffering finally ran out. Wicked men had turned so far away from God that the thoughts and intents of their hearts were only evil continually. When men reach such a state of ungodliness, God’s wrath will no longer be restrained.

I wonder – has the “Euphrates” dried up in America? Has the “preserving element” that allows God’s mercy to forego divine judgment in hopes that men will repent disappeared? Is the church having a leavening influence upon society? Or have we allowed the word to corrupt the church? Have we become so much like the world around us that for all practical intents and purposes we have allowed the Euphrates to dry up? Yes, I wonder!

Tyranny of the Minority
(adapted from original written in 2007)

The 1700’s witnessed the birth of a new nation, a nation born with the concept that the minority should not rule the people, but rather the government should be one OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people.  The majority, then, becomes the voice of government and not the other way around.  Unfortunately, when the majority abandons the moors that established this great republic, the majority itself becomes a threat to the very freedoms established by the framers of our constitution. Alex De Tocqueville once warned us that: “If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event will arise from the unlimited tyranny of the majority.” The key words are “unlimited tyranny.” We are rapidly moving toward a government BY the people that has no limitations, no restrictions, and no self control. Amazingly, much of the moral decline in our country has been accomplished by a small number who seem bent on leading the rest of the populace into ungodliness; others, like sheep, just follow their lead. Wholesale murder is performed in the name of freedom, and while the majority sits in silence, the minority continues to make laws that legalize and promote abortion.  I think Archibald Stevenson was right on track when he pointed out that “we are in grave danger of dissipating this splendid heritage through mistaking if for democracy” (Archibald E. Stevenson as quoted in The New American, February 1, 1999, p. 30). Political correctness seems more concerned about offending some little group than letting the voice of the majority be heard. Thus, tyranny by the minority. I will readily admit that the tyranny of the majority is a legitimate concern in any society, but I fear that the tyranny of the minority is a monster that lurks in the shadows, ready to spring forth and destroy the very freedoms that we celebrated this Fourth of July.

America’s second president, John Adams, made the following observation about the U.S. Constitution: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Adams was correct, and the rejection of his wise words is being played out on the stage of life in the 21st century.