God’s Word for You
Psalm 22:29-31 It is finished
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, April 9, 2023
29 All the rich of the earth will eat and bow down;
all who go down to the dust will bow before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Descendants will serve him;
People will tell about the Lord to coming generations,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people not yet born,
that he has accomplished it.
No one bows down before a dead man. There might be a moment of silence, a speech at his grave about his accomplishments, but no one worships a man who has died. These verses teach us the resurrection of Jesus. David is proclaiming the glories of the Lord, and we are delighted to take up his words and apply them to the risen Christ. Three groups are shown here worshiping Jesus, the one who died but who rose again. These groups of worshipers are constantly changing, yet they remain constant from generation to generation. As Paul proclaims: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).
First: The dead worship Christ. “All who go down to the dust will bow before him.” There are of course those dead who have gone to hell on account of their unbelief, for only unbelief damns (Mark 16:16), and their respect is not worship but terror. Yet their knees will still bow before him because they are subject to him. More importantly, all who have already been taken into heaven praise him and worship him. That heavenly choir, gathered around the first human soul in heaven, our brother Abel, those spirits are filled with joy, and happily pour out their joy in praise to Christ forever. Eve is forever reunited with the child who was taken from her, because this reunion is one of the great reunions of Paradise: the reunion of believers with their loved ones forevermore.
Second: The living worship Christ: “People will tell about the Lord.” The task of those in the world in any and every generation is to strengthen the faith given to them in baptism through regular worship and study of God’s holy word, and to pass along their faith to their children and to those who do not yet know Jesus. The task of each generation is to raise up and train a new generation of pastors and teachers who will go into the world and guide the saints, open the Scriptures for them, and proclaim the risen Jesus. Let our voices thrill to hear the brief Prayer of the Day in the first part of our church services, where we so often hear the words: “...who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” The minister’s voice should soar when he speaks those words, a confession of faith to God the Father that we believe and delight that Jesus lives!
Third: Those not yet born will worship Christ: “proclaim his deliverance to a people not yet born.” The church of God will not collapse, fail, or be ground into dust. The church of God, the Holy Christian church, will remain to the end of days. There is a mistaken notion that there will one day be a mass conversion, but the Bible does not teach this. Rather, the church grows through the means of grace (the gospel in the word and in the sacraments, John 3:5; Acts 2:41). Sometimes this growth is slow and steady, sometimes rapid, as if the fish are jumping into the boat. But the church will continue to grow and nurture God’s people until judgment day comes. Therefore even if the world persecutes the church to the point where no visible church buildings or gatherings would be seen any longer (Holy Spirit, defend your church from such terrible times!), there will always be some, a remnant who will remain until the very end. There will be believers who will see him come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. They will see him descend in glory “in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).
Therefore we proclaim him. The message is always the same: “He has accomplished it.” The single Hebrew word that ends this Psalm is the very simplest of verbs, in the very simplest of forms; the form you would look up in the dictionary. For ‘asah means “he did” or “he has done (it),” It is the same word Moses used in Genesis 2:2 when God “rested from doing all that he had done.” It is the word that summarizes what the Kings of Israel and Judah accomplished, “As for the other events of this king’s reign, and ‘what he did…’” (2 Kings 1:18). And it is the word here for what Christ accomplished and completed on the cross. Jesus summarized it with the words: “It is finished” (John 19:30). He has done it. He has completed his work on the cross. And the debt of our sins is paid: for all sins, for all mankind, forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith