If the Foundation Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Today I want to begin with you a series of messages on a subject that I entitled, “Questions Which Demand An Answer.” These are not questions such as you might ask me or some other Bible teacher at the conclusion of a Bible lesson. These are not questions which we receive from the radio and television audience every week. These are questions which are found in the Word of God for which the answer is given.

I have been impressed how various characters—sometimes God, sometimes the Holy Spirit—ask questions which are dealing with the very problems that many of us have; and if we notice the question and find the answer that is given in the Word of God, we are going to find a great many of our own questions answered, even though we might phrase them in a little different way. So the question that I want you to think with me about today is found in Psalm 11. You will want to open your Bible there so that we can look at the Word of God directly.

In Psalm 11, you find the question asked which is before you today: “If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Follow with me as I read from the Word:

Psalm 11:

1 In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

A word or two about the Psalm. We are not going to study this Psalm today, but there was a time in David's life when things were very, very bad, and people said, “Why don't you just get away from it all? Why don't you flee as a bird to your mountain?”

That is natural, isn't it? How many of us, when we have been in trouble, when we have been burdened beyond measure as we think, say to ourselves if not to someone else, “If I could just get away from all of this. If I could just get away,” and sad to say, some individuals, when they can't bear the burden that is placed upon them, do that very thing. They leave their families and children and friends and go off somewhere, thinking that will solve the problem. As much as we don't like to think about it, we have to face the fact that some folk, because they don't know what to do, flee as a bird to the mountain in a very literal sense in that they take their own lives just because they can't bear the burden of it all.

David said, “Don't talk like that to me. I know things are bad. The wicked bend their bow. They shoot their arrows. I know how bad things are.”

Then the question was presented again. “Well, it is bad. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? If the very foundations of everything that we believed and stood for, David, are gone, what can we do?” David's immediate answer is found in verse 4, when very generally he said, “The Lord is in charge of things and we can trust Him. That is what we can do.”

I have discovered in my study of the Word that that is a very simplistic answer really, and it is difficult for folk to really lay hold on that particular answer. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Certainly, for us, while living in this particular hour where we see the foundations being destroyed, we see the landmarks being removed—we are living in what I believe to be the end of the age—and we see things in connection with being in the end of the age happening in such a fashion that we are seeing the very foundations being shaken.

David goes a step farther and says: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? What can the righteous do? Something can be done. God is in charge.” Turn to II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 19, and find the answer that is applicable for our hour today, one that has brought a great deal of blessing to my own heart as I have meditated upon it together with other passages of Scripture. Notice verse 19:

II Timothy 2:

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Tie the two verses together. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Remember that the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. The Lord knoweth them that are his, and let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Be An Eager Student of the Word

I think that it would be wise for us to notice the background for verse 19, so that we might indeed be able to understand it fully. You find the background of that verse in verses 15-18. The paragraph begins with an exhortation. Notice as we read:

II Timothy 2:

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

You have been taught and perhaps remember that the word study in this verse is not primarily a reference to commentaries and helps. A better word for the word study would be the word eager . “Be an eager student of the Word of God. Be eager to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Be eager to get into the Word for the Word is what will enable you to recognize and rest upon the sure foundation, and right along with that in verse 16, we read:

II Timothy 2:

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

We don't know who Hymenaeus and Philetus are. They are mentioned only one other time and Timothy mentions them. Evidently, they were teachers who were not grounded in the Word of God because Timothy describes what they had to say as profane babblings , a statement that meant absolutely nothing. It seems the main error that they taught was that the Rresurrection is past already.

Exactly what they meant by that is not known as far as a definite statement in the Scripture is concerned, but in view of the fact that the Church had laid before it the hope of the Resurrection of the just, what we refer to as the Rapture of the Church, in all probability they did tell people that the Rapture had occurred and that they were in the Tribulation; they had missed it. Certainly we do know that some individuals wrote to the Thessalonians, signing the name of the Apostle Paul and saying that very thing, “You have missed the Rapture.” That is why he had to write the second letter to tell them that they hadn't missed the Rapture, the Resurrection. There was still hope.

God Knows Them Who Are His

The serious thing about this of which Hymenaeus and Philetus were guilty was that they overthrew the faith of some, so the Holy Spirit through Timothy said, “Never the less.” Did you get that? Thank God for the never the lesses , in the Bible. “Never the less, even though all of this is true, even though the faith of men is failing, even though people are departing from the way, even thought the very foundations are being shaken, even though they are being moved, even though the worst thing happened to you that you ever thought could happen, never the less, the foundation of God standeth sure. The foundation of God standeth firm.” “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord…,” said the songwriter. The foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal. The Lord knoweth them that are His.

What can the righteous do if the foundations be shaken? Remember that God knows them who are His. Don't ever forget that. No matter how difficult the situation is, don't ever forget, God knoweth them that are His.

Slip over to the Gospel of John, chapter 10, that familiar shepherd chapter where the Lord Jesus Christ is presented as the True Shepherd in opposition to all of those false shepherds who make themselves known and try leading God's people astray. You remember the Lord Jesus Christ emphasized this very thing that we are talking about this morning—how much God knows His children and how really wonderfully true it is that the Savior knows those who are His. Notice verse 14:

John 10:

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

There is a reciprocal feeling there. He knows us and we know Him. Then down in verse 27, we read:

John 10:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Picture what is meant in that statement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a flock of sheep. I am told that shepherds can tell the difference in their sheep. I couldn't. Years ago I used to preach out in Coke County. It is sheep land out there. There are all different flocks of sheep on different ranches. We would go out to look at the sheep, and they all looked the same to me. I wouldn't have known one from the other, but the shepherd said he did.

Here is a wonderful, wonderful truth that we can believe because we can believe the truth that is taught in the Word of God about our Savior. What was it He said? He said, “I know My sheep.” It is comforting to me today to know that when I am standing in a time when the very foundations are being moved, that Christ knows me. The foundation of God stands sure. The Lord knoweth them who are His, but I asked the Lord to show me exactly what it meant that He did know me. Just how important is that?

The word know in both of these verses is the translation of the Greek word ginosko , which means, “to be aware of,” or may be translated, “to be aware of to understand completely.” Are you aware of those you love? Do you understand them completely? I daresay that most of us would be quick to say concerning some of those we love the most, “I just don't understand everything about them,” and my, how many people would say that about us? There are mothers, there are fathers who have reared children. They have done the very best that they knew how to do and they say, “I simply don't understand. I don't understand.”

No, you don't understand. There is no way for you to understand, but isn't it good for us to know that God understands? He understands. He understands completely. He is aware of us. We're not casual acquaintances of God. If we judged our relationship to God on the basis of our contact with Him, we might consider ourselves casual acquaintances because so many of us are out of fellowship so much of the time that our acquaintance is just casual with Him.

But that is not the way He knows us. In II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 13, in the very passage of Scripture that deals with the foundation, we are reminded that if we are unbelieving, He abideth faithful for He cannot deny Himself. Notice:

II Timothy 2:

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

He knows you today. He knows you. He is aware of you. He understands you completely. Until I began to meditate upon this truth, I really had not had the opportunity to let it sink in completely of the thoroughness of God's knowledge of me, of you. Turn to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 1.

These words were addressed to Jeremiah and some folk are inclined to say, “Well, these words were addressed to Jeremiah,” but you keep in mind what God said about Jeremiah is truth, and He says the same thing about you and about me. Notice verses 4-5:

Jeremiah 1:

4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The only thing in that verse that would not be generally applicable is the statement, “I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God does not ordain everybody to be a prophet or to be a preacher, but believe me, on the authority of the Word of God, I can tell you that God has a plan for your life and it is not an afterthought on His part. The interesting thing that we all ought to be pursuing is not what I want to do, but what has God ordained me for?

Parents ought not to be concerned with which opportunity for education will provide the greatest advantage to their child, but what has God ordained for my child? All of the training ought to be along that line, but notice what I am saying to you. The wonderful truth that we began with today concerning the knowledge of God is that God knew us before conception and He knew us at the time of conception. Notice what he said again:

Jeremiah 1:

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

I think you all know what my position is on abortion, but if you have any questions as to when life begins, if you are going to pay attention to the Word of God and not to what scientists say or do not say, surely you would have to think that life begins in the womb at the moment of conception, for here is God very plainly stating that before conception, He had a plan for the child that was going to be born and during gestation, during the time that the child is in the womb, God knows the child.

There is no more beautiful expression of God's knowledge of the child in the womb than you find in Psalm 139, verse 13. David said, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Psalm 139:

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

That particular portion of the Word, beginning with verse 13 and the following verses I have read, simply say that God watches over the fetus in the womb, from the time of conception until the time of birth. It would be difficult for me to think that the first period of time the individual was not a child. When does God begin His watching? At three months, at six months, whenever? God said, “While the child was yet in the womb, I was watching over that child.”

The purpose of our discussion today is not to say anything about abortion as far as this being an exposition of that subject. The purpose of the message today is to remind our hearts that the foundation of God stands sure because the Lord knows them who are His, and His knowledge is one of complete awareness and full understanding that began before conception, yes, which began at the time of conception, yet which continued all during those darkened months within the womb.

