Lesson for Nov. 14, 2010: God Is Forever (Psalm 90:1-12)

This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for November 14) is written by Phyllis Fox who serves as director of church relations and Youth in Ministry at Milligan College in Tennessee.


God Is Forever (Psalm 90:1-12)

By Phyllis Fox

Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a best-selling self-help book in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Principle 2 says to “begin with the end in mind.” Perhaps Covey was thinking of Psalm 90 when he wrote, “How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.” He states, “to begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”1

Forever Is Everlasting (vv. 1, 2)

Psalm 90 was written as a prayer by Moses. He must have longed for a permanent home (and a better smelling job) when he lived in the Midian desert, tending sheep for 40 years, and again, as he led the Israelites in the wilderness for another 40 years. (Conversely, Moses most likely longed to return to peaceful pastures during his stint as leader of the Israelites.) In today’s culture, we might consider Moses as homeless. Yet during his years of sojourning, Moses came to recognize that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the Lord everlasting—was his shelter and his only true dwelling place.

As my mother became increasingly frail over the last five years, she moved into an assisted-living facility. It wasn’t her choice; she wanted to be in the place where she had lived and raised her family for more than 40 years. Yet when it became unsafe for her to live in the house, difficult decisions were made.

If “home is where your heart is,” Mom’s best memories are tied to a physical structure. But even on Mom’s most confused days, she realizes the truth for her in what Moses told the tribe of Asher before his death in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Physical structures, physical bodies, the earth, and the world are temporary; but those who journey with God find an everlasting home.

Forever Is Ceaseless (vv. 3-6)

The now-defunct U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils once calculated the chemical and mineral composition of the human body. Our bodies are composed of many elements including carbon, potassium, sulfur, sodium, magnesium, iron, and many others. While the value is subject to change because of market fluctuations, the net sum of our physical body is about 99 cents.2 That’s not much for our dust!

Our value comes from being made in God’s image. It is his never-ending, ceaseless existence that brings worth to our being. He endowed us with dignity when we were assigned as stewards of his creation on earth. Yet our strivings are trivial drops in a bucket (Isaiah 40:15) compared to God, who views a whole millennium as equivalent to a day. God is divinely timeless while we begin as fresh grass in the spring that collapses and dries up in the heat of the summer sun.

Forever Is Unchangeable (vv.7-12)

Remember the closing scene in the Garden of Eden? After Adam and Eve deny responsibility for their actions, God assigns their fate. In Genesis 3:19, God tells Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Moses relates God’s displeasure with sin to his termination clause for humans. Nothing we say, do, or think—even everything we do not realize about ourselves—is hidden from God. His unchangeable, perfect, holy nature cannot abide disobedience. As a result, we should expect trouble and sorrow while we labor and live as a natural consequence for our sins.

Moses also tells us that humans have a life span of 70, maybe 80 years. A former elder in the church where I grew up likes to remind me of a question he asked of students in the high school Sunday school class. “At what age do you become old?” With a teenager’s typical wisdom and insight, I responded that I would be old when I reached age 30.

Not long ago, he asked me what I thought of that response now that I’m beyond that milestone. You can imagine my different perspective, as the fuse of my humanity is growing shorter.

Verse 12 offers great advice, similar to Covey’s second principle: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How smart it would be for each of us, especially followers of Christ, to begin with the end in mind. It is sobering to recognize our humanity in light of God’s eternal nature. He alone gives wisdom to those who ask for it. Wisdom encourages us to know what is deeply important to us: to fear God, to know God, and to accept our mortality.

The human condition has only one positive direction and outcome: acceptance of his Son and the gift of eternity with the forever God.

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1 Stephen R. Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Free Press, 1989, 2004).

2 http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/worth.asp.

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*All Scripture references are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Nov. 8: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Nov. 9: Nehemiah 9:1-5
Nov. 10: Ephesians 3:7-13
Nov. 11: Romans 1:18-24
Nov. 12: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Nov. 13: Psalm 90:13-17
Nov. 14: Psalm 90:1-12

ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Phyllis Fox is director of church relations and Youth in Ministry at Milligan College in Tennessee and is a contributing editor for CHRISTIAN STANDARD.

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4 Comments

  1. Capryce Stuckey
    November 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    WOW WHAT A MIGHTY LESSON I WAS FEELING ALONE AND DISCOURAGED BUT AFTER READING THE LESSON MY SOUL WAS REMINDED OF HIS LOVE TOWARD ME . THANK YOU .

  2. Tim Cole
    November 14, 2010 at 2:24 am

    It is important to remember that the soul of man is also unending. Preparation must be made to spend it in heaven with God, so that we don’t exist in the regions of hell, which is also without end. Good thoughts.

  3. Roena Callicutt-MacKey
    November 14, 2010 at 5:35 am

    This lesson today “God Is Forever” is a very powerful saying. While going through many trials and test of my “Faith” this lesson came right on time, it helps me to put a lot of things in perspective and to pass it alone to others in a somewhat similar “Journey”.

  4. November 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    MAY GOD’S BLESSINGS BE UPON YOU ALWAYS,

    To GOD be the glory forever and ever… After finding this website i am truly grateful for this opportunity
    to be a part of something as wonderful as this. The lesson and the writer are very informative.I pray that GOD will continue to bless this ministry.

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