“Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Her held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” Exodus 17:8-13
When we were living in Hawaii it was part of our daily routine to gather with the neighbors on the shore and watch the sunset. Every evening. It was just part of the rhythm of life and I seldom missed it. Here’s a slideshow of some of those spectacular Hawaiian sunsets to whet your appetite.
My husband, on the other hand is an early riser and is quite familiar with the phenomenon called sunrise. I have to admit that the few times I have dragged myself out of bed to witness this display have been wonderful to behold. Here’s a much, much shorter slideshow just to prove how seldom it happens.
Now the point I want to make is this: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!” (Psalm 113:3)
I love how our reading in Exodus 17:8-16 gives us ample reason to praise His name. Was it really Moses’ puny arms that were turning the tides of battle? No! Was it the strength of the rock upon which he rested? Or the brothers on either side of him who held his hands steady? No! It was the Lord! That’s why the alter Moses built was called “The Lord is My Banner.” It is the Lord who fought the battle till the sun went down. And the Lord who won the victory.
And Hezekiah. This king was sick to the point of death. But he cries out to the Lord to remember him. What kind of God was Hezekiah crying out to? Don’t you think it’s interesting that the sign of lengthened longevity the Lord gives is a celestial one? God literally turns back the clock. The sun goes backward on the sundial and Hezekiah isn’t just granted days or weeks or months. He’s granted 15 more years! Of course the One who determines the rising and the setting of the sun can determine a man’s length of days!
Next time you’re watching a sunrise or a sunset have Psalm 65 at your fingertips. Here are just a few reasons listed in those passages to be praising the name of our Lord from the rising of the sun to it’s setting:
- He hears our prayer
- He atones for our transgression
- He chooses us and brings us near to dwell in His courts
- He satisfies us with the goodness of His house and the holiness of His temple
- He answers us with awesome, righteous deed
- He is the God of our salvation
- He is the hope of the ends of the earth
- He made the mountains by His strength
- He stills the waves
- He stills the tumult of the peoples
- He makes the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy!
- He waters and enriches the earth
- He prepares, provides, waters and blesses the growth of grain
- He crowns the year with His bounty
Isn’t it just reasonable to conclude from that list that God loves us? I find it remarkable then, that in Malachi 1 when the Lord says to Israel, “I have loved you,” their response is “How?” It seems that the Lord could have just pulled Psalm 65 out of His back pocket and read them the above list. Or He could have simply pointed to the sun in its course as evidence, or the fact that they were alive. It seems an ignorant question, right? “How have you loved us?” But how does God choose to answer them? “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.” What? I don’t remember that one listed in The 5 Love Languages. Is God really saying that the way He’s shown His love for Jacob is by hating Esau? That’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around.
But that’s not the only dumb question the Israelites ask. Let’s read further to verses 6 and 7. “How have we despised your name?” “How have we polluted you?” And God answers with a list. Which they “snort at” and conclude in verse 13, “What a weariness this is.”
Oh friend. Has that been the attitude of your own heart? It has been of mine. Out of God’s great love for me, He has chosen me to come near and dwell in His courts to be part of a holy priesthood. And yet sometimes, I “snort” and find the worship of my Father, Master, and King a wearisome task. May it not be! “For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
Go back to that slide show. Better yet, step outside sometime and watch a sunrise or sunset with Psalm 65 in your hand. And think of Hezekiah on his deathbed. The sun was going down and it stopped and went backward. And Hezekiah lived. The same God who causes the sun to rise and set on the righteous and the ungodly has your life and breath in His hand. And He loves you. That’s nothing to snort at friends. That’s reason for worship!
“From the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)