June 16, 2024 . . .“Bible promises: As far as the east is from the west” Psalm 103:12

June 16, 2024 . . .“Bible promises: As far as the east is from the west” Psalm 103:12

June 16, 2024

“Bible promises: As far as the east is from the west”

Psalm 103:12

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Born in May of 1792, Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis was a French scientist, mathematician, and mechanical engineer. He passed his college entrance exam when he was only sixteen, and soon became a tutor for the Polytechnic Institute of Paris. In 1829, at the age of thirty-seven, he published a book called Calculation of the Effect of Machines, the same year that he became a professor at Paris’ Central School of Science and Engineering. Scientists feel his impact on meteorology, (that’s weather forecasting), oceanography, and physics even today.

And as he studied those two forces of energy and motion, he discovered that different parts of the earth are moving at different speeds, and he discovered that the farther you go from the equator, the slower you move.

So what’s it really mean? It’s pretty amazing if you think about it!

Imagine if you had a bowl of water just north of the equator. Which way would it drain? Counter-clockwise, of course! That’s what it always does in the northern hemisphere. But what if you had a bowl of water just south of the equator. Which way would it drain? Clockwise, of course!

(And, in case you were wondering, if you’re directly on the equator, guess which way the water drains? It drains straight down!)

Or how about hurricanes? Which way do they spin north of the equator? Counter-clockwise, of course! And which way do they spin south of the equator? Clockwise, of course!

Thanks to Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis and his understanding of energy and motion, today we call it the “Coriolis Effect.”

As long as we’re at it, do you know some other things that are different between the northern and southern hemispheres?

There are quite a lot of things, if you think about it! The climates are different, the seasons are different, the time zones are different, and the constellations are different.

And the flora and fauna--plants and animals--are different too! For example, if you want to see a kangaroo, a kiwi, (the bird, not the fruit!), a platypus, or a penguin, you’ll either have to visit Australia, Antarctica, or your local zoo!

Things are different between the north and the south. And, as you can imagine, they’re even more different between the east and west. At least that’s what the Bible says!

I’ll read the words of Psalm 103. It’s where David writes: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).

And later he writes: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11-13).

As you probably already know, the book of Psalms is truly one of the most remarkable books of all! It’s a collection of 150 songs that not only celebrate the history of the nation of Israel, they pronounce judgment on those who set themselves up as enemies of God, and point to the coming Messiah. And while some of the psalms are filled with nothing but trouble and sorrow, others are filled with thanksgiving and praise.

And Psalm 103 is one of them. As a matter of fact, Psalm 103 has even been called the “Mt. Everest” of the praise psalms, because it stands so tall above the rest.

If you’d look closely, you’d see that among its twenty-two verses, there is no mention at all of foes, fears, threats, or enemies. There are no requests and no complaints, and not even a hint of sadness or disappointment. Instead, it’s one long song of pure, thankful, joy-filled, overflowing praise.

Even more, you might find it interesting to know that the first verse of this psalm, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” stands at the very center of the Old Testament! You could start counting forward from the very first verse in Genesis, and backward from the very last verse in Malachi, and you would end up here in Psalm 103, verse 1. It’s as if to say that, just as there’s a song of praise at the heart and center of God’s revelation, so our Christian lives should be filled with praise.

Psalm 103 is what Spurgeon called, “The apple tree among the trees of the wood, its golden fruit…ripened in the full sunshine of mercy.” And he wrote: “There is too much in the psalm for a thousand pens to write…It’s a Bible in itself, and it might alone almost suffice for the hymnbook of the church.” Another commentator, John Stevenson, wrote: “In this psalm, David touches every chord of his harp and heart…and pours forth a spontaneous melody of sweetest sound and purest praise.”

And it all begins with this: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!”

