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James M. Boice: The Lord Almighty is With Us

10 Nov

“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” – Psalm 46:11

The conclusion and proper application of Psalm 46 is this statement in verse 11. Who is he, this God who is his people’s refuge? The answer is given in the two names of God in this refrain.

First, he is “the Lord Almighty.” The words are literally “the Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth).” “Hosts” refers to the armies of Israel, on the one hand, and to the angelic armies of God, on the other. This makes the name especially apt in this psalm, since the psalm is based on a historical deliverance of the people from earthly armies, whatever their origin, and also looks forward to a final deliverance when God will subdue the hostile forces of rebellious man forever. We have a wonderful insight into the power of God’s hosts in the story of Elisha at Dothan. The city of Dothan had been surrounded by the armies of Ben-Hadad of Syria in an attempt to capture Elisha, and they were discovered early in the morning by Elisha’s young servant. When he saw the soldiers and chariots positioned around the city, he rushed back inside and cried out to Elisha, saying, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15). Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant to see the heavenly hosts protecting him, and when God did, the servant saw that the hills were filled with horses and chariots of fire around Elisha. Elisha reminded his servant that “Those who are with us are greater than those who are with them” (v. 16).

Second, God is the God of Jacob. Jacob was the third of the three Jewish patriarchs and the least outstanding of the three. He was a schemer, as his name implies. It took him a lifetime to learn to trust God. Yet the God of Abraham was his God no less than he was the God of Abraham. This is your God too, if you have come to him through faith in Jesus Christ. And if he is your God, then he is with you at all times, which is what this important couplet says. On the day he died, John Wesley had already nearly lost his voice and could be understood only with difficulty. But at the last with all the strength he could summon, Wesley suddenly called out, “The best of all is, God is with us.” Then, raising his hand slightly and waving it in triumph, he exclaimed again with thrilling effect, “The best of all is, God is with us.” Is the Lord Almighty with you? Is the God of Jacob your refuge? Make sure that he is. The storms of life will come, and the greatest storm of all will be the final judgment. Make Christ your refuge now, while there is still time.

 About Dr. James Montgomery Boice

*Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice – previous to Dr. Philip Graham Ryken (Currently the President at Wheaton College). Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.

James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian FaithLiving by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.

He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.

Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”

His wife, Linda, and three daughters survive Dr. Boice. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same. The article above was adapted from Boice’s commentary on the Pslams.

 

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