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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Psalm 118; The Suffering King and the Help of Yah

04//07_Psalm 118; The Suffering King and the Help of Yah; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190407_psalm-118.mp3

Intro:

We are coming up on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Next week is Palm Sunday.

Last week we saw an echo of Psalm 118:17-18 in 2 Corinthians 6:9. This Psalm is connected directly with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus presented himself to Israel as their king, riding in to the city on a donkey while the crowds shouted ‘Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

Today I want to open up this Psalm, to see how it points us to Jesus.

Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11 and Luke 20:17 record Jesus quoting Psalm 118:22 after his parable of the tenants who killed the Master’s Son, rebuking the leaders of Israel for rejecting him.

Matthew 23:38-39 and Luke 13:35 record Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem’s rejection of him, and he quotes Psalm 118:26 promising the religious leaders that they will not see him again until he is welcomed with the words of this Psalm; ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ We see this fulfilled quite literally in Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9-10, Luke 19:37-38 and John 12:13

Jesus takes this Psalm and applies it to himself. He uses it to challenge people, particularly his enemies, to ask who he is.

Who Is The King?

Some psalms have an original superscription, sometimes including musical notes, the author and the circumstances. In the Hebrew text this is counted as the first verse. For example, Psalm 56 says “To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.”

Psalm 118 has none; it is anonymous, and it points to no specific circumstance that occasioned its writing.

The Psalm begins and ends with a responsive chorus of thanksgiving to the Lord for his unending covenant love, then it tells the story of a king, surrounded by enemies, in great distress, who cried out to YHWH for help, and YHWH became his salvation. This king then returned victorious to the city and then the temple, requesting the gates be opened to him, and he receives a victor’s welcome, culminating in worship of YHWH in the courts of the temple.

Who was this anonymous king, and what battle was this through which the Lord became salvation?

Egyptian Hallel

This is the final Psalm of what is known as the Egyptian Hallel (or Praise), traditionally sung at the 3 pilgrim feasts; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles; at Passover, Psalm 113-114 were sung before the meal, and 115-118 after.

These Psalms are known as the Egyptian Hallel because they echo the Lord’s rescue of Israel from Egypt, leading them all the way to Mount Zion. There are echoes in this Psalm of the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, after the Lord conquered his enemies and brought deliverance to his people through the Red Sea.

Responsive Thanksgiving

The Psalm opens and closes with a vocal affirmation of thanksgiving. The speaker begins, and then calls for the people of Israel to respond, then the priests to respond, then all to respond together. We will try to do this this morning. You in the center section will be Israel, you on the sides will be the house of Aaron.

Psalm 118 [ESV]

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

4 Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

The Suffering King and The Help of the Lord

Then the king tells of his deliverance: I will read from the Lexham English Bible translation, which retains the proper names of God; YHWH and its shortened form Yah.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

5 Out of my distress I called to Yah.

Yah answered me, setting me in a broad place.

6 Yahweh is for me; I do not fear.

What can mere humans do to me?

7 Yahweh is for me as my helper,

and so I will look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in humans.

9 It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust princes.

10 All nations surrounded me.

In the name of Yahweh I opposed them indeed.

11 They surrounded me; yes, they surrounded me.

In the name of Yahweh I opposed them indeed.

12 They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished like a fire of thorns.

In the name of Yahweh I opposed them indeed.

13 You pushed me hard to make me fall, but Yahweh helped me.

The king is in a place of distress or affliction, being pushed hard; he repeats four times that he is surrounded, surrounded by the nations. This is no local conflict, no skirmish with one enemy; this sounds more like Psalm 2, where

Psalm 2:1 …the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against YHWH and against his Anointed [Messiah]…

He says that they surrounded him like bees; countless, close, persistent, angry, painful, chaotic, uncontrollable.

But he trusts in YHWH. YHWH is for me; I do not fear. What can man do to me? We hear this from the lips of David in Psalm 56

Psalms 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? …9 …This I know, that God is for me. …11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Paul says in Romans 8

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

The Lord is a more sure refuge than alliances or military strength. The king testifies that although he was surrounded by nations, in the name of YHWH he cut them off; they were extinguished like a fire of thorns. Dry thorns burn furiously, crackling loudly, and produce raging heat, but they burn out quickly. Thorns are a reminder of the curse on all creation because of our sin. The fire, quickly kindled, will be quickly extinguished.

YHWH’s Valiant Right Hand

He continues in verse 14

Psalm 118 [LEB]

14 Yah is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.

15 The sound of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;

the right hand of Yahweh has done valiantly.

