Lesson 14

The Meaning of the Judgment Today

(Psalms 73)
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Introduction: We come to our last lesson in the "1844 series." What have we learned? We learned that God revealed to Daniel (and all believers) how world events would play out through the end of human history. God shared the timing of the coming of Jesus. God shared how the gospel would be a message for everyone. God shared that He has an end-time judgment, and the standard for that judgment is righteousness by a meaningful faith. Do we want the world to end in judgment? Do you want to be judged? Let's finish up this series by diving into the topic of whether we want what God has revealed!

  1. Give Me Judgment or Not?


    1. Read Psalms 73:1. Is this statement true? Is it "sure" that God is good to those who are pure in heart?


    2. Read Psalms 73:2-3. Why do you think this fellow almost "fell down?" (He began to doubt the truth of Psalms 73:1. Maybe God is not so good to the faithful.)


      1. What caused doubt in this fellow's mind? (He saw that the arrogant were prosperous.)


      2. Have you seen this too? Do bad people do well?


      3. Notice that he "envied" the arrogant. Is that a violation of the Ten Commandments? (See Exodus 20:17.)


        1. Read 1 Peter 2:1. Is envy "okay?"


      4. If this fellow had not violated God's laws would he have had a problem with doubt?


      5. Notice that he also calls the wicked rich "arrogant." Why do you think he does that? (This probably arises in part from his envy. Why should they be rich and not me? They are "looking down on me" with their wealth.)


    3. Read Psalms 73:4-5. Is this true in your experience? (This might be the impression of someone looking in from the outside.)


      1. Let's read a few texts on this. Read Ecclesiastes 7:12, Ecclesiastes 10:19 and Proverbs 10:15. What does money and wealth do for you? (The Bible tells us that money is a source of protection from many problems.)


    4. Read Psalms 73:6. What does it mean to have pride as a necklace? (You are obviously proud. You wear it.)


      1. Do you think the problem only lies with the wicked rich here? Is envy speaking to us? (My read of this situation is that the writer envies money, thus he has a special "radar" for the pride of the rich.)


    5. So far, does there seem to be a problem with being rich? (It sounds good - even this Bible writer wants it because he is filled with envy.)


      1. There is a dark side to this wealth. Read again Psalms 73:6. Does committing violence come from being rich? (This could refer to unjust gain - but the Hebrew says "violence," and that is how most translators portray it.)


    6. Read Psalms 73:7-8. Do you think these traits come from being rich? Are they encouraged by having wealth? (This is not just envy speaking. If money gives you "the key" to most problems, then it promotes a feeling that you are above the rules that govern others. You are tempted to bend the rules to help yourself.)


    7. Read Psalms 73:9. What really makes the Psalmist mad? (They claim to be good people! (Or, they say that heaven does not matter because they are in charge.) The Psalmist envies them, he is upset with them because they are successful and wicked, and now they even claim to be good (or have no need to be good) - which was the Psalmist's basis to feel superior to them!)


    8. Read Psalms 73:10-11. Are the rich-wicked people popular? (Yes.)


      1. What is the effect on the general population for the wicked to be rich, happy, popular and (supposedly) righteous? (The regular people wonder if there is a God that is paying attention. "Does the Most High have knowledge?" Is our God alert to what is going on? Does it really matter how we live?)


    9. Read Psalms 73:12-14. What comparison is this writer making between his life and the life of the wicked? (They have it all good, he has it all bad.)


      1. Is it his lack of money which is the problem? (Most likely at least in part.)


    10. He mentioned before that his foot had almost slipped. Psalms 73:13 explains this. What is the reaction of this fellow? (He has been good for no reason.)


      1. My Bible has a note that the writer of this psalms is a fellow named Asaph. What do you think about Asaph?


      2. Has Asaph got a point?


      3. Simply put, Asaph is asking: "What good is it to have a God, and obey that God, if God is not going to reward you?"


        1. Do you agree with Asaph's point?


        2. Or, is Asaph just a twisted, envious "little" man who needs to go out and get a life and quit criticizing God?


    11. Read Psalms 73:15. Has Asaph voiced his feelings to anyone other than God? (It appears not. He believes that if he shared his thoughts with God's people, he would injure them.)


      1. What does this say about Asaph's character? (This puts him in a very good light. He is concerned about causing others to lose their faith and so he struggles in his own mind with his questions about God.)


      2. Is there a lesson in this for us? (It is certainly good not to harm the faith of others, but I think it is better to find someone who is strong in faith and share your questions about God with that person.)


  2. The Answer: Judgment


    1. Read Psalms 73:16-17. How is God's sanctuary the answer to what Asaph could not otherwise figure out? (The sanctuary is about God's plan to deal with sin. It presents the way of forgiveness and the way of judgment. Asaph is reminded by the sanctuary that a judgment is coming.)


      1. How does this answer fit our series of lessons this quarter? (Our lessons have been about the sweep of history ending in God's judgment.)


    2. Read Psalms 73:18-20. Why is this so good?


      1. What about Asaph and his envy? Shouldn't he be subject to judgment?


      2. Is Asaph, with his "little" sin of envy more righteous than the rich wicked who practice violence?(You want judgment for others, and not for yourself.)


      3. Based on our discussion last week, why do you think that sinful Asaph is saved, while the rich wicked are not? (He turns to God! All of Psalms 73 is a plea to God to make things right. The essence of righteousness by faith is not a perfect character, it is reliance on God!)


    3. Why is the judgment important to the plan of salvation? (We can have confidence that God will sort everything out in a judgment. We may find that life is unfair to us now. But if we cling to God, He has promised to make everything more than fair for his people.)


    4. Read Psalms 73:23-24. If God does not necessarily give us wealth and success here, what does He give? (He gives us His presence. Many years ago the secretary who worked with me gave me a picture of Jesus talking with a lawyer (or a businessman) and below it she put the words of Psalms 73:24. This hangs in my office today. God will guide those who rely on Him, who follow His counsel while here on earth, and he will ultimately take them to heaven!)


    5. Read Psalms 73:25-26. Friend, this is the key to the judgment. While things may not be perfect in your life, God promises to make everything right. He will destroy the wicked in judgment. He will save those who repent of their sins, and accept by faith Jesus' life and death in their place. Will you say, with Asaph, "Whom have I in heaven but You?" Jesus is in heaven right now as our High Priest acting on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary. Rely on Him, and not the "Little Horn" system of your own works, and you have eternal life!


  1. Next week: We start a new series of lessons on the book of Genesis.

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