Psalm 98 (Pentecost 5 - VBS)

Sunday June 27th, 2021

Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr

Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text for today is from Psalm 98.

Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that all we have, our lives, our material goods, and our hope and salvation come from you. You provide what is impossible for us, our salvation. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:

“He has done marvelous things!” (Psalm 98:1). “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!” The psalmist sings because the Lord has done marvels. The Lord has done wonders.

The deeds of which the psalmist prays are marvelous and wonderful precisely because the Lord has done them. The marvels and wonders of man all show themselves to be quite insignificant when compared to what the Lord has done.

The ancient world was said to have seven wonders, and surely those marvels were impressive to behold. But no gardens planted by man in Babylon could compare with the forests planted by the Lord across the globe.

No lighthouse built by human hands in Alexandria can shine brighter than the sun the Lord placed in the heavens. And of course, only the marvels made by the Lord endure forever.

Six of the seven ancient wonders have been destroyed, and even those pyramids in Egypt, as marvelous as they are, cannot compare to the wonders the Lord has worked. “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”

But it isn’t enough for the Lord to do a marvelous thing that makes you stop in your tracks and say, “Whoa.” It isn’t enough for the Lord to do something so wonderful that it takes your breath away.

After all, terribly destructive earthquakes will stop you in your tracks and leave you saying, “Whoa.” Devastating wildfires will take your breath away.

The marvelous things that the Lord has done certainly must be more than cheap parlor tricks, but they must also be even more than impressive feats of strength.

Take, for example, the account of the Lord’s appearance on Mount Sinai from the Book of Exodus. “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. . . . Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire.

The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Exodus 19:16, 18). There’s a marvel that the Lord has done. But how did Israel respond to that wonder?

“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die’” (Exodus 20:18–19).

Clearly, the marvelous things the Lord has done must be more than displays of raw power. If raw power is all that the Lord has for us in His marvelous deeds, then we are in trouble, to be sure.

Think of the prophet Isaiah. In the year that King Uzziah died, he saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, high and lifted up. The train of the Lord’s robe filled the temple as the mighty seraphim sang His praises: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”

The foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

What was the prophet’s reaction upon seeing God Himself in His holy temple? “Woe is me!” Isaiah cried out. “For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” [Isaiah 6:1–5]

Isaiah’s reaction to the Lord was not wrong. In fact, this is the response that any sinner must have to the Lord’s marvelous deeds. When we recognize the wonder God has done in His creation, we must mourn over the ways our sin has corrupted it.

When we marvel at the Lord’s goodness in giving His Law on Mount Sinai, we must bow our heads in confession over the ways we have broken it.

You have been greedy for things that you do not need. I have let anger fester in my heart against others. You have neglected the Lord’s Word during the week. I have been lacking in prayer.

We have feared, loved, and trusted in things and people more than the one true God. We are sinners, and all sinners deserve is the terrifying appearance of the Lord in wrath and fury. That is how the marvels and wonders of the Lord ought to show themselves against sinners.

That is what makes the praises of Psalm 98 so, well, marvelous. We’ve only heard the first two lines so far. But the psalmist continues to expound upon the marvelous things the Lord has done.

Listen to this: “His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. The Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:1–3). The Lord’s wonders, the Lord’s marvelous deeds, certainly aren’t cheap parlor tricks, and they are more than just raw acts of power.

The Lord’s marvelous deeds are His acts of salvation for sinners. That truth is at the heart of each of the accounts from God’s Word that have been a part of Vacation Bible School this past week.

Jesus’ first miracle of changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana wasn’t simply a cool thing you might wish He’d do at your next party. Jesus’ marvelous deed at Cana shows that Jesus is the God who cares about our ordinary, everyday needs.

When Jesus walked on water, He wasn’t simply displaying His incredible divine power. Jesus’ marvelous deed on the Sea of Galilee shows that Jesus draws near to be with His people at all times.

When Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood and raised Jairus’s daughter from death, He wasn’t simply showing off. Jesus’ marvelous deed on the road and in Jairus’s home shows that Jesus heals every one of His daughters and sons.

When Jesus appeared in the room with His disciples after His resurrection, He wasn’t trying to impress them with His ability to go through walls. Jesus’ marvelous deed after His resurrection shows that He is our only Savior from sin, the only One who can give us life.

When Jesus converted Paul, He wasn’t trying to get back at one of His greatest enemies. Jesus’ marvelous deed on the road to Damascus shows that He came to save the worst of sinners and send His people to tell others about Him.

We didn’t learn these marvelous deeds to see raw displays of Jesus’ power; that’s not why He did them. Jesus accomplishes His marvelous deeds to save sinners—to save me, to save you.

That is the truly impossible thing God has done. Far more difficult than changing water into wine or walking on water was the matter of saving sinners. Jesus’ disciples asked Him at one point: “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Jesus has done this impossible task through His death on the cross.

Perhaps it seems strange to think of Jesus’ death as a marvelous deed. What’s so marvelous and wonderful about Jesus’ death, particularly given how bloody and violent His death on the cross was?

Jesus’ death is marvelous because He suffered for our sins and died in our place. Jesus’ death is wonderful because He did it willingly and gladly to save us poor sinners.

Jesus’ death is marvelous because through it, God has done the impossible. He has saved us sinners. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22– 23).

Look and see the greatest marvel of all. Death could not hold Jesus. On the third day, the Father raised Jesus to never-ending life. “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”

God has done the impossible. He has saved us sinners. He continues to work His marvelous deeds for us here and now.

When you hear the Holy Absolution spoken by your pastor in the stead and by the command of Christ, the Lord is doing a marvelous thing for you.

When you daily remember the promise made to you in the water and Word of Holy Baptism, the Lord is doing a marvelous thing for you.

When you receive into your mouth the true body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord is doing a marvelous thing for you.

These are not displays of raw power. In fact, they don’t look that powerful or that marvelous at all. Yet because the Lord has promised, truly these are His marvelous deeds to deliver the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to you right here and right now.

Now we join in the psalmist’s new song. We sing to the Lord for His marvelous deeds. His works lead us to marvel far more than any works of man.

His deeds lead us to wonder far more than anything human hands have done. His works are far more important and far more impressive than anything we have seen or witnessed.

But this is not about raw power and might. This is the Lord who has accomplished the impossible: He has saved us sinners. “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!” In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.