Category Archives: Sermon

Affirming the Call of God

Title: Affirming the Call of God

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 this morning. Turn there.

Answering the Call of God upon one’s life can be the most exhilarating and adrenalin pumping adventures for any man. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. The journey begins with humble commitment and unrealistic expectations. I suppose the same goes for missionaries and other types of call.

But it gets hard through the years because the church often times feels it must keep a tight budget. Pay raises are passed over and excused as budget cuts. Church members try to run a faith budget like their home or business. Added to this, no one keeps track of the minister’s days off (except for maybe his wife, who feels defenseless in speaking up about either the finances or the workload) and so he works too many days without taking the break he needs. Many men of God feel overworked and underpaid.

Church members feel that the call of God weighs heavily on the person’s life and that they’re called to serve – they’ve been called to ministry, not to money. The pastor and his family are made to feel out of place and awkward if they even talk about money.

Isn’t it odd how the church wants men who’ve been to school – who have a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate, but they want to pay those men like they’re high school dropouts?

Anybody getting uncomfortable? Are the A/C’s working ok? Is it getting warm in here?

There are hard issues in calling someone to commit to this ministry. Aren’t there? You’re getting something very special here in calling this family. What will you give in return?

How Special, you might ask: The elders and the search team feel like we’ve found you the very best man for the job. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not exaggeration. We’re so excited to present this young man to you. WE believe we’ve done due diligence in ferreting out this man from the crowd of applicants. Furthermore, we believe Duffey to be an answer to the prayers we’ve offered. We believe this is God’s man for this position.

I’m not slamming any of the other applicants. There were some quality applicants. And I’m sure God has great plans for those people; however, we believe God’s plan for Calvary is this man. It began for us as elders a couple of years ago and has grown to this point. We done our best to follow God’s leading in this area. Nearly 2 years later, we’re standing here in front of you guys with a confident assurance that God has brought us to this place.

Transition: So, what do you do as a church with this information? How do you behave and act toward someone being called as Pastor of Worship and Students?

A Brief look at the Reformation:

Historically, the Pope and his Bishops did all that. The Pope basically issued orders ex cathedra and the people followed. Martin Luther and John Calvin rose up against that very thing in a little movement called the Reformation. Luther taught that Christians should gather, not at the call of a particular man (pope or priest), but that they should gather around their shared convictions. That was huge! Unheard of!

Ill.: Ignaz Semmelwiess had a revolutionary idea for doctors. As a physician himself, it was something he began to do in his practice – and his patients faired well because of it. He, however, was opposed and ostracized. His views were seen as unscientific. The mistreatment he experienced from his fellow physicians was so great and so overwhelming that he was forced from his practice. Decades later, as doctors began to see the wisdom in what he had done, they began to adopt this new practice of his. But he wouldn’t live to see it. He died in an insane asylum years before.

What was his crazy idea? Simply this: wash your hands before visiting each patient. That’s it. Wash your hands in between patients.

App.: many of you would be grossed out if your doctor didn’t wash his or her hands when they came into see you. But that’s because it is accepted today.

And it is that way as you vote today. It should feel natural. Christians in the 1500’s would be aghast!

Luther believed that Christians should organize themselves as their own final authority in religious matters. Next month will mark 500 years since this radical new teaching. You practice it today, but it was born out of the Reformation and established under much persecution. Luther believed firmly that the Bible teaches what we call ‘congregationalism’. We are governed as a Congregation. Luther and many of the Reformers believed that the sheep know the Shepherd and identify his voice. John 10.4-8

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus warns the believers about false teachers and the fact that they have the ability to do something about it.

Cf.; Mt 7.15: A Tree and Its Fruit 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

We see this set out plainly for us in the pattern for selecting deacons. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

I love this: YOU pick. We’ll put them to work. When Luther wrote about these new ideas and practices in 1523, he entitled his tract, A Christian Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture.

You must understand how radical this was in 1523. The Reformation had been gaining ground over the past 100 or so years to be sure, but to pick and choose your leaders? That was a radical reformation. And just how did Luther accomplish such a feat? He translated the New Testament for the people to study these very doctrinal issues in their own language.

This doctrine of Congregationalism began gaining momentum through the 1600’s as John Cotton, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin advocated for “the Congregational way.” By the time of the American Revolution, a full 40% of Christians in the American Colonies was in a congregational church.

So what do we do with this gift of self-governing? We choose. You chose your deacons. You chose your elders. Sure, it all begins with a sub-committee of sorts doing the hard labor of research and organization. But in the end, you listen to the voice of the Lord and affirm God’s will in this matter.

There was something going on in the life of the Church that we find is very similar to what we’re doing here today. 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 is about a collection taking place throughout Asia Minor and is being carried to the brothers in Jerusalem and Judea who are in need. That is the context. But here is the application:

God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

Transition: let me show you where this is in the passage…

I. Your Affirmation of Him with your vote (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16; God was at work in the life of Titus, placing deep within him, a care and a concern for the people. God has been at work in the life of the Henderson family. At sometime in the past, he put a deep desire for ministry in Duffey’s heart. God called him to this service. Furthermore, God is calling him to serve here. That is being demonstrated through a passion for leading in Worship and ministering to our Students. Your vote today affirms the Call of God to this place.

rd v 17-18; It is so hard to explain the passion in one’s heart when God calls. It moves men to service and surrender. The passion for ministry is something that burns deep within. It is a felted thing, but evident in one’s actions. By your vote, you affirm

  1. His Call to this ministry
  2. His Passion for this ministry

t.s.: 2ndly,

II. Your Appointment of Him to this Ministry (19-22)

exp.: rd v 19; As your leadership, we’ve done what we believe is God’s will for Calvary. We have not entered this lightly. We have bathed this in prayer over the past two years. We’ve cast vision and dreamed dreams. We made PowerPoint presentations of how to realign staff and reorganize our ministry to accommodate the needs of the church. We’ve evaluated our situation and found it lacking. Stability has been the answer we’ve come up with and Stability is what we’re trying to bring about. We believe God has brought us to this place. Not just over the past 2 years, as this began for us in October of 2015, but even over the past 10 years. We believe and understand that God has been at work in the life of our church all along, bringing us to this point.

And so we present Duffey to you. But, like the Church at Corinth who had to appoint men to do the work that they couldn’t do, you must appoint Duffey to this ministry in our congregation. We present him to you for this appointment because we’ve found him to be of sound character and high moral value.

Note what Paul says of Titus and Epaphras; rd v 20;

  • Blameless; rd v 21
  • Honorable; rd v 22a
  • Trustworthy: Tried and Tested; rd v 22b
  • Full of Faith – con: with; fidere – faith.

app.: His presence here today with his wife demonstrates his confidence in you. He loves the ministry and mission you’ve displayed and have been active in. He and his wife have spoken highly of what you’ve been doing. We as a team have heard them. They are so excited about the opportunities to serve with us – helping us accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

t.s.:  Which brings me to my last point this morning. God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

III. You Support Him in Accomplishing the Ministry (23)

exp.:rd v 23-24;  It excites me to think of this young man coming alongside me in ministry… to be my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. Which makes me think of a few cautionary points.

Benefit here doesn’t mean that your work is done. He is not here to do your work – the ministry God has called you to accomplish. He is here to benefit you, not take your place. His presence and ministry should augment what we’re doing here at Calvary. I’ve experienced this first hand when I accepted a call some years ago. The team that brought me in just disappeared. They felt their work was done.

I know you have worked hard, but now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to rise up!

2nd, We (the elders) don’t believe that because God has brought Duffey, Calvary will now grow to a thousand. Our baptistery will not overflow because Duffey Henderson is leading our Students. Our coffers will not overflow with money because Duffey Henderson is leading our Worship. That’d be nice, but your elders don’t have some “if you build it they will come” mentality. We don’t think Duffey is the Savior of the World. No, that position has already been filled and will never be vacated!

Conclusion: Howard Hendricks, Living By the Book (as quoted by Chuck Swindoll)

A scientist was using the inductive method to observe the characteristics of a flea. Plucking a leg off the flea, he ordered, “jump!”

The flea promptly jumped.

Taking another leg off, the scientist again commended, “jump!”

The flea jumped again.

The scientist continued this process until he came to the sixth and final leg. By now the fleet was having a little more difficulty jumping, but it was still trying.

The scientist pulled the final leg off and again order the flea to jump. But the flea didn’t respond. The scientist raised his voice and demanded, “jump!” Again, the flea failed to respond.

For third time the scientist shouted at the top of his lungs, “jump!” But the hapless flea lay motionless.

The scientist then made the following observation in his notebook: When you remove the legs from a flea, it loses its sense of hearing.

app.: Funny how the scientist didn’t connect the dots correctly… we’re worried that you might think like that scientist. Baptisms, Financial blessings may come and they may not, but don’t connect the one with the other. God’s blessings are God’s blessings.

Still, Your support of Duffey is vital to the accomplishment of this ministry. You call him, you appoint him, you support him. You support him with your words, your presence, and your money. You support him by loving his wife and their children. Pay him well and make sure he is keeping the Sabbath.

Duffey’s success is dependent upon you.

We’re going to move to a time of business now. We’ll take a few moments for folks to leave if they’d like. If you’re a guest, you’re welcomed to stay if you’d like, but please feel free to slip out if you’d like. As for our membership: we’ll take a couple of minutes to break (go to the bathroom or get a drink) and then we’ll regroup for our special called Business Meeting.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 2 Corinthians, Calling, Commissioning Service, Faithfulness, Leadership, Sermon

Christ, Our Blessed Hope

Title: Christ, our Blessed Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.1

Introduction: This morning we reach the conclusion of this Summer’s Sermon Series: HiStory. Last week we ended the 9th sermon in this series with an empty tomb. The tomb is empty because Jesus is risen. And what’s more… we have this hope that we will rise again in like manner, should we face death before he returns.

Our text for this morning’s sermon is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. We’ll be there this morning, so go ahead and turn there: 1 Thessalonians 4.1. A 2nd place we’ll be is in Titus 2. So, if you’d like to put a bookmark there…

This sermon is the last sermon in a series entitled: HiStory. The premise behind the series is that the whole of the Bible is one story. From beginning to end, the story is all about Jesus. God’s intention from before the foundation of the world was to save his people and to send his son, Jesus, to be the savior of his people.

We opened this series with a look at the perfection of creation and how it was ruined in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. As they were banished from the garden, God gave them a promise of someone who would come and restore things. Gen. 3.15 was the 1st indication that Jesus would someday come. In the future, somehow, someway, the snake crusher would come and restore what was damaged.

We saw how life in the fall was a continual downward spiral, until God destroyed it all in the flood, but saved 8 people and a bunch of animals through the Ark. Creation was destroyed  and God started all over.

This 1st section of the series was my favorite. I loved how our Community Group spent extra time in this section observing a film entitled: Genesis: is it history? Del Tackett was our guide and narrator. I highly recommend this documentary if you’re looking for help in strengthening your biblical worldview.

In Genesis 12, God picked a man from whom he would build a nation and from whom the Promised One would come. This nation would be his people (Israel) and he would be their God. The problem was that they, too, rebelled, like Adam and Eve. Instead of serving and following God, they chose to worship and serve idols.

God sent them Prophets, Priests and Kings, but somehow, someway, they still rejected the God who loved them. Their priests didn’t intercede like they should have. Many of these priests were worried more about themselves than teaching the people and interceding for the people. Their Kings never lived up to the role. One came pretty close – his name was David. He set an example of what the true King would one day look like. But he wasn’t the promised King. No, these Kings led the people astray. God sent them prophets to tell the people His words. But the people rejected the prophets. They beat them, shamefully mistreated them and in some cases, killed them.

In so many ways, many of these prophets pointed to the Promised One, but none of them were him. After many years of being caught up in a cycle of following God, not following God – God grew silent. There were no prophets to tell them God’s Word. No kings either. The people entered a time of darkness and silence for 400 years.

Then one day, after those 400 years of silence from God, the Promised One finally came. God’s voice broke the silence. God’s son lit up the darkness. He came and lived a perfect and sinless life. Then, he died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world – to restore that which had been damaged. And, after three days of laying lifeless in a tomb, he rose again.

Many of his followers thought that the Kingdom would be restored when he rose from the dead, but instead, he delayed the coming Kingdom. Instead, he commissioned his followers to share this good news of redemption with the world until he does return for his people.

Titus 2.11-13: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There is so much to unpack in these three verses, and that isn’t even our task today! It is an outline for our lives in this era: God’s grace Saved us, God’s grace is Sanctifying us, preparing us for glory. For now, what I really want to focus on is what Paul calls our Our Blessed Hope, which is Christ’s Glorious Appearing.

  • The hope you and I have as believers, as we live out our lives in this present age, isn’t the rapture to escape the tribulation.
  • The hope you and I share as believers as we live in this present age isn’t perfect health and untold riches of materialism.
  • The hope you and I share as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as we live godly lives in this present age is Christ and his glorious appearing!

Let’s break down Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica:

  1. 1st, he tells the Thessalonians how to live while we wait for his appearing (4.1-12).
  2. 2nd, he tells them what to expect when Christ returns, especially for those who already died (4.13-18).
  3. 3rd, he tells them of the Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11). He’ll finish his comments on this in his next letter, 2nd Thessalonians when he teaches them about the lawless one, the antichrist.

Transition: let’s look at this 1st section, which outlines for us how then we shall live…

How then shall we live?

I. We Walk with our Lord (4.1-12)

exp.: rd v 1-3a; Sanctification is often seen in two phases. There is the immediate phase and the process phase. In a very real sense, we are sanctified at our conversion. And, in a very real sense, we struggle with sin throughout our lives – not experiencing total sanctification in this body until this life is through. Our statement of faith teaches this better than any other document. Let me quote from the BF&M 2000:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior
  2. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  3. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  4. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Glorification is what we’ll experience at his glorious appearing. For now, though, how then shall we live?

I think it helps to understand that there is in one very real sense the sanctifying process that God is at work in us and on the other hand, there is a very real sense that there is our responsibility to be at work in the sanctifying process. Many Christians call this ‘the walk’. In Philippians Paul told the Christians at Philippi that they were to be “working out” their salvation with fear and trembling as God was “working within” them to will and to act according to His good purpose. Look what Paul says to Thessalonians here:

  • Be holy: rd v 3-7; avoid immorality, impurity;
  • Brotherly Love: rd v9-10; and then he gives them some instruction on neighborly affairs: rd v 11-12
  • Walk properly before outsiders: live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands, and be dependent on no one.
  • Being Holy is how you live within yourself – it manifests itself externally, but it is an internal quality. Brother Love is the display of your holiness within the church. But there is contact with the real world, too. That is your … as he calls it …‘walk’ as seen by outsiders.

app.: We walk with the Lord and our work is a witness to those who are lost. Not that our walk saves us, but that rather our walk is a demonstration of what we believe to a lost and dying world.

t.s.: How then shall we live? 1st, we walk with the Lord. 2ndly,

II. We Wait for His Glorious Appearing (4.13-18)

exp.: waiting means that life goes on – day after day, month after month, year after year as we walk with the Lord; And, a big part of life is death; this was a concern for the Corinthian church we looked at last week – and, it is a concern for these folks in Thessalonica, too. They didn’t have a lot of doctrine to go with their newfound faith. Remember, the Jews had a foundation for their faith. The Gentiles, not so much! So, they had a lot of questions. For them, they wondered what would happen when their loved ones died. Would those who passed on miss out on Christ’s return?

Let’s read what he tells them; rd v 13-14; Paul told the Corinthians in his final letter to them that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord; Paul tells the Thessalonians here something very similar: that as their loved one’s body lay in the grave, their spirit was with the Lord; Then, when Christ returns, they will accompany Him.

ill.: As I quoted from Joni Eareckson Tada last week: One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed. Paul says, that those of us who are still alive will certainly not precede those believers who’ve gone before us.

app.: Rd v 15-16; And so, while we continue in this body, we wait. As our loved ones die and are buried, we wait. We wait for his glorious appearing where we will … rd v 17-18: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

t.s.: We have this hope – not a hope like it is going to rain, but a certain knowledge and faith that communicates: at his glorious appearing we shall be with him.

So, How then shall we live? we walk with the Lord, we wait for his return, and..

III. We Watch for The Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11)

exp.: why do we watch? Well, read with me v1-2; we watch because it is unexpected and we don’t want to be caught off guard. Rd v 3-4; look at these three phrases that describe the suddenness of Christ return:

  • Like a thief in v2
  • Sudden destruction in v3
  • To surprise you in v4

Exhortations: (in v6-11)

  • Stay sober and awake! Because, it will come suddenly and without expectation!

Transition: there are many terms and teachings on this doctrine called eschatology. And, in preaching a message like the sermon this morning, I’m ever aware of the differences of opinion when it comes to End Times. That’s right, I said opinion. There are those who would disagree with me: they are so dogmatic, that they think they’re the only one’s who are right!

Let me take some time to lay out four truths that we should all agree on and avoid the hot topic areas of disagreement. This Wednesday night, our Community Group will be discussing these different views and I’ll lay out for you there what I see in these passages and in Revelation. In that meeting we will look at the areas of disagreement. For this morning, I arrange these doctrinal truths on which we should all agree from the book on systematic theology by Wayne Grudem. Bruce Demarest, a mentor of mine at Denver Seminary, also has a wonderful systematic theology in 3 volumes. It doesn’t read as easy as Grudem’s, but it is a wonderful indepth look at the end times. I’ve chosen to use Grudem’s outline because it was handy.

  1. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, and bodily return of Christ. like a thief in the night… Note all four aspects of his return:
    1. Sudden and unexpected
    2. Personal: he is coming with his army of angels
    3. Visible: this isn’t some spiritual type of return, we’ll see it.
    4. Bodily: Christ Body isn’t in the grave and he didn’t have just a spiritual resurrection after his death. He was raised physically, and he’ll return physically.
  2. We have no idea when Christ will return. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24.44); for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Mt. 25.13); Jesus said that no one knows the day, not the angels, nor even the Son – only the Father knows the day he has chosen. (Mk 13.32-33). You and I can know the season – we can see the time for his return, and I believe that it will be soon and very soon. But as for that day… no on knows.
  3. We should eagerly long for Christ’s return. Maranatha, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. And as Titus records: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Christians should be eagerly and expectantly longing for Christ’s return. For someone to hope for his delay because he loves this world and his life in this world demonstrates a tremendous misunderstanding of what this life is to be. If this is all you hope for, you’re missing something very important. You’re not understanding sin and its effects.
  4. No matter how you get there eschatalogically, Evangelicals pretty much all agree on the final results: we will all stand before the Son of God – unbelievers to judgment and believers to their reward. Believers will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth. In this place – this new heaven and earth – believers will worship God in a never-ending kingdom where there is no more sin, no more sorrow and no more suffering.

Conclusion:

Dr. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story of a friend he had, who taught 8 year olds in Sunday School. In a Sunday school class of 8-year olds Philip stuck out because of his Down’s syndrom. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Phillip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” And because he suffered from Down’s Syndrome, he had many difference that were quite obvious: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of what we used to call ‘mental retardation’.

One Sunday after Easter, the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle — the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose used to be packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.” So … The youngsters gathered ’round and put their eggs on a table, and one by one, the teacher began to open them. 

One child had found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. Another egg opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy!” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a new life?'” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing in it. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent. From that day on Phillip became part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.

Phillip’s family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Phillip died. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls, confronted the reality of death, marched up to the altar–not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love – an empty egg …

You see, believers get it. They know the meaning of the empty egg story. Like Philip, they say I have life because the tomb is empty; they know the hope of life after death because Christ is risen. And, they know the hope of His Glorious Appearing –

  • And so, they walk with God every single day of their lives;
  • They wait patiently, knowing that one day he will return and
  • They keep a watchful eye out, because it will happen when this world least expects it.

Let’s pray…

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Messiah, Resurrection, Scripture, Sermon

The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Title: The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Text: 1 Corinthians 15.1-11

Introduction: We’re in 1 Corinthians 15 this morning. Our topic: the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15.1

“Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.” – John Locke

John MacArthur says: The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.

If Christ is not risen, we are to be pitied more than all other religious peoples. 1 Cor 15.17-19: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Christ repeated this idea dying and rising again to his disciples throughout his ministry with them: 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. Mk 8.31-32

David Jackman, the British preacher recorded in his commentary on 1 Cor. 15: The climax of the story of the cross is the resurrection. Indeed, without that demonstration of his triumph, we could have no assurance of Christ’s victory.

How can these men make such an assumption? Can it be true? Does the crux of Christianity rise and fall on this one doctrine? 1 Corinthians 15 declares it to be so. Turn there with me.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series on HiStory. The premise has been that there is one storyline that rises above the many stories of the Bible. That in actuality, although the Bible contains hundreds, thousands of stories, there is to it a basic story of Salvation: That God was always at work saving his people.

Paul presents three separate testimonies or pieces of evidence to the Corinthian church demonstrating the reality of Christ’s resurrection. The purpose is clear: without the resurrection, salvation as we know it could not happen. Consider Paul’s teaching to the Romans: that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead… you will be saved.

I think it is important to point out that the Corinthians didn’t have a problem with the resurrection, per se, but rather with their own resurrection. With that being said, let’s look at the evidence Paul presents to them. As in a trial, I’d like to call each piece of evidence Exhibits. First we have Exhibit #1

I. The Church (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1-2; In our opening sentence, we read: Now I would remind you, brothers – the word remind, is really an interpretation, not a translation. The thought is right, but it is inaccurate as a translation. Let me remind you that I say this with caution. 1st, I’m no Greek scholar. I practice Greek like I ride my bike. I’ve got one and I ride a few times every week. But, that doesn’t make me a pro. I’ve never ridden in a race. 2nd, there are people who do this translating work who are a lot smarter than me. With that said, let’s look closer at this phrase Now I would remind you, brothers…

This word translated ‘remind’ means to make known. Luke 2.15: 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” The angels didn’t remind them: they announced!

In modern day English we might say something more like: I’ll have you know… which means you probably already know, you’re just not acting like you know. Maybe that is why the translators used remind, because their knowledge of the matter is already sure. So, he’s just reminding them… but in a stern way

In the original language though, the thought is clear: Paul is not happy with them. He’s chiding them. Some people, it would appear, have begun to live like they never even heard of Christ. And Paul is saying, That isn’t the Gospel I preached to you!

Ill.: Can you hear your momma or your daddy in your head? That isn’t the way I taught you to … Paul is saying something like: I’ll have you know, brothers that the Gospel I preached to you is the one you received, in which you stand and are being saved.

Something interesting to note: The Gospel (εὐαγγελίζω), is the same Greek word as Preached (εὐαγγέλιον), The Gospel is a noun and ‘preached’ is a verb. That’s the difference.

  • I Preached (εὐαγγέλιον),
  • You Received, (arorist, not passive)
  • In which you stand, You are living out; Stand; in the pft, the idea that they are in a present state of being because of this past action in their lives. It is the Gospel being lived out still.
  • The result: by which you are being saved – a passive verb. God is saving them, they can’t save themselves.

Paul is in effect saying: Whatever word you’re getting of no future resurrection or that it already happened is rubbish! That’s not what I taught you. In both of his letters to Timothy, Paul refers to a man named Hymenaeus. Hymenaeus was a thorn in Paul’s side. He cause Paul a great deal of harm. It appears that some of his teaching was that the resurrection had already happened. Paul calls this false teaching a sickness like Gangrene. It makes me wonder if this false teaching had infiltrated other congregations, as well. Like here in Corinth. We don’t know that, but it is apparent that there were men who were just making stuff up!

A great reminder for us today: we must be careful who we chose to listen to or read.

Paul continues in v 2; Rd v 2 with me: and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Some people think this is a proof text for apostasy. They say: This is one of the verses that proves you can loose your salvation.

Ill.: I received a phone call from a man in Oregon who said he is moving to Tyler and looking for a church. He said the purpose of his call was that he wanted to see what I believe. In the course of my doctrinal interview (which by the way, happens more than you think) we came across this doctrine. Can you lose your salvation? No, I said. I do not believe in apostasy. At this stage of the conversation, I began to realize that he didn’t want to know what I believe. Rather, he was looking for someone to debate with him. This was one of his many verses to ‘prove’ to me that you can indeed lose your salvation.

Those of you, who know me, you know my understanding that one does not and cannot lose their salvation.

This is one of those verses that helps me with this doctrine. As you see it in English, you might infer that one can lose their salvation – that is to say if you hold fast like it is this condition God has set up with believers. I’m willing to save your soul, but one false move, Buddy and you’re out of here! That isn’t the way this is set up. Paul isn’t saying if you do this, then that and if you don’t….

There are clearly people who make a profession of faith. They come to church and maybe even get involved. They can even share Christ with others, but one day, they walk away from the faith. This man who called me would say they lost their salvation. I, on the other hand, would say they were probably never saved. I say ‘probably’ because I don’t know. They may very well come back to Christ in the future. That is my prayer. I know people like that. You probably do to! That is my hope that they’ll return. They may grow up, have some kids and begin to realize their frivolity. If that happens, they cannot crucify the Son of God all over again. But they can repent and be restored.

It appears to me that much of this arguing is mostly semantics in nature. Someone says they lost their salvation, I say they never really were saved to begin with. The end result is the same. They say that someone comes to Christ after having lost their salvation. I say they’re rededicating their life. The result is the same.

app.: Here is all we really know from what Paul says: If you’re not living out the Gospel, you’re probably not saved. Again I say probably, because I don’t know. That call is way above my paygrade. I know that sounds harsh, but that is all we have. A salvation experience is evidenced by the life of a changed person. Paul says – if you’ve gone through this whole experience and walked away from it all, then your salvation was all on you – not God. You’re resting your hopes on your ability, your obedience, your following the rules, your church attendance, your…whatever. And if salvation rests on you – then you’re not saved. If you think you can get into heaven on your dad, your husband, your service, your money – think again. That is all in vain. And, you’ll walk away from it someday. Why? Because you’re incapable of fulfilling such a impossible task.

t.s.: in this phone conversation with this man from Oregon, I told him he might like to call another pastor, who shall remain nameless in this recording. This man thought I was saying to him, you’d be happier somewhere else. Well, that is true, but it wasn’t what I was saying. I said, you like to debate – so does this pastor. He got upset with me and said, you want me to go to a church that condemns your’s, because you don’t believe God’s Word.

Now that upset me. But I was nice and closed the conversation with kindness. But he’s got it wrong. No church, nor any person will be my judge, but Christ alone. And that goes for you, too. Sure, we do our best to maintain purity in this local body. That is our responsibility. But it is Christ who sits as judge over salvation.

And I think that is really what Paul is saying here: Salvation that comes by the hands of humans is no salvation at all. It is Christ alone who saves and the church is evidence, a testimony to the risen Christ.

His 2nd exhibit…

II. The Scriptures (3-4)

exp.: rd v 3-4; in accordance with the Scriptures. The scriptures testified to what would happen. The NT Scriptures testify to what did happen. Notice Paul says I delivered to you. This isn’t something he made up or designed. This isn’t something he created. He simply delivered to them what the Bible said would happen.

That’s the mark of a good preacher. Be very leery of someone who gets up and is crafty about God’s Word. A preacher’s job is delivering the groceries. That’s it, he’s just a delivery boy. It is the same with teachers.

Let’s look at these three components.

  • Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; Jesus told the two men on the road to Emmaus about how the Scriptures pointed to the Messiah and his death. 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Jesus pointed to Jonah as a sign for this unbelieving generation. The disciples quoted from Psalm 16 and Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52-53 and the list Goes on.
  • He was Buried
  • He was Raised on the 3rd Day in accordance with the Scriptures. His body did not see decay, as David had foretold.

app.: Paul uses this phrase twice according to Scriptures to point to the fact that the Word of God is a piece of evidence to be witnessed and acknowledged when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus.

t.s.:  His 3rd exhibit.

III. Eyewitnesses (5-10)

exp.: Eye-witnesses; rd v 5 and that he appeared… There is a good list here.

  1. Cephas, if find it interesting that the ladies are not mentioned first; this is Simon Peter.
  2. The Twelve, a title for the closest disciples. There aren’t really 12 anymore because Judas has died before the resurrection; however, it is a title for that group, even if there aren’t that many at that moment. And, at first, Thomas was there either. But eventually, he was.
  3. 500 brothers – most of who are still alive. We don’t know when this was or where this was. 500… brothers? It must have been at the ascension. But it doesn’t have to be. But Paul is saying, Hey, most of these people are still alive. You can ask them about it. Edwin M. Yamauchi, former professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: Do you realize that if each of these 500 men were to testify in a court of law and each were given just 6 minutes of examination, there would be an amazing 50 hours of testimony?
  4. James: the Lord’s brother; this one is pretty powerful for me. James used to be an unbeliever. You probably remember when we were in the Gospel of Mark of how he, his momma and siblings thought Jesus was crazy. He was embarrassed at the behavior of his brother, Jesus. Paul lets us in on something incredible here. Without this letter, we would have no idea that James was an eyewitness to the resurrection.

James saw Jesus resurrected from the dead and what a difference it made in his life. His life was so affected by what he witnessed that the direction of his life changed. James became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem and a leader in the early church. He served the Lord with his life.

  1. The Apostles: all of the Apostles.

ill.: Nothing beats a great list of eye-witnesses. David Jackman tells of Frank Morrison, who set out to write a paper disproving the resurrection. His paper was to be entitled: Jesus, the last Phase. He started with the crucifixion and ended with the testimonies of the witnesses. In the course of his trial, he mind was changed and he was convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead. The end result was his conversion to Christ and his book, Who moved the Stone? Josh McDowell has a similar testimony of his efforts in college and the overwhelming evidence that demanded he cast a verdict of Risen!

app.: Paul says to the Corinthians: some of you aren’t living your life by the Gospel – at least not on the Gospel I preached to you. I presented to you truths from the Scriptures that point to this very phenomena: the Christ was to suffer and die, be buried and rise again three days later. Furthermore, there are hundreds of people who testify to this fact: Jesus is risen!

t.s.: Today is July 30th. Do you know what happened on July 30, 1967? Joni Eareckson dove into Chesapeake Bay and broke her neck. 50 years ago today. That human error has put her in a wheelchair for the last 50 years.

Conclusion:

Some years ago her mother-in-law invited her and her husband out to Forrest Lawn, a cemetery. Being a Sunday afternoon, she thought of a hundred different things she’d rather do, but being the dutiful daughter-in-law, she and her husband headed out to meet her mother-in-law.

The Realtor met them at the plot and began her sales pitch. The plot is located in the section called Murmuring Pines. She gave her spiel: with Joni’s head here and her feet there, she’d have a wonderful view of the mountains. Joni kind of chuckled to herself… like it really mattered where her bones lay.

The family walked around, but Joni rolled her wheelchair over her plot – the very place her body will be laid to rest when she dies – and she turned to face the mountains in the distance. A gust of wind blew through that area, rustling her hair and indeed, creating a murmuring sound in the pines. She writes that a profound peace settled over the scene.

Suddenly, in a sort of way that just overtook her, she realized that she was actually situated over the place her body would rise from – should she die before Christ returns. Listen to her in her own words: Jesus is quoted in John 5.28: for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Astounding! One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed.

I think of Ezekiel 37: Can the dead bones live again? You bet!

Joni continues: We shall come forth and rise strong and brilliant with hands and arms, feet and legs, and like Jesus with his glorious body, we shall be perfectly fitted for both earth and heaven.

Sitting in my wheelchair under the pines, it was enough to spill tears. That grassy hillside ignited the reality of the resurrection, wrapping sight, sound, and touch around all the sermons and essays I’d ever read on the subject.

What Joni began to realize in that moment was something possible because Jesus has already been resurrected. And that is the hope that you and I have, too. Because he has conqured the grave, you and I have the hope – not hope like I hope it rains – but a certainty that says, that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Corinthians, Resurrection, Sermon

The Messiah Finally Arrives

Introduction: In Shakespere’s history of Henry the V, the king takes the cloak of a commoner and walks amongst his men. It is 3.00 am and the sound of hammers hitting against metal ring out in the night. It is a somber sound of what is to come and the men know it. Soon they will be in battle against the French, who outnumber them by a large number. In the course of his walk, and incognito, he stops and chats with some of the men. Shortly, their conversation grows terse. One of the men tells the king that if they weren’t getting ready to battle, he would box his ears. Of course, he doesn’t know he’s the king. The king tells this man to give him something that he would recognize later on. He tells the man that he’ll wear it “on his bonnet”. So then, when he sees him again, and recognizes his property on this man, he can do just that – box his ears. As a reader, you know this guy would never threaten to beat up the king. But this guy has no idea who he is talking to… he has no idea who is in his presence.

1 Corinthians 2.8 says: None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The religious leaders who killed Jesus failed to see who was right there in their midst. They had all of the information, but their minds failed to process that information.

Which brings me to the task this morning:

  • Identifying the Messiah.
  • And 2ndly, properly presenting him to the world.

t.s.: this morning, I want to help us fix our eyes upon Jesus… and see him for who He really is. And then, present Him to the world. The text I’ve chosen to do this with is Philippians 2. Look with me at Philippians chapter 2.

In Philippians 2.5-8 we learn some important doctrinal concepts about who Jesus is. Rd Phil 2.5-6a;

1st we see that Paul is teaching us that…

I. Jesus is God (5-6)

exp.: Can I preface my remarks with the statement that it is most difficult to describe a spiritual existence with physical terms; Paul writes that he is ‘God in form’; μορφή; you’re most familiar with the word metamorphosis meta: change; Μορφή: form

ill.: Mark 9.2: μεταμορφόω

Here, Paul is teaching us that Jesus is God. Before we know him any other way – He is God. His nature, his form, his essence, his position is God. Let’s continue; Rd 6.b; 2ndly, Paul says that Jesus is equal to God, that is: ‘God in equality’; if a=b and b=c, then a=c; if the Father = God and the Son = the Father, then the Son = God. John brings this out multiple times in his Gospel; in Jn 1.1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Two uniquely individual parts or persons in the same Godhead. In Jn 5.18 this very clear concept was a very real problem for the religious leaders: 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

app.: Paul’s teaching is clear: Jesus isn’t partly God; he isn’t from God or of God; Jesus is God – 100%

t.s.: notice 2ndly that Paul teaches us that…

II. God became a Man (He condescended) (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6b-7a; God becoming man is really an incredible action; and hard to fathom; there are certain traits Paul uses to describe this action; the one trait he magnifies in this passage is Humility (v3, 8): rd 6b; though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped… look at this humility displayed:

  1. Though he was equal with God, he let that go; he condescended, he stooped down, rd v 7a;
  2. Though he was fully God, he Poured himself out; κενόω; Emptied himself; This word means to pour out until empty – to empty out something, like pouring our everything within a pitcher. Jesus was fully God, but made a choice to empty himself of those divine qualities, characteristics and become a man. But there is more…rd 7a-b;
  3. Though he was master and King, he became a slave; δοῦλος; BTW: same word here, μορφή; Talk about a swinging pendulum – talk about a major transformation! Not did he just go from God to Man, but he went from God – the highest place, to the lowest place, a slave. Rd 7c; being born in the likeness of men.
  4. Being born means that he became human. Our text last week focused upon the fact that he was born of a woman – the fulfillment of prophecy. He could have arrived in pomp and circumstance in God form, but he would not have been able to die for the sins of man.

app.: Before we move to v 8, I’d like to clarify a couple of misperceptions about what we’ve just read.

  1. Jesus never stopped being God. Even while he was in the flesh as man, he was and is still God. His form may have changed, but who he is never did. Having emptied himself of certain divine characteristics it did not limit his ability nor his function as God. Jesus, becoming a man, never stopped being God.
  2. He wasn’t a mixture of both (say 50%-50%). He was 100% God and 100% man. James 1.17: 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. We probably first learned this doctrine from the song: “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

So, if Jesus never stopped being God and he isn’t a mixture of one part and another part, how is it that he sometimes seems limited?

  1. His glory as God was hidden beneath or behind his human nature. So well hidden was this phenomenon, that some people actually thought he wasn’t a very good man, let alone, that he was God. Others saw it clearly (John 20, Thomas: My Lord and my God). Still, those who couldn’t just could not get past this idea that Paul says: he emptied himself. For them, Jesus wasn’t anything near what they had expected – a mere man, as they saw him. He hid his glory beneath or behind his human nature.

t.s.:  now, let’s read v 8; Paul is teaching us that God sent us His son to die for us.

III. Jesus was sacrificed for our sin.

exp.: Jesus is the One who was to come. He is the Messiah. We would know that he was to come because for centuries God had told all about him. The information is there… we just need to process it.

His one purpose, as we looked at it last week in Galatians 4.4-5, was to redeem us.

1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. You see two parts in this verse:

  • The sacrifice of Christ and
  • Our call to sacrifice for others.

Let’s deal with this 1st part: Christ’s sacrifice.

Why? Why would Christ die for us? Truthfully, that is an ocean too deep and too broad for us to comprehend. When you consider the sum of its parts, you’re left undone. Really, you are! Consider the 1st part of that verse: By this we know love.

  1. God is love… it is who he is… and so, he loves us. That in itself is almost too much to take in: that God in perfection would love someone like me – a sinner. Someone who rejected him. Someone who is selfish and can be so unkind. 1 Jn 4.8 says point blank: God is love; I don’t mean to imply that God is touchy-feely or that he is akin to humans. We must never take our human traits and place them upon God. True, we are made in his image, but please remember the he is not to be made in our image. He loves differently than we do. His love is a perfect love. Our love fails in so many ways. Which brings me to my second application.
  2. His work to save us comes to us totally free and undeserved. God’s love is unmerited. Eph 1.4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. You and I don’t love that way. We try, but we fail. Not God – in his perfect love, he offers this precious gift of salvation through the sacrifice of his Son, free and unmerited.

Ill.: In our Community Group I asked our folks to ponder the lengths God went to in order to save us…in order to save you! Let’s do that for a moment. Move beyond this moment in time we’re looking at – when Christ was sacrificed and consider what God was doing to get to this place. God was at work before the creation of the world to restore what would go wrong. God was always… God has always been at work bringing about the restoration of what was destroyed in the garden.

Which brings us to our second goal this morning: properly presenting him to the world. In Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

In our video, Kevin DeYoung said: as you’ve probably heard by now and should definitely tell someone else…

See the verse above and when you consider this word world (Go into all the world), I want you to think ‘badness’ over ‘bigness’ (D.A. Carson in his little book, The Difficult Doctrine of Love brings this out so beautifully). The word world is often times used to describe the evil that has infiltrated God’s creation because of sin. There is not doubt that at times this word means the earth, but at other times it is used to describe the sinfulness of man.

  • Be in the world, not of it.
  • Paul said of Demas in 2 Timothy: 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Paul isn’t saying Demas loves this big planet, but rather the wicked ways of this world.

When you hear 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Think badness, not bigness.

The word So is not a definition of God’s love, but rather the demonstration of God’s love. I’ve used the terms manner and measure before. Then, consider the world not in its bigness, but in its badness. And, let that settle over you. Oh, how amazing God truly is, that He would work to restore what has been destroyed.

When you look at the whole picture from Creation to today, stop at the flood. God was so repulsed at the world, that he destroyed it all and started over. This time though, he sent his son.

The 2nd part of 1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. This is our call to sacrifice for others.

For sure, there is no place on this earth that we should not go to take this message. But don’t think of it geographically, but rather as demographically. Infiltrate all of its badness with this good news to every single person. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the only antidote – the only hope against evil.

Lisa was telling me this week that one of her messages, Bible studies for the children during VBS was John 3.16. One task with the kids was to answer why Jesus came.

Why did God the Father send Jesus? Jesus came to Restore what had been damaged at Creation through Adam and Eve’s rebellion.

What did he do for us? Their 2nd task was to Recognize what Jesus did. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin; thereby, making this restoration possible.

3rd, they were asked, “How should you Respond to this Good News?” Believe and Receive. 2ndly, go and tell. Because they don’t know – they’ve not heard. It is as if Jesus is right there in their presence but they just don’t recognize him.

Transition: All of what happened from the very beginning has pointed us to this moment – the virgin would be with child and give birth to a baby boy, who would be called Emmanuel: God with us. This baby would grow into a young boy and into a young man. He would live a perfect and sinless life, thereby making him the only one who could pay the penalty for sins: yours and mine. He would die on a cross, making atonement for our sin. He would rise from the dead and ascend to the Father where he rules and reigns in glory as we await his imminent return.

Why did he come? He came to restore that which had been damaged. Our part then is to recognize the lengths God went to restore what has been damaged in sending his son to die for our sin. And, then we should respond appropriately with that Good News.

Conclusion: I met Jesse as a young man in the Army. We were stationed together and he had just been reassigned to my company. He was to me, larger than life. He had a personality they just drew others to him, including me. What was truly amazing to me was that he wanted to be my friend. I’m not sure anyone has influenced my life like Jesse did. Sure, many have had an influence, but Jesse influenced me as a total person.

He could always tell a good joke. He made me laugh so hard. I wanted to be able to tell jokes like he did. So, I practiced. Sometimes, I could just look at him and he’d make me laugh. He could just make a certain face or movement and he would set me off.

We went to the same church. Jesse could give me the giggles and that’s bad during a sermon!

He was so outgoing – not afraid to talk to anybody. I liked that in him. So, I tried to be more like him when I met people. I think some of that was already in me, but Jesse brought more of that out in me.

Jesse was very much an outdoorsman. He could scuba dive, skin dive, surf, boogie board, snorkel, sail. He could hunt and fish. We would go night diving and spear fish while they were sleeping. Sometimes, he would go down and pet a gigantic fish while it slept. He could reach out and grab a lobster with his hands. I could never do that. Jesse could hold his breath for what seemed like endless minutes. He would go down, find a lobster or gigantic eel, like those in the Little Mermaid, and then call me down. I would swim down, holding my breath. He’d point out something fascinating and then I’d have to go back up to catch my breath. He’d stay down there for a while and then swim back up. Amazing.

Jesse was the best friend I think I ever had. In many ways, I wanted to be just like him.

As I look back on that relationship, I worshipped Jesse in many ways. I know I have to be careful when I say that, because it can be misunderstood. But that is probably a good word to describe the relationship we had.

App.: When you worship something or someone you begin to take on those characteristics and manners. When you take someone or something and hold it out there before you – and, it consumes your focus and attention – a part of you changes. Now, that can be really good or that can be very bad.

What or who do you worship? What or who influences your life? Your decisions? Your actions? If Jesus is your idol, your object of worship, you will become more like him. And that, my friends, is one of the ways the people around you will see him. Then, when you tell them about him – it will all come together.

How will you respond to Jesus? I hope he will become the center of you attention and life.

Invitation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Messiah, Philippians, Sermon

The Prophets

Title: The Prophets

Text: Luke 24.13-27

Introduction:

In 1 Kings 13, we meet a man of God. You see the title of the message today: The Prophets. “Man of God” is another title for a prophet. This man of God, a prophet remains nameless. He was summoned by God to go to Jeroboam, the new and 1st king of the northern kingdom and bring him the Word of God. A couple of interesting events happen here:

1st, The man of God tells the king that a future king from the house of David, named Josiah, will sacrifice the priests of the high places and burn their bones on it.