16 The right hand of Yahweh has exalted;

the right hand of Yahweh has done valiantly.

17 I will not die but live,

and tell of the works of Yah.

18 Yah has disciplined me severely,

but he did not consign me to death.

Verse 14 is an exact quote of Exodus 15:2a in the song of Moses: “Yah is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation”, and

verses 15-16 echo Exodus 15:6 ‘the right hand of Yahweh has done valiantly’; ‘Yahweh, your right hand is glorious in power; Yahweh, your right hand destroyed the enemy.’

The deliverance belongs to YHWH. He is the strength of the king, and he receives the worship of the king. Notice the connection between God’s salvation and songs of rejoicing. One naturally flows from the other. To experience God’s strength and salvation is to have a heart that overflows with rejoicing and song, telling of the works of Yah.

Open the Gates to The Righteous King

In verse 19, the king has returned to the walls of the city, and he demands that the gates be opened to him.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,

that I may enter through them and give thanks to Yah.

We see righteousness as a theme here. They are the gates of righteousness; Those who enter must be righteous. In Revelation 22 we read:

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Who is this king of glory? Psalm 24

Psalm 118 is anonymous, leaving us asking ‘who is this king?’ Psalm 24 may give us some help. It begins by introducing YHWH as creator and owner of all the earth, and then asks:

[LEB] Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend the mountain of Yahweh? And who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who is innocent of hands and pure of heart, who does not lift up his soul to falseness, and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from Yahweh, and justice from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the sort of those who seek him, those who seek your face, even Jacob. Selah

Then the gates are addressed, and the question is asked of them:

[LEB] Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates, and rise up, O ancient doorways, that the king of glory may enter. 8 Who is the king of glory? Yahweh, strong and mighty; Yahweh, mighty in war! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift up, O ancient doorways, that the king of glory may enter. 10 Who is the king of glory? Yahweh of hosts, He is the king of glory! Selah

The gates of the city, and now the gate of the temple stands open to receive the righteous King, the king of glory.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

20 This is the gate of Yahweh,

through which the righteous will enter.

Personal Thanks for Personal Rescue

Now we see the king in the courts of the temple, addressing the Lord directly, giving thanks. The introductory call to give thanks to the Lord for he is good has become a personal thanks because of a personal experience of rescue.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

21 I will give thanks to you for you have answered me,

and you have become my salvation.

YHWH is good and his steadfast love endures forever, but now you have answered me; you have become my salvation. God is good, but we must personally experience his goodness. Have you experienced the steadfast love of the Lord so that you can say ‘you have become my salvation’?

The Rejected Cornerstone

Verse 22 is the verse Jesus quoted about himself in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and it is quoted about him by Peter in Acts 4, and in Romans 9, Ephesians 2, and 1 Peter 2.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

23 This is from Yahweh; it is wonderful in our eyes.

24 This is the day Yahweh has worked; let us rejoice and be glad in him.

Jesus the promised king was rejected even by the builders, the leaders of Israel. The nations that surrounded him included his own people. But the one who was despised and rejected of men has become the foundation stone ‘in whom the whole building, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, …built up together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ (Eph.2:20-22); the ‘living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious’ on whom we ‘ like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’ (1Pet.2:4-7).

Hosanna!

In verse 25 the congregation, brought in to the courts of the Lord through the merits of the righteous king address YHWH for salvation, and bless the coming king.

Psalm 118 [LEB]

25 O Yahweh, please save; O Yahweh, please grant success.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh.

We bless you from the house of Yahweh.

27 Yahweh is God, and he has given us light.

Bind the festal sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

This Psalm provided the vocabulary for the crowds as they cast their cloaks and branches in the road before the King who came humbly, riding on a donkey.

The Psalm climaxes with sacrificial imagery. Derek Kidner writes:

What those who took part in such a ceremony could never have foreseen was that it would one day suddenly enact itself on the road to Jerusalem: unrehearsed, unliturgical and with explosive force. In that week when God’s realities broke through His symbols and shadows (cf. Heb.10:1), the horns of the altar became the arms of the cross, and the ‘festival’ itself found fulfillment in ‘Christ our passover’ (1 Cor. 5:7, AV).” [Kidner, p.415]

Some sacrificial animals no doubt were difficult to handle may have necessitated binding them with cords. But Jesus said:

John 10:17 …I lay down my life… 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down voluntarily….

Jesus bound himself to the cross with cords of love (Hosea 11:4).

