“I Will Be Exalted in the Earth”

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen [nations], I will be exalted in the earth.” —Psalm 46:10

THE BEGINNING OF 1994 finds the hearts of the people still uncertain about the future. Another year has passed without any of the major problems of the world being solved. The “distress of nations with perplexity” prophesied by Jesus is just as distressing and perplexing now as it was a year ago.—Luke 21:25,26

While active strife and conflict between the major powers of the world has remained in a more or less ‘simmered-down’ condition during the year past, nevertheless names such as Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Somalia, have kept the world continually reminded that within nations internal troubles of many kinds continue to plague us. We have witnessed that under the present facade of a very uneasy peace, lurk many tinderbox situations ready to ignite at almost a moment’s notice, with the potential of worldwide involvement.

But nothing is gained by dwelling too long on the troubles of the world. It is sufficient if we realize that both from the standpoint of reality and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, man has nearly reached his extremity. And this means, also, that the time is near at hand in human experience when divine authority and power will manifest itself in the affairs of men. It is this that the Lord refers to in our text, saying, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen [nations], I will be exalted in the earth.”

This, then, is the hope of those who put their trust in God! As these look ahead into the year 1994, it is with confidence that nothing will happen that will interfere with the ultimate and glorious outcome of the divine purpose. To know this, and to be assured of it, is a great source of courage and strength, and a safeguard against becoming entangled in the countless and hopeless controversies which make up the confusion of this chaotic and dying world.

That the prophecies of the Bible which describe the ending of Satan’s world and the time when the kingdom of Christ will be established for the blessing of the people are now being fulfilled, there can be no doubt. And happy are those who are able to discern the meaning of the many signs of this momentous era in which we are living. However, to enjoy this knowledge does not mean that we can look ahead into 1994 and foresee in detail just what will happen. We do not know what will come of the changes instituted by the Clinton administration; we certainly cannot predict what the outcome of the unrest in Russia will bring to those people, or to the entire world, during 1994 and beyond. We do not know whether or not the ‘peace’ negotiated in the Middle East will be productive, or war will erupt somewhere else in the world. What we do know is, that regardless of what happens, God’s kingdom plans will neither be thwarted nor delayed.

In the opening verse of the psalm from which our text is taken, David writes, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God has always helped his people in their every trouble; and this text has been a great comfort to all in every part of the Gospel Age who have put their trust in him. But it comes to us at the present time with even greater meaning, for the verses which follow indicate that the psalmist’s use of the term ‘trouble’ is an evident reference to what Daniel described as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.”—Dan. 12:1

Jesus quoted Daniel’s prophecy, and indicated that its fulfillment would be at the end of the age, and during the time of his second presence. (Matt. 24:21,22) It is descriptive of the very time in which we are living—this time when, as Jesus foretold, the hearts of the people would be filled with fear. (Luke 21:25,26) And as the world looks ahead into the year 1994, there is nothing in sight to give assurance that the economic, political, social, and religious unrest in the world will find its satisfactory solution at the hands of men, despite their earnest efforts.

But for those who put their trust in the Lord it is different. These find shelter behind the fortress of God’s promises, and can say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Ps. 46:1,2) The word ‘earth’, as used here, is a symbol of the present humanly constituted social order which the Apostle Paul designates “this present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) It is the removal of this ‘earth’, with all the calamitous events associated therewith, that is causing the hearts of the people to be filled with fear. But “we will not fear,” says David, and the reason we do not fear is that “God is our refuge and strength.”

The psalmist speaks of the “mountains” being “carried into the midst of the sea,” and then adds, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” (Ps.46:3) Jesus used the roaring of the sea and waves to illustrate the restless, discontented attitude of the people in this time of worldwide distress. (Luke 21:25) The Prophet Isaiah also refers to it, saying, “Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty [‘many’, Margin] waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.”—Isa. 17:12,13

It would be difficult to imagine a more vivid picture than that of the chaotic state of the nations today. There is unrest everywhere. It is quite apparent, even in the United States with all the divisive issues before the American people, but in other countries the bloody business of war is a daily ritual. In other countries, particularly in Africa, South Africa, and Russia, the masses are seething with unrest or starvation. Daily we watch this violence on our TV sets, and wonder how much more deeply the western nations will be forced to become involved. Yes, all the great ‘mountain’ kingdoms and governments are being lashed by the raging seas of human passion. Beginning with 1914, many of them have already toppled over into the ‘sea’, and the remaining ones are gradually giving way to the strain placed upon them by the demanding ‘waves’ of oppressed and downtrodden masses.