  • Hey, 1st  – King of the Northern Kingdom, a future king of the Southern Kingdom will sacrifice the priests of the high places and burn their bones on it.
  • Oh, and so you know it is God’s Word, a sign will be given to you today –

2nd, He gives him a sign: this altar will be torn down and the ashes that are on it will be poured out.

That’s a pretty bold statement by the prophet – in the face of the King, no less!

So the king gets mad, as you might expect and yells out a command to his servants: Seize Him!

3rd, Instead of the man being seized, the king’s hand and arm are what seize up. Ruh-Roe! The King realizes he’s in trouble. The altar is torn down and the ashes are poured out from the altar just as the man of God predicted.

And so the King pleads with the man of God to intercede to God on his behalf, that he might be healed. The man of God does so and the king is healed.

The year this man of God spoke this prophecy was roughly about 930 BC. Josiah’s reforms took place from 621 BC. That’s 300 years later. You can read about it, that is the fulfillment of this prophecy, in 2 Kings 23. Not only did Jeroboam not live to see the prophecy come true, but 19 other kings would come and go. And, by 620 BC the Northern Kingdom no longer existed. It disappeared in 722 BC. It had already been gone for nearly 100 years.

Such is the work of prophets. They speak of things to come, often as if they’ve already happened. You and I are blessed because the work of the prophets showed us Jesus before he was born. And, many other men of God have documented and outlined the fulfillment of those prophecies for us.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series: HisStory. That is: The Story of Jesus. The premise is that all of God’s Word is about Him. From Creation to Revelation, its not just history, it is His Story. Here’s how we got here:

1. Intro: His Story The Bible
2. Creation Genesis 1-3
3. The Fall Genesis 4-11
4. The Patriarchs Genesis 12-50
5. Israel: A New Nation Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
6. Kings Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles

Here is a quick look at the messages to date. The point of them all has been to communicate that each story points us to God’s work of saving his people. And, that points to Jesus. And that won’t change this morning. Really, it is even clearer as you consider the prophets.

7. Prophets Luke 24.13-27

Turn to Luke 24.13. rd Lk 24.13-27; this must have been an incredible experience for Cleopas and his traveling companion. The Master himself explains to them just what the Prophets had been saying about him. What clarity!

This leads me to some questions – question I hope to answer in my message today:

  1. Who were these men, the prophets? Were any of them women?
  2. Where did they come from? What were their origins?
  3. What was it these prophets said? Or, What had they laid out before hand that Jesus ‘interpreted’ to Cleopas and this other disciple? How did they do that?

Transition: I’d like to begin by answering this 1st question: who were they?

1.  These men were called of God. The first man called a prophet was Abraham in Gen.          20.7; the 1st woman I find being a prophetess is Miriam in Exodus 15.20 (cf.: Isaiah’s          wife, Deborah; Anna); the pattern of a prophet was Moses. He set the example for the        people of Israel that they would look for in a prophet whom God would raise up                  among them. He was the standard by which all other comparisons were made. But, he     also was the example set for them of “The Prophet” – the One who was to come and           The One the Israelites were waiting and watching for.

2.   In answering the question: Where did they come from? At first I was curious about             geographical areas. Where did they live and what did they do before they became             prophets? But this quest took me in a different direction. Where did they come from?         In answering this question I found…

a. Prophetic ministry begins and ends with God. Nowhere do we see prophecy                       with its source in humans (or anywhere else for that matter).

b. A prophet had a private and public call to his ministry. Therefore, a false                               prophet did not have that call upon his life. A Prophet of God was a man who                       had (1st) stood in the presence of God (think Moses) and then (2ndly) stood                           before the people of God telling them the Word of God. Turn to Deut. 18.15-18                       once again;

i. God will “raise up” a prophet. God is the source by which this man will come.

ii. This prophet will speak God’s Word. And I will put my words in his mouth,                             and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Note: A Prophet wasn’t necessarily a predictor of the future. I think a lot of times that is the way we think about prophets – that they predicted the future. In many cases that was true. But, it was so much more than that: a prophet’s main duty was to communicate God’s Word.

c. In Jeremiah 7.25 God declares that He as been doing this since He brought                           them up out of Egypt: 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of                     Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them,                       day after day.

Because of this fact (Prophetic ministry begins and ends with God), we should take note. This is God’s doing and these are God’s Words. Let that sink in. God has accomplished this incredible feat of preserving His Word – over thousands of years – just so you and I would have it here with us today! In all of literature – all of literature – there is nothing anywhere comparable to God’s Word. Nothing! What a precious gift. Would you want to hear from God?

Ill.: Michael Card: “Present Reality,” I want to know you in the now. Well, if truth be told – no, I don’t think we really would. If God could appear before us as He did with the Israelites at Sinai, I think we’d respond and be just like the Israelites at the foot of the Mountain. We would cry out: Please, Dear LORD, don’t speak directly to us. If you do, we’ll die. Write it down for us to read and learn about. Give us godly men and women to teach us – but don’t present yourself to us! We won’t be able to bear it.

app.: In this regard, modern day prophets still speak forth God’s Word. They have it here before us and open up in all of its beauty and encouragement and life-giving information. And they speak plainly God’s Word. Thus saith the Lord.

Because this is God’s Word, future events have context. Because this is God’s Word, a prophecy concerning the future, these future events, as they take place, now have context. We are uniquely positioned to understand the events as they unfold. And the reason we understand them is simply because God has communicated them to us before hand.

More than that, we have confidence, because He has been faithful to do so in the past. We see where He has spoken and what he has said came about. We understand the circumstance so much more in that God had a plan and a purpose.

Ill.: Our community group has been experiencing this in our studies. We have God’s Word to help us interpret the data before us. You look at the Grand Canyon and you see these pancake layers. Use modern day, evolutionary explanations that scientists have theorized to understand this and you’ll be confused. And the more information they provide, the more confusing it gets! But, when you look at the Grand Canyon through the eyes of Genesis 6-9, things begin to make sense.

I don’t have a picture of it, but in our study we saw another area north of the Grand Canyon some 70 miles. And in that location, there is another pancake layer of sediment that isn’t found here. It is actually found between two of the layers you see here. If it took millions and millions of years for each layer to be deposited, then how in the world did a different layer – that supposedly took millions and millions of years to be deposited – get deposited between the two layers? Well, it can’t it is impossible. But, when you consider a cataclysmic event, such as The Flood, then these layers make sense.

We have God’s Word to explain the past and so we can look forward with the same clarity.

App.: Listen to I.H. Marshall: One of the smartest Theologians of the past Century. History became revelation because there was added to the historical situation a man prepared beforehand to say what it meant. Moses was not left to struggle for the meaning of events as or after they happened; he was forewarned of events and of their significance by the verbal communications of God. So it was with all the prophets. Alone of the nations of antiquity, Israel had a true awareness of history.

Christians are blessed with this same awareness. We don’t look back and feel confused; God has answered those questions in his Word. And, we don’t look forward and feel confused – even if some things are not yet revealed. We know that God has given us context. You and I shouldn’t be confused that the World has legalized gay marriage. If you read the book of Revelation, you already know that the world would become more and more licentious and immoral.

t.s.: So, who were these men and where did they come from? These were men and women that God raised up for the purpose of communicating His Word to His People. Here’s another question: Just how did they do that?

 

3.  The prophets were careful to do exactly as God commanded. God’s Word was                      presented to the people in various ways:

  1. Spoken: God said, simply tell them; or tell him; or tell her. 2 Samuel 12
  2. Visual Aids or Object Lessons: Ezekiel 4.1-6; rd Ezekiel 4.1-6
  3. A Demonstration of God’s Power: 1 Kings 18 (calling down fire from heaven)

If you think about it, we saw all three of these expressions used by the unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 13 – the story I opened up with. He spoke God’s Word concerning the future, gave the object lesson of the altar being torn down and the ashes being poured out, and a demonstration of God’s power through the King’s arm ‘seizing up’ and also healing him.

Which brings me to one final section this morning. It isn’t answering a question per se, but is more of a quest for us: Christ in the Old Testament. Let me say there is no way to know every verse of prophecy in the OT. Many are obscure. People don’t even agree on the ones we have.

One day God will reveal it all and we’ll understand it all so much better. But for now, we do know some very important prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament. I thought it would be fun to show you at least one reference to Christ in each of the Old Testament Prophets Writings. We’ll look at the Major Prophets first, then, the Minor Prophets.

Let me begin by saying that ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ prophets are not good English terms. It isn’t like these were more special, so they are called ‘Major’, or that these were insignificant so they were deemed ‘minor’. These are old English terms. Simply put, it has to do with the Volume of material. Think of ‘Larger’ for ‘major’ and ‘smaller’ for ‘minor’.

Let me also say: this list is not exhaustive. I simply chose a verse or two that I am familiar with. A couple of them, I had no idea, so I had to search. This was more for fun than for this message. But, turn with me to Isaiah and let’s make our way through the prophets and look at some of these.

Isaiah: born of a virgin, king, the Suffering Servant (7; 9; 50; 53) Jeremiah: a king like David; the ideal King (30.9) Ezekiel: A king like David; the ideal King (37.24-28)
  Daniel: the 4th man in the fire (3.25); ‘Son of Man’ who is given authority by the ‘Ancient of Days’ (7.13-14);  
Hosea: He is the one who redeems his adulterous bride. (3) Hosea 11.1 is the verse: Out of Egypt I called my son. Joel: His is the Name that is called upon (cf.: Rom 3.10). (2) In those days I will pour out my spirit… the coming of the Holy Spirit. Amos: He is the Lion from the tribe of Judah that roars from Jerusalem. (1, 3.6-7) 2.16: fleeing naked; Mk 14.52; 4.13 – the one who knows our thoughts;
Obadiah: He might be the Messenger who speaks in v.1; He is the King who shall reign over Mt. Zion with the redeemed in 17, 19-21 Jonah: Just as Jonah was in the belly of the giant fish for three days, so also, Jesus was in the tomb for three days (1.17). Micah: He is the King who breaches the gate and goes before his people (2); He will be born in Bethlehem (5); will be a light to his people (7); the steadfast love of the Lord is demonstrated through him (7.18-20) cast our sins into the depths of the sea
Nahum: His Character is displayed in 1. He is the one who breaks the chains and free his people (1) Habakkuk: He is the Everlasting One (1); The Righteous One (2) and the one who reigns in his Holy temple (2). My Strength & my Salvation Zephaniah: He is the one who saves you, rejoices over you and quiets you with loud singing (3); In His Name one finds a refuge.
Haggai: Zerubbabel is a pattern of this future King. He will be God’s Signet Ring in that day (2); Zechariah: again, Zerubbabel is a pattern of this future King – He is called, The Branch (3); He is the The King coming, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey (9); The One whom they have pierced (12); He is the stricken Shepherd (13). Malachi: the sun of righteousness; The announced by Elijah (4) coming before the Messiah.


Conclusion:

Because of their message, because of their work, we now have the hope of salvation. 1 Peter 1.10ff: 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Let that resonate in your spirit. These servants of God, prophets, did their work, faithfully, so that the message you have now received might be made known to you. God was at work all along, preserving it, protecting it.

My friend, what an incredible message from these prophets: that a Messiah would be born to you and that he would die on a cross, taking away your sin and my sin. If you’ve never committed you life to God through His Son Jesus, let today be the day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Prophets, Sermon

A King like the Promised King

Title: Kings: A King like the Promised King

Text: Joshua-2 Chronicles

Introduction: Open your Bible to the Table of Contents. I’m guessing in all your years of sermon listening, you’ve never had a preacher pick the Table of Contents to go to… The Table of Contents is at the very beginning of your Bible.

We began our journey in Genesis. See it there? The 1st book of the Bible!

Review: what got us here: This sermon series is entitled, “His Story”. My premise is that the Bible is one story: His Story. If you think about it, the story begins with him and it will end with him. He really is the main topic and focus throughout the Bible. I began with an introductory sermon on the subject.

1. Intro: His Story The Bible
2. Creation Genesis 1-3
3. The Fall Genesis 4-11
4. The Patriarchs Genesis 12-50
5. Israel: A New Nation Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
6. Kings Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles

Then, I opened the series on the Creation account. John 1 tells us that Jesus created everything – He simply spoke creation into existence. Nothing was created that has been created that was not created by him. Nothing. Colossians tells us: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We went from covering 3 chapters in our first message on creation to 8 chapters of Life in the Fall. There was perfection. Then, there was sin and all of creation was marred. The relationship between God and man was fractured – broken. Then, we covered 38 chapters when we looked at the Patriarchs. God was at work saving his people all along. You see this pattern emerge as you work your way through the texts.

  1. A desire to return to the garden’s perfection. There is always the promise of the land. For Israel, it is the land flowing with milk and honey.
  2. A promised man who would come and restore these things. Repeatedly, men would arise who would be types of this man. These men would be examples, patterns, illustrative of this promised man. But, none would be him. They would give us examples of the Promised One, but none was a perfect fit.

Well, last week we covered 5 books in one sermon: The Pentateuch. The story of the Pentateuch is basically how God took one man (Abraham) and made a nation. Today, we’ll go even bigger, still growing, to cover 8 books of the Bible in one sermon: from Joshua to 2 Chronicles.

The storyline flows from their conquest of the Promised Land to becoming a nation, possessing the land and experiencing the blessings as God had promised Abraham. Today we will see the pinnacle for this nation. It will reach its zenith and come closest to experiencing the promise of God. But that is it. It will quickly dissolve and come unraveled. They will become like Adam and Eve. They will fail to live up to their promise, their commitment to God.

But, in this moment, God will show them, and us, more of what this promised deliverer will look like.

At this point you might be asking if I’m planning to preach the whole Bible – covering every book. Well, yes and no. No in that I will not be covering every book. But yes, in that I am doing my best to show that this book called the Bible is really just one story. We’ll start in Joshua 24 and work through some of the texts in 1 & 2 Samuel. Turn to the Joshua passage… 24.

Transition: For our purposes today, I’d like to just summarize some of these books with the intent of offering direction. I want you to see the bigger picture here. Oh, there are wonderful stories that fill our storyline. These stories offer us teaching lessons – examples for us to follow or avert. And I may touch on one or two of these stories, but for now, let’s hit highlights. Let’s look at Joshua first.