A Personal and Public Response of Praise

Verse 28 completes the quotation from Exodus 15 which began in verse 14, but in a more personal and direct way:

Exodus 15:2 [LEB] Yah is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him—the God of my father—and I will exalt him.

[LEB] Psalm 118:28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you.

You are my God; I will exalt you.

The deliverance from Egypt points to our greater deliverance from a greater enemy by one greater than Moses; our deliverance out of greater bondage and lead by a greater king to a greater promised land and into a greater sanctuary.

The Psalm concludes with the refrain with which it opened:

[LEB] Psalm 118:29 Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good,

for his loyal love is forever.

Let’s say this together:

[ESV] Psalm 118:29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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April 8, 2019 Posted by | occasional, podcast, Psalms | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Proclaiming the Lord’s Death

08/10 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Proclaiming the Lord’s Death Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140810_1cor11_23-26.mp3

1 Corinthians 11 [SBLGNT]

23 Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι, λέγων· Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε, ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ.

1 Corinthians 11 [ESV2011]

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Paul is confronting the Corinthians abuse of the Lord’s supper. Communion was celebrated regularly in the church. The communal meal had become an occasion for discrimination against the poor, where the rich flaunted their luxury and let those who had nothing go hungry. In the first section (17-22), Paul expressed his horror and consternation over their outrageous practices. What they were doing was not in step with the gospel, the message of the cross. So once again he brings them back to the sacrifice of Jesus for others. For the Lord’s supper to truly be the Lord’s supper, it must be an expression of the gospel, not only in word and symbol, but also in the way they treat one another. The gospel is not only a message to be believed, but also a lifestyle to be lived. The good news of a crucified Messiah must define the Christian life.

In this section, (23-26) Paul takes them back to the event, to the history of the Lord’s supper to inform and correct their actions. It is a faulty theology, a flawed understanding of Jesus, who he is, what he came to do, that manifested itself in the abuses that were happening in the church. Then, in verses 27-34 he gives his corrective instructions.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, it is easy to follow him. It is when we look away that we veer off course.

The Lord

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,

Paul received from the Lord. LORD in the Old Testament is the translation of YHWH, the great I AM, God’s proper name. The New Testament writers refer to Jesus as the Lord. The word ‘Lord’ means the sovereign, the king, the one in authority. In the next phrase he refers to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Master. Jesus is the King. He is the one who has all authority. He is the one we are to follow. He is the one we must obey. He is the one who dictates what takes place in his church and the celebration which he instituted for us to remember him by. The Corinthians need to be reminded who is in charge of the church. The people with influence thought they could run the church however they wanted. They needed to be reminded that Jesus is Lord. He is in charge, he alone is the Lord of his church. Paul, the Apostle, is still under orders. Paul is authorized to pass on only what he has received from the Lord Jesus.

Delivered

What Paul received from the Lord, he delivered to the churches. He faithfully handed over that which he had been entrusted with. He had been given the truth of an historical event. This is what he passed along to the churches.

This word ‘delivered’ is the same word translated ‘betrayed’ later in this verse. ‘The Lord Jesus, on the night he was delivered up…’. This is the word used in the gospels to describe what Judas did. But it is also the word used when the chief priests and elders delivered Jesus over to Pilate (Mt.27:2, 18), and of Pilate delivering Jesus to the soldiers to be crucified (Mt.27:26).

But this is not the only way this word is used.

Romans 4:24 …It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

In Romans 8, we are told that it was the Father who delivered Jesus up to be crucified for us.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

This fits with what we are told in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses this word ‘delivered up’ to translate the last phrase of verse 6. It reads ‘and the Lord delivered him up for our sins’. Down in verse 10 we read:

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Judas delivered up Jesus to be crucified, but God the Father delivered up his only Son to bear our sins on the cross. We see this in the preaching of the Apostles in the book of Acts

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

And in the prayers of the early church.

Acts 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

We see yet another side of this in some of the New Testament letters.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The same word appears here. Jesus delivered himself up for me.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Judas delivered Jesus up, the chief priests delivered him up, Pilate delivered him up, but ultimately God the Father delivered up his only Son, and Jesus willingly delivered himself up for our sins.

This night of all nights, when Jesus was delivered up, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, the fulfillment of the passover sacrifice, in the last passover celebration with his followers,

23 …the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Gave Thanks

Jesus thanked his Father for his good gift of provision. Every good gift comes from God, and Jesus was determined to recognize the giver. Jesus, on the night he was being delivered up to be crucified, gave thanks to God. God is the one who provides for all our needs, and God is the one who provided the ultimate sacrifice for us to take away our sin. And Jesus, who would soon cry out ‘my God my God, why have you forsaken me’ thanked his Father for this provision.

Bread Broken

Jesus took bread and broke it. Bread was a common part of every meal. Bread was broken so that it could be shared. This flew in the face of the Corinthian selfishness of the ones who had plenty gorging themselves while those who had nothing went hungry. The Corinthians were taking, taking the best for themselves and leaving some to go with nothing. Jesus was taking, taking bread with thanksgiving, breaking it so he could give it all away, knowing there was plenty for all. Jesus said ‘this is my body which is for you’. The commemoration of this selfless act of sacrificial giving had become an opportunity for self centered gluttony and greed.

Jesus offered his own body for others. This was the ultimate selfless act, forfeiting his own life to save the lives of countless others. His own physical body was to be broken, crushed under weight of all our sins. Jesus’ death was in essence a substitution. He gave his body for us. He put himself in our place. We deserve to be separated from a good God for eternity, but instead he, the eternal Son was separated from his Father. His death was for me, his body was broken for me.

In Remembrance

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Jesus commands us to break bread together as a church in remembrance of him. What does it mean to remember someone? In a memorial service, we call that person to mind, reflect on who they were, what they accomplished. Is this what Jesus meant when he told us to ‘do this in remembrance of me’? Certainly that is part of it, but is that the whole story? If we look back to the Old Testament, we get a clearer picture of what it means to remember.

In Genesis 8:1, we are told that ‘God remembered Noah’. Does this mean that God was preoccupied with other things while the ark was bobbing around on the surface of the water and it suddenly dawned on him that Noah and the animals were in there and might need some help?

Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Are we expected to believe that God had forgotten about his promises for about 400 years until the people started groaning? When we are told that God remembered Noah, it meant that he was beginning to act for the sake of the one he remembered. When God remembered his covenant promises with the patriarchs in the exodus generation, it meant that he was about to leap into action appropriate to the promises he had made. Remembering involved acting in a certain way. To remember Jesus, who sacrificially gave his life for others, means not only to reflect on him, his character, and his sacrifice, but also to act in a way that corresponds with his sacrifice.

When Moses addressed the generation about to enter the promised land, the generation that had been born free in the wilderness, he said:

Deuteronomy 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

That generation had never been slaves in Egypt. But as Moses instructs them how to treat slaves, he asks them to remember that they were slaves in Egypt. Looking toward future generations, Moses gave instructions

Exodus 13:8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

These future generations celebrating passover had never been slaves in Egypt. But they were part of God’s people, and what God had done for their ancestors, he had done for them. They were to so identify with the exodus generation that they could say ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me.’ In a much more direct way, we can say ‘it is because of what the Lord Jesus did for me when he set me free from my slavery to sin’.

New Covenant

25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Just as Jesus had taken bread, gave thanks, and served it to his disciples, saying ‘this is my body which is for you’, now he takes the cup of wine and says ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood’. To understand what Jesus says, we need to understand what a covenant is, and what makes this covenant new. A covenant is a binding committed relationship. Covenants were entered into through a solemn ceremony involving the shedding of blood. Animals were cut in half, and the two parties making the covenant would walk between the animal halves, saying ‘if I do not keep my promises, let what was done to these animals be done to me.’ God made a covenant with his people when they came out of Egypt. The people promised ‘all that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient’ (Ex.24:7). God warned Moses that the people will ‘whore after foreign gods, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them; they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant’ (Deut.31:16, 20). Israel went astray in their hearts. They broke God’s covenant with them. But in Jeremiah 31, God promised to make a new covenant with them.

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Forgiveness of sins, and God’s law written on their hearts. Ezekiel puts it this way:

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

A new heart and a new spirit, God’s Spirit inside, causing them to walk in his ways. No longer external regulations, but now internal transformation. And Jesus says that this new covenant, is the new covenant in his blood. Jesus instituted the covenant, not with the blood of animals, but with his own blood poured out in death. Now that the Holy Spirit is living inside, we have God’s power to love him above all else and serve him with our whole heart. Our desires are being transformed so that we want to do what pleases him. The Corinthians in their selfishness, were acting exactly contrary to the new life of the Spirit, which is a life of self-sacrificial love for others.

Proclaiming the Lord’s Death

25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

In eating the bread and drinking the cup we preach the message of the cross. The word ‘proclamation’ is most often used of the preaching of the gospel. From the beginning of this letter, Paul pointed us to the preaching of the cross, the good news of Christ crucified. Now he says that in a right participation in communion, we preach the gospel. How is it that our celebration of the Lord’s supper can be an act of proclamation? Paul was very clear in his rebuke, that when one goes hungry and another gets drunk, that is not the Lord’s supper. But when we remember Jesus by contemplating his life of self sacrifice and conduct ourselves with the good of others above our own, when we joyfully forgo our own rights so that others can know Christ, when we are willing to lay down our very lives so that others can hear the gospel and be saved, when we remember him by acting in the way that he would act, then we have become a living proclamation of the death of our Lord. We have become a living illustration of the cross, where love expresses itself in self-sacrifice for the good of others.

Until He Comes

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

This is not indefinite. There is a termination point for this way of remembering Jesus. Jesus is returning. Physically, bodily he will come back. Jesus told many parables about a king who went away for a time and then returned. He was very clear as to how the servants of the king are expected to conduct themselves in the absence of the king. The Master will return. He will find either evidence of self centered pride, or of a life devoted to the Master, transformed by his Spirit, displaying his character.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 10, 2014 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 3:1-7; Reminding the Beloved

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100221_2peter3_1-7.mp3

02/21 2 Peter 3:1-7 Reminding the Beloved

1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, …

Peter has taught us about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The false teachers had denied the power and authority of Jesus, and in chapter 2, Peter has addressed their total disregard for God’s authority and power. Now in chapter 3 he moves to their disbelief in the future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter says this is the second letter he is writing. He writes because he cares. Peter refers to his readers as ‘beloved’; ‘agapetoi’ – those who are loved with a selfless, self-sacrificial love. Peter wants the best for his readers and is doing everything in his power to do them good and bless them. He uses this affectionate term ‘agapetoi’ four times in this chapter. He started the letter by addressing us as brothers, and now he calls us beloved… beloved… beloved… beloved. We tend to read 2 Peter, especially chapter 2 and think ‘this doesn’t sound very loving’ – he is talking about hell fire an brimstone and turning people to ashes, about chains of gloomy darkness and God’s preservation of evildoers for the final judgment, about drowning ungodly people in a global flood, he calls people blots and blemishes, he says they are nearsighted and blind, he compares them with ignorant beasts that are born to be caught and destroyed, he says even a donkey knew better than them. He uses the graphic picture of a dog lapping up its own vomit and a sow wallowing in her own filth, he says they have hearts trained in greed and they are insatiable for sin, that they are accursed children, and it would have been better for them if they had never heard the good news at all than to have heard it and end up where they will end up. To our modern ears trained in politically correct niceness, this may not sound very ‘loving’. We are not allowed to hold anyone to any sort of objective standard or to impose our personal beliefs on anyone else. You just don’t talk like this in polite society. Well, first of all, our society is anything but polite. Maybe at an extremely superficial level there is a facade of politeness, but our culture is depraved and self-destructive and headed straight for hell. But you can’t say that out loud. “You’re going to hell!”

Imagine yourself on a road trip for a family vacation. You’re planning to cross over the Glen Canyon Dam into Arizona. You and the family are doing some sightseeing, so you’re driving slower than you normally would, and as you round the bend to approach the bridge, you slam on your brakes and screech to a halt just inches from the jagged edge of the pavement. The dam has erupted and the bridge has collapsed into the torrent of water hundreds of feet below. And let’s just add for effect that a gas pipeline was severed and is dumping thousands of gallons of fuel into the flaming inferno of wreckage and destruction below. ‘Well kids, that’s enough sightseeing for today, lets turn around and go home.’ But as you drive away, you see another minivan approaching, obviously not sightseeing, probably late for a wedding or something, going much too fast, just about to round the final bend before what used to be the bridge. What do you do? Be polite. Stay in your lane. Smile and wave. Don’t they look nice? Their whole family is dressed up for the occasion. That would be negligent, sick and cruel. You do whatever you can to get their attention. Yell, scream, throw things. Use your car and drive them off the road. They may be upset with you or think your a bit eccentric. But if they are able to stop in time, they will thank you.

I’m not advocating that at work tomorrow you get in everyone’s face and start screaming “you’re all going to hell”. Peter is lovingly but forcefully and graphically warning us, telling us that this is where false teachers will end up, this is where immorality leads, and if you go that way, you will end up there too. So yes, Peter’s language is a bit harsh and abrasive, but it is out of love and concern and urgency to warn those who are in immanent danger. And he expresses that love now; ‘agapetoi’. Beloved, there is danger up ahead.

Peter tells us his purpose in writing: I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder. Peter is assuming that our minds are still sincere, authentic, uncorrupted, pure. And the best defense is a good offense. The best defense against false teaching and immoral living is a mind stirred up to remember the truth. In 1 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the threat of persecution. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the arrogant and immoral false teachers. Now in chapter 3, he is stirring us up to godly living in spite of the scoffers that mock the truth of God’s word.

Peter is not stirring us up with something new. He is stirring us up with something old. We often feel that we need the latest newest most cutting edge idea or teaching or truth to be able to really succeed in the Christian life. We need to attend the latest seminar or get the latest book or DVD or catch the latest trend so that we can have a good marriage and a healthy family and a growing church and successful evangelism. As a bible teacher, there’s a temptation to try to find some new insight or truth that has never been discovered before to keep people’s interest or attention. Good bible teaching is faithfully proclaiming the old truths, sometimes in new ways that engage the hearers, but always in dependence on God so that lives are transformed. Peter says ‘I don’t have anything new for you. I’m simply going to stir you up to purity by reminding you of what you already know. And the content comes directly from the bible. Peter points back to the Old Testament and ahead to the New when he says ‘that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles’. Remember the predictions of the holy prophets, prophets like Amos and Malachi and Zephaniah and Jeremiah who said things like:

Amos 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

Malachi 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 3:18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

Zephaniah 1:12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

Isaiah 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, 19 who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly treacherous to me, declares the LORD. 12 They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!”’ 14 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: “Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.

And we are to remember the commandment of our Lord and Savior through your apostles, the commandment that comes to us from Jesus through the apostolic testimony, things like:

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. …11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Mark 13:33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. … 35 Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning– 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

The way Peter frames this makes it clear that we are not given guidelines or helpful hints on how to live life. This is commandment from our Lord and Savior. Jesus commands us and we must respond. Jesus authorized his apostles to speak on his behalf and with his authority. And they said ‘Repent and believe the gospel; endure to the end; stay awake!’

Remember, he says, knowing this of first importance. This is the same phrase Peter used in 1:20 to encourage us to pay attention to the prophetic word and the apostolic testimony because we know that the prophecies of Scripture are produced by the will of God as men directed by the Holy Spirit speak God’s words. The source of our knowing is again stated to be the prophetic word written by the holy prophets, and the apostolic testimony, which we now have collected in the New Testament documents. And the content of our knowing is the coming of scoffers who follow their own sinful desires. Peter does not want anyone to be surprised when someone questions the truth of God’s word or mocks salvation through Jesus Christ crucified and excuses their own sin. It should come as no surprise to us how the devil works. In 1 Peter it was persecution. The devil is a bully on the playground that wants us to think he can push us around and get us to do what he says through pain or fear. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, it is the false teaching of license. The devil will entice us to gratify our desires by saying that there will be no consequences and we will not be held accountable for our actions. If he can’t get us by bullying us, or seducing and deceiving us, he attempts to stir up our pride by insulting us.

He mocks and ridicules and scoffs. Rather than surprise us or discourage us, this should encourage us. If it was promised that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing, and now we see scoffers scoffing and following their own sinful desires, then we can be encouraged that we are very near the end. Note well, that their scoffing is not mere innocent joking around. Their agenda is moral (or immoral). If by mocking they can make the threat of future judgment look ridiculous and unlikely, they can more easily seduce others to join them in their pursuit of fleshly gratification. Peter gives us a summary of the kinds of things they were saying:

4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Using this kind of a question is more contemptuous than simply stating that Jesus is not coming back. And the language they use is the language of a believer, not an outsider. Who the ‘his’ is is understood. His coming is Jesus’ coming. And they don’t say that the fathers died; they use the distinctively Christian expression ‘they fell asleep’. These mockers are mocking from the inside. They are posing as Christians, and that is what makes them particularly dangerous. They are questioning the promise of Jesus’ return. They imply that there is no reason to believe he is going to come back at all. Peter began by encouraging us that God has given us precious and very great promises (1:4), promises that motivate his followers to live according to his standards. These skeptics are calling God a liar.

They get this skepticism from the consistency of the natural world. The sun comes up every day. For as long as anyone can remember the sun has always come up. There is no reason for us to think that the sun will not come up tomorrow. There is regularity, consistency. The fact that our world is orderly and follows natural laws makes scientific investigation possible. Things in nature are predictable. If you throw a rock up in the air, it will come back down. There’s even a chance it will land on your head. If sometimes gravity worked and sometimes it didn’t we could make no sense of this world. The scoffers say

4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

‘The fathers’ is a typical way to refer to the patriarchs or Old Testament saints. God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They all died not having received the promises. Hebrews 11 deals with that very issue. From the beginning of creation until now nothing has changed. God is not just. There is no punishment for the wicked, and there is no reward for the godly. Live for your pleasures because this idea of God’s future judgment is just a myth. God does not intervene in the world.

They at least give lip service to creation, but they ignore that the order we see in creation is a direct result of the Creator. Peter says:

5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter is stirring up our sincere minds by way of reminder. These false teachers deliberately overlook the facts. This is not excusable ignorance; this is willful ignorance. Facts that are not convenient to their purposes are intentionally ignored. Genesis describes the creation of God out of the watery chaos. On day two of creation, God separated the waters above the sky from the waters below the sky. On day three, God gathered the waters below the sky into seas and made dry land. Throughout the Genesis account we read “And God said… And it was so.” God formed the earth out of water and through water by his word.

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.

And God held the waters in their places until the time of the flood.

Proverbs 8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

And when he commanded the waters to flood the earth, it was so. It says in

Genesis 7:11 …on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. …23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.

The Psalms again give us insight on the end of the flood.

Psalm 104:5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

It was God’s word that held the waters back, and it was God’s word that released them to flood the earth. The conclusion we should draw is that God will follow through on his promises of judgment. God’s word stored up the waters of judgment for the ancient world. Now by God’s word, the heavens and earth are being stored up for fire. God did destroy the earth once with water because of the sins of mankind. God promised that ‘never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’ (Gen.9:11). God promises justice, but the final time will be with fire.

7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

If you are not right with God, you will be kindling for that fire. God, through his own Son Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to be forgiven, rescued, and reconciled to God. I plead with you, on the basis of the Cross of Christ, be reconciled to God! If you reject the forgiveness he freely offers, there is nothing left for you but the righteous wrath of God forever and ever and ever.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

February 21, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Second Coming of Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091227_second_coming_of_jesus.mp3

12/27/09 – the second coming of Jesus

We’ve spent some time this season looking at Jesus; at who Jesus is. We saw that Jesus claimed to be the eternal all glorious pre-existent self existent one, sent from the Father, equal to and one with his Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father, in and of himself truly and fully God.

We saw that the response of the wise men to Jesus was the appropriate response – they came to worship him. They brought gifts and expended time and energy and made the sacrifices of a long journey and yet counted it all joy to have the privilege of welcoming this king born in Bethlehem.

We’ve seen in the good news of Christmas that God humbled himself and became a man, truly and fully man. In addition to being God, Jesus took on the nature of genuine humanity. God himself, the eternal self-existent uncreated creator of all things, the second person of the Trinity, entered history and became flesh. He was born into this world as a man in order to be our substitute and rescue us from sin and death and hell. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for rebellious sinners like you and me.

Another name for the time leading up to Christmas is Advent – from a Latin word that means arrival. We celebrate the arrival of Jesus. And his coming was inconspicuous and non-threatening. Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that he emptied himself and he humbled himself. In his coming he fully identified himself with us (Heb.4:15)

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He made God known to us in a form that was comprehensible. Unpretentious. Touchable. Holdable. Real. Even adorable or cute in his apparent helplessness.

It was dangerous for God to reveal himself to us this way. There is a danger for us in seeing Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. Many would feel uncomfortable visiting someone in a palace, but no-one feels intimidated to enter a barn. Some may refuse to enter a barn because they are offended at the smell or they don’t want to soil their shoes, but no-one feels that they are not good enough to enter a barn. There are people we dare not violate their personal space, and it can be awkward to look someone in the eye, but there is something about an infant that invites intimacy and touching. Perfect strangers make fools of themselves making faces and sounds that otherwise they would be embarrassed to make. “What’s his name? How old is he? Can I hold him?” Babies seem to break down social barriers. We don’t have to climb up to reach them, we have to stoop down to their level. It seems there is much more interest in celebrating Christmas than there is in celebrating Good Friday, even though Christmas was an essential first step toward the cross. There is something dangerously comfortable about thinking of Jesus as a babe in the hay. We might want to keep him there, where he is safe, harmless, non-threatening, un-intimidating, approachable, ordinary. I say dangerous because familiarity sometimes breeds contempt. Think of those from Jesus’ hometown. They were excited when their hometown boy made headline news. But when he returned home and taught in the synagogue he grew up in, the townsfolk who knew him took offense at him (Matt.13:53-58). “I remember when you were only this big. I used to babysit you. I changed your diapers. Who do you think you are?”

