“In the Lord I take refuge;how can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; The Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur, and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
– Psalm 11 –
You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.
The Center for Garden State Families would like to continue our series on Worldview by turning to the Word of God in these troubling times. Psalm 11, in many translations, is known as the Song of the Steadfast. We look at the words from Psalm 11:3, which says, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Today we see the foundations all around us being torn down in upheaval both politically and economically. Albert Barnes writes regarding the destruction of the foundations the following: “The reference is to the destruction of those things in a community, when the truth is no longer respected; when justice is no longer practiced; when fraud and violence have taken the place of honesty and honor; when error prevails; when a character for integrity and virtue affords no longer any security. This is supposed to be the case in the circumstances referred to in the Psalm, when there was no respect paid to truth and justice, and when the righteous, therefore, could find no security.”
In this Psalm, David’s faith in the Lord is being questioned by those around him, and he is being advised to “flee like a bird to your mountain.” How many of us have a small voice in our minds that is instructing us to flee? By that, it could mean not facing the reality we are living in or withdrawing from the Word of God, or we have a temptation in our heart to distrust God thinking we can rely on our own understanding to get through this “new normal” we find ourselves. Many of us are like David, and we are in fear because of an uncertain future. Many are wondering what further damage is in store to both the economy and employment. Matthew Henry gives us comfort when he comments on this Psalm by saying, “Those that truly fear God and serve him are welcome to put their trust in him. The psalmist, before he gives an account of his temptation to distrust God, records his resolution to trust in Him, as that by which he was resolved to live and die. The believer, though not terrified by his enemies, maybe tempted, by the fears of his friends, to desert his post or neglect his work. They perceive his danger, but not his security; they give him counsel that savors of worldly policy rather than of heavenly wisdom. The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. We are concerned to hold these fast against all temptations to unbelief, for believers would be undone if they had not God to go to, God to trust in, and future bliss to hope for. The prosperity of wicked people in their wicked, evil ways, and the straits and distresses which the best men are sometimes brought into, tried David’s faith.” David’s faith was tried. David was being demoralized by the pressures of wicked desires and evil ambitions all around him. Yet David triumphed because he trusted in the Lord’s Sovereignty over all things.
Now more than ever is the time that we must draw nearer to the Lord and the Foundation of His Principles that can never be destroyed. During this time of economic uncertainty, believers must turn their attention toward the Biblical Principles of Money Management, Stewardship, and the Dignity of Work and not the council of worldly policy that is not aligned with a Christian Worldview. It was the Christian faith that elevated man to economic dignity and freedom. It was the Christian faith and Worldview that created the middle class. Before the transformative power of Christianity, there were two classes of people; free men and slaves who did manual labor. Alvin Schmidt wrote in his book Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization; “Before Christians brought dignity to work and labor, there was not much of a middle class in the Greek or Roman cultures. People were either rich or poor, and the poor were commonly slaves. The Christian emphasis on everyone being required to work and work being honorable and God-pleasing had the effect of producing a class between the patricians (the wealthy) and the plebes (the poor).” Also, Alvin Schmidt writes, “The high value that Christianity assigned to work and manual labor received further support during the Reformation, especially from Martin Luther, who saw work not only as God-pleasing but also as a calling (vocation) to serve God.” “Work was not an end in itself but something the person did in everyday life to the glory of God and to the service of mankind.” “Luther saw work as the “Mask of God” (larvae Dei), meaning that God is in it, although hidden. So hidden is God in one’s work that unless the Christian thinks about it (and only the Christian, with the Spirit of God in him, can do so), he will have no awareness of God’s presence in his work. Given that God is hidden in one’s work, to the Christian, all work is of equal value.” Darrow L. Miller wrote in his book Life Work that “the Reformers of the Protestant movement recognized the importance of our economic lives as citizens of God’s kingdom.” Further, he states that “it was the Biblical Worldview taught by the Reformers that economic historians have recognized as a major factor in lifting whole nations out of poverty through the development of middle-class society. Through the new economies of Europe, multitudes were freed to live a life very different from that of the old indentured servants and serfs, to enjoy broader opportunities in their lives, and to have a significant effect on the life of the nation.”
