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February 05 2018

03:32

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 9)

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Audio Access Available Above
“A Superior Sacrifice” • 2.4.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- We have been following the track that our author has left for us since the beginning of chapter 7. He has been writing about the superiority of Christ's Priestly ministry.
- Jesus is the head of a superior priesthood. In chapter 8, he discloses that He serves God's people under a superior covenant.
- The Old Covenant, he writes, is becoming "obsolete" and is in the process of wearing thin, soon to "vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
- As we enter chapter 9, our author's thoughts remain undeterred. He offers inspired commentary upon the sacrificial system and opens our eyes to the superiority of Christ's sacrifice!
Text
Hebrews 9:1-5 : " Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. " : There were services that took place in the Tabernacle, that served divine purposes, but were limited by it's location on Earth.
- When one considers the tabernacle, one generally includes in their thinking, the entire structure which encompassed the outer court and the bronze altar.
- For our author's purpose, he boils it down to the two parts which were exclusive to the priests. That singular structure was partitioned into two parts.
- He concentrates on the pieces to show the priest's function. They restocked the oil for the lampstand and attended to the table, providing fresh bread every evening.
- This first part of the tabernacle is here called "the sanctuary," though most other translations prefer the term "Holy Place." This was open to the priests but veiled from the outside world.
- Behind that section lay a second veil covering "the Holiest of All" or the "Holy Of Holies." This section was quite different from the first.
- In it was a single piece of furniture, a box that had been overlaid with gold. The ark of the covenant was the representative piece which reflected God's rule and it contained three items.
- There was a golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded and the ten commandments.
- When you study the stories that reveal why they are put in the ark, you'll find one commonality. They are all related to the rebellion of God's people.
- Exodus 16 records that manna was delivered daily to the people in the wilderness after they complained about a seeming lack of God's provision.
- The manna would only be good for the day it was collected and two days for the Sabbath.
- After that, it would rot and breed worms. Yet, God sustained a single pot within the Ark of the Covenant for a remembrance.
- The second item was Aaron's flourishing rod. A group of people led by a man named Korah began to question and indeed, complaing about God's choice of leadership in Numbers 17.
- God called the leaders of each tribe to bring their sticks to the Tabernacle. The one that sprang to life, an impossibility apart from God, proved conclusively to be God's choice.
- God put that little gem in the box as well! And of course, that leaves the 10 commandments, which as you may remember, were not the original tablets. Exodus 32 relays the story.
- Moses had been on the mount longer than expected. In the meantime, Aaron made Israel a golden calf that Israel was "worshipping" as Moses made his descent!
- Israel broke all of God's commandments before Moses was even able to deliver them!
- Moses angrily took the originals and broke them in their sight. The reprints were commissioned and were kept safe in the ark. There really is much more to say, the author says.
- We'll honor that but will also mention the relevance of these items. God's Holiness resides near the children of Israel who cannot approach Him because of their sinfulness.
- These articles represented their actions and the consistent need for sacrifice. This is God's way of saying, "This is what keeps us apart!" Verse 6.
Hebrews 9:6-8 : " Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. " : I hope that you see the incredible mercy that God exhibits here.
- There are those that contend that God's mercy is a feature of the New Covenant. Not so!
- The people have sinned greatly before Him, but there is still a Tabernacle and there are still priests and services! The Old economy provided a way for God to meet His people's need!
- The Tabernacle existed to provide some temporary relief to the tension that existed between a Holy God and a perpetually sinful people.
- This played out for them as they watched the priests busy at work in the sanctuary performing the daily acts of worship. But their big day was the Day of Atonement.
- That is the one day that the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy Of Holies, with sacrificial blood for himself and for the people's sins that they weren't aware of!
- When the people were aware of their sins, they were to bring an offering to God. The High Priest covered everything else that they forgot or were unaware of!
- What does the Holy Spirit intend to communicate through this? Yes, there is a way that God provided to meet His people's needs, but while that tabernacles stands, it is not open to all!
- The Holy of Holies did not communicate intimacy with God, but separation from Him! He continues in verse 9.
Hebrews 9:9,10 : " It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. " : The entire exercise related to the Tabernacle was meant to stand as a symbol, literally a parable for the people of God.
- Virtually every item that is constructed by men offers an insight into the work of redemption.
- Like all parables, the tabernacle and temple provided an earthly experience that pointed to a corresponding heavenly reality. This provided a golden opportunity!
- Here is a community whose life is quite literally centered around tabernacle life. There is no way around it. The entire system of sacrifice stared them in the face.
- The smells in the air, the sound of the tabernacle responding to the wind, the look of the priests. Everything that they saw, left them with a lasting illustration.
- But nothing that was done there could meet their deepest need. The sacrificial system could not touch the conscience of the worshipper. It could not clear them from the internal stain of guilt!
- The sacrificial system dealt only with the laws relating to external ordinances. They could not deal with matters relating to a person's soul. They kept reminding men what was needful.
- A person after sacrificing was no less guilty and no more confident of their standing with God. They would live to sacrifice another day, knowing that they were only "covered" for now!
- Consequently, the entire system provided a temporary illustration of what holiness will look like after what our author calls "the time of reformation."
- The word "reformation" itself speaks to a surgical procedure wherein a misshapen limb has been straightened or restored to it's natural condtion.
- The time of reformation then is the time when God's people will function in a way that they were intended to function before God!
- We are intended to be free in our conscience of both the stain and the guilt that is leftover from our sin! This is the Kingdom of God, the essence of our salvation.
- God is taking our horribly misshapen souls and restoring them, leading us back to a time of greater fellowship with Him, than even those of the Garden of Eden. We are His children!
- That will require far more that physical, external commands. God's work will begin in our souls and proceed in an outward manner. That is why we need a better priest and sacrifice. Verse 11.
Hebrews 9:11,12 : " But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. " : This initial phrase "But Christ came," doesn't quite capture the sense. The other translations prefer the word "appeared." The idea refers to a public arrival.
- One might even say it like this: "When Christ arrived in the seat of the High Priest, He initiated all of the good things that come with the greater priestly service of the true tabernacle!"
- The NKJV uses the phrase "good things to come" but the other translations prefer the phrase in the past tense. They have already come. This is already available to us!
- Jesus went into the true Holy of Holies, bringing in His own blood once for all! This signifies both the scope and the sufficiency of His work.
- He had offered His blood as a "once for all" sacrifice and on behalf of "the all" that are included in that work. For them alone, His blood obtained eternal redemption.
- That alone is profound: God has set a purchase price upon His people and Christ's blood has paid it legally and perennially! But the value only begins here. Verse 13.
Hebrews 9:13,14 : " For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? " : The blood of animals was sufficient to sanctify a human being, to cleanse them temporarily. What about the blood of Christ? If an animal's blood could work that way, what of His?
- His superior blood has enough power to reach to the deepest part of our souls! His blood can cleanse our conscience! Look at the combined divine effort that this took.
- Christ, through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God! The word "spot" speaks to an inherited defect. Jesus offered His untainted blood as the atoning sacrifice.
- He did this through or by the agency the eternal Spirit. We have commented in the past about the possibility of Christ sinning without having a fallen nature.
- I would submit that even that might not have kept Him from sinning apart from the abiding work of the Holy Spirit! The author will not allow His agency to be discounted!
- The Holy Spirit brought aid in producing the spotless character of Christ, to some degree! That work issued in our consciences being cleansed from dead works.
- There has been a purifying that has gone down to our soul. Once we have trusted Christ, you get the sense that your soul is released from the bondage that you once served under.
- You get the impression from this phrase, that the philosophy of works done to impress God, to earn a right standing with Him, left our souls filthy.
- God's grace through redemption has worked to remove the stains that once dominated our spirits. Think about the residue that you carried into your relationship with Christ.
- The habits of self-righteousness that developed into patterns of justifying oneself, left you scarred. The blood of Christ has healed you and given you a proper perspective. Verse 15.
Hebrews 9:15 : " And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. " : All of the sins against the first covenant were paid for by Jesus Christ!
- Every person that has ever lived was consigned to pay the death penalty for all the transgressions related to the law of the first covenant. That is every person who has or will ever live!
- Christ's death provided the capital necessary to assure those that are invited the promise of eternal inheritance.
- Said another way, He has done this in order that those that fit in that category may assuredly receive what they have been promised, namely the inheritance that Christ's worthy life deserves!
Hebrews 9:16-17 : " For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. " : Our author has just mention an inheritance.
- The testator, while he is alive, keeps charge of the money while he lives and only makes sure that the appropriate recipients are allowed to access it after his death.
- When that testator dies, the benefit that he stored up for his beneficiaries flows out toward them. How does that apply? Take a look at verse 18.
Hebrews 9:18-22 : " Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.' Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. " : The first covenant's promise of covering was initiated by the repeated sacrifice of animals. The New covenant is initiated by the death of Christ!
- Our author makes reference to what is found in Exodus 24:4-8. Moses was charged with the opening ceremony that brought the Levitical priesthood online.
- Aaron and his sons are the representatives of the Priesthood and the book is the covenant. The blood of the sacrifice was intermingled with water.
- When the scarlet wool and hyssop plant soaked in the blood, it acted as the delivery agent, as Moses sprinkled it over the Priests and the book.
- Then, the newly minted Tabernacle received a bloody introduction to set it apart!
- One might believe that the sprinkling of blood would be unsanitary. Not so with regard to the ceremonial work within the temple. In fact, as our author puts it, blood purifies almost all things!
- Of all the sacrifices mentioned in Leviticus, there are only a few that are "bloodless." Almost all things are purified with blood, but there are no sins that can be remitted with it!
- "Remission" speaks directly to a freedom from bondage or a legal pardon. Blood is the cleansing agent of the temple and the sole payment for sin. Verse 23.
Hebrews 9:23-26 : " Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. "
- The tabernacle was purified by the most precious commodity on earth: The life of the blood. The heavenly temple has been purified with the superior sacrifice of His own blood!
- Jesus went in to the true tabernacle in heaven once for us. He did not have to enter a second time! Rome teaches that He suffers again with every communion! He has finished His work!
- Jesus went in once at the end of the age to put sin away from His people for all time! Understand that difference. Any inferior blood and He would have to continue!
- Any other blood would only serve to cover. His blood puts sin away! Sin has been abolished, disannulled! It's power over your life as a redeemed person has been overcome!
- The blood of the Old Covenant merely provided a covering for the sins of men. Christ's work has put the stain of sin away from us forever! Verse 27.
Hebrews 9:27,28 : " And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. " : For those that believe in reincarnation or universalism, verse 27deals a tough hand to you.
- Our author speaks of this as a fact. Mankind, each person has an appointment with death. When he dies, it's right to the judgment. There isn't a second life or a second chance!
- Every man, woman and child will stand before God and the single question will be related to how one related to Jesus. Is He Lord or not! That is the judgment!
- As with that human experience, so also with Christ, who was offered once. He died to carry the weight, to bear the load of His people's sin. Those that have put their trust in Him are saved.
- We are saved from our sin, saved from God's wrath and saved for Him. We are free children and brothers in His righteousness. We are the ones that expect His second coming.
- His blood being shed brings a joy to our heart because we know He isn't coming to judge us, but to bring us into the full enjoyment and benefit that His blood assures us that we will have!
Conclusion
- The blood of Christ is superior. It does a deeper work and has an enduring quality that will never be undone by time! What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