The commonness of Jesus, the humble circumstances of his birth, the approachability of a baby, the ordinariness of it all may cause us to miss or disbelieve who he is. Remember what the angel said to Mary:

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy––the Son of God.

Jesus was a real child born in the ordinary way, but Jesus is absolutely holy, totally set apart, unique and different. When Isaiah was in the presence of the one who was proclaimed by the seraphim to be ‘Holy, holy, holy’, he was undone and declared ‘woe to me’ (Is.6:3-5). We must see Jesus as the man who could legitimately stand in our place and bear the wrath of a holy God against the sins of mankind, but we must not allow our understanding of who he is to be limited to the manger.

Advent means arrival or coming. We have been looking at the advent of Messiah. But in scripture, there is a second advent, a second arrival, a second coming of the Messiah, Jesus. When Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection the angels said:

Acts 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus himself promised his disciples:

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

But the second coming of Jesus will be much different than his first coming. Jesus prayed to his Father:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

In the first coming, Jesus emptied himself of his glory. He humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. But Jesus described his coming again as a coming in power and great glory:

Matthew 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (cf. Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27)

John, one of the inner circle of three disciples who witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, one of the three who were brought with him to the garden to pray, one who was there at the trial and crucifixion, who leaned against Jesus at the last supper, who described himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, this John, when he was given a glimpse of Jesus in his glory had this response:

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

We’ve seen who Jesus claimed to be – that he claimed to be the omnipotent eternal uncreated creator of all things, the one who is self-existent and by whom all things exist. We’ve seen that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh and that he claimed to be equal to and one with the Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father. When we stand at the manger our response should not be ‘awwww’. Our response to Jesus should be worship, awe, the fear of the Lord. The wise men from the east got on their faces in the presence of the toddler Jesus. What was it that caused John to have this response? John saw the glory of Jesus. Let’s look at what he saw, and let’s be moved with him to awe:

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two–edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Jesus was moving among his lampstands the churches. He wore a long robe – a priestly robe, because as Hebrews teaches, he is our great high priest. He wore a golden sash around his chest because he is our king, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the King of king and Lord of lords, to whom every knee shall bow. His hair, a symbol of his wisdom, was white like wool, reminding us of Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days (Dan.7:9). His eyes are too pure to look on evil with favor, and penetrate to the hidden places of our hearts, and his feet remind us of the refiner’s fire and the righteous judgment of God who will one day crush all who oppose him. His voice will thunder and put a stop to all competing voices. He holds complete authority over all creation and over his churches in the palm of his hand. Jesus is the living Word of God and Jesus said:

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

Jesus is the light of the world. The glory of Jesus was greater in intensity than the sun shining in full strength.

Later in Revelation, John again gets a glimpse of Jesus in the glory that he had with his Father before the world existed (Jn.17:5)

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is a description of Jesus coming in power and great glory. This same Jesus who came in humility will come again in a display of strength and justice. When he attended the synagogue in Nazareth,

Luke 4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The next line in Isaiah 61, that Jesus did not read, says this:

…and the day of vengeance of our God; (Isaiah 61:2)

That scripture will be fulfilled in Jesus at his second coming. Paul describes this righteous judgment of God in 2 Thessalonians:

2Thessalonians 1:5 … the righteous judgment of God …7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

This same Jesus, who came in weakness and helplessness as a baby, will come again in flaming fire inflicting vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Later in the book, Paul describes Jesus dealing with Antichrist in this way:

2Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

This is Jesus. Friend of sinners who run to him for salvation, extending forgiveness to all who come, merciful and compassionate, but to those who reject him, he destroys his enemies by the breath of his mouth. This is the picture we have in Revelation 6 of the Christ rejecting world:

Revelation 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

When Jesus spoke of his coming in power and glory, he told us to ‘stay awake’ (Mt.24:42) and to ‘be ready’ (Mt.24:44) and to ‘watch’ (Mt.25:13). He says

Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Jesus tells us:

Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

For those who are prepared for and looking for his return, it is an occasion of great joy. John gives us some helpful instruction on how to prepare our hearts to receive the king:

1John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

In John 15, Jesus used the metaphor of a branch abiding in the vine and bearing much fruit. Run to Jesus to find forgiveness at the cross and abundant life. Stay continually plugged in to him, daily drawing strength from him, enjoying intimacy of fellowship with him. Know him, so that when he comes in power and glory we rejoice at the coming of our victorious king rather than shrinking from the wrath of our just judge.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 27, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment