Theme: Our Victory through Christ’s Victory
In this week’s lessons, we learn about God’s triumph for his people over persecutions.
Scripture: Psalm 129:1-8
There is one last point of application to look at in this week’s psalm. We need to remember here that because Jesus lives we also live, and because he has been victorious we also shall be victorious. It will not be by avoiding our share of this world’s oppression. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Jesus had trouble himself, and we are called to follow in his footsteps. Yet Jesus also said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Will we? Yes. But we will triumph as he did, which means not by escaping oppression but by going through it, surviving it here and ultimately passing through the portal of death to resurrection.
How often in the long course of history have Christians been forced to cry, as Israel did, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth”? Often! It is the repeated, echoing cry of God’s people down the long corridors of human history. “How long? How long?” cry God’s saints (Rev. 6:10). But underneath that cry and sometimes even over it we also hear the reassuring confession, “But they have not gained the victory over me.”
Why is this pattern of oppression and suffering so necessary, a pattern observed in Israel, in the life of Christ and even in the lives of Christ’s followers? The answer is so that the world might know that our power is not from ourselves, but from God.
The Apostle Paul knew this. He suffered many things as the first great missionary to the Gentiles. He was repeatedly imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, starved and threatened. But here is what he wrote to the young believers at Corinth to encourage them:
We have this treasure [he means the gospel] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:7-11).
Do you know that forceful Christian battle cry, composed in Latin and placed next to the burning bush? Nec tamen consumebatur! It means “yet not consumed.” That is it. That is it exactly. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
What is the Christian’s share in the world’s oppression?
From what kind of death are Christians promised delivery?
What is one explanation for why Christians suffer?
Application: In what ways have you been called to suffer for Christ? How can you encourage others in their own suffering for their Christian testimony?
Key Point: We need to remember here that because Jesus lives we also live, and because he has been victorious we also shall be victorious.
Prayer: Pray that God will be glorified through any difficult situations you may be going through and that you may become more solid in your faith as a result.
For Further Study: All of us at one time or another feel as if we are struck down—for a variety of reasons—and may even wonder if we will ever recover. The Psalms contain much instruction and encouragement for those weary from the difficulties and hardships of life. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering James Boice’s three-volume paperback set on the Psalms for 25% off the regular price.