Martin Luther 1483-1546
The idea of the “Mask of God” came from Martin Luther’s understanding of Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Because of man’s fallen sin nature, human beings cannot see God in his Transcendent nature and survive. Luther’s Theology extends to the mask of mercy, the mask of family, and the mask of evangelism. The Mask of God is the way God accomplishes His purposes for the world. Nothing is secular to God, for He uses it all to fulfill his grand love story for the world. It should now be evident that anything that stands in the way of employment, whether it be working on a pipeline or being a self-employed business owner, is a violation of our God-given nature to work and to be productive. It is our right to work that is part of our private property rights and individual freedom. Both are rooted in two of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not steal” and “You shall not covet.” Both assume that an individual has the right to acquire property and to do as he pleases at his discretion. Gene Veith summarizes Luther’s view: “When I go into a restaurant, the waitress who brings me my meal, the cook in the back who prepared it, the delivery men, the wholesalers, the workers in the food-processing factories, the butchers, the farmers, the ranchers, and everyone else in the economic food chain are all being used by God to “give me this day my daily bread.” This is the doctrine of vocation. God works through people, in their ordinary stations of life to which He has called them, to care for His creation. In this way, He cares for everyone Christian and non-Christian whom He has given life. [As Luther puts it,] vocations are “Masks of God.” On the surface, we see an ordinary human face, our mother, the doctor, the teacher, the waitress, our pastor, but, beneath the appearances, God is ministering to us through them. God is hidden in human vocations. The other side of the coin is that God is hidden in us. When we live out our callings as spouses, parents, children, employers, employees, citizens, and the rest, God is working through us. Even when we do not realize it, when we fulfill our callings, we too are Masks of God.” Over the last year, we have seen an insidious violation of private property rights by dictating how restaurant owners and other businesses may operate. This strikes against the “Mask of God,” disrupting the order of things both hidden and seen. Clearly, the “Mask of God” is far different than the ones required by men during a pandemic. The masks we find ourselves wearing are counterfeit. These masks are a mockery of the real Mask of God. Perhaps, these masks are a perversion of the real “Mask of God,” masking a hidden agenda for the Great Reset and the Feudalistic conquest of a few returning us to the days of free men versus slaves. Although these artificial masks abound, the Works of God continue. He is now a mask hidden behind a mask fulfilling all of His plans and purposes by taking a counterfeit mask and making it His own. For it is only the “Mask of God” that works through our labors whatever they may be, bringing Glory and Honor to His Kingdom.
In his book Ezekiel, Robert W. Jenson writesthe following: “In ancient drama, the actors brought the gods and heroes into the theatre by and as masks by which the actors hid and through which they spoke; within the ceremony the masks were dramatis personae. Martin Luther adduced this phenomenon, but reversed the relation of actors and masks. God brings the created heroes and villains of the temporal drama onto history’s stage as masks that hide him—for were he to appear barefaced creation would perish. Thus Nebuchadnezzar and his like are larvae Dei, God’s Masks—as indeed are all creatures in one way or another, and we masks truly are the personae of the drama; we are not puppets manipulated by someone distant from us. Yet behind us hides the Creator.” Although we are physically hidden behind literal masks, we are not puppets to men and their worldly policies. We are part of the Logos, which defines our calling in every one of us. Although we see the foundations around us crumbling, we must draw nearer to God and cling to His Precepts and Principles. Now is the time that we must look closely at the foundations of our own lives. Are they crumbling all around us? And if so, what sort of foundation have we built for ourselves. For without the foundations of God, nothing can withstand the storms of life. For those who keep His Covenants, He gives us confidence and strength in the Words of Psalm 145:14-16, “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” When our personal and economic lives are built on the foundation of the Word of God, we do not succumb to principalities and powers that sweep us away, for we are secure in Him. We must remember that both heroes and villains are that Masks of God playing their part in a grand Cosmic drama that will one day usher in the real Great Reset when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. May we all hear the words Well Done Good and Faithful Servant!
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
1 Corinthians 13