January 29 2018

04:56

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 8)

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“The Superior Temple Of Our High Priest” • 1.28.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- In our last session, we learned of the Priesthood of Melchizedek and it's superiority to the Levitical Priesthood that was in operation at the time of this writing.
- Melchizedek's order predated Levi's order. It was preserved by an eternal oath. It promises a better hope and it is held by a perfect Son.
- The author is hoping to have changed your perspective about the Priesthood. He seeks now to do the same with the Temple. Let's look at verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 8:1,2 : " Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. " : Our author is getting to what he has been driving at. Christians are not without a High Priest!
- That had been the objection from family and friends of this young Jewish Christians.
- "Who will represent you before God if not a Priest?" This isn't a small matter. The entire history of redemption has been such that men cannot approach God on their own.
- Those that were returning to the Temple had a High Priest that could be seen. He wore beautiful, colorful robes and served in, arguably, the most ornate Temple ever designed.
- What did Christianity offer? Our author has made the point that we, Christians, have a superior High Priest, who is holy, harmless and in the appointed line of Melchizedek!
- Ours is not only superior to the visible one, but He serves is a superior Temple to the one that they were impressed with!
- Keep in mind that this is being written at a time when the Temple has been freshly renovated. It would have been a very strong temptation to be impressed with Herod's architecture.
- Many of the families of church members, might have given of their own resource to it's cause.
- But we have a High Priest that is incorruptible that doesn't serve there! Our High Priest serves us at the right hand of the throne of God! That is where He is seated!
- Of all the furniture that was commissioned for the Tabernacle and then the Temple, one glaring ommission was the provision for seating. This wasn't an oversight on God's part.
- The priests that served in the Tabernacle were never meant to sit comfortably during their time of service. The High Priest would never think of making himself comfortable in the Holiest!
- If anything, the Levitical High Priest wanted to get in and get out as fast as he could!
- God designated a lack of seating to illustrate the fact that their work was never finished. There would always be a need for another sacrifice, another cleansing, another ministration.
- Our High Priest is seated, communicating that His work is complete and that He belongs comfortably in the very presence of God Himself! He is seated at the right hand of the throne.
- This is the position of honor, the proximity to the proverbial strength of God! What a picture of splendor! Think about what it must be like to be there!
- "The Throne of the Majesty in the heavens!" The very seat of divinity and Jesus sits as the Minister of the sanctuary, the very place of God's dwelling.
- When Moses was given plans for the tabernacle, it was modeled after the Throne room!
- According to Exodus 25:40, Moses was to make the Tabernacle after the "pattern" that he had seen on the mountain! We don't know when or how, but he saw the very throne room of God!
- The Temple was an astounding feat of modern architectural design. It served an admirable and noble purpose for it's time.
- Ultimately, it was a miniature model that pointed to a greater, more significant reality. The Temple was the hot wheel version of an actual Corvette!
- Our High Priest isn't confined to a building, hoping to successfully live through another offering in the Holy Of Holies! He ministers where His Father actually rules from!
- He has direct, eternal, access to the Father! What could be better? Verse 3.
Hebrews 8:3-6 : " For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, 'See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.' But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. " : The men that served in the role of high priest were designated by God, through the Mosaic law, to offer offerings and sacrifices, literally "victims" to God.
- That is their duty as Levites. Our High Priest must also have something to offer, though our High Priest would not be a priest if He served on Earth. That would be against Moses' law.
- It's interesting that the copy and shadow of the "heavenly things" would not welcome or exalt the person of Jesus Christ. It was bound to the Mosaic law.
- The fact that the Temple continued to operate in Jerusalem, post crucifixion and resurrection, was a direct rejection of Jesus!
- Yet, for the sake of culture, history and family pressure, the young Christians wanted to honor the Temple, seemingly unaware that it existed to point to a greater reality!
- The Temple was merely the imitation and shadow of heavenly things! The Temple that they were so impressed with then, had no substance!
- God's presence had lifted off of it and the reality that cast the shadow now permanently resided in heaven! This wasn't a new truth. God disclosed this fact in Exodus 25:40.
- The Tabernacle and thus the Temple after it, was only a replica, a model of the original. Jesus serves in the place whose reality casts the shadow but that is only the beginning!
- He serves as the High Priest in the genuine heavenly Temple and has been granted a surpassing service than that of the high priests of the Temple.
- It is more excellent than theirs, first, because He is also Mediator of a better covenant.
- The word "Mediator," used 6 times in the New Testament, and is the only term employed by each of the major translations, suggests the concept of a "go-between."
˚ " One who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant. "   BLB
- Christ is the arbiter, broker, moderator, intermediary and middleman of a superior agreement!
- We have mentioned and will mention again that the old covenant featured within the law, was good for a time. It held the people in check. It taught them to anticipate Christ.
- But it wasn't meant to be permanent and it cannot be considered in the same league as the New Covenant.
- Christ is not only the Mediator, He is the sacrifice which stands between both parties, God and Man, assuring that there will be peace between the two entities as long as He lives!
- He is the Architect and sustainer of that agreement, which is better because of His eternal presence and because of the establishment of better promises! What does that mean? Verse 7.
Hebrews 8:7-9 : " For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: 'Behold, the days are coming, says the L ord , when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the L ord . " : As with the priesthood, so with the covenant. If the first would have been sufficient, there wouldn't be need for a replacement.
- The problem is not with the covenant itself! The Bible tells us that while the law made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19) the law of the Lord itself is perfect, converting the soul. (Psalm 19:7)
- The law perfectly reveals the excellent moral character of God and consequently, the imperfect character of the person.
- That law drives a person, not to justify themselves before the God of the law, but to seek to negotiate a peace, through sacrifice, with Him in order to experience relief.
- The law stood strong year by year, demanding fresh sacrifice, prompting the person offering to beg in their heart of hearts for a greater sacrifice that would truly and finally satisfy! Why?
- Please note the beginning of verse 8. "Because finding fault with them." The problem is the people! God's demands were clear, but God's people were unable to meet them!
- If the Jewish people, who lived during Moses' time were unable to follow the law, how could anyone today ever hope for a different outcome?
- They, we, have no hope of being able to rise to the demands of that covenant. We lack any power within us to sustain a holy life.
- That is why the terms of the Old covenant, the sacrifices within the Old covenant, were necessarily temporary.
- The blood of bulls and goats simply stemmed the tide. It held off the wrath of God. It satisfied God for the moment, serving as a placeholder for what was to come!
- When the New Covenant would come, it would signal a change in condition for both sides. That is what the author picks up on when he quotes from this passage in Jeremiah 31:31ff.
- Our author isn't making this up. He is pointing out what their scriptures clearly teach!
- God initiated the covenant with the exiles from Egypt, but had to set the people of God aside at the end of the Kingdom age because they did not continue in the covenant!
- This is basic history! This is the testimony that we observed through our study of the Kings. And yet, in Jeremiah's time, there was a disconnected sense of disbelief.
- Turn with me to Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah writes a letter to the first exiles that found themselves in Babylon.
- The Prophet is writing to clear up a sentiment that was growing among the exiles, namely that their time in Babylon would be short. Have a look at verse 4.
Jeremiah 29:4-10 : " Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord . For thus says the Lord : After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. " : It was God's will that they dwell in Babylon. Therefore, do your best to live out your days, building homes, growing your families and seeking the welfare of the city you live in!
- Verse 7 speaks so strongly to me about the heart of any spiritual endeavor. They were not only to do what it took to carry on their lives, they were to do so as they blessed Babylon!
- "Seek their peace. Pray for it! Their peace is your peace!" That was God's exhortation for them and I'm not ashamed to say that it would be His heart principally for us here in Colton!
- In addition to convincing them, Jeremiah also wrote to correct the false prophets that were exploiting the wishes of the people of God.
- They were playing on the emotions of these vulnerable people, pretending to speak for God.
- Their dreams and their supposed prophecies would be tailored to the desires of the people listening. Jeremiah writes to confirm that God's judgment was firm.
- This exile to Babylon would last for 70 years! Most of that group would die in the land of Babylon.  How could that be possible? 70 years removed and then God would bring them back?
- Who would be alive for such a thing? God is going to cause them to return to their place, but under what conditions? Verse 10.
Hebrews 8:10-12 : " For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord ,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' " : Notice where the responsibility lies. "This is the covenant that I will make." "I will put my laws in their mind."
- The entirety of the covenant responsiblity would rest upon God's shoulders! The Lord would not impose an external law upon His people as He once did through Moses.
- Instead, the covenant that He intends to make is reminiscent of the covenant that He made with Abram in Genesis 15:8-21.
- God told Abram to cut up some animals, which would serve as an illustration.
- The Chaldeans understood the message: If I walk through the carcasses of these animals and do not hold up my end of the bargain, my partner can treat me like them!
- Abraham set the animals in place and waited for God to meet him. He waited so long that he finally fell asleep! While Abraham rested, God walked through the macabre scene alone!
- He alone would take responsibility to bring the covenant with Abraham to pass and that is His desire with us!
- God's law through Moses had said, "Do this to live." God, through Christ, tells us "Done, now live!" And He doesn't leave it to chance!
- He will take Israel, the true members of the faith, via Abraham's belief and He will inscribe His laws in their mind.
- Their minds will be renewed. Their thinking will be altered. Their mind will conform to His way and He will write His laws on their hearts!
- There isn't another intermediary, ie. stones that stood without. These are personalized, written on the very conscience of the believer.
- Consider the gift of conviction, which operates upon every individual action. The Holy Spirit reminds us of what is obviously off limits, explicitly prohibited!
- But He also directs our hearts to obey Him in areas that are particular to our own spiritual make up. God's Word then becomes truly the lamp that lights the space before our feet!
- God's people have an internal compass and all of them would know Him! This covenant isn't strictly for an exclusive membership. Every one of His people, regardless of status, would know Him!
- The intimacy that is promised, the confidence that is available, is almost unthinkable to us! To the Jewish person, this had been an impossibility!
- Their unrighteousness was ever before them. To those in Christ, God promised a merciful response always! Their sins, God promised to remember no more!
- This doesn't mean that God doesn't know about them. As God, He must know all things. He cannot, not know, but He can make a choice not to remember and He does for those in Christ!
- He can choose not to bring them up and allow them to interfere with the flow of our relationship.
- God makes the choice to look at you through Christ's righteousness, not through the sin that you once lived in! He promises to make that choice forever! Verse 13.
Hebrews 8:13 : " In that He says, ' A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. " : This "new covenant." What does it mean but that God now looks at the first covenant as "obsolete." The word is written in the present tense, meaning that it is currently in this condition.
- The word "obsolete" speaks to a state of decay. It is wearing out and ready to disappear out of sight. We aren't sure exactly when this was written.
- The Temple restoration was completed in 63 A.D. What most did not know at that time was that Rome would destroy the Temple to it's foundations in 70 A.D.
- This passage was not only true Biblically, as the law's influence as an external source of righteousness passed away, it would be true historically!
- Their faith could not be in the Temple because if it was, it was only a few proverbial minutes away from being destroyed!
- Our faith in Christ, instead of become obsolete, old and vanishing, is becoming increasingly relevant, fresh and clear!
Conclusion
- We aren't without representation! Our High Priest serves in a better place! He is the better sacrifice, which stands eternal before the Presence of Almighty God!
- As we come to communion today, let the words of our author ring in your ears! Because of Jesus, God will be merciful to your unrighteousness and will remember your sins no more!
- Let's pray!


January 22 2018

05:36

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 7)

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Audio Access Available Above
“The Superior Priesthood Of Jesus” • 1.21.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Our author introduced the theme of Christ's High Priesthood back in chapter 4:14 and begins to mention "the order of Melchizedek in chapter 5.
- In 5:11, he tells them that he has much to say about Melchizedek, but it will be hard to explain because of their dulled hearing caused by their spiritual immaturity.
- We find ourselves in chapter 7, and the return to the explanation of Christ's High Priesthood, which followed in this man's order. But why was this necessary?
- What made this Priesthood superior to that of the Levitical priesthood? He provides four reasons here, beginning in verse 1. Melchizedek's order predated the Levitical priesthood.
Text
Hebrews 7:1-3 : " For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. " : Our author refers to an account found in Genesis 14. The information here is a brief restatement of what occurred there.
- The "slaughter of the Kings" was a geo-political event that intersected with Abraham when his nephew Lot was captured and taken prisoner by the victors. His sole agenda was to rescue him.
- Accompanied by only 318 trained men, God graciously allowed Abraham's short-sighted plan to succeed. After the battle, Melchizedek rises out from the settling dust to meet with Abraham.
Genesis 14:18-20 : " Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he gave him a tithe of all. " : Aside from this text and our text today, Melchizedek is mentioned only once more in Psalm 110, a scripture which figures heavily in the mind of our author.
- The author finds significance in his name. "Melchizedek" means "King of Righteousness."
- Notice also the dual role that was assigned to him: He was a King as well as a Priest of the Most High God! To a Jewish person, this was unheard of!
- Kings came from the tribe of Judah and Priests, from the tribe of Levi. Israel's constitution provides the basis for the separation of church and state!
- Kings who attempted to perform Priestly duty fell on hard times. Remember Saul and Uzziah? Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness comfortably governs the land of Peace!
- It's no doubt that this refers to ancient Jerusalem before Israel had conquered Canaan.
- Righteousness and peace! That must be the order. Righteousness must be established if peace is to be experienced! These were hallmarks in the Kingdom that Melchizedek ruled over.
- It was to this man Melchizedek, a Gentile priest of the Most High God, that Abraham paid a tithe! This is significant. Abraham is still without child when he meets him!
- Levi will be born in chapter 29 and Aaron won't be born until the book of Exodus! But there is a Priest that Abraham, the Father of the faith legitimizes with a tithe offering.
- His gift was a token of belief and a recognition of Melchizedek's superiority to him.
- This was a man without a Father or Mother, without a beginning or end! This is often where people get mixed up about Melchizedek. Was this a real person or a Christophany?
- Our author's mention of a lack of geneology or life record simply reflects the biblical data portrait that is provided for him. His point is that this man does not come from a long line of priests.
- The key might be in the word "made like." The word speaks of a facsimile. In fact, many of the other major translations prefer the use of the term "resembling."
- This man was a real historical person who provides an excellent picture that is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
- Christ, the King of Righteousness and peace, whose ministry is symbolized by bread and wine! Let me offer two more points for your consideration that I hope answer your questions.
- During the conquest of the northern portion of Canaan, a King of Jerusalem organizes a defensive treaty against Israeli incursion.
- That King was known as "Adoni-Zedek," "the Lord is righteous." It seems then that the name "Zedek" is a royal name, much like the Philistine "Abimilech" or the Egyptian "Pharaoh."
-  Second, when Jesus does appear in the Old Testament, He appears without a specific Name! He is the "Angel of the Lord" or the "Captain of the Lord's armies."
- But when Jacob and Samson's parents ask for His Name, He declines to give it. (Genesis 32:29, Judges 13:17,18) There is only One Name that deserves our honor!
- Melchizedek was a real man who provides an excellent picture of Christ and a wonderful priesthood for Christ to serve in because his priesthood continues. Verse 4.
Hebrews 7:4-10 : " Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the
patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. " : How great was Melchizedek?
- Abraham, our Father in the faith, recognized a Priest who had no credentials, as having the authority to minister on behalf of God.
- This is quite different from the Levitical priesthood who received the priesthood, meaning that there was a succession of Levites who were devoted to that work.
- Abraham wasn't concerned about that when he gave his gift to Melchizedek. He didn't object.
- What does that imply? I love how the author answers that! "Beyond all contradiction!"
Hebrews 7:7 (NLT) : " And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed. " : There was no question in Abraham's mind. Melchizedek was to be honored. Melchizedek was superior to him.  
- Abraham didn't argue with Melchizedek because of the great promises that he had. He paid his tithe to God! In that action, Abraham testified to Melchizedek's superiority. Verse 8.
Hebrews 7:8-10 : " Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. " : In the modern Jewish experience, in their "here," a person would come to the Temple and give a tithe to a Priest that you might meet and then never meet again!
- Scripture "there," speaks of Melchizedek living on! The further implication is that Levi had already surrendered to a greater priesthood because Abraham paid on their behalf!
- This form of argumentation is called "Federal Representation." Levi, indeed the entire Jewish nation, was literally in Abraham when the Patriarch paid his tithe.
 - The Jewish person understood that the representative's actions stood in the place of later generations. We have no problem with this when it comes to Christ's federal representation of us!
- Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood because it predates it and because it is preserved by Priests who cannot die!
- The One who stands to represent it lives forever! He can serve God's people without interruption! But there is far more. Melchizedek's priesthood promises a better hope! Verse 11.
Hebrews 7:11 : " Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? " : There was a common misconception about the Priesthood and the law. Somehow, a right standing, a "perfection" was to be gained through it.
- If you and I were able to be complete before God through the Levitical system, which also ran with the power of the Law, then why was it necessary for another Priestly order?
- Why would God announce in His Word that His High Priest would serve in the order of Melchizedek? Shouldn't the existing priesthood suffice? The answer is that it did not!
- Completion before God cannot be arrived at through the Levitical system or the law of Moses!
- You and I are settled upon this issue and might even roll our eyes at the repetition of it. The people listening to this letter at this time were set back on their heels in astonishment!
- There is a need for a superior priest and priesthood because the priesthood of our people, of our brethren, is insufficient to the ultimate task! It cannot complete us before the Lord!
- That isn't a knock on the Mosaic law or the Levitical priesthood. If we could conform to the law, it could save us, but we lack the engine, therefore, it is insufficient.
- This is why there needed to be an alternate priesthood and consequent changes to our relationship to it. Verse 12.
Hebrews 7:12-17 : " For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.For He testifies: 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' " : "The Priesthood has been changed!" The word seems to be literally translated "transferred" or "transported."
- The Priesthood has been swapped out and because of that exchange, there is need for the law to be altered, the first of which was the right of officiating.
- The laws that bound the Levitical priesthood were of no effect toward Melchizedek's order. Jesus, according to His humanity descended from Judah. Moses didn't cover this!
- His law covers mortal men whose priestly service came to an end in their 50's and then came to an ultimate end with their death.
- Once a Levite died, the fleshly commandment was that another Levite was to take his place. That man could be a great priest or a lame one. All that mattered was that he was a Levite.
- It takes much more to be a priest in Melchizedek's order. That priest needed to have an eternal life! Once you are serving as a Priest in Melchizedek's order, you serve forever! Verse 18.
Hebrews 7:18,19 : " For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. "  : The change that our author was talking about comes in the annulling of the former commandment regarding the Levitical priesthood.
- The former commandment has been cancelled, put away because it was weak, the picture being related to a person described in the throes of an illness. It was weak and worthless!
- What a jarring, but true statement! Those that held their loyalty to the commandment regarding the priesthood, held it out of loyalty.
- "This is our heritage." "This is what our parents taught us." "This is all we have ever known!" Doesn't that sound familiar? A cultural loyalty that runs deeper than the acknowledgement of truth?
- Certainly, in the privacy of their hearts, they had to question the efficacy of the Priesthood, mainly because of their consistent need to return to sacrifice on a consistent basis!
- The person had to admit to themselves that they observed no change. They knew that they were incomplete! They would have to confess to you the truth that the law made nothing perfect!
- On the one hand, God announcing a new priesthood is an announcement that the old priesthood has been set aside. On the other hand, there is the introduction of a superior hope!
- What is that hope? The hope of actually drawing near to God! That is what the entire Priesthood existed to furnish. But this is different!
- If anything, the Levitical Priesthood revealed how distant God was to His people. You could not come without a sacrifice and when you brought it, you could only go as far as the Priest.
- Behind the Priest was a restricted area reserved for certain priests and behind that restricted area, there was an even more restricted area reserved for a single priest and only once a year!
- A Jewish person could get close, but not near to God. The order of Melchizedek promises nearness, intimacy with God! Verse 20.
Hebrews 7:20,21 : " And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: 'The L ord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest foreverAccording to the order of Melchizedek’),by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. " : Christ's priesthood is ratified, legitimized by the fact that God Himself had taken a binding oath!
- God has not sworn to the enduring nature of the Priestly office of Levi. On the contrary, He has bound Himself to His own Word, specifically Psalm 110:4 which is quoted here.
- When God puts it down in scripture, know that He will not relent! He has declared that this priesthood will last for eternity!
- When people ask me about the importance of the doctrines related to the inspiration and infallibility of scripture, I think of verses like this! God's Word cannot be broken! He won't give in!
- Last week, we made note of the fact that God made a promise with an oath regarding our status with Him. He makes the same kind of statement regarding the priesthood that Christ serves in!
- How secure does that make the priesthood of Melchizedek? This is what God has decreed!
- Consequently, Jesus, by so much more, has become a surety of a better covenant!
- A person who undertook the role of "surety" became responsible for another person's debt. If an agreement was made, that person would be legally required to appear in court for the other.
- He is the ultimate Co-Signer, the ultimate Guarantor that all will be paid! Verse 23.
Hebrews 7:22-25 : " Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. " : Death is a prominent problem for the Levitical priesthood. Every priest died! Their term forced there to be changes in the priesthood, but not so with the Lord.
- His is an unchangeable priesthood. He will never have to transfer His knowledge of you to another. He will stand as a worthy representative toward God for all eternity!
- Therefore, because He lives forever, Jesus has the ability to save, to deliver, to complete what God intended for His Priesthood.
- For years, I've believed that the "uttermost" had reference to the worst type of sinner. Some Pastors have been fond of saying that Jesus will save to the "Guttermost!"
- While that is true, the word actually speaks to a complete salvation.
- The Priesthood of Christ is not one of temporary, superficial satisfaction. His work promises total transformation to everyone that come to God through Him! Why? Because He intercedes!
- When the word speaks of intercession, you and I think of a series of prayers, like the ones made for our food or our night's sleep.
- It would be better if you thought of stories in the Bible when God determined to destroy Israel because of their rebellion! At that time, Moses stood between God and His intention to destroy.
- Jesus Christ stands between you and the vent of God's wrath for eternity! When Satan brings up our names and the charge is true, Jesus stands up to say "Paid In Full!"
- Melchizedek's priesthood predates the Levitical Priesthood and is preserved by an eternally exsistent Priest. It is superior because it promises a better hope of salvation and intercession.
- Finally, the High Priest is a perfect Priest! Verse 26.
Hebrews 7:26-28 : " For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. " : Oh, don't you agree with our author! A High Priest that can save to the uttermost is the kind of Priest that we need!
- He is fitting for us! From what I understand, the word speaks of standing out. He stands out as an eminent candidate. He will live forever, but what kind of priest will he be?
- What good is a priest that will live forever that is corrupt or corruptible? There were Levitical priests, Eli's sons for example, who fit that bill. We have no such worries with Christ!
- He is holy, sacred and harmless, without guile or fraud! What a beautiful description. Sin never touched Him and while sinners could approach Him, He was separate from them.
- He had once touched Earth, but now has become higher, more majestic than the heavens!
- He doesn't need the offering to cover for His own sins. He doesn't have any sin to atone for and He doesn't need to provide a sacrifice because He is the sufficient sacrifice for every sinner!
 - Levi's Priesthood couldn't do that. The law appoints weak men, but God's oath demands a Son that has been perfected forever!
- This means that He has been and will always be what He has been! He will always be the Perfect High Priest!
Conclusion
- Christian, you have come into Christ, who is the focal point of a superior Priesthood. It is superior because it predates the Priesthood that would later come through Moses.
- It is superior because it is preserved by an eternal line that cannot be broken! God has sworn to uphold it!
- It is superior because it promises a better hope: Full and complete salvation to all who enter by Jesus Christ, the only One that can stand between God and His people forever!!
- And it is superior because it's office is held by the Perfect Son, who will always be Holy and harmless and who will never need the offering of another! Let's pray!

January 15 2018

03:27

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 6:9-20)

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margin:.5in .5in .5in .5in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} </style> --> <div class="chapter-2" style="margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <a href="http://www.mediafire.com/file/bh8wffj9nnusrl3/Hebrews%206_9-20.m4a"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;">Hebrews 6:9-20</span> </a> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Audio Access Available Above </span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">“The Keys To Comfort And Peace” • 1.14.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Intro</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author of Hebrews has had the unenviable task of warning believers about the dangers of apostasy. There were some among the church that were potentially leaving their faith.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Their eyes were being cast elsewhere, their trust was being divided, as they considered a return to Judaism.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Consequently, they were in danger of being left in a state of reprobation. A person who will not look to Jesus, who wills not to be saved and who dies in that condition, is without hope!</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- You don't have to imagine what it feels like to hear that. Most of you were here to hear that last week! Perhaps, in the midst of the warning, you felt a certain unease.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- You might have even been tempted to think, based on my impassioned plea to those in danger, that I felt you were all in danger! </span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- While the warning is necessary for all to hear, the author doesn't want to leave them in that place for long.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- On the heels of a section that warns of the possibility of apostasy, comes a section that revels in the faithfulness of God and the security of those held within the grip of His promise!</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Join me now in our passage, beginning in verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">9</b>.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Text</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;"></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:9,10</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-6-9"><span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.</span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-10"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of<sup></sup>love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : The group that our author represents has been persuaded of better things for the majority of the letter's recipients. He saw things in their midst that accompanied saving faith. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- There were fruits of the Holy Spirit that were evident in their lives and there was work that emanated from their faith in Christ.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- No matter what happens with the potential apostate, our author wants them to know that God is not unjust in forgetting what they had done. He won't let it slip from His mind! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God will be faithful to carry out an apostate's sentence, but He will be just as faithful to deliver a faithful servant their reward! The God of the Earth will never do wrong!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is the author's first encouragement: God remembers that which is done in His Name and for His cause! He recognizes the fruit of their salvation in their work and labor of love!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Please be clear regarding the difference. This is not work or labor for love. It's a labor of love.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- I have mentioned this countless times and I don't mean to weary you, but our faith in Christ produces repentance in our own lives and work toward the lives of others.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ours is a work FROM faith and a labor for the sake of our love for Jesus Christ! These are the works which provide evidence of, not merit for, salvation!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When a person seeks to earn God's favor or love through works, God is under no obligation to remember it. But when it comes from a trusting child of faith, He never forgets it!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Please notice the progression of their work and let this be a reminder of any and all potential service we engage in: They worked toward His Name. They did it for His sake.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When Jesus stands to give out reward, He will reward those that served His brethren in various states of need. They are those without proper clothing, who are sick or in need of food.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When we respond to them, we are responding to Him! Jesus counts such work as that which was done unto Him! (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Matthew 25:44,45</b>)</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This church was known for it's ministry to the saints. Each individual church and believer will be called to various ministries appropriate for their gifting.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The Hebrews had the opportunity and the resource to minister to the saints. This was what they had done and had continued to do. Please notice that phrase.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- "You have ministered to the saints and do minister!" Their work wasn't produced in a bygone era. This was on-going! God saw what they were doing, not what they had done!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Everything that is done to enhance His reputation, to call attention to His Name, no matter the significance, is remembered! The implication is that He will reward them in due time! Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">11</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:11,12</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-6-11"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, </span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-12"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" :</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">The sentence is a little confusing. Listen to this verse in the NIV.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> <span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:11</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> (NIV) : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" :</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Ultimately, the author is communicating that they should continue doing what they have been doing.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- They have been working, but it was not enough for them to rest on their laurels. Each of them was to remain engaged! There are no special categories of servants. Each was to do their part.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Once you have discerned a call to be a member of the body of Christ locally, your very next step is to discover how you are to serve within it! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Once you have made the discovery of how your gifting enhances the service life of the body of Christ, work hard in that gifting! Be as diligent in the future as you have in the past!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- You probably haven't noticed, but takes a concerted effort to remain diligent year after year! The word "diligence" is synonymous with speed and eagerness.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>-<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Are you as speedy and eager as you once were for the things of God? Do you remember your earlier days of "zealous thunder!?" Why does the author exhort us to this end?</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Let me say first what he does not communicate. You may hear certain preachers talk in such a way that belies a need from God. "If you don't do something, God can't do anything!"</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- A "God" that is dependant upon you is not a "God" at all! God has no need for our service. In fact, God only wants our service because it benefits us! Listen to our author closely.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- "Show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end." There is a purpose.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>˚<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>"</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">That is that we desire that each of you exhibit the same diligence to develop your hope, which is in danger of failing, into full assurance, unto the end of the present season of trial with it's happy consummation.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">"<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">      </span>Kenneth Wuest</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Service turns our hope into certainty! Doing what God calls us to do for Him feeds our confidence. It expands our capacity for expectation until we come to the end.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Whatever God had called them to do, they were to do it to it's end! What might that mean? It could mean that there is a season of time given for every work. Do it until that season is over.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Personally, given the context, I believe that this refers to the end of their own lives! That is a word that all of us need to hear! There is no retirement on this side of heaven! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Your retirement ceremony is held at your graveside! I like the NLT here.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:11</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> (NLT) : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Work hard and feed your conviction. Invest heavily in heaven that your heart might be there. And understand that this is the only way to defeat laziness!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- We work this way, diligently, without regard to quitting, because if we do not we will become sluggish or slothful! Boy, does this author know us all too well!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- "Don't be lazy! Imitate those that faithfully endured toward their inheritance!" Look at our examples. Examine their lives. Who does he pick out? Father Abraham! Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">13</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:13-15</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-6-13"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, </span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-14"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">saying, </span> </span> <span class="oblique"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.' </span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-15"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : One of the keys to understanding the Christian faith is to view our relationship with God through the lens of Abrahamic faith. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- With this in mind, In your afternoon reading, I'd commend you again to <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Romans 4</b> and Paul's treatment of that subject. How God dealt with Abraham then is of particular importance to us.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and promised to bring a nation out of him. In <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis 12</b>, Abram believed enough to leave his home nation.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis 15:6</b>, the Bible records that Abraham believed the Lord's promise of descendants rivalling the stars of the sky. God accounted it to him for righteousness! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is one of the most important scriptures in the Bible. Abraham believed God regarding His promise and God counted that for righteousness. Does that sound familiar? Justification by faith!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When you believed in Christ, the blessed Descendant of Abraham, God counted that for righteousness on your account! You and I are going to heaven based upon that!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Yet, there is still a striking distance of time between what is promised and the fulfillment. Back to Abraham. Most scholars hold to a 25 year gap between the call of Abraham and the birth of Isaac.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When God does bring Isaac into being, He calls upon Abraham to make a trek with him to an unknown place in order to sacrifice him! Abraham obeys, but the Lord stops him from doing it.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Right after that story, God spoke again to Abraham in <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis 22:17</b> and declared this promise to him, which was accompanied by an oath. Listen to it in the NLT.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:14 </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(NLT) : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Our author asserts that after he patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Consider what he is telling them.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The promise did not come to pass when it was presented. The promise and the fulfillment are not close together. Abraham received God's promise after he endured toward it.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- There was a process of great difficulty and struggle in Abraham's life.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Along the way God continually assured him in various ways that the promise was still in effect. Abraham lived his life in light of that promise and he wasn't perfect in the process!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- I'm convinced that from <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis 12</b>and on, Abraham kept seeking to make descendants out of other people, like Lot, the servant born in his house and finally Ishmael.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When each one was rejected, he simply had to wait upon God to bring Isaac into the world, through Sarah's womb. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Even when Isaac was born, Abraham never saw the fulfillment beyond Isaac's life, but he still lived toward the fulfilling of it! Go and read <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis 24</b> today to see a beautiful picture of salvation!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author's point is that our walk, similar to Abraham's, is built upon a promise whose fulfillment will not be seen in this lifetime, but is as sure as Abraham's was.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- How sure is that promise? Our author explains that in verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">16</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:16-18</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-6-16"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. </span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-17"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,</span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-18"> <sup> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> </span> </sup> </span> <span class="textheb-6-18"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might<sup></sup>have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us</span> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">.</i> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : The audience understood what it meant to ratify a contract, especially among ancient peoples. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When a person made a covenant with another person, those people called upon a third person greater than themselves to hold the agreeing parties accountable to keep their word.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- If a dispute arose, this settled things satisfactorily. The third party would witness to what would enforce the contract. That is why God invoked His own Name. "I swear."</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He made a promise and then strengthened that promise by swearing an oath on His own Name. "If I do not do what I have said, then I am bound by own Name to rectify that!" </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God is in essence, putting His reputation as God on the line! Why has He done this? </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's not to satisfy Himself. He has no doubt of His own intention and ability to fulfill His promise. He has done this because He is determined to comfort us.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The phrase is literally that He wants to "above measure, exhibit" to the heirs of promise, the immutability of His counsel! Think about what you are hearing! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The God that created the Heavens and the Earth, that spoke it all into existence and who will judge the living and the dead has pulled out all the stops to demonstrate something to you!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Is it not enough that He has said this? It might be sufficient for some of us, but it is not sufficient for Him! He wants you to be incredibly, undoubtedly confident in His promise!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:17</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> (NLT) : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : You cannot have a moment's doubt based upon what He has been willing to do to confirm His promise to you! He doesn't just say that He cannot change. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is how He conveys His immutability. God's mind cannot change with regard to the promise that He has made to us. Now, we have this double confidence!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He has confirmed His promise with an oath! Either one necessitates a lack of ability to change! He cannot lie! It's impossible. He has not power to lie!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Our author is making this point because there were some listening who wondered, like Abraham, what assurance they could have that God would fulfill His promise!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God is not satisfied with giving us a little encouragement. He wants to be sure that we have "strong" or "mighty" encouragement! He does this because we are "heirs of the promise." (v.<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">17</b>)</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That which belonged to Abraham belongs to us! We enter in that blessing! He wants the heirs to be certain of their inheritance. But there is a second descriptor that is compelling.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- We are those who have "fled for refuge." How does an heir view their inheritance? Perhaps with some sense of expectation. How does a refugee feel about their position? A little skittish! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is most certainly an allusion to ancient Israel's "cities of refuge" initiative that is mentioned in <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Numbers 35:6-34</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When a person was guilty of manslaughter, he could run to a city of refuge to await a proper "trial" from a local priest. If he was found innocent of premeditation, he could stay in that city safely.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The "avenger of blood" from the victim's family had to abide by this ruling, so long as the perpetrator lived in the city. He lived there under the protection of the priest that oversaw his case.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- While that priest was alive, there was safety for the perpetrator. Consider now the relevance of the allusion: We are guilty and have run into Christ for refuge.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Our spiritual life is bound up in His life and His promise to protect us from the avenger or blood! While He lives, we have our hope. That leads us to verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">19</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 6:19,20</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-6-19"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,</span> </span> <span class="textheb-6-20"> <sup> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> </span> </sup> </span> <span class="textheb-6-20"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : This hope, this expectation of the ultimate reward of heaven and the reward for our labor in Him is what stabilizes our soul.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is what an anchor does for a ship. In these days of the Roman Empire, an anchor was a large, 2,000 pound piece of iron with generally two to four "teeth" attached. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The word "anchor" actually means "teeth." Those "teeth" would catch upon the bottom of the sea bed and the ship would hold steady until the anchor was brought back up to the surface.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The people in the boat could rest easy, knowing that the anchor provided sure and steadfast results. The word "sure" means "without fail" and "steadfast" means "firm."</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Consider that when you are at sea! Consider that against the power of nature! The boat might sway with the wind, but with the anchor holding, it won't lose it's position!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The hope that we steady ourselves upon will not fail and sits firmly. Where is it? It sits where God's throne abides, where Jesus has entered for us!Our anchor doesn't go down deep. It goes up!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Like the anchor of a boat, it falls invisibly below the surface of the deep, tethered to the boat by chain or rope that signals it's whereabouts. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Our anchor is not held in place by attaching itself to something. It is held there by someOne!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Jesus has assumed a position in the very Presence of God the Father, behind the actual veil, the copy of which was just down the street at the newly renovated Temple!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- "<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">When darkness seems to hide His face. I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil!</b>" The teeth have sunk, rooted firmly in heaven!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- And this may be the greatest encouragement of all: Jesus the forerunner has entered for us! You might miss the implication if you read this too quickly.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- A forerunner was a person who went ahead of their Sovereign. His purpose was to prepare the way for the traveling Monarch. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Practically, this meant clearing the roads and booking appropriate lodging. The presence of a forerunner implies the presence of a Sovereign!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The fact that Jesus is called the forerunner implies that He will be bringing us in with Him! Can you imagine that? The Levitical priests had no right to bring in a guest into the Holy Of Holies!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- They entered alone, with great trepidation I might add and they sought to leave as soon as possible! But Jesus isn't a Levitical High Priest. He's a Melchizedekian High Priest!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- What does that mean? We will have to wait! Suffice it to say, there are different rules for a priest in the order of Melchizedek and the first is that He enters in and can bring whoever He wants!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">Conclusion <br /></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- As we close, I pray that this passage encourages you. Are you wondering if God sees the work that you do for Him? Our author reminds us: God will never forget!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Therefore, do your work with all diligence! Grow in confidence and fight the urge to give into spiritual laziness!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Are you concerned that God's promise might not be fulfilled? Our author encourages us: God has taken an oath!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Therefore, live your life in light of that sure word. Take it to the bank. You're an heir with a bank account. You're a refugee that can have security!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Finally, are you concerned that your life might slip away because of all the trials that you have or are experiencing? Listen to our author: God has set the anchor in a firm position!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's with His Son, your Brother, your High Priest, your Savior who has the license to sit behind the veil and to bring whoever He wants in with Him!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is the comfort of our God and this is the security of His promise!</span> </div>