I. Joshua: as we continue the story, the Nation of Israel did move into the land after their 40 years of wilderness wondering. It wasn’t easy. This is much of what the book of Joshua is all about – the conquest of the Promised Land. The really sad part about this story is that we find the people of Israel did not totally displace the previous inhabitants as God had commanded them. The Canaanites then became a constant source of trouble for Israel and were a real hindrance to them for their entire history.

ill.: I felt a bit of this as we traveled across Israel last summer. One can’t help but notice the tension as you enter into an Arab controlled area. There are these check points. Some places we didn’t go – not because we weren’t allowed, but because it wasn’t safe. There is a lot of land that Israel controls, but there is also a lot land in Israel where the Arabs are in control – very similar to what it was like over 3,000 years ago when they first settled the land. I have a couple of photos of Jericho, from miles away. I really would love to see Jericho and visit the ancient city with its walls knocked down. But you can’t at this time. It is too dangerous. I also have some pictures of a van. It has these cage like wire over the windows and dents all over the hood and fenders. We were told that it was a van of someone who lives in an Arab section of Israel. The people throw rocks at the van as it drives through the streets to work and also returns back home.

But more than dangerous, the religious practices of those people plagued Israel, too. They were a constant source of leading the people astray to worship the Baals and Ashteroths. They would build these images and offer sacrifices to the pagan gods of the people there in the land.

And even though the book of Joshua concludes with a renewal of the covenant – Joshua challenging them to follow God whole-heartedly; the people would fail in their commitment time and time again. Rd Joshua 24.14-26

II. Judges: so they move into the land, and are then led by Judges. That’s the next book: Judges. It is a relatively short time in their history. Judges is mostly recognized for the cycle of sin Israel finds itself in. they made the commitment to follow God, but they don’t put away their idols.

  • A Time of Blessing
  • A Warning of Failure
  • Sinful Rebellion
  • God Punishes their Rebellion
  • They Repent and Pray for Salvation
  • God sends a Savior, Deliverer

And the reason they fall into sin is because they are envious of their neighbors and want to be more like them. This leads to their ultimate rebellion against God – they reject him as their king and want a king of their own – a king to rule over them just like the other nations have. And that leads us to Samuel and his story…

III. Samuel: probably the most famous and most popular Judge is Samuel. In some respects, it is very understandable wanted a different leadership. Samuel leads them faithfully as a judge and prophet; however, his sons are evil and wicked. And it is during his time of leadership that the People of Israel ask for a King. Look with me in 1 Samuel 8. In 1 Sam 7.3ff you read the end of a cycle, then, they ask – not they demand a king like the people around them. rd 8.1-9; God tells Samuel that they’re not rejecting him, but rather, they’re rejecting God. They’re acting like they always do… they chase after the things they see – their hearts follow their eyes.

The irony in this to me is that God warns them through Samuel how bad it is going to be. But they don’t care.

ill.: have you seen those commercials where they promote some medication that is going to get you back out into life? And then they close with a few warnings: this medication has been known to cause anal leakage, uncontrolled drooling and hair to grow between your toes. Don’t take this medication if you are a male or a female or have been known to sleep at night or have at times grown hungry if you’ve not eaten in three days.

I see these commercials and think I don’t ever want to have to take that medication! It sounds like the side effects are worse than the ailment!

exp.: rd 8.10-19; He is going to make you his slaves… Oh, that’s ok… we want a king!

The truly most amazing part of all of this is that God was still so good to his people. Yeah, the first king blew it. And, to be honest they all blew it to some degree or another. Still, in their rejection of God… He never turned his back on them. Turn to 1 Samuel 12.

  1. In verses 1-5 Samuel defends his ministry and the integrity of heart before them.
  2. In verses 6-11 Samuel reminds them of their continued descent into sin in spite of God’s continued deliverance. He would save and they would run back to sin.
  3. In v 12-13, Samuel reminds them of their foolishness to ask for a king like the nations.
  4. In v 14-18, Samuel warns of their rebellion and give a demonstration, a sign of God’s great power.
  5. In v 19, the people acknowledge the sin, in fear of God’s great power. And they cry out in fear…

Follow with me in v20-22 and see the incredible mercy of God.

6. In v23-25, Samuel confirms his commitment to God’s people to love and pray                       for them.

God gives them what they ask for in a king and it turns out pretty bad. Saul’s story is one of selfishness and pride. It is one of impatience and a lack of faith. Saul’s story ends up as it had been foretold – just like the people were warned. It is all pretty sad and the people are no better off for it.

But God uses this moment with them to give them a little taste of what he wanted for them. 1 Samuel is all about this first king, Saul and his horrible failure as King. But then God chooses another man, David. This man – again, chosen by God – will be a type of King they’re to look for in the Promised King. He’s in 1 Samuel, but his reign as King begins in 2 Samuel.

We meet David when he’s pretty young. It would be so much fun to spend a lot of time on this man… David, but we just don’t have time this morning.

Can I pause for a moment this morning and say that having a king was never the problem. God had actually set up rules and regulations for a king for Israel in Deuteronomy 17. The problem wasn’t a king, per se. It was Israel’s rejection of God. It was their desire to be like the other nations around them and not to be distinct and different.

But that was all a part of the bigger story. For in this new King, God would show the people of Israel a little of what is to come. He would offer them hope in what they see. God demonstrates this by establishing his covenant with David.

The pattern of covenant is repeating itself in this story. There are many of the same elements as we’ve seen before with Abraham. Turn to 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 7 we find elements to the covenant promises God gave to Abraham. Rd 2 Sam 7.8-19

12 Now the Lord said to Abram,

  1. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
  2. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
  3. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts,

  1. I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.
  2. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

 

  • God took Abraham from Ur and placed him in a new land. He took David from shepherding sheep in the field to be a shepherd of God’s people.
  • God promises Abraham descendants – who he will build into a nation. He does the same for David – his house will be a dynasty and the promised one will come from this long line.
  • He promised this land to Abraham’s descendants. He promised David to establish and firmly root God’s people in this land.
  • He promised Abraham to make his name great. He does the same for David there in v 9.
  • God promised to bless the nations through Abraham and he does the same for David. You pick up on this in v 19.

Israel will reach its highest point of success under David and Solomon. Israel will experience that land flowing with milk and honey under David’s reign. But it will soon be lost.

IV. 1 & 2 Kings: The Kingdom is divided after Solomon. The Northern Kingdom will have 19 Kings over the next 200 years. Nary a one will be good. Every single King of the Northern 10 tribes led the Israelites to rebel against God and worship idols. Their demise will come by 722 BC when the King of Assyria conquered and carry off their people. Forced intermarriage happens and the Jewish descendants disappear. A new people will emerge known as Samaritans. This happens in 2 Kings 17.

As for the Southern Kingdom, there are only two kings of all the kings worth noting who followed God anywhere near what David did: Josiah and Hezekiah. There was a hand-full of kings who were ok, or repented and tried to do right after being bad. But for the most part, David is the example of the man who is to come.

Let me offer you a note about Kings and Chronicles.

  • 1 & 2 Kings: the book of kings was probably written during the exile to explain their exile. Isn’t it odd how we as humans reject God for so long and then are shocked when God disciplines? Some theologians think that the writer probably used Deut. 12 as a litmus test for those kings. Where they failed and where they succeeded can be measured against Deuteronomy 12.
  • 1 & 2 Chronicles: the book of Chronicles was written after the exile with the goal of encouraging those who were returning to the Promised Land to live a life faithful to God. The goal, of course, would be to not repeat history!

We didn’t mention Ruth, though Ruth plays a huge part in the genealogical line of the Messiah.

Conclusion:

This idea of Kingship is one main source of our understanding of the Messiah. The Messiah, the anointed of God, when he comes, he will be King – not ‘a’ king, but ‘the’ King (King of Kings). We must understand that this king isn’t an earthly king though. He won’t be like the kings of today or even of those from previous centuries or millennia.

When Jesus came and died in the flesh a century after David, he conquered Satan. He was the Snake Crusher they’d all been waiting for. His rule today isn’t over a land as much as it is over the hearts of a people. Oh, many in Israel wanted him to be king. They wanted it badly as they threw down their palm branches and coats to create the red carpeted Triumphal Entry of the King. But when he wasn’t what they thought he should be, they killed him.

They missed it when he came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 1.14-15;

Zechariah prophesied it when he said in Luke 1

68     “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people

69     and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

70     as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71     that we should be saved from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us;

72     to show the mercy promised to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73     the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74         that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

75         in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76     And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77     to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

78     because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

79     to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

 

Zechariah is saying that this promised King is now here. But he isn’t a king like you think.

Simeon understood as he held the Baby King in his arms:

29     “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

30     for my eyes have seen your salvation

31         that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32     a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

This statement by Simeon is acknowledgement that the Kingdom of God has arrived as announced by Isaiah.

Application: So, what do I want you to take away with you this morning?

  1. What seems a mess, isn’t really a mess at all. What they wanted, as they saw it, God was using to teach us. It was a part of His great master plan. Remember this as you look at our world today and think: what a mess! God is not finished working his plan.
  2. King David was meant to show us what the Promised King would look like. He was what theologians call: A type. He was a man after God’s own heart. Yes, he failed – and that should teach us valuable lessons, too. But more than that, he pointed to the future King who would come.
  3. An Edenesque existence will one day be restored. The height of David’s reign displayed the potential for a return to the Garden. Never were the Israelites closer to the land flowing with Milk and Honey than when David obediently led his people as their king. That is only a taste of what is to come!
  4. Next week we’ll talk about the Prophets – another role assigned to the Messiah (Prophet, Priest, King). The prophets worked tirelessly to stop the decay and decline of their nation. They did everything they could possibly do to get the Kings to return to God and to return the people to God. They always held out the hope before the people of a perfect king who would lead his people to restoration and renewal. They of course, never saw that King, but he did come – and his name is Jesus!

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Sermon

Israel: A Nation is Born

Title: Israel: A Nation is Born

Text: The Pentateuch

Introduction: The Pentateuch is the name given for the first 5 books of the Bible. Often times you’ll hear it called the Law or as it is known in Hebrew, the Torah. It is these books that give us a foundation for understanding our faith and religion. We understand better who we are through these books. We understand how we got to where we are through these books; that is, our beginnings and our journey. The world makes more sense to us when we get this background information. These five books provide the foundation for the rest of the story.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series entitled: His Story. We’ve looked at Creation and the perfection of the Garden of Eden. We next covered life in the Fall. Last week we covered the Patriarchs from Abraham down through the 12 sons of Israel. And that is where we pick up this morning, with the 12 sons and how they grow into a nation.

Let’s walk through these five books this morning to see a nation come into existence.

I. Genesis

exp.: Genesis presents the stories of Creation, the Fall, and presents God’s plan of redemption through Abraham…

  • Abraham (had Ishmael & Isaac)
  • Isaac (had Esau and Jacob)
  • Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, had 12 sons
  • The 12

Israel had 4 wives. The one he apparently loved the most was Rachel. She died while giving birth to Benjamin, his 12th son. The two boys she gave him were his favorites. And Joseph, the oldest of the two, was doted upon without hesitation in front of the others. Joseph’s apparent arrogance didn’t help matters either.

You see, Rachel was the wife he loved the most, but she was the wife who bore Israel no children. And for a woman who was barren – a common theme we see throughout His Story – the shame was almost unbearable. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was considered barren. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife was, too. And it appeared, Rachel was, too. So here is this man who loves this wife more than the others and when she has a son, he is most cherished. She dies giving birth to another son. You can understand why Israel might have favored these two more than the others. They were growing up without a momma.

But Israel’s favoritism and Joseph’s arrogance led to a lot of heartache. Some of the older 10 brothers wanted to kill him, but sold him as a slave to some of their distant cousins, Midianites, descendants of Ishmael, who were headed down to Egypt.

Summed up: God used the mess of their family to get Joseph down to Egypt, where the whole family would eventually come to be saved. At first he was a slave, then a prisoner. But God took him from the lowest of places and raised him up to be 2nd in command of all of Egypt. And though it seems harsh, it would be Joseph’s unfortunate circumstances of slavery and imprisonment that would provide for him a move to be 2nd in Command of all Egypt. His family in Israel would have to come to him for food during a horrible famine and Joseph would keep them there, providing for them – saving them.

t.s.: And there they would stay for 100’s of years as they multiplied and filled the land. Let me show you:

II. The Exodus

exp.: According to Exodus 1.5, there were 70 people in Israel’s family that moved down to Egypt. rd 1.5-7; this sounds like the covenant with Adam and with Noah – be fruitful and multiply… But a ruler would rise to power who did not know Joseph and was bothered by their increase in numbers. So he enslaved them. Basically, Exodus 1 covers 400 years of history. Chapter 2 covers 80 years, the 1st 80 years of Moses’ life. From Exodus 3 through Leviticus and to the middle of Numbers covers about 15 months.

At the age of 80, Moses returns to Egypt to lead his people out of Egypt as a free people. There in the wilderness they would get organized. They would learn what it means to be God’s people. They would be structured for mobility. They would be given ample opportunity to grow in their faith.

God will perform incredible miracles before them to help them come to faith in Him.

  1. The 10 plagues
  2. The Cloud by day and the Pillar of fire by night.
  3. The parting of the Red Sea; crossing on dry ground and then, drowning Pharaoh and his army.
  4. Bitter water turned into something they could drink.
  5. Manna
  6. Water from the Rock
  7. At Mt. Sinai, they beheld the glory of God in the peals of thunder and lightning, smoke, fire, trumpet blasts…

…where God gives his people his commandments and laws. For these first few months the Israelites set up camp and God would be outside their camp. They’re probably camping in their tribes and clans, but there seems to be no order or structure to their set up.

The picture was clear: God was saving his people. Now, he would do what he must to make them a people worthy of being called his people.

God called Moses to come up to the Mountain at Sinai to receive his commands – commands these people needed to learn. By the way: this was their request. They begged Moses to intercede for them. God was too ‘scary’ for them. They were too terrified to get anywhere near God. So, they begged Moses to intercede for them. He would go and visit with God and then come back and tell them what God said.

But, while Moses was up on the mountain of God, the people lost faith. Moses didn’t return for a long time and so they asked Aaron to make them another god of gold, a calf. Big mistake!

God was so angry with them that he was going to destroy them. But, Moses interceded for them and God relented from destroying them.

Summed up: In the book of Exodus the people are set free and brought out to the Wilderness of Sinai. There God gives them the 10 commandments and establishes a place for Him to dwell in their midst. The rest of the book is filled with instructions for constructing the place where God’s presence would dwell among the people. This place is called the Tabernacle. In this book, the tabernacle is built and the Glory of God moves into the Tabernacle.

t.s.: There is still so much for them to learn, though. A lot is happening here and very quickly. Which brings us to the book of Leviticus

III. Leviticus

exp.: The book of Leviticus is basically more instruction. The Laws that would make them different and distinct from all other people are given in Leviticus. God gives them his precepts, laws and commandments to follow so that they would become more like him and image him to the world… they would be distinct and different from all other people in the world. Then, they could be with him: he would be their God and they would be his people.