Viewed from the standpoint of human wisdom, this chaotic world situation is a frightening one; but we will not fear because we know that in it all, a divine purpose is being worked out, even that purpose described by the Prophet Haggai when he wrote that the Lord would “shake all nations,” and then “the desire of all nations shall come.” (Flag. 2:7) Certainly we are now in that shaking period, and we can rejoice that in the Lord’s own due time he will say to the turbulent mass, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

“The Earth Melted”

But the time has not yet come for the Lord to speak peace to the nations. A further ‘shaking’ is needed in order for all to be convinced that they cannot, by their own wisdom and power, establish peace and security in the earth. For this reason the Lord’s voice is now being heard in another way. Verse 6 of the prophecy reads, “The heathen [Hebrew, ‘nations’] raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” The ‘voice’ of the Lord is a symbol of his authority and power; and just as the Prophet Haggai indicates that it is the Lord who is now ‘shaking’ the nations, so David is telling us the same thing, describing the breaking down of a social order as the melting of the earth. So, whether we think of the earth as being ‘removed’, or ‘melted’, or being ‘shaken’, the idea is that man’s world is coming to an end.

But this does not alarm the people of God. They agree with the Apostle Paul that it is an “evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) Taking heed to the Master’s assertion that he had called his disciples out of this ‘world’, they endeavor to follow the instructions of the Apostle John not to love it. Indeed, this present evil world is not worthy of a Christian’s love, for it is characterized by sin, by selfishness, by greed, by graft, by oppression, and by war; so the righteous rejoice in their knowledge that such a world is coming to an end, for they know that in its place will be established a new world, even the kingdom of Christ.

It is true, of course, that the Lord’s people are in the midst of the time of trouble which is causing the removal of the symbolic earth—this present evil world—and are subject to the difficulties confronting all people incidental to the shaking and melting processes around them. But they do not fear, for as David declares, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Ps. 46:7) While the Lord is abundantly able to give physical protection to his people when it is his will to do so, our greatest source of comfort and strength is in the understanding he gives us of the meaning of world distress, that it is working out for the people the great destiny of peace and blessing which he has promised so many times throughout his Word.

To God’s people the invitation is extended, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” (Ps. 46:8,9) Great and widespread are the ‘desolations’ which already have been ‘made in the earth’. David asserts that these have been made by the Lord. It would be difficult to harmonize this with the fact that God is merciful and kind and loving, were it not for the further explanation of the divine purpose in what is being done; for it is by this means, the psalmist explains, that the Lord ‘maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth’.

No one should have difficulty in understanding this, for all know that one of the chief characteristics of this present evil world has been war; that the final arbiter of all its disputes has been war. It is clear, we think, that the only way to ‘make wars to cease’ is to destroy the system that has legalized, and often glorified war. So it is that when those who are enlightened by the Word of God accept the invitation to ‘behold the works of the Lord’, and they see ‘what desolations he hath made in the earth’, they also discern its necessity and the glorious objective to which it is leading. Because of this, they do not fear, for they know that the infinite wisdom and almighty power which control the universe are working out a glorious purpose which, when fully consummated, will reveal his mercy and love in the promised blessing of all the families of the earth.

“Wait Ye upon Me”

Throughout all the centuries those who have loved righteousness have often been perplexed as to why the Lord continued to permit iniquitous conditions to flourish in the earth. The proud, the arrogant, and the vile have often been the ones who have flourished, while the meek and the pure have suffered. In every generation, man’s inhumanity to man has made countless thousands mourn.

It is seemingly in answer to this quandary of his people that the Lord said, “Wait ye upon me … until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured by the fire of my jealousy.” (Zeph. 3:8) This indicates that at no time has the Lord been unmindful of conditions in the earth which have been so contrary to his will, and that in his own due time and way he purposed to make a ‘desolation’ of the selfish institutions of man which have been largely responsible for them.

The Lord expressed a similar thought through the Prophet Isaiah, saying, “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.” (Isa. 42:14) It was only because the Lord, in his wisdom, knew that greater good would be accomplished by refraining from interfering with the downward course of man into sin by waiting for his own due time to ‘rise up to the prey’, that this present evil world was not destroyed centuries ago. Satan, the archenemy of God and of man, has been its “god” from the beginning.—II Cor. 4:4

In verse 13 of this 42nd chapter, Isaiah gives us a partial explanation of the manner in which the Lord would bring about the destruction of Satan’s world. He says, “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.” The ‘cry’ and the ‘roar’ here mentioned would seem to have about the same significance as the ‘voice’ of the Lord which David declares would cause the ‘earth’ to ‘melt’. It is the exercise of divine authority and power in whatever ways, and by any agencies the Lord might use.

One of these methods is suggested by the statement that the Lord “shall stir up jealousy like a man of war.” In a description of the final phase of this great time of trouble we read that the Lord will “call for a sword,” and that “every man’s sword shall be against his brother.” (Ezek. 38:21) The thought contained in these various expressions seems to be that the Lord, in his own way, and through agencies unknown to us, brings about the destruction of man’s world by allowing its selfish factions to rise up in jealousy and hatred, and destroy one another.

And what an effective method this will ultimately prove to be in making wars to cease unto the end of the earth! For this to be accomplished, more is needed than simply the destruction of the implements of war. Before wars will cease, the whole concept of war must be destroyed in the minds of the people. The glory must be taken from it, and they must be made to loathe the very thought of war. What better way could there be to accomplish this than for the nations, by means of war, to destroy the world in which they live! Surely this will go a long way toward making the people realize the utter folly of war.

And this is fully in keeping with God’s method of dealing with the human race from the very beginning. He has permitted evil so that man might have an opportunity to learn, by experience, its terrible consequences. Moses, in his prayer, wrote concerning God that “thou turnest man to destruction.” (Ps. 90:3) Yes, because man sinned, God has destroyed the entire human race through the curse of death. Because the ‘world’ has fallen far short of God’s goal for mankind, it is also now being destroyed by God. Through this, the people are learning a lesson which, for those who profit by it, will lead to an eternity of joy through their wholehearted obedience to God and to his righteous laws. And the desolation which the Lord is now making in the earth is one of the final lessons man is having the opportunity to learn.

Only through a knowledge of the divine plan is it possible to reconcile the thought of God’s love with what is occurring in the earth today. After saying that God turns man to destruction, Moses added, “And sayest, Return, ye children of men.” (Ps. 90:3) This returning will be in the resurrection, when all of the condemned race will be awakened from the sleep of death and given an opportunity to profit from their experience with evil in this life. This includes those who are now being hurt, or even killed, incidental to the melting of the symbolic earth.

Speaking Peace to the Nations

At the present time the voice of the Lord—his cry, his roar—is stirring up turmoil and confusion among the nations; but how different it will be when he speaks to the raging waves of human passions, saying, as our text declares, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Just as the Lord has the necessary agencies through which his voice of authority accomplishes the destruction of Satan’s world, so when he speaks peace to the nations it will be with an authority that they cannot resist.

“I will be exalted in the earth,” Jehovah declares. He has permitted his authority to be flouted by man from the time that Adam transgressed his law. Throughout all the centuries since that time the human race has been in rebellion against him; but he does not intend this situation to continue forever. The words of our Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done,” indicate that it is God’s purpose to reestablish his will in the hearts and lives of men. It is to make way for this kingdom that the present evil world is now being destroyed.

It will require the entire thousand years of Christ’s kingdom to establish divine authority in every respect. Paul wrote that Christ “must reign” until all “enemies” are put under his feet, and that the “last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (I Cor. 15:25,26) Among the first enemies to be destroyed are the selfish and unrighteous institutions of Satan’s world. This is already beginning to be accomplished, and the subduing and destruction of the enemies of God and of righteousness will continue until death itself, man’s greatest enemy, is destroyed.

Then God’s name will be fully exalted in the earth. Paul explains that the task of putting down insubordination to divine rule was to be accomplished by Christ, and through his kingdom agencies. He indicates that when this is fully accomplished, Christ himself will become subject to his Father, “that God may be all in all.” (I Cor. 15:25-28) Only then will the prayer, “Thy will be done,” be fully answered. But we can thank God that the conditions which are now so distressing to the world, causing fear to fill the hearts of the people everywhere, are, to those who understand the plan of God, a token that the Lord is no longer refraining himself from interfering in the affairs of men. His ‘jealousy’ against sin and a sinful world is already ‘devouring’ the symbolic earth, and soon, through the Messianic Kingdom, divine authority and power will be manifested in terms of life-giving blessings.

After assuring us of his intention to devour the whole earth with the fire of his jealousy, the Lord adds, “Then will I turn to the people a pure language [or message of truth], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” (Zeph. 3:9) This again indicate the full extent to which the Lord’s name and authority will be exalted in the earth following the complete collapse of this present evil world.

As we enter the New Year, it is with increasing evidence that the time when the Lord will speak peace to the nations is near. May this assurance fill our hearts with comfort and keep out the fear which is everywhere so prevalent. Entering 1994, armed with the strength of this assurance, may it be with a greater determination than ever before to seek first the kingdom of God, and to tell the whole world the blessed tidings of that kingdom, that it will soon be manifested in power and great glory, to the everlasting joy of all who will obey its righteous laws.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |