One of my co-workers, John Lamb led a devotion for our office last week on David's prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16. This is after the ark is brought back to Jerusalem. It follows a not-so-funny scene a few chapters earlier where this guy tries to steady the ark being pulled by oxen and he dies on the spot. If that didn't put the fear of God into the Israelites, what would?
JL was focusing on another part but I found myself noticing the connection between 'fearing God and the world'. (Okay I know I have been very one track of late.) David in this psalm mentions over and over the need to declare among the nations who God is. In verse 8, he says, "make known among the nations what He has done." He says in verse 14 that God's judgments are in all the earth. In verse 23 and 24, he says the whole earth should sing to to the Lord. In verse 24, he says that we should "declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples." In verse 28, it is the families of the nations that should ascribe Him glory and strength. In verse 30-31, David writes that all the earth should tremble before Him and that it should be said among the nations that "the Lord reigns!"
But why? In verse 25-26, David points out that the the Lord who is great and worthy of praise should be feared above all gods. He should be feared because all the gods of the nations are nothing but idols made by man but the Lord made the heavens. God should be feared. He should be praised. His glory should be declared all over the earth. Missions is not just some nice little activity. It certainly is not a thing you do before you get a 'real job'. It is necessary because the whole earth should fear God and worship Him and at present they don't. Taking this message to the people of the earth is worth dying for like Nate Saint and Jim Elliot did. I like that familiar quote by John Piper in Let the Nations be Glad that 'missions exists because worship doesn't'.
I would be remiss not to point out the passage that JL had us focus on. In verse 11-12, David says we should look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always and remember the wonders he has done. It's easy for me to get pumped up by the need to go to the nations and send others to go because the world needs to fear and worship God. But I wonder how often I do this in my own strength? Do I do the missional activities without really seeking Him myself? Do I desire for nations to worship Him and neglect to really worship Him with my life always? Am I just like this unfortunate dude - Uzzah - who thought he was really serving God by steadying the oxcart when in fact he was not taking seriously the full glory of God?
May I fear Him while helping make Him known among the nations!