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Sunday, August 31, 2003

14 - Anxiety vs. Relaxation

Psalm 55:12 & 1 Peter 5:7 by Robert Dean
Series:3rd John (2003)
Duration:56 mins 39 secs

Anxiety vs. Relaxation; Psalm 55:12; 1Peter 5:7

Psalm 55:22 NASB "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken [ultimately destroyed]."

The verse begins with a qal imperfect used as an imperative from the Hebrew verb shalach, meaning to cast or to throw something. It is used 127 times in the Old Testament and the word has the idea of physically taking something and heaving it or throwing it in a particular direction. It came to be used figuratively of taking a problem and throwing it on the Lord. It is an extremely vivid and dramatic term. It means to take the problem we have in life, whatever it is, no matter how small, and cast it upon the Lord. He is the one who wants to carry the burden, He does not want that burden to be on our shoulders. The word "burden" is a very interesting word that has been chosen by God the Holy Spirit and it emphasises a couple of different ideas. It is from the Hebrew noun yehab, and there are two ideas embedded in that word. The first is the idea of lot, like one who casts lots, your lot or situation in life, what happens in certain events in life. The other idea present is the idea of a gift, something that has been given to you. When we look at adversity in our life this word emphasises the providential care of God. Something else that is interesting about this word is that it is used in context in an inter-testamental apocryphal book where the idea of this burden or lot is associated with sleeplessness. The idea is of something that keeps us awake at night, something that concerns and weighs on us and agitates us mentally. But it also has this other idea of a gift, and the idea here of the gift is that God in His providence controls history and he is in control of the details of our life. Every detail that comes into our life, whether good or bad, comes under the providential care of God. He is the one who is in charge of history and He is the one who has told us that He is working in the life of every single believer to bring us to maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ. God also knows exactly what tests He needs to bring into each of our lives and he tailor-makes every test just for us individually.

The doctrine of God's Providence

1.  God's providence is a function of His sovereignty.

2.  Providence emphasises God's control of the course of history, which includes both the good and the evil. In His sovereignty He permits evil to exist for a time for a particular function.

3.  Providence means that our lives and the events in our lives are not determined by chance, fate or luck. It means that God overrules and overrides everything and that there is a personal God who is working all things according to His plan.

4.  Providence is therefore related to the character of God. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." There is a promise and the promise includes within it a clear statement in the first clause. There is no test, no adversity or prosperity, that happens in our life but that which is common to man. It is one that affects everyone. It may not be exact in every detail but it is one that is common to humanity. God is faithful, so right there we go to the essence of God which here applies to both His sovereignty and His immutability. God never changes, so He is always faithful. He controls human history, the details of our lives, so that we will not be tested in a way that is beyond our ability and He is always faithful. The way to escape is not a way to avoid it, it is way to escape that we can endure it. God is going to give us the doctrine necessary, and He will not take us through tests until we have the doctrine necessary.

5.  The doctrine of God's providence means that we can relax in the midst of our adversity knowing that God is in control. He has provided for the situation through Bible doctrine. Doctrine gives all the information we need to handle the situation. The result of slinging our situations on God is that He is going to sustain us. An example of sustenance: Elijah in 1 Kings 17. 

 1 Peter 5:7 NASB "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." As soon as we read that we ought to recognise that we have to learn something about the context. The word "casting" is the root word epiripto [e)piriptw], the same word that the translators of the LXX used to translate shalach in Psalm 55:22. So it has that same sense of throwing or casting something upon God. Furthermore, the syntax tells us it is an aorist active participle, it doesn't have an article with it, it tells us it is an adverbial participle of some kind, and it should be an adverbial participle of manner or means. That means we have to go to the context of 1 Peter chapter five in order to understand what Peter is really getting at; there is a context for that promise. The participle is going to modify the main verb which we find in verse 6: "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." There we have an aorist active imperative of the Greek verb tapeinoo [tapeinow] which has the idea of humility and even more so of the idea of obedience to authority or authority orientation. It has the idea of dependency. How do we humble ourselves? By casting all our care upon Him. This tells us that not casting is arrogance. What is God's relationship to the arrogant? He is antagonistic to the arrogant, but He gives grace to the humble.

The second thing that we see here is that the rationale for casting care upon God is because He cares for us. He is concerned about us and this is a function of His love for the believer. He cares for every detail in the life of the believer. The word translated "care" is a Greek noun merimna [merimna] and it relates to worries or anxieties and over-concern for the details of life. What happens is that we become so concerned with the details of life that they become a distraction to our relationship to God and to our spiritual growth. In fact there are various warnings in Scripture about this. In Matthew chapter 13 in the parable of the sower the third type of soil was where the seed is overcome by the thorns. Matthew 13:22 NASB "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." So worry and fear destroy the spiritual life.