Notice, if you would, just how it begins--”Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Then verse 20--”Bless the Lord, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His Word.” Verse 21: “Bless the Lord, all His hosts.” And verse 22: “Bless the Lord, all His works.” Then finally at the end, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

It’s a song that begins as a quiet “pianissimo,”--”My soul”--then crescendos to a loud “fortissimo,” a song of saints and of angels and of all creation. Then it ends again with a quiet “My soul.” And with that, David seems to say that everyone and everything should join in this glorious song of praise, but let it begin and end with me.

You know, if we could have a glimpse into heaven today, we’d be astonished at its music. We can only imagine the sound of heaven’s praise.

But you know what is the best and most beautiful song of all? It’s the song we sing. It’s our redeemed and forgiven chorus of praise.

And what do we sing? David writes in verse 10: “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).

Notice it doesn’t say as far as the north is from the south. Instead, it says, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

Why does it matter? Because if you were to go north for a while, at some point, you’d come to the end of north, and start to go south. And if you were to go south, at some point, you’d come to the end of south, and start to go north.

But you can’t do that with east and west. In fact, you could circle the earth a thousand times, and you’d never find a place where east meets west.

Let me put it like this. Suppose you were to hop on a plane in Minneapolis, fly all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, and then land in Lisbon, Portugal. Then you rented a car, and drove across Europe till you came to the edge of the Black Sea. Then you hopped onto a freighter that took you through the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and on through the Indian Ocean. From there, you could catch a flight to Singapore, then travel south to Perth, Australia, where you could catch a ride across the Outback, eventually arriving in Sydney, where you could join a passenger ship heading for Easter Island.

From there, you could fly to Chile and take a Jeep all the way north to Vancouver, British Columbia. Then you could take a train across Canada until you finally made it back home again.

Now besides having made it completely around the globe, what did you prove? You proved that no matter how far east you went, you never found west.

And if that’s not enough for you, consider the words, “As high as the heavens are above the earth” (Psalm 103:11).

How far are the heavens above the earth? The latest NASA is telling us is that if you were to hop in a rocket and travel as fast as man can go, you could reach the edge of the known universe in right about 225 trillion years. But since they also say that the universe is expanding, by the time you’d get there, it would probably take you another 225 trillion more.

You could go as far as you can go. You could go as fast as you can go. But when you’ve gone that far and that fast, God’s love goes further still. You’ll never reach the end of it. It’s greater, vaster, larger, deeper, longer, broader, and bigger than even the universe itself!

No wonder David couldn’t help but sing: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1).

Now I don’t know about you, (to each his own, really!), but forty years ago, back in the 1980s, people were crazy about pigs! For whatever reason, some paid thousands of dollars just to own one of those exotic house pets imported from Vietnam. And why not? After all, their breeders claimed that they were smarter than the average pig and would grow to a weight of only forty pounds.

The only problem was, the breeders were half right. The pigs were smart. You could walk them on a leash, teach them to do tricks, and even use a litter box!

But about that forty pound thing? Well, let’s just say they tended to grow to not forty pounds, but more like three hundred pounds and become quite aggressive!

So what do you do with a pig you don’t want anymore?

Since a pig roast was simply out of the question, fortunately, a man named Dale Riffle came to the rescue. For just as soon as someone gave him one of those pigs, he fell in love with it. And since Rufus, (that’s the pig’s name), never learned to use its litter box and developed a craving for carpets, wallpaper, and drywall, Riffle sold his suburban home and moved out to a farm in West Virginia. Then he started taking in other unwanted pigs. And before long, he and his 180 pigs were living in hog heaven!

As Riffle himself said, “I think we’re all put on earth for some reason, and I guess pigs are my lot in life.”

Now you might think that’s amazing, but let me tell you something even more amazing! Out of His impossible, incomprehensible, unfathomable love for us, our infinite, perfectly holy, majestic, awesome God became one of us, to live with us, and to die for us. And He redeemed us lost and condemned creatures, purchased and won us, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.

Why? That we might be His own.

And that’s a promise!

We thank You, Father, for the incredible, remarkable gifts You give, especially for our faith in Jesus Christ. Bless us, O Lord, that we may faithfully and rightly bless Your holy name, for Jesus’ sake. Amen