I would like for you to follow in your Bibles while I suggest we look at a Paraphrased translation, which I think helps us to understand it a little better. Notice: “You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knitted them together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complete. It is amazing to think about how your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it.”

That is not all in the Paraphrased , but are you thinking as we read? God knits together the various parts of the body while the babe is yet in the womb. Take issue with this if you wish, but do you realize that, on the basis of the Word of God, there is no such thing as an imperfect child? There is no such thing as a child who is born in an afflicted state or whatever word you want to use. Do you realize that if God is watching over the formation of a child in the womb, God, for His own reasons, and I never have tried to explain God, permits such a child to be born?

It is difficult sometimes when parents see a little one for whom they had hoped and prayed perfection. It is difficult sometimes, but I have seen very few parents who after the initial disappointment (and that may be too strong a word to use) did not receive that child lovingly to their bosoms as God's heritage, for that is exactly what it is.

The Paraphrased continues: “You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion. You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book.”

Isn't it thrilling to know that God knows that much about you? Isn't that thrilling to know that God knows exactly what His plan and purpose for that child is even before it was brought to birth? You say, “Well, isn't that fatalistic? Isn't it sort of something like what is to be will be, so what can you do about it? No, it isn't that at all. It's God's answer to the question: “If the foundations be removed, what can the righteous do?” The righteous can rest upon the foundation that has the seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” If the Lord knew you before you were even born, if He knew that child for whom you are so burdened even before it was born, what makes you think that God, even when the very foundations are being shaken, is going to walk off and leave it all?

As a matter of fact, He won't. David spoke of God's continued interest after birth in Psalm 139, verses 1-6, where we read:

Psalm 139:

1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Many times folk read this passage of Scripture and they read it with a sense of rebuke: “You had better be careful what you are doing because God knows every time you sit down and every time you get up.” Right at the moment, that is not the emphasis. The emphasis is that God understands you completely. He knows your downsitting and He knows your uprising. He knows everything there is to know about you. God cares and this is the foundation. What can the righteous do when the foundations are being removed? Rest upon the fact that the foundation that will never be moved is that God knows those who are His and is fully aware of them.

God Knows What to Expect of You

Let me share some other things with you that are precious to my mind. Because of God's knowledge of us, God knows what can be expected of us in the flesh. Turn to Psalm 103. None of us knows our own strength. Many of us don't know our own weaknesses, and that is sadder still. We don't know the strengths and the weaknesses of our children, but notice verse 13:

Psalm 103:

13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

He remembers that we are dust. Did you notice the connection? As a father pities his child—that is, has compassion, is sympathetic with the child because the child is limited in what he is able to do because of his very youth or childhood—God remembers that we are but dust, and He knows what we are capable of in the flesh.

Sometimes, because the flesh is ever with us and we walk in the flesh, we act in the flesh, what we do is a surprise to everybody about us. Perhaps it is even a surprise to ourselves. There are individuals who say, “I don't understand how I could have done that,” and God, if He were going to whisper in your ear would say, “Well, I understand. You are dust. You are weak. You are dust.” God never forgets that. Isn't it good that He knows just how very weak you are? I am so glad that He knows how weak I am because when I fail and when I sin, I don't feel like I have to wait a long time before I can talk to Him about it because He will be so mad and I don't want to talk to Him about it. I am glad to know that when I go to Him, He says, “I can't condone what you did, and of course something has to be done about what you have done because every disobedience demands a just recompense of reward, but I can understand it. I made you. I know all about your weaknesses. I know what you can do and what you can't.” Isn't that good?

God Knows Who Can Be Trusted

I would like to remind you of something else. Because of His knowledge of you and of me, He knows who can be trusted. We won't take the time to go there but, when you have time, read Genesis, chapter 18. God was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and He said to those with Him, “I have to do something before I announce judgment. I have to tell My friend Abraham about this thing. I have to explain to Abraham why this thing is necessary.”

Of course, what He was doing was giving Abraham a chance at intercession, and the reason that He said He was going to do that is that He said, “I know Abraham and I know that I can trust Abraham to command his children after him. I know him. He will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken.”

You see, sometimes you are called upon for something and you know that that call is from God, and you say, “I don't know whether I can do it.” Well, God does. He knows He can trust you. Perhaps you tend to be jealous of someone whom God has asked to do something, and you wonder why He hasn't asked you. You have so much more talent than the person He asked. You can do it so much better than the person He asked. Think about it. God knows you. Maybe God knows that you can not be trusted with that particular thing, and isn't it good to know that? Isn't it good to be able to relax and say, “Well, if God had asked me to do that and He knew all along that I couldn't do it, how horrible it would be to fail.”

God knows whom He can trust and, though some of you who are going through particular trials and tribulations at the moment may wonder about it because I believe that each individual trial that we have seems to be bigger than anybody else's and I don't think it is wise to argue about that because to us it is the big thing, but God knows exactly what you can bear. Job learned that, and I would challenge anybody to say that they have suffered any more than Job did, that God has put upon them any more than He put upon Job. Job learned a lesson. Notice what he said. It is all based upon the foundation. Notice Job, chapter 23, verse 10:

Job 23:

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Have you ever said to someone and been perfectly sincere in the saying of it, “You don't know what I am going through. You don't know. Nobody knows.”? You feel that way. It is understandable, but I want to tell you today that God knows. He knows the way that you are taking and though you may be very, very much alone in it, and though you are even to the place where you are saying, “God, why don't You do something? Surely You don't know what I am going through,” He knows. He knows the way that you take and the outcome. When you are tried, you shall come forth as gold, gold without any dross.

I daresay if I were to ask anyone here today, “Would you like to be absolutely perfect and pure if it were possible? Would you like to be without any impurities and dross?” I am not talking about sinlessness. I'm talking about all of these things that we know are wrong in our lives. Would you like for all of them to be gone? I daresay that nearly everyone would say, “Yes, yes,” but I wonder how many would say, “and I am willing for the trial that will do it.”

You see, that is where the catch is in this verse. He doesn't say, “He knoweth the way that I take and I shall come forth as gold.” He says:

Job 23:

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

God knows and the foundation of God stands sure in that He knows what we can bear.

I almost hesitate to mention this because it sounds so mundane after what we have been talking about. After all, all Matthew, chapter 6, verses 8 & 32, is talking about is bread and butter, socks and skirts and britches. That is all that it is talking about, but we need them, don't we? We can't get along without them and some of us are having a hard time getting them, and some of us are having a difficult time making ends meet. The foundations are being shaken in the sense that there is just not enough money to go around. How my heart goes out to people who are on a fixed income, who don't get a cost of living increase. How my heart goes out to them. They are worse off than if they didn't have any income. If they didn't have any income, they could go on welfare, but because they have an income, folk think they have what they need, and they don't. Folk don't know, but be encouraged today that our God knows.

I love the words there in Matthew, chapter 6, verse 8:

Matthew 6:

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them [the unsaved]: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Then over in verse 32, we read:

Matthew 6:

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles [the unsaved] seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

He knows that you have need of them even before you ask Him and He has promised:

Philippians 4:

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

God Knows His Plans for Us

Perhaps the most precious thing that I could leave with you today is that He knows what He has planned for us. The songwriter says: “I do not know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future,” and that is absolutely consistent with the Word of God, for in Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11, He says:

Jeremiah 29:

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

A better rendering that we have suggested to you at other times is, “I know the plans that I have planned for you, plans that are good—not evil—to give you the things that you have been hoping for.”

Isn't that beautiful? God knows what He has planned. You see, to me, that is so wonderful because it enables me, when the foundations are being shaken and the foundations are being moved, to stand firm on the foundation that has this seal: The Lord knoweth them that are His because He knows me, even before I was born, when I was conceived, during the period of gestation and every moment since. He knows me intimately. He knows what I can take and what I can't take. He knows whether He can trust me or whether He can't. There are no secrets about me where God is concerned, and He knows what the future holds.

Conclusion

What does the future hold? I don't know. Is the Lord coming this next year? I hope so. I don't know, but God is making plans for me consistent with the age in which I live and I can rest upon that.

I think it is only right that I emphasize a truth that is brought out by another rendering of the verse. Go back To II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 19:

II Timothy 2:

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

And Phillips has rendered that as a double inscription: “The foundation of God standeth sure having this double inscription: ‘The Lord knows those that belong to Him,' and the second inscription, ‘Let every true Christian have no dealing with evil'.”

We have been talking about the first part: “The Lord knows those who belong to Him.” That is the first inscription, and my how it has comforted my heart to know that, but I am reminded that there is another inscription there and that is: “Let every true Christian have no dealing with evil.”

PRAY WITH US

That the Word of God will continue to have free course throughout the world and that God will continue to raise up believers to carry on His work. Our prayer is to have the Word of God available to any who are seeking it, and as believers, it is our responsibility to help make it available to others. If you are convinced that Dr. Joe Temple's and Tim Temple's expositions of the Bible are worthwhile, let your friends and neighbors know about it. We will he happy to put them on our mailing list at their request.


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