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The Invitation

Christ, the only true God, invites us to himself.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "The Heart of Christ". See series.


We're starting a new series today called The Heart of Christ. Let's begin by looking at Psalm 96. Psalms are actually songs, and Psalm 96 is a song about singing a song:

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.

The whole planet is supposed to get involved in this song to the Lord. Notice that the word LORD is in all caps. This isn't a typo. This is how our English translators decided they would express something to us. The Hebrew word used here is actually the word Yahweh, which means "I Am That I Am," or "I Am the One Who Is." This is how God referred to himself to Moses through the burning bush. Using Yahweh or LORD is different than just saying God. It is the sacred name of God that he voiced to Moses. So we can read these verses as:

Sing to Yahweh a new song;
sing to the I Am, all the earth!
sing to the I Am the One Who Is, praise his name,
proclaim his salvation from day to day.

Yahweh is the only God.

This psalm calls the people of God to sing a song to God as he manifested himself to Moses—the great I Am. Why should we sing to Yahweh? The answer is in verse 4: "For great is the LORD"—the I Am—"and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods."

You've got to understand something. In the ancient world, there was god competition. Consider Egypt and the gods of Egypt for a moment. Each god had a different responsibility, and they all had to work together to make the world function. For example, Nut was the goddess of the heavens. Her husband was Geb, god of the earth. And Shu, Nut's father, was the god of the air. Shu had to hold up the sky to keep it from crashing into Earth. They each had authority over different things, and somehow they're all related. If you Google "ancient gods of Egypt," you will find over 28 major gods, and that's just the beginning. As you move from one dynasty of Pharaohs to the other, or as you move from upper Egypt to lower Egypt, these gods and goddesses meld and merge and split and divide and combine. It's truly dizzying. And this list all changes as you move past the Egyptian culture and get into Greek culture and gods. In Greek culture, it's Zeus who has authority to send rain to the earth. He holds the lightning in his hands. But if you're on a ship in a storm and you fear the ship might go under, you appeal to Poseidon, the god of the sea. If you wanted your crops to grow, particularly your grapes, in order to make wine, you might go to the temple of Dionysus. Like in Egypt, someone has authority over the earth, someone over the fields, someone over the sea, and so forth.

What happens with Yahweh is this: Monotheism. God says: No, no, no, I did it all. There's just one God. I have authority over everything. It's my world, and you are in it. This is the voice that Moses hears at the burning bush: "I Am the One Who Is. I Am That I Am. I am the one who has authority over heaven and authority over earth and authority over everything in between."

Verse 5 picks up this same thought: "For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD"—the I Am the One Who Is—"made the heavens." Another way we could translate that word for idols is nothings: "For all the gods of the peoples are nothings." Think about what an ancient idol is: Someone took a chunk of rock and chiseled it into the goddess Iris, for example, and then people bowed down to this chunk of rock. Someone took a block of wood and carved it into Baal, and people put their faces on the ground and stretched out their arms in worship to this block of wood. So Psalm 96:5 says that all the gods of the peoples are nothings. They are blocks of wood and chunks of rock and metal. But Yahweh, the One Who Is, made the heavens and everything beneath.

Let me take you someplace quickly. About 1,000 years before the time of Jesus, King Solomon builds a temple. The idea behind a temple in the ancient world is that the farther in you go, through the courtyards into the first room and the next room and so on, the closer and closer you get to the statue of the particular god whose temple it is. If you go into Solomon's temple, you go through the courtyard, and the first major room you enter is called the "holy place." After the holy place, you have the most holy of holy places, or the "holy of holies." It's there you're supposed to find the statue of your god, but in Solomon's temple you don't. Instead, you find this: the ark of the covenant. Ark means box, and covenant means binding agreement; it's the box of the binding agreement. There's not a statue of the God of Israel inside the ark. Instead, there are the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments begin, "You shall have no other gods before me." Why? Because there aren't any other gods. The second commandment is this: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God." And the third commandment: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain." He commands: Don't throw my name around as if it were nothing, because I am the Creator of heaven and earth. I have authority over heaven, and I have authority over you. Yahweh says to have no other gods because there are no other gods. The gods of the nations are nothings.

The Lord invites the nations to worship him.

