Heaven Settled God's Law - Psalm 119:89-96
Charles J. Aebi
“Heaven Settled God’s Law,” is the theme of the Lamed stanza of Psalm 119, and the whole of Psalm 119 is “The Law of the LORD.” The law meant in Psalm 119 was the Torah, the law of Moses, but the principle of the law as binding on God’s people is equally true of the New Testament law. Some object to applying the word “law” to God’s word in the New Testament. They insist that grace excludes all law. It strikes me that for a Christian to reject the word of God or Christ as law, is to rebel against the LORD. Paul said, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). James called the word of Christ “the perfect law of liberty” and said it would be the standard by which we will be judged (James 1:25; 2:12). Perhaps those who do not want to think of Christ’s word as law do not take it seriously as binding on them, but Jesus Himself said in John 12:48 that His word will be the standard of judgment.
Psalm 119:89 says God’s word is settled in heaven forever, a fact that is reinforced in verses 90-91. That was true of the law of Moses; how much more applicable is it of the law of Christ? All earthly monuments, like the Sphinx and Mt. Rushmore, will decay, but one thing that will not is the word of God, which will not pass away even when heaven and earth do (Matthew 24:35). Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-8, which contrasts both flesh and grass with the word of God, which he identifies as the gospel: “‘All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
The point of verses 90-91 is that God’s natural laws, like his word, are certain. The universe stands because God's word or law ordained or established it and keeps it functioning. God spoke it into existence: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Psalm 119:90 refers to God’s establishing of the earth, and verse 91 expands this by its use of they to include the heavens (sun, moon, stars) and the natural laws by which God maintains the physical universe. Earth’s processes endure because of God’s faithfulness (verse 90); His natural laws work reliably. If you drop an object, it falls down, not up; gravity is faithful because God ordained and governs it. When water gets below 32° F it freezes, or above 212° F it boils. God’s natural laws work reliably because God is faithful and keeps His word in the area of nature just as He will in the spiritual realm. To think we can ignore God’s word and escape consequences is like jumping off a cliff and expecting not to fall to the ground below. We would do well to heed God’s word as well as His natural laws, for disregarding the word will have consequences much more serious than ignoring God’s natural laws (or trying unsuccessfully to do so).
God’s word is settled in heaven—firmly, unalterably fixed there as Law. Whatever the inspired apostles bound on earth had already been firmly fixed as law in heaven (Matthew 16:19, NASB, and NKJV footnote). Thus when Peter said, “Repent and be baptized . . . ,” he was just repeating what already had been recorded in heaven as God’s law. Also, when the inspired speakers at the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15 said one did not have to be circumcised, they only loosed what God had already loosed in heaven. God’s word was firmly fixed or settled or bound or made law in heaven before it was spoken on earth as inspired by the Holy Spirit. What the apostles said was already God’s law before they said it, even when that was the first time it was spoken on earth. What Paul wrote was the command of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37). God’s law is settled in heaven, and we may not change it in any way (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19). -2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784. firstname.lastname@example.org
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