‘let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.’ (Psalm 98:9 NIV)
The last judgment can strike fear into people, especially if they are they are thinking about a post-apocalyptic world where God wreaks vengeance on the disobedient. Perhaps our perspective of the last judgment will alter when we realise that the judge of the earth is none other than the Saviour of the world who included all of humanity in his death
(John 5:22). This judge gave forgiveness, dispensed grace, and condemned sin and death not humanity
Psalm 98 is known as the Cantate Domino, meaning ‘sing to the Lord’ and calls for a new song due to God’s victory
(Psalm 98:1). This victory is expressed by the word ‘salvation’ which dominates the opening stanza: ‘his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him’
‘The LORD has made his salvation known’ (Psalm 98:2),
‘all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God’ (Psalm 98:3). This salvation/victory for the entire world is wholly supernatural, a single-handed exploit of the Lord and is grounded in who God is,
‘love’ (Psalm 98:3).
In response to the
‘marvellous things’ God has done
(Psalm 98:1) there is a massive summons to praise. The
‘whole earth’ is invited to praise him, bursting into singing, accompanied by music from all types of instruments. Instead of fear there are shouts of joy before the Lord, the King
Not to be outdone all of creation joins in the praise: The seas resound, rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy
(Psalm 98:7-8). The whole earth is full of God’s glory. These verses are not just expressive poetry; it makes the point which Paul expounds in
Romans 8:21 ‘that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.’ Nature will not come into its own until humanity, its proper overseer, is ruled in righteousness and equity.
This is what God will do through Jesus:
‘for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.’ (Psalm 98:9). This is the Christian hope at the Last Judgment. The kingship of Jesus will faithfully administer righteousness and fairness rooted in his love.
Because Jesus comes to judge the earth in this way the world will be fully turned in a new direction and we will sing a new song of joy before the Lord.
May God speed that day!
Father we thank you that you are a God who loves righteous and equity, and that you have unfailing steadfast love for all of your creation. May we join with all nature in manifold witness to your great faithfulness, mercy and love,
Have a good week praising God.