You see, up to this point there was just one problem preventing him from dwelling in the midst: their sin. You see, God is perfect and holy. They are not. And the two don’t mix.

The one thing the laws of Leviticus would demonstrate to them was their sinfulness and their great need for atonement.

Think about this: since the beginning of creation man has rebelled against God and done things his own way. From the first bite of the forbidden fruit to Abel killing his brother to …. Man’s standard has been to rebel against God. Man’s standard is sin. God’s standard is holiness. When I say ‘holiness’ think: perfection, clean, uncommon, unblemished, unmarked, pure, and righteous in every way. The law was given to show his people that they were sinners, imperfect, common and unclean, blemished, marked, impure and unrighteous in every way. – They were the antithesis of Him. To be with Him, their sin would have to be removed – it would have to be atoned for.

So, laws were set in place to show the standard of perfection. The punishment for rebellion against God’s law was death. But, to demonstrate God’s great love for his people, he gave them the sacrificial system to pay the penalty and take the punishment for them. The idea was that they didn’t have to die; a substitute could be sacrificed on their behalf. Then, through faith in God through that sacrifice, they could be holy and have a relationship with Him.

God instructs them to build a ‘place’ for him. Really, no place can contain him, but they need something to demonstrate the presence of God. So instructions are set for a Tabernacle to be built. This Tabernacle will be a holy place and the inner part where God dwells will be the most holy place (holy of holies). This is all very new to them. Their whole lives have been spent in slavery. They’ve only known what has been passed down through oral tradition. Now, God has saved them and set them up so that He might dwell with them; that He might Tabernacle with them, that He might pitch His tent in the midst of theirs.

So a standard is set and a redemption policy is put in place to accommodate their failure. We read about this in Leviticus 16 – it is called the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Their sinful state is described in 17-18. And by the time we get to 19, we see the holiness of God and the call for His people to be holy. Rd 19.1-2; 1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. And the call is repeated throughout Leviticus: Be Holy as I am Holy.

Transition: Once God teaches them of his standard, then he moves to set them in place so that He might dwell in their midst. And that leads us to the book of Numbers.

IV. Numbers

exp.: It is here in Numbers that they get organized. God has taught them that He is holy and they must be holy to be with him. And then to demonstrate this, he moved them around Him. No longer was he outside of where they camped – or I guess better understood, no more were they outside and away from him…now they were around him…literally, surrounding him.

Let me show you what I mean:

  1. Exodus 33.7-11: The Tent of Meeting

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

  1. Numbers 2
    1. East: Judah, Issachar, Zebulun
    2. South: Reuben, Simeon, Gad
    3. Levites around the Tabernacle
    4. West: Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin
    5. North: Dan, Asher, Naphtali

And by his commands, sin was to be taken outside the camp. They would take a shovel with them outside of the camp to go to the bathroom. If someone was sick or unclean, they would be sent outside the camp.

Once everything was set, they celebrated the Passover – for the 2nd time. So, they’ve been out there for a year, learning about what it means to be God’s people. After the Passover, God said it was time to move out and head to their new home – The Promised Land! And he gave them specific instructions on how they would travel.

And they do, just as God had established. From now on until they enter the land, they would move this way; they would camp this way with God dwelling in their midst. Look at Numbers 9.15-23; And in Chapter 10 they take off. By the next chapter they’re complaining again! Even Miriam and Aaron get in on dogging Moses in Chapter 12. By Chapter 13 they arrive just outside the Promised Land. Finally, freedom from slavery and the opportunity to experience Eden Restored, God dwelling in their midst, and a land flowing with milk and honey. All they have to do is follow God into the land.

Then God does something very interesting: he orders Moses to send in spies to spy out the land. One man from each tribe. I’m sure you know the story by now: the 12 came back with the most wonderful stories, but 10 of them had fear in their eyes. We can’t do it. They’re too big! Remember the Nephilim of Genesis 6? Well, they’re here in Numbers, too. 10 of the 12 Spies told the people to turn back and surrender to Egypt. If they go into the Promised Land, they’ll all die. Better to take their chances in the desert – to die trying to get back to Egypt by way of the desert. If they continue into the Promised Land, their children will become prey to these Giants in the Land.

Man, they upset God one time too many. He told Moses once again, Get out of the way. I’m gonna kill them all! I’ll raise up a new nation with you. But Moses pleads with God and intercedes for the people once again. We pick up where Moses has interceded for them. Look at Numbers 14.20-23; 28-35;

So God gives them just what they asked for. They will all die in the desert and their children, all of those alive 20 and under will enter the land. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who encouraged obedience and trust, would enter into the land.

app.: And that is just what happens. One by one, beginning with the 10 that led the people astray, they all die.

t.s.: Over the next 40 years all will die who were in the Census – that is, 20 years old and older. Only Caleb and Joshua will enter the land.

V. Deuteronomy

exp.: Deuteronomy means 2nd Law. This book is about this 2nd generation preparing to enter into the Promised Land that their parents and grandparents rejected. Moses presents the Law to them again and leads them to make a covenant with God.

Application: there are so many points where we could apply this story to ours.

  • The Holiness of God. How often do we forget how awesome and great God is in His Holiness? How often do we treat Him with contempt by making Him common in our eyes?
  • The sinfulness of man and the need for forgiveness and atonement. Do we realize the wickedness of our hearts? Do surround ourselves with so much of the world and sinfulness that we become callused to our own depravity?
  • We as God’s people are to image God to a lost world just as they were supposed to do. How are we doing in that?
    • Do the leaders lead people astray because they’re scared or don’t like what they find as God is leading? Leader: are you more like Joshua and Caleb or more like the 10 whose names we don’t remember?
    • As a follower, are you pressing onward in faith? Or, do you find yourself grumbling and complaining against the leadership, the ministry, or God himself? How are we doing with that?

I worry, though, in pressing for application, that we would forget the point of these stories all being tied together; it is too easy to forget about the Snake Crusher and the Lion from the Tribe of Judah who would be King when you get lost in the stories, chapter after chapter and book after book. But really, God is reminding them all along; they’re just not listening. And the same goes for you and me.

Conclusion: It truly is amazing to see this storyline being written throughout all of history. Here today we’ve seen a nation come out from Egypt and be set free from their slavery. Moses led them. But this Moses was not the Snake Crusher. He’s not the lion of Judah, but rather a descendant of Levi.

Look at Deuteronomy 18.15-18; yes, there will be many prophets who will rise up and lead them, sharing God’s Word with them. But here is a prophecy about the One who is coming. A reminder that He is the one who will crush the head of the serpent and is Abraham’s son, and is the lion from the tribe of Judah and will be a prophet like Moses – a rescuer, ruler and redeemer, as Stephen calls him in Acts 7. Don’t miss that now. Stephen is reminding them that they have been looking for this Promised One… ‘the Prophet’ as he is known. Peter does the same thing in Acts 3.22 when proclaiming Christ in the Temple.

Each Gospel points out that the Israelites were looking for this Promised One (Mt 17.5; Mk 9.7; Lk 9.35) Jn 1.1-25; 5.45-47; Jesus is very plainly telling them right here that He is the One they’ve have been hearing about all of their lives. He is the one they have been waiting for.

If you’ve not heard, let me share with you, his name is Jesus. He fulfilled all of these promises and more we’ve not even looked at yet. He is the one this story is all about.

Let’s pray…

Leave a comment

Filed under Deuteronomy, Exodus, Genesis, Israel, Leviticus, Numbers, Sermon

WHAT EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW…

Title: What every child should know… because his or her father taught it to them.

Text: Genesis 12-50

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series entitled His Story. His Story spans the length of the entire Bible. Every little story, from the story of creation all the way through to the prophecy in Revelation, is about Jesus.

We began with a look at creation and it’s perfection. Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship… no, a fellowship with the Father that we can only dream about. No hindrance, no deception, no confusion, no struggle, no sin. In the perfection of the garden there was a state of existence that you and I can only imagine. But that perfection was interrupted with the decision on the part of both Adam and Eve to believe the lie of the devil. Their actions would destroy that perfection. And, there would be a quest by humanity to seek that utopia from then on… Last week, we looked at life in the fall. Honestly, we’re still living life in the fall, but the circumstances have changed a little.

After the flood, God scattered the people and confused their language. We meet those folks in chapter 10 of Genesis which is known as the Table of Nations. Chapter 11 explains it the story of the Tower of Babel. As the people are scattered, they move throughout the Mesopotamian World and settle in various places. After 10 generations beginning with Shem, we meet Abram – henceforth called Abraham. At the end of chapter 11 and continuing all the way through Genesis, we get the stories of the Patriarchs. There is:

  • Abraham. He is a father with many sons, but it is his son with Sarah
  • Isaac, who will carry on the line. Isaac becomes a father of two sons, Esau and
  • Jacob, who is the younger. Jacob will carry on the lineage of Abraham as chosen by God.
  • Jacob will have 12 sons, who in essence will become the nation of Israel. One son, Levi, will become a tribe of priests and so won’t be numbered with the nations as a tribe. One son, Joseph, will then have two sons who will take their places. Their names are Manasseh and Ephraim.

Each of these 12 sons will father many other sons and daughters. Etc. Etc. Etc. 400 years later, you have the descendants of Israel who live in Egypt as slaves. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today, I want to talk to you about fathers.

1st, it is Father’s Day and this message just happens to coincide with the date.

2nd, this section is about fathers. Namely, these guys: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Gad, Joseph and Benjamin. That’s a lot of fathers to look at in one sermon. So, here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’ve decided to list, “What every child should learn from their father!”

Two Caveats:

  1. This list isn’t exhaustive. It is just a list I’ve gathered from these stories.
  2. I know not everyone has a father. What I mean by that is not every man who sires a child is a daddy. Some of us become orphans for different reasons. Some Dad’s die, some leave. Fathers are special because of who they are and what they do. Today, we’re in Genesis 12-50 where we’ll meet the patriarchs or forefathers to the Hebrew Children. I’m taking these lessons from them and from our Heavenly Father who gives the best example of what a daddy should be.

So let’s get started: the first bit of information a child gathers from his or her father should lead them to say…

  1. I am loved

exp.: John 3.16; Romans 5.8; 1 Jn 3.1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. Deut. 10.15 – 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Jn 16.27 says, …the Father himself loves you. There are countless verses and examples of the Father’s love for you.

In Scripture, God chose a man named Abraham to father his people. Abraham remained childless for many years; however, his brother died and so he took his nephew in as his own. Abraham brought him with him when God called him to leave his country and kindred and go to a place God had planned to give to his descendants.

In Genesis 13 and 14, tensions begin to grow between Abraham and Lot. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough pastureland for both families. Rd 13.5-11; Abraham’s actions toward his nephew are righteous and demonstrate the love of God. God then blesses Abraham in the same manner that Abraham just did with Lot; rd v 14-17; As Abraham had demonstrated his love toward Lot, God, in turn, demonstrates his love to Abraham, giving him the land as far as the eye can see.

app.: Here is then a good application that we see in a good father…A good father gives good gifts. It isn’t so much that gifts are given, but rather that when these gifts are given, they are good gifts. They are good because they good for your child – they make your child better and they demonstrate your love for your child.

Transition: Every child should know they are loved because their father has demonstrated that love toward them. Let me say, that each point from here on out is an extension of that love. For example: 2ndly, every child should know they are safe.

  1. I am safe

ill.: Some years ago, I was headed to bed and Lisa asked, “Am I safe? It was a good question. So, I started a ritual with her of when I’d go to bed, I would ensure the house was closed up and locked.

One night, not too long ago, Anna Grace was afraid. I don’t remember why exactly, but Lisa told her of my job to make sure the family was safe and how I made my rounds to ensure everything was locked up tight. Out of curiosity (or maybe just to put off going to bed for a couple of minutes longer) she asked if she could accompany me on my rounds. Sometimes, she still likes to accompany me, but mostly she just asks if we’re safe. She asks because she knows that’s my job… to keep them safe and to make them feel protected.

Some of you might not agree with this, but I’ve shown my girls the guns I have and the rifles and shotguns, too. They know those weapons are locked away, but within my reach should the need arise. My girls know that I would use them to defend them. I pray that never happens – that I never have to…

exp.: this very thing happens to Abraham in Genesis 14. Abraham’s nephew, who was more like a son to him, had been kidnapped by an army from the north. Abraham covered a lot of territory in Israel and up to Syria to rescue Lot from this enemy. Rd 14.11-14; rd v 15-16;

Dan Gate

Photo of the Gates of Dan at the time of Abraham (cf.: Gen.14:14)

Transition: While we can’t always guarantee safety, we can always fight for our kids… grandkids. We can take steps to make sure they’re safe: look the doors, set the alarm, buckle their seatbelts and car seats, etc. This communicates to them that they are loved and protected.

Thirdly, every child should know that whatever they go through, a good father will always do his best to go through it with them.

  1. I am never alone in this:

exp.: in Gen 28 Jacob is forced to flee to his mother’s homeland. It is the land Abraham and Sarah came from and it is the land Isaac got his wife, Rebecca from; And, because God worked it this way, it is the land from which his wives would come from. I said Jacob fled to his mother’s homeland. The ploy was to find a wife. The truth is that his brother Esau wanted to kill him – And you can blame their mother for that! Rebecca would have to send her son away for his own safety – if you read through the stories, you find that she dies before he comes back. She never sees her son again. We pick up the story in 28.10. rd 10-11; This place is the place Abraham stayed and built an altar when he came into the land. rd 12-15; I will not leave you. What a promise!

ill.: God will make this promise to many of his children throughout the generations; Moses, Joshua, In Hebrews we read it as a promise to us… His Children today.

app.: And we as fathers make this same sort of promise to our kids. I want you to know that I’m here for you. Yes, there will be journeys you must take without me – but I’m here for you. I’ll be the wind beneath your wings. I’ll be your loudest cheerleader. I will give advice and counsel if you ask for it and as long as you’re following the Lord, You can count on me to go through whatever you’re going through, too.

Transition: which leads me to the next statement that every child should know because of their father

  1. I don’t have to worry about things…. He’s got it covered. Father’s provide for their children. At least they should. I’m not talking about a check in the mail. I’m not talking about provision of goods alone. What I’m talking about is an everyday thing. In Genesis 30, God provides for Jacob by causing him to prosper. He did the same for Abraham. When he went out to rescue Lot, it says he gathered the men who worked for him and his household. He led forth his trained men, men who were born to his household – 318 men. In Genesis 30, Laban does everything he can to thwart the growth and prosperity of Jacob, but God isn’t deterred. We’ll see the same with Joseph.

David will compose a beautiful song about the Father’s provision for his children. He will write: I once was young, but now I am old. And I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread. God knows how to care for his children and give them good gifts.

I think of the times I needlessly worried my kids about things that were too big for them. Come to think of it…I shouldn’t have been worried myself, because God has given me a great record of faithfulness to hang my hat on. Would you say the same thing? Where are my young men and women here this morning? Trust God! He is faithful.

Turn to Gen. 50.15; rd 15-17; funny how they bring God up; rd v 18-21; when you consider God is sovereign, let me ask you children, what do you really need to worry about? In Gen 15, Abraham was told that he would have a son and a nation would come from his line. Furthermore, he said they would be sojourners in a land that wasn’t their own, but it would all be ok, because after 400 years, God would bring them back to this land where Abraham was listening to God speak.

That text says in v 1-6 that God took Abraham outside and gave him a visual aid. God told Abraham to look out at the stars and to count them if he could. Then God said, “So shall your offspring be.” And the amazing part of Abraham’s story is that he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Ill.: one of my favorite war stories is about a couple of buddies who were in a horrible battle. One of the men went down when he was critically wounded. His buddy started to move out into the open to retrieve his friend. Another soldier grabbed him and said, “What are you doing? He’s critically injured. He’s gonna die anyway!” The friend pulled away and went out into the open, dodging bullets to get his friend and pull him back to safety. When he had pulled his friend back out of the fire, the soldier yelled at him, “See he’s dead… you risked your life for nothing! Was it worth it?”

“Yes, it was. When I got there he said, “I knew you would come.”

I think learning not to worry is born out of the faithfulness of the one you trust. As daddies, we learn that from the faithfulness of our father – and our children and grandchildren learn it from us…

Transition: I am loved, I am safe, I am never alone, I don’t have to worry about this and #5…

  1. I am forgiven.

Your child should know the grace of God in your life. If you’re perfect, well then, you don’t need the grace of God. But, if you’re like me, if you’ve failed time and again, then demonstrate grace for them.

I see this happening in two ways:

  • When you’ve blown it as a parent, go to them and ask them to forgive you. As fathers we have disciplined without knowing the full extent of the problem. We’ve divvied up and doled out punishment unfairly and without ‘due justice’. To be honest, sometimes the punishment did not fit the crime. Man, I’ve beaten myself up over this particular one. That’s why your children need you to go in and get down on their level and apologize when you’ve been wrong or when you’ve wronged them. That’s one way they learn grace. But there’s another and it is even harder for a dad to teach by example.
  • If you have sinned and they’ve witnessed it, let them see your need for repentance and the grace of God at work in your struggle. This one is really tough. Most of us don’t want to admit this. We’d rather call it something other than sin. But if your language was less than exemplary, if your actions were dishonorable, if you mistreated someone with your actions or your words, if you hit your hand and used a word… not found in the dictionary – your kids need to see your repentance and confession toward God. I’m not saying confess all of your sins to them. Don’t tell your children all of your nasty failures. But here is your gage, your standard – your repentance needs to be as public as your sin. No, your kid doesn’t need to know everything. We don’t need to know everything. If you’ve sinned only against God – then let your repentance be only to God.

The greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us is the gift of forgiveness found in His Son; 1 Jn 1.9 says, if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness. Your children will learn this truth when they see it demonstrated in your life.

Transition: and this goes so well with my last statement…

  1. I have a better understanding of who God is because of who my dad was.

ill.: in “Confession of a Part-time Mom”, Lara Bazelon explains why divorce suits her and having shared custody gives her a bit of a refresher when her two little kids are with their dad. In some respects I understand where she is coming from: as parents we all get tired. But in other respects, it saddens me. I read her article and was saddened – not for her, but for her kids (Yeah, maybe her a little, but more so for her children).

I don’t think Ms. Bazelon understands what being a parent is all about. There are goals in parenthood – at least there are supposed to be – that go way beyond the selfish tendencies we all have. I’m not saying you don’t need a break from your kids. I’m sure you do. In her article she says that at the end of 5 days she is fed up with them and ready for their father to pick them up. And, when they’re gone 5 days, she is refreshed, but getting lonely and missing them.

The purpose in rearing children isn’t to fix a loneliness you have. The purpose in rearing children and being a parent isn’t so that those kids will serve you. Children don’t exist simply for our pleasure – although, they do bring us great pleasure. My dad used to tell me to be quiet. Children are to be seen and not heard. And sometimes, not even seen. Children aren’t simply used to get you the remote or something out of your reach. Get off your lazy… can I say that in a sermon?

Did you know though, that your presence and activity in your kid’s life demonstrates the presence of God? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t ship you off every five days?

  • Your love demonstrates the love of God.
  • Your presence demonstrates the presence of God.
  • Your patience demonstrates the patience of god.
  • Your care demonstrates the care of God.

Here’s the simple application: It makes it so much easier for a child to grasp our heavenly father when they have a good earthly father as an example. And, the converse is true, as well. A poor example of a father can turn the hearts of children away from God.

Fathers, your marriage is a picture of the Gospel that your kids will see – and hopefully hold in high regard. Dads, when you work through your relationships as struggles come, you’re teaching your kids about loyalty, faithfulness and what is truly important. You’re teaching them that love is unconditional. You’re teaching them about God. Your kids will learn more about God through your behavior then they ever will learn about God through what you say.

As we look at these dads… Isaac and Jacob, and the 12 brothers, we see men who didn’t always behave the way fathers should. We see favoritism. We see manipulation. In these men, we get a lot of bad examples – probably more bad examples than good!

Conclusion: Sometimes I think to myself, it is too late for me. For the most part, my kids are grown and gone. But it really is never too late to let your kids know they are loved, to let them know you’re there for them – in whatever way you can best help them. Isn’t that a true demonstration of what God does for us?

Let’s pray.

God is our example of a good, good father. Invitation.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Genesis, Scripture, Sermon

East of Eden: Living in a Fallen World

Title: East of Eden: Living in a Fallen World

Text: Genesis 4-11

Introduction: We begin our study this morning in Genesis 4. We’ll make our way through each chapter to 11. We will look at 3 main stories today of life in the Fall. This isn’t to say that sins domination ends at Chapter 11, but that chapter 12 is where there is a significant change in the storyline:

  1. Cain & Abel (4-5)
  2. The Flood (6-10)
  3. The Tower of Babel (11)

Interspersed between these stories are the listings of their generations – their descendants. It is fun to look at them and study them, though we don’t have time for that today. Let me give you an example to whet your appetite: Adam to Noah: 10 generations; Noah had Shem – from Shem to Abram is 10 Generations.

“Preaching the Word Commentary Series” of these passages says: Moses has exercised great literary care in constructing the story because again, as in the creation account, sevens and multiples of seven are used to shape the narrative symmetry. Within verses 1-17, the name ‘Abel’ and the important designation ‘brother’ each occur seven times. Cain occurs 14 times. And whereas, in 1.1 – 2.3 the name God (Elohim) occurred 35 times. From 2.4 to the end of chapter 4 the words ‘God’, ‘the Lord’, and ‘the Lord God’ occur a total of 35 times. The careful Hebrew scholar Gordon Wenham observes: “the last verse of chapter 4, ‘At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord,’ thus contains the 70th mention of deity in Genesis.” Conclusion: There is vast intentionality in this narrative as it instructs us about the essential nature of all mankind.

Sometimes we read the 1st 11 chapters of Genesis and we feel like parts of the story are missing or there is a contradiction. But that is only because we are looking at it the wrong way. It’s like looking through binoculars backward. As you observe what might seem like controversies and contradictions let me point out that the literary goal of Moses might not fit the parameters you set up. When trying to understand Hebrew Literature, you’ve got to come to terms with Hebrew poetry, symmetry, and language. Don’t box your study in the context of a 21st Century culture.

Transition: My premise for this series is The Bible is One Story: His Story. It’s all about Jesus.

The bookends to this story are Creation and the Garden of Eden at the beginning and Heaven, where Eden is restored. The storyline progresses from where there was perfection in the Garden, but all was lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, to the hard cold fact of life in the fall. From that point forward, there is a constant desire and pursuit for the perfection of the Garden to be restored. We all want a place like that.

  • Adam: be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, have dominion.
  • Noah: same command – be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, have dominion.
  • Abraham: same thing – Go to a land, I will build you into a nation.

Two main parts: land and people.

  • We’ll see in the coming weeks that the people Israel had the chance to inherit a land flowing with milk and honey, but they rejected God, too.
  • I think at times, many in the United States think that this is the Promised Land – That these United States are God’s new Eden. We think if we just elect the right officials or enact the right laws, we’ll have the perfect place here – with God’s blessing. It’s like its built into our spiritual DNA. But according to Scripture, that’ll never happen in the US. As great as it is to be an American, The United States will never be heaven. As a matter of fact – The US has become more like Sodom and Gomorrah than the Garden of Eden!
  • The point is: we won’t have Eden restored until we all get to Heaven (and what a day of rejoicing that will be!).

Last week we looked at Creation and the perfection of Eden. Let’s turn our attention to this week’s topic of life in the fall. Our first story is…

I.     The Story of Cain and Abel (4-5)

exp.: Adam and Eve have been kicked out of the Garden. They have two sons, whose only experience of the garden is what their parents tell them. The story: God’s regard for Abel’s offering and his disregard for Cain’s offering. Cain was angry and his face fell; here we find the effects of sin: his anger, jealousy, pride and in a moment we’ll see Cain’s ‘in your face’ rebellion.

God’s Intercession: rd v 6-7; this really should be more of the focus for us. In Adam and Eve’s sinfulness, God was merciful. In Cain’s unsatisfactory offering, God intercedes. Just what his offense was, we don’t know. Rd v 7: if you do well… the idea is of action. What he ‘did’ in presenting his offering wasn’t regarded by God. Now, the question is: just what did he do? Much debate has ensued about the offering of Cain. Was it because it was a grain offering and not a blood sacrifice? Was it that Abel’s was from his first born, but Cain’s wasn’t the first fruits? The Bible doesn’t clarify. And because it doesn’t clarify, we must then ask ourselves, what is it God is communicating to us?

What we do know is that action is born out of attitude. A little boy brings a flower to his mother. Consider what this little boy is thinking. A little girl makes a card for her daddy all on her own. Consider her attitude.

There are two types of people in churches across the globe this morning: those whose presence is born out of an attitude of worship and sincere appreciation to God for who He is and all that He has done… and those who are fulfilling some sense of duty. Is my being here today a sense of duty – I’m getting paid to be here – or would I be here anyway, because I want to come praise and worship this God who loves me so?

app.: We see Cain’s behavior and we understand, because we can act that way, too. But more importantly, turn your focus to see how good and merciful God is to Cain. God gives Cain an opportunity to repent and do what is right. God warns Cain about what is waiting in the wings for an unrepentant man.

Instead of repentance, Cain doubles down, plots his brother’s death, lures him out to the field and kills him. When confronted by God, he doesn’t respond like Adam did. Adam was honest and truthful. Not that he did perfectly, it’s almost as if Adam blames God for his sinful rebellion, but not Cain. He lies. But God knows.

Something interesting here that I’d like to note: Abel’s blood and the ground are given anthropromorphic characteristics. Rd v10; Abel’s blood has a voice and the ground has a mouth. The word ground appears 15x’s in these 1st 4 chapters. Basically, his punishment is that he can no longer work the ground, but instead is to be nomad… a fugitive, a wanderer. It isn’t unusual to find anthropromorphic qualities in creation (i.e., the trees praise). What I find interesting is this connection between the ground that used to produce a harvest for Cain and the curse Cain receives that prevents him from ever working the soil again. He will no longer be able to work the ground for food.

At this moment He cries out in anguish. It all is too much for him. So, what does God do? God is merciful…once again and God will protect him.

So Cain leaves in 16 and settles in the land of Nod, but what does he do? He has a son and builds a city and names the city after his son. Mark that place in your Bible (v. 17). His punishment is to be a wanderer and a fugitive but in open rebellion, he builds a city and names it after his son. How’s that for “in your face rebellion”?

The generations of Cain are listed in the rest of chapter 4 and there is an idea of continued descent of the sinfulness of man as we come to Lamech down in 4.23.

t.s.: In chapter 5 we have the 10 generations of Adam to Noah. Then, beginning in chapter 6, we have the story of the flood.

II.    The Flood (6-10)

exp.: the flood is the longest story in our section of living in the Fall. It begins with an odd story about the continued spiraling out of control sinful behavior of mankind. One result is that God will shorten the lifespan of man from hundreds of years down to 120. We will see that happen over the next 10 Generations. In v 5 – 6 we see a contrast between the heart of man and the heart of God; rd 5; every intention was only evil continually; rd v 6; God was sorry, God regretted. It is hard for us to comprehend the mind of God. We use anthropromorphic characteristics and traits to describe God in human language. But God isn’t human. So, when we do that, we limit him – we box him in, as it were. But how else are we to describe God? Remember this when you read about God. You’re reading words that are limited. God isn’t! So, if our words are limited, what then is the teaching, what then is the principle God would have us learn?

Here’s what we learn from God in this statement. He feels. There is emotion with God. There is feeling with God. Listen to Gordon Wenham who clarifies for us the depth of anguish and sting of pain God feels. He translates God was sorry or God regretted as: “He felt bitterly indignant”. This word… is used to express the most intense form of human emotion, a mixture of rage and bitter anguish. And then he gives examples of where this word appears else where in Scripture:

  • Dinah’s brothers felt this way after she had been raped (Gen 34.47).
  • Jonathan felt this way when he heard his father Saul planned to kill David (1 Sam 20.34)
  • David – when he heard of Absolam’s death… do you remember his mourning? (2 Sam 18)
  • A deserted wife feels this way in (Isaiah 54.6)
  • This word is used to describe God’s anguish three times: here, Psalm 78.40 and Isa. 63.10. both of those texts translate the word ‘grieved’…

ill.: But in God’s anguish against sinful man, He is still merciful. Noah acts in faith and obeys all of God’s instructions. Noah and his family is saved through faith. They pass safely through the waters and are protected by God.

app.: When you read these chapters, don’t chase after the Nephilim or the sons and daughters of whoever. If you focus too much on what you don’t know, you’ll miss the obvious before you. God’s heart is broken over man’s sinfulness. That’s what you need to know. That’s what you need to see. His anguish, described in human terms, is so we’ll see what our sin does to the heart of God.

exp.: So God chooses to destroy mankind from the face of the earth – all except Noah and his family (his wife, his three sons and their wives). But sin isn’t wiped out. Sinfulness still reigns supreme. Ham sins against his father and is cursed. It appears that Ham doesn’t share his father’s beliefs. Which is amazing considering what he endured on the Ark!

t.s.: Well, chapter 10 brings us to the Tower of Babel…

III.   The Tower of Babel (11)

exp.: v 1-9 are constructed in a beautiful, poetic, chiastic structure. Listen to Hughes: The careful structure is matched by a painstaking use of words and wordplays through assonance (words that sound the same), rhyme, and alliteration, which of course are hidden in the Hebrew. The result is a remarkably subtle and powerful story that leaves its mark on the hearers.

A   “The whole earth had one language” (v 1)

B          “there” (v. 2)

C                “each other” (v 3)

D                     “Come, let us make bricks” (v 3)

E                            “let us build for ourselves” (v 4)

F                                  “a city and a tower”

G                                       “the Lord came down … “ (v 5)

F1                                 “the city and the tower”

E1                           “which mankind had built”

D1                    “come … let us mix up” (v 7)

C1              “each other’s language”

B1        “from there” (v 8)

A1  “the language of the whole earth” (v 9)

 

As we read the story of Babel we are once again reminded that Man is sinful and God is merciful.

 

 

 

Application:

  1. The Arrogance of Sinful Man: rd v 4; let us make a name for ourselves; this echoes the ‘in your face’ rebellion of Cain who named a city he built after his son, Enoch, in light of his punishment as a wanderer and a fugitive and who lied to God and said: I don’t know where my brother is – am I my brother’s keeper? The Arrogance of Sinful Man!
  2. The Intercession of a Merciful God: God knows we are frail and fraught with our own arrogance. He knows we think we are ‘all that’ but instead in he intercedes for our benefit. Where we would destroy ourselves, He intercedes, protects and provides. He knows just what we need. He did it with Adam and Eve providing for them coverings to cover their nakedness and shame. He did it with Abel, giving him a Mark of some sort to protect him. He did so with Noah in 8.1, but God remembered Noah… and we actually see it here. These people can become even more wicked than the people God destroyed back in the flood. What God does is what is best for them.

Conclusion: My wife and kids tease me about what I like to watch on TV. They say I watch news, sports or sports news. Well, that isn’t so true anymore because those are the websites I cruise. I guess I get that from my dad. The down side is that these three genres rarely give you good news. In sports, the teams I root for lose. The players I root for don’t get a fair shake. In the news, rarely is there a story that lifts you up. If you think that man is basically good at heart, you don’t keep up with the news. Everyday there is another bombing. ISIS is now bombing Muslims – regularly. I was encouraged to hear that many Muslims in Mosul have been harboring up to 75 Christians from the extremists – over the last few years that Mosul has been under extremists control.

This morning I read a story about a teenage girl in Kerrville, TX. She left her two little girls in the car for 15 hours yesterday – and killed them: 1 year old and a 2 year old. I don’t know why, but that story just made me want to sit there and cry. The report said she could hear them crying for her as she lay down in her house.

My guess is that you don’t need more evidence of The Arrogance of Sinful Mankind. We can all take a look down deep inside and see the potential there. This would be a sad story indeed, if it weren’t for that 2nd lesson today: The Intercession of a Merciful God.

If left in our sinful state, we would perish – never having the opportunity to a right relationship with God. But God, who is merciful, interceded on our behalf. The Bible teaches us that God demonstrates his love us in this: while we were yet sinners – arrogant sinful human beings – Christ died for us.  He paid the penalty of sins for us to liberate us from the penalty of sin.

If you’ve never received the forgiveness of sin… I offer you Christ today.

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Genesis, Sermon, Uncategorized

The Perfection of Creation

Title: The Perfection of Creation in The Garden of Eden

Text: Genesis 1-3

Introduction: James Dobson as told by Chuck Swindoll in The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart

A Few years ago psychologist Ruth W. Berenda and her associates carried out an interesting experiment with teenagers designed to show how a person handled group pressure. The plan was simple. They brought groups of ten adolescents into a room for a test. Subsequently each group of ten was instructed to raise their hands when the teacher pointed to the longest line on three separate charts. What one person in the group did not know was that nine of the others in the room had been instructed ahead of time to vote for the second-longest line. 

Regardless of the instructions they heard, once they were all together in the group, the nine were not to vote for the longest line, but rather vote for the next-to-the-longest line. 

The desire of the psychologists was to determine how one person reacted when completely surrounded by a large number of people who obviously stood against what was true. 

The experiment began with nine teen-agers voting for the wrong line. The stooge would typically glance around, frown in confusion, and slip his hand up with the group. The instructions were repeated and the next card was raised. Time after time, the self-conscious stooge would sit there saying a short line is longer than a long line, simply because he lacked the courage to challenge the group. This remarkable conformity occurred in about seventy-five percent of the cases, and was true of small children and high-school students as well. 

This story makes me think of the so many people who just adopt evolution – even Christians – who do so because everyone else does. They see the so many teachers and professors and people they respect as smart who stand for evolution – and so they follow the crowd – raising their hands because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing.

Today, I’m not out to try my best to get you to believe in Creation. I’m assuming you do, but even if you don’t, I do – and so I’m going to be preaching it that way. Furthermore, I believe God did his work of creating in 6 days. He rested on the 7th day. I don’t believe they were periods or eras. They were Days!

I don’t believe we came from monkeys or apes. I know there are those who think Evolution and Creation work side by side and are the same event. I don’t. I don’t, because God created man before he did the animals. Now, it appears this is a contradiction from chapter one, but I don’t think so at all. Chapter two is simply the detailing of the story as presented in Chapter one. And I’m not out to prove one or the other.

The reason I’m not out to prove any of this is quite simply, I don’t think that discussion or argument should be the focus. I think it is something that sidetracks us. The focus that we should have is the perfection that we’re supposed to see in every aspect of Creation. Everything was perfect, because God planned it that way. And that’s the point! … that’s where the focus should lie. And that is where I want to stay today: The perfection of creation. That’s what the Garden of Eden is and everything about the story reminds us of this perfection.

The Premise to my series is quite simply that the Bible is really one Big Story: His Story. And, although there are hundreds, yeah, thousands of stories in the Bible, there is this thread that weaves its way through all of Scripture. This morning, I’ve outline four facets to this perfection of creation, and I’ve outlined them as follows…

  1. The Pleasure of the Garden: God was pleased… he said it was ‘good’
  2. The People of the Garden: The people were perfect
  3. The Problem of the Garden: The was the potential for disaster
  4. The Promise of the Garden: When it looked like failure had won, God made a promise…

Transition: So, let’s begin with this 1st facet of creation.

I.     The Pleasure of the Garden (4-14)

exp.: As we gaze upon this perfection, we see how pleasing it was to God; it begins in v 5-6; v 5 sounds to me like this is before sin has entered the picture, before man has to work the ground; The story is rounded out in 3.23; v 7 is back in time;

  • A Spring: v6;
  • A Man is formed; v 7
  • A Garden is planted; v8; Now here is where we find God’s pleasure in the garden;
  • The Pleasure of the Garden: good for food and pleasant to the sight; v 9; ‘good; pleasing’; same as the end of each day in creation; There is this sense of pleasure to the senses; rd 9b; Plants, Trees, Rivers
  • A River: rd v 10ff; divides into more rivers; this is unusual; I found no place in existence; Do you know, I’d love to hear from you if you have.

app.: Everything at this stage is perfection; everything; It’s perfect. I love this word pleasing; I think that is life’s design: pleasure. Oh, sure, it’s not a good word now because sin has marred what God has designed. But let’s not get a head of ourselves. Let’s see this place as God designed: pleasing. It was pleasing to him – just like him, good in every way.

t.s.: Now, the text turns to more information on this man and this woman. So, the 2nd facet to this perfection that I want you to see is…

II.    The People of the Garden (5-7; 18-25)

exp.: we met Adam up in chapter one and again in v 7; He’s perfect because he’s made in the image of God. 1.26; likeness; same word used in 2 Kings 16.10; King Ahaz likes this altar he sees in Damascus and orders something like what we would call blueprints to be made of it. It is a graphic representation for building a construction. Think about looking at the blueprints for this facility. It’s one thing to look at it on paper, but even more impressive to walk from room to room.

ill.: Print of facilities…

Adam is just an image, a likeness of God, but nothing near as impressive. Still, made in his image means he’s perfect at that point. We meet Eve, in v22; We don’t have time to explore all of this beautiful scene, but if we did, we’d delve into the beauty of this moment when God brings her to Adam.

In this moment there is a certain beauty to the relationships: God the Father in relationship with his creation, man; the relationship with this man and this woman. No one else has ever experienced this – at least not on this level; Adam didn’t have a ring, but did he have a scar? It was before sin entered into the world, so I just don’t know. But, did Adam have a mark on his body where God took the rib and made the woman. Did he see that mark, that scar as something wonderful… you know, he got that mark when he got that woman…

There are two very important lessons we learn from these two People that I want you to recognize while the Creation is still perfect. If I could sum it up in a phrase, it would be: Responsibility is born out of his relationship to God.

  1. Responsibility: His relationship with the garden. God gives them a garden and tells them to:
    • Work it, rd 2.15
    • Keep it, in 4.9: Am I my brother’s keeper; 17.9 keeping the covenant; it means to observe or guard – like keeping God’s commandments. Maybe even a sense of guarding it.
    • Enjoy it! (15-16) Eat of its plenty!

Application: Maybe this is something they forgot? And, maybe this is something you’ve forgotten? The Garden is still God’s Garden! These two are given this beautiful place to live and exist. They do so in His garden. I wonder if we sometimes forget this garden called the church isn’t ours! It’s God’s! This relationship and this begets responsibility.

  1. Responsibility: Relationship: with God

ill.: Rudyard Kipling wrote:

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees

That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees.

app.: And so it begins… perfection. A garden, a gardener, utopia.

t.s.: All things are perfect, but God creates the potential for disaster… that’s the 3rd facet to our story this morning.

III.    The Problems of the Garden (17-18; 1.26-29)

exp.: Problems: “problems? wasn’t it perfect?” I say problems because there is potential for disaster; the 1st concern isn’t as noticeable. However, I think it’s very apparent once sin enters the picture.

  1. The Covenant of Dominion: 1.28;
    • Dominion: Rebellion is death – because it is ultimately committing suicide. Consider this: Even a hermit exercises dominion; he plants, hunts, does whatever he can to eat; Even vegetarians eat from living organisms; Dominion as outlined in 1.26-28 involves two parts:
      • People: Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.
      • Land: care and concern for the land that perpetuates the necessities he needs for survival.
        • Adam
        • Noah
        • Abraham

Ill.: this weekend Elizabeth asked what the purpose in bees is. Interesting, no? Bees spread pollen. Bees serve a function. They provide honey! If you really put your mind to it, you’ll find purpose in every little part of creation. Your and my responsibility is keeping that going in perpetuity: care and concern for the land that perpetuates the necessities we need for survival.

  • Exceptions:
    • A Command to Follow: enjoy it all; however, you shall not; the exceptions are still a part of the responsibility.
    • A Consequence for Failure: death; some have assumed that Adam would have lived forever if he hadn’t sinned. I don’t think so; I think he would have been translated over somehow – like Enoch. The consequence for failure would bring death. Which, of course you know by now, did.
    • This covenant of Dominion is re-confirmed with Noah, but changed slightly (meat eaters)
  1. Aloneness (v18)
    1. God doesn’t tell us why being alone is bad. He only tells us it is. Sure, Adam had a relationship with God. As Bonhoeffer says: Adam “speaks and walks with God as if they belong to one another,” and they do; however, God’s talking about a spiritual and a physical relationship.
    2. It is truly a shame when one considers how much has been made of this relationship. I have to say myself that I’ve never liked the term helpmeet, because we don’t fully understand that word as it was used by those of 16th Century England and how they would have understood it. I like the word compliment because it implies that she made him better, something more. V 18 says she was ‘fit’ for him. I’d say, a perfect fit!

app.: the potential for these problems of course is what led to their failure…

t.s.: Well, you know the rest of the story already: they failed to obey. But before they were banished from the Garden, God made a promise to them. That’s the 4th facet to our story.

IV.    The Promise of the Garden (3.15)

exp.: And we see this promise in the next chapter; chapter 3 is the story of the Fall and we find the explanation as to why there is sin in the world. Adam and Eve were deceived by the devil; they disobeyed God and took the fruit of one of the two trees that were forbidden to them. 2.9 tells us these 2 trees were The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Immediately, perfection was no longer; their understanding of what had happened was evident. Their understanding was manifested in their work to cover their nakedness. 2.25 tells us they were naked, but unashamed; 3.7 says Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Inadequate as it was, they tried to cover their shame, but failed.

Conclusion: I’ve wondered what that would have been like. I’ve imagined it in my mind. In an instant, their eyes were opened and in my mind I’ve watched perfection flee as they reach out to it. I can see the juice of the fruit still on their chins. If snakes can smile, I’m sure that one was smiling…

Imagine with me, years later, Adam hoeing in his field. He stops and pulls another weed – and his mind goes back to that time when he knew perfection. In this moment he remembers what perfection was like: his body, the spring, the animals, the garden.

Enoch comes running out into the field and old Noah, 876 years old turns to see what all the fuss is about. Enoch tells his Great-great-great-great grandfather that another child has been born!

“What’s his name?” Adam asks.

“Methuselah” Enoch replies.

And Adam wonders to himself: is this the promised one? Adam would watch Methuselah playing. Maybe he played in Adam’s lap or napped beside his great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

I wonder if in all that time – the 930 years he lived – I wonder if he wished he could go back to the garden. If he did, I’m sure he would have stopped himself and told himself that it wasn’t going to happen. At least not like he wanted.

I wonder if he then thought of the promise. “The Promise,” you ask? Yes, before Adam and Eve left the garden, they heard the pronounced curse from God upon them and upon the serpent. Specifically, there is the mention of her offspring and that this promised one – this descendant of hers would crush the head of the serpent. 15  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Different translations say ‘crush, or strike’ Here’s what Adam dreamed about…The promised one – one of his descendants would crush the head of the snake! What was made wrong, would then be made right. Adam’s curse would be reversed. Eden would be restored

I wonder if in his remembering and wondering there in the field, I wonder if he watched his sons and grandsons at work and wondered if this promised one might be one of his sons or grandsons – even this new born baby boy, Methuselah. … maybe its him…

app.: Well, you know the answer to that. Methuselah wasn’t the promised one. Adam didn’t live to see the promised one. It would be thousands of years of waiting, but he would eventually come. And, He would come in a most unexpected way. This story, it’s his story. It’s all about him. And, His name is Jesus.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Covenant, Creation, Genesis, Sermon