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Sunday, September 06, 2020

“All Our Days” [Matt's Messages]

“All Our Days”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
September 6, 2020 :: Psalm 90

The superscription of Psalm 90 tells us that it was written by “Moses, the man of God.” Psalm 90 is the only psalm that we know that Moses wrote, and it’s a richly profound psalm.

In some ways, it’s like last week’s psalm by King David, Psalm 8, because it juxtaposes God’s greatness and our not-so-greatness. 

Psalm 90 gives us more of that much needed (God/Us) perspective. But Moses, the man of God, takes his psalm in some different directions than David did in Psalm 8.

At first, I looked at Psalm 90 for this Sunday because it was Labor Day weekend, and I love to pray the prayer of verse 17 over our church family every Labor Day weekend. The Psalm ends, “Establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.”

But how Moses gets to that prayer request might surprise you. I was surprised again as I studied it this week, because it’s almost the last thing you might expect to ask for at the end of this particular psalm. The poetic logic is wild!

I was also surprised at how appropriate Psalm 90 would be for us as we consider the anniversary this week of the deadly terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Moses is reflecting on human frailty and mortality.

I looked back through my notes, and realized that I had preached on Psalm 90 once before. It was actually September 2, 2001. Just over a week before 9/11. I didn’t know what was going to come. Nearly 3,000 Americans died in one day.

And of course, now we are living in the era of COVID-19, a world-wide pandemic that also reminds us of our frailty and mortality.

26.7 million reported cases world-wide and more than 876,000 deaths attributed to this new virus in less than a year. [John Hopkins University, accessed 9/5/20]

And, of course, Psalm 90 is always appropriate, no matter what era you are living in.

Because it’s been true ever since Moses wrote it. The human mortality rate is 100%.

Moses knew about frailty and mortality.

Remember Moses led the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt and through the wilderness of Sinai to the very brink of the Promised Land.

But they did not enter the Promised Land with Moses because of their unbelieving disobedience and hardness of heart. Instead, God disciplined them in His wrath and that entire generation died over a 40 year period. 

Scholars estimate conservatively (using the most conservative numbers) that Moses must have seen at least 41 adult deaths per day among the wandering people of Israel for each of those 40 years.

That’s a lot of funerals.

And some time in the middle of those depressing days, Moses sat down and wrote out this prayer song, Psalm 90.

Psalm 90 gives us the straight stuff. The way things really are. How to think about these days we are living in, and how to pray during these days we are living in.

Do you want some new ways to pray? The second half of this psalm has some wonderfully fresh things to pray to the God it tells us about in the first half of the Psalm.

How do you pray when you realize how brief and hard and painful life truly is? Psalm 90 gives us some great direction.

I’ve taken the sermon title from a little phrase that Moses repeats a couple times in Psalm 90. He talks about “All Our Days” both how hard all our days are and how good God is in them.


Look with me at Psalm 90, verse 1.

“A prayer of Moses the man of God. 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.”

What glorious words!

Moses opens his song with a big boast about the Lord to the Lord.

He sings it right to God, His majestic heavenly King: 

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” 

That’s a song of faith. That’s a hymnic declaration of the goodness of God all our days.

I want to summarize Psalm 90 in three steps, and here’s number one.

#1. GOD IS ETERNAL AND SAFE.

Safe. I love that word “dwelling place” there in verse 1.

It means what is sounds like. It means a home. A shelter, a refuge, a place of security, a place of protection, a place of sanctuary, a place you can lay down your head and you feel safe.

At least you should be able to.

This is my dwelling place. This is where I come back to and when I’m away, the place I long to be at. We had just cleared the land for it to break ground for this dwelling place when I preached Psalm 90 back in 2001. Now we’ve lived there almost 19 years.

Moses and the Israelites didn’t have permanent homes at point. They were living in tents and wandering around the desert for forty years. But Moses said that they had a home in God. And they always had.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” 

All our days! We have been safe in You.

Notice, he doesn’t say, “You have dwelt with us throughout all generations.” That would be true, too. But he says that God has actually been their dwelling place.

If they are in Him, they are safe.
If they are in Him, nothing can separate them from the love of God.

If we live in God, there is a refuge, a place of safety, and abode of shelter from the awful ravages of the universe.

Do you see why I picked this one? Do you feel it?

I think right now, most of us feel attacked in some way.

We always have enemies–the world, the flesh, and the devil–but in this particular season right now, we are all feeling it in strong ways.

And Psalms tell us and show us and sing for us what to do and where to go when we’re feeling attacked.

We go home...if our home is God.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” 

Can you say that for yourself?

Are you home safe in God?
Only those who are trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior and King are truly safe in God because, as we’ll see in just a minute, if you are outside of Him, then God is anything but safe to you.

God is a safe and secure dwelling place for those who belong to Jesus.


Emphasis on “eternal.”

Verse 1 is from our perspective. “All generations,” all our days.
Verse 2 is from God’s perspective. “From everlasting to everlasting.”

God is eternal. He is over time.

“Before the mountains were born [there’s an image!] or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

I’m so thankful that God is not God for just a short amount of time, aren’t you?

How terrible it would be if God were finite and timebound and mortal Himself.

He is unchanging, immortal, eternal, infinite.

What did we say today in our Worship in Unity from the New City Catechism?

“God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth.” 

That’s a God that deserves our worship, all our days!
He is eternal, but we, in this life, certainly are not. Look verse 3.