Some people may interpret God's commands as too exclusive. But listen to this song about singing: it doesn't exclude; it invites. The door is not locked, but thrown wide open. It calls people to come in. This is where verse 7 picks up:

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!

I think the emphasis here might be on his: come into his courts!

But what you have here is an invitation to the family of nations. Those of you who are in Egypt and are worshiping Isis, ascribe to Yahweh the glory due his name! Those of you who are in Phoenicia and worship Baal, ascribe to the LORD—the I Am—his authority over heaven and earth! He invites you, and it is your duty.

Have you ever experienced someone at work knocking himself out to accomplish a project and someone else jumping in and taking the credit for it? Have you ever done that yourself? Remember the old adage: Success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan. Everyone wants credit for something successful, and no one wants to be associated with failure. There's something unjust about someone taking credit for what is not theirs. Something in your spirit rises up and says, "No, give credit where credit is truly due." This is precisely what Psalm 96 invites us—and the families of nations—to do: Give credit where credit is due. Don't be left out of this! The God Who Is invites you.

This series is called The Heart of Christ because Christ constantly invites us. He goes to get some water one day from a well, and there's a woman there who's been married over five times, and he invites her into conversation about where real life can be found. There's a tax collector named Matthew and another tax collector named Zacchaeus, and Jesus invites them into his company. Jesus constantly invites people: All who are weary and burdened and lost and beat up, I will give you rest. Come to me. It's an invitation, just as this Psalm is.

A crazy thing happens at the end of Psalm 96. The psalmist uses poetic language to try and pinpoint every corner of the created world. He hits the trees, the waves, the stars, the fields, the forest, and each of these natural elements are worshiping the I Am. In crashing, the waves worship; in blowing in the wind, the trees worship. They know who the Creator is. They know who is the God over all.

Listen to this language in verses 11-12:

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

The psalmist says that our world is God's world. It's his place, and everything in it was created by the I Am, the one who has authority over heaven and earth. We are invited to join creation—join the crashing waves, join the grain blowing in the fields, join them in giving God his due. Sing a new song to God, because he is worth it. He is worthy of praise.

Jesus is Lord of this world.

This series is not anchored in the psalms. It's anchored in the life and ministry of Jesus and how he invited people to himself. This psalm points to him. Have you ever noticed how outlandish some of Jesus' statements are? In John 8, Jesus is in an argument with the Jews, and it's heating up. They claim that Jesus is blaspheming when he says, "If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death," because Abraham, the Israelite patriarch, served God but died. The argument culminates when Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." Jesus claims his place as Yahweh. The people begin picking up stones to stone him to death, because Jesus has claimed equality with the LORD, the I Am.

Fast forward to the Crucifixion where Jesus' disciples—the men who had followed him for three years—are plunged into darkness. They didn't see his death coming. Then you have the Resurrection, and his disciples couldn't fathom that Jesus would be living and breathing again. Then you have the Great Commission, the last words we have from Jesus before he leaves the planet. Are you ready to be shocked? Hear Matthew 28:18: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" Jesus says, "I am." Through the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. He has authority over the oceans, the sun, the moon and stars. He is the One Who Is. Jesus is Lord of this world. In the next verse he says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Go and teach people that I am Lord, and they are not.

This is rough stuff, because when I submit myself to the authority of Christ, and I honor him as God, that means I can't be God anymore. It means that Christ will call me from my nothings to follow the One Who Is. When I respond to God as the I Am though the person of Christ, he will call me from my lesser gods to which I cling and say: I Am the giver of life. I Am the One Who Is.


Psalm 96 begins, "Sing to the I Am a new song; sing to the I Am, all the earth!" because he is worth it. It's the glory due his name, because this life is under his authority, and we are residents here. The problem with singing a new song is that I am so desperately connected to an old song, the song that goes, "I am at the center. I am the Lord of me." But we're invited to sing a new song to the I Am. Part of learning the way to Jesus is learning the lyrics to the new song, and the new songs goes like this: "You are the One. You are the One Who Is. You are the One who made me, knows me, loves me. You are at the center."

Jeff Manion is the senior pastor of Ada Bible Church in West Michigan, where he has served for over 30 years.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Yahweh is the only God.

II. The Lord invites the nations to worship him.

III. Jesus is Lord of this world.