“You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’ [Or “sons of Adam.” He’s singing about Genesis 3, isn’t he? David sung last week about Genesis 1. Moses is singing about Genesis 3:17, ‘for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ When God says you go back to dust, you go back to dust. Because He’s eternal. V.4] For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

Do you feel small again?

It’s not bad to feel small when you’re comparing yourself to God.

God is eternal!

And that means He’s not going anywhere. You can count on Him.

But you and I are going somewhere. We are going to our graves. V.5

“You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning–6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. 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.”

Wow. Do you feel that?

Here’s the second step in our study of Psalm 90.

#1. God is eternal and safe.

But conversely:

#2. OUR LIVES ARE SHORT AND BRUTAL.

“All our days.” Did you hear that in verse 9?

“All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.” It was true of Israel as the bodies fell in the wilderness, and it is true for all of us living in this day, as well.

The world is cursed by God.

Death is here, and it is coming for every one of us.

(Except for the generation alive when Jesus returns! And that might be us, but we don’t know. What we do know is that our lives are short and brutal.)

By "brutal," I don’t mean that they are all as bad as they could be.

But they all have plenty of bad in them. 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.”

Seventy or eighty feels like a lot until you’re getting up there [CALL OUT]. But they sure feel short compared to “everlasting to everlasting.” “They quickly pass.”

And what are they like?

“Trouble and sorrow”

Moses sounds like Ecclesiastes, doesn’t he? Or maybe like Job.

This is really honest. Moses is really honest here. Really raw and honest.

Life is hard.

There is no getting around that.

We don’t like it, but it’s the way it is.

Life is really hard.

And then you die.

And it’s like this, because of our sin. The world is broken because we broke it.

And the world is not the way it’s supposed to be because we are not the way we are supposed to be. Look at verse 8 again.

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.”

I love the “light of [his] presence,” but it doesn’t love my sin. And none of it is hidden from him. Look at verse 11.

“Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.”

God is mad at sin, and that is why there is death in the world.

Sin was why the Israelites were dropping like flies.

And sin is why anybody dies in the first place.

And why life is so brutally hard.

A lot of people in our church family are hurting right now. You know who you are, and you know what you’re going through. And this Psalm says that your suffering is real. This is not the way things ought to be, but it is the way things are. Life is hard and then you die.

It’s okay to hate it. It’s okay to be honest and raw about how brutal it is. There are lots of Psalms that teach us how to lament and grieve the way the world is. All our days. Trouble and sorrow. Because of sin in the world.

Which makes the last move that Moses takes in Psalm 90 such a surprise!

Because Moses puts the frailty and brutality and mortality of all our days TOGETHER with the eternality and safety and goodness of God, and spins out these beautiful prayer requests!

I would have never come up with this.

1. God is eternal and safe.
2. Our lives are short and brutal.

Therefore:

#3. WE ASK FOR WISDOM AND GRACE.

All our days.

Moses looks at the eternality of God and the mortality of man, and says (v.12):

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

What a great prayer request!

Help us to count our days, Lord, so that all of our days really count for You.

If you have a smartphone in your pocket, I invite you to pull it out and do a Google search right now.

Put this into your phone, “How many days since _______?” And then say your birthday. Mine is May 4, 1973.


I don’t know what yours says. But I do know that if you ask Google how many days you have left, it won’t be able to tell you. But Psalm 90 says that it will pass quickly.

And so you better make it count.

That’s what a “heart of wisdom” means. It means a heart that knows the right way to live. The right way to make the most of the days you have left, however many they are.

We pray for wisdom. And we pray for grace.

Because it’s totally amazing where Moses goes next. Verse 13.

“Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.”

Moses asks for grace. For mercy. For compassion when they don’t deserve it.

Moses asks God to undo what He has been doing, to relent and give them a reprieve and relief.

How can he ask that of God?

Well, Moses knows what God is like. He knows that God is gracious. He knows that God is his dwelling place, his safety, his refuge, his home.

I think Moses actually expects God to answer many of these prayers with a “Yes!”

Look at what he asks in verse 14!

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

There it is! “All our days!”

My wife, Heather, prays verse 14 over me just about every night.

We pray together last thing before sleep every night, and this is her go-to-verse when she prays for me.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Do we deserve that? No, we do not!

But we know Who God is! And we know what He has done in Jesus at the Cross and the Empty Tomb!

We know about His unfailing love. In Hebrew that’s “hesed.” Steadfast love. Loyal love. Unfailing love.

Which is so satisfying that we can sing about it and rejoice all our days.

All of our brutal, painful, death-filled days!

And Moses doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t just ask for joy and gladness, he asks for double joy and gladness. V.15

“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.”

We deserve all of the affliction and the trouble, but God you don’t have to just give us that. You can grace us with double joy and double gladness!

He knows what God’s like!

He knows that what God is up to.

And we know it even more. We know that “our light and momentary troubles [as heavy and long as they may seem!] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).

Jesus’ resurrection takes the sting out of the curse and even out of death.

So that our short and brutal lives–for those who are in Christ–issue into everlasting and blessed life with God in eternity. So Moses prays that we would see God do it. Verse 16.

“May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.”

Show up, Lord! Do it! Do it! We don't deserve it, but do it anyway for your glory! And can you see how crazy it is that he prays verse 17?

“May the favor [the beautiful grace] of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Use us in all of our days, all of our short and brutal days, to do something eternal and blessed!

Make our days count, Lord. Make our days count for the kingdom, for eternity.

Yes, Eternal God, help us to count all our days, and by your grace, to make all our days count for eternity.

“...yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Amen.

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