January 08 2018

07:10

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 6:4-9)

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Audio Access Available Above
“The Danger Of Spiritual Immaturity, pt. 2” • 1.7.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The author of the book of Hebrews has provided a dense review of Christian theology for the sake of a desperate plea aimed at the ears of his Jewish brethren.
- He is deeply concerned about them because, while they have walked toward Jesus Christ, received Him as their Messiah, they have seemingly sought to keep a foot in Judaism.
- It's possible that some sought to reconcile the disparate beliefs of the two faith systems.
- Our unknown author has been encouraging his Jewish brothers to come confidently into a settled position of rest, understanding that Christ is far superior to any former spiritual attraction.
- He has called them to come in. The exhortation from the beginning of this particular passage has been to go on to spiritual maturity, the intended goal of the faith.
- God is calling Christians to move on from being milk feeding babes in Christ, to fully mature, meat eating members of the body of Christ.
- His heart is to call people into the center of life in Christ, that they might avoid the fringe all together, understanding that such a placement is deadly to their own character and witness.
- That is enough to seek to avoid, but there is a much greater personal cost that is present when one seeks to keep a foot in Jesus and a foot in any other world.
- That is where our text leads us today. We will pick it up in verse 4, asking the Lord's grace as we proceed.
Text
Hebrews 6:4-6 : " For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away,to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. " : The word "impossible" rarely occurs in the same sentence with God.
- The God for whom nothing is impossible, inspires the author to employ that word in describing the proceeding process. This isn't the first time that we see this concept.
- There are several things that God cannot do. He cannot lie, (Titus 1:2), He cannot tempt or be tempted by evil. (James 1:13) He also cannot do what is described here.
- He is literally "without power" to act on behalf of these particular people who fall away. Part of the difficulty of this passage concerns the identity of these people. Who are they?
- The author offers five points of identification which when taken together provide clarity.
- First, they were those who had, at one time, been enlightened. "Photizo" refers to the use of light. We might say, "the light has gone on" for them.
- The metaphor must necessarily refer to being made aware of saving knowledge. That point of view is strengthened by the next phrase. "They have tasted the heavenly gift."
- What else can he refer to but the receiving of salvation? What other gift from heaven is there for man? They know what it means to have been lost and then to belong to Christ.
- At this point, one might make an attempt note the difference between sampling, tasting and a full bite or meal. Some scholars would suggest that this might mean the former.
- Their argument is that this person has only taken a bite of Christianity, to see whether or not it agrees with them. There are two problems with this.
- First, one has to look not only at what the word means, but also how the author uses that word elsewhere in his own writing. For that I invite you to look back at Hebrews 2:9.
Hebrews 2:9 : " But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. " : Jesus didn't simply sample death! Based upon how the author has already used the word, the precedent is set.
- These people have fully experienced salvation. The second problem occurs when you take this phrase with what follows.
- The theological noose is tightened, as these people are described as being partakers, shareholders of the Holy Spirit. The same word has been used two other times in Hebrews.
- In both instances, Christians are "shareholders" in a heavenly calling and of Christ! (Hebrews 3:1& 14) The relation to the Holy Spirit is especially limiting in assessing the identity of this group.
- Before this phrase, one could assume a vague position regarding the type of person our author is describing. The introduction of the Holy Spirit moves us into a more certain category.
- Biblically, an unconverted person, has no claim to the Holy Spirit as a shareholder. This isn't to say that the Holy Spirit isn't at work in their lives.
- Jesus told the disciples in John 16:8ff, that the Holy Spirit would come into the world after His ascent, to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
- The world is unknowingly acquainted with the Holy Spirit's work, but only Christians can be said to be are partakers of Him.
- Who else can claim to have tasted the good word, the rhema of God or witnessed the powers of the age to come unless they are guided by the Holy Spirit?
- A non-Christian cannot comprehend the Word without the teaching help of the Holy Spirit!
II Corinthians 2:13,14 : " These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the HolySpirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. " : Only a Christian can enjoy the Word of God and benefit from it's intention with the attending power of God's Spirit.
- The same is true of their experience of the powers of the age to come. Most people believe that this refers to miracles which occurred in that first century. It's the ability related to that time.
- When you think about these people, given the entirety of that which describes them, you would begin with general enlightenment and then end with specific experience in being taught.
- These are the kind of people that make up the leadership of large churches!
- Think of the sermons that they had heard and the miracles that they had witnessed from the world's greatest living witnesses! Now, what would happen if they "fell away?"
- What if they fell to the side, the grammar inferring that this was a decided action at a particular point in time. "They fell and have remained in that condition."
- This is reflected in the way that this word is translated throughout the other orthodox translations. The NIV, NASB, CSB and ESV all employ the phrase "have fallen away."
- Our author is talking about believers who have apostasized, who have not continued on in their faith and have remained in that condition.
- You might ask, as many have, what the difference is between a Christian who falls into sin and one that falls away.
- Many fear that they fall into this category, excuse the pun, because they have, at times, fallen into sin. That is actually a normal part of walking with the Lord.
- Do you remember our studies in the life of David, especially in II Samuel? There were large portions of text which if read alone, might suggest to us that David was not a Christian at all!
- And yet, he was called a "man after God's own heart!" (I Samuel 13:14)
- All Christians will experience seasons where they will struggle against sin and temptation. The difference between that and an apostate is what happens next.
- Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 37. Listen to David's observations of the righteous ones.
Psalm 37:23,24 : " The steps of a good man are ordered by the L ord ,
And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lordupholds him with His hand.
" : A believer will fall, but he will not fall permanently.
- An apostate has fallen and has not bothered to get back up! This leaves us with a category of people that we are not used to discussing.
- Generally, we speak most often of those that "have" or "have not" salvation.
- If a person falls into sin and never returns, we might reason that they were never a Christian to begin with. He never "had" the Spirit, and was therefore, simply an imitator.
- An additional point of interest is in the doctrine that most identify as the "perserverance of the saints," which has also been poorly termed "once saved, always saved."
- How can a person who has been saved by God ever come into a position where they are not saved by God? We might hear the question posed like this: "Can a person 'lose' their salvation?"
- I would say to you who desire to be kept in it, that there is no more secure place that you can be in! If you have been with us through our studies up to now, the majority of the texts offer security.
- I feel confident that you cannot lose it, but I will not say that you cannot LEAVE it! The Lord will keep you, but He will not keep you against your will!
- It is virtually unthinkable that one would seek to escape His hand, but that is precisely where our author has placed us!
- Think about the logic and the viewpoint that this author is writing from. Why has he had to convince these people of Christ's superiority? They have been tempted to abandon Him!
- Why has he been begging them to come deeper into Christ? Because they were standing at the door wondering which way they would eventually go! "Do I want Christ or do I want the Temple?
- There are many that face the same temptation, who have sat in this very room! They aren't looking toward the Temple, but they might be looking back at their Catholic roots!
- Some are simply unsure if they are willing to leave the world that they know and love!
- He is telling us here that if a person has looked to Christ, experienced Christ and has left Christ, they are moving steadily closer to a position of finality.
- The Holy Spirit speaks through him, relaying to us that it's impossible for an apostate to be brought back into a right relationship with God! It is impossible to renew them to repentance!
- God cannot restore them to a place of thinking differently about Christ. That is what the word "repentance" means.
- It means to have a change in the way one thinks about Christ, issuing in a change in their behavior because of Christ. Let's consider first, why this is would be impossible?
- It is impossible because God will not violate their own hearts. He will not force them to look toward Christ if they are intent upon looking in another direction for salvation!
- Think about this: If you are unwilling to look to Christ as the exclusive source of salvation when that is His sole criteria, how could He then save you?
- If you are not looking in His direction when His hand is extended to you, you cannot blame the efficiency of His hand! It is impossible to save a person that wills not to be saved by God!
- We will also speak in a moment about the "when" that this impossibility becomes a reality.
- A person's refusal in Christ is not merely a benign activity. By that action, they are agreeing with those that crucified Christ! They are treating Him with the same contempt that his enemies did.
- Think of this another way. At the cross, because you believed in Christ, you were represented by Him in His death. You mystically share in that experience.
- Because of your belief in Christ, you are united to Him theologically. When He died, He died for you and as you, so that when He rose, by your trust in Him, you rose with Him!
- In the same way, a person that rejects Christ is united to those that agreed with those that crucified Christ! It is as if they were there, looking upon Christ, exposing Him to shame!
- The word that the author uses here is relative to our word "paradigm."
- These who have turned their focus from Christ to place it upon another source, have looked upon Jesus as the example of shame.
- They treat Him with contempt, perhaps not with their words, but by their actions.
- This leads us to consider the question of "when" this impossibility becomes reality. Verse 7.
Hebrews 6:7,8 : " For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. " : This is an interesting statement and one might wonder about it being set here. The agricultural picture is easy enough to understand.
- Physical rain falls upon the earth and waters the ground indiscriminantly. What comes up to the surface speaks of the condition of the surface.
- Herbs come up where the ground has been prepared, dressed, cultivated. Herbs are valuable and there is a blessing from God in their production for the farmer.
- The farmer benefits from it personally and it continues as they are enriched from the produce when they sell it at the market.
- On the other hand, the rain that falls on uncultivated ground bears thorns and briers, weeds. Far from being valuable, the thorns and briers are rejected.
- In other places the word is translated "reprobate." The actual word speaks of being considered worthless, unable to stand under scrutiny.
- When it comes up, it's not destined for anything. There is no value to it. The farmer will bring it up and have it burned to dispose of it. Why does our author make this staement?
- First, consider the objection that one might make. Some will look to their single confession of Christ, their activity in the church, their experience of spiritual things.
- There are things that you think you believe, things that you say you believe, but the only thing that reveals true belief is what you actually become!
- A person who has believed in Christ will hear His Word and will not only become convinced of it's truth, but will be transformed into His very image!
- The fruit that comes up from a life that has received the word of God provides proof positive of actual condition. For those that have truly come to Christ, there is ample proof.
- Who has not been grateful for the Lord's salvation in their life? Where there was once an angry spirit, there is now peace. Where there was once confusion, there is now clarity.
- The rain of God's word of salvation in Jesus has made your inner faith visible to the world! But when a person has no heart for it, his life will be likened to a field that bore nothing but weeds!
- When a heart has rejected Christ, that same gospel ends up exposing worthless items that are scheduled to be burned! That is what you did with weeds in the ancient world!
- Here is the final consideration regarding "the when" of impossibility.
- It is impossible to restore a person to repentance who has turned from Christ to any other source, while that person is looking toward that other source.
- As long as that person lives, there is hope. Even the Jews that rejected Jesus could have been regrafted into their own tree according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:23.
- But the impossibility comes to a head in this allusion here. The farmer makes the judgment regarding what is valuable and what is worthy for the fire.
- I can't help but think that our author was thinking of Matthew 13 when he wrote this passage.
Matthew 13:24-30 : " Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.' " : It is impossible to restore an apostate when he refuses to look to Christ and when that person has died in that condition!
- There are supposed theologians today who will tell you that even if you die, God will do what it takes in eternity to win your heart over to Him.
- Friends, when you hear that, understand that that teaching is found nowhere in scripture. It is the invention of men and is profoundly dangerous to men's souls!
- It might sound romantic, but it takes the teeth out of the wrath of God and the need to contemplate salvation from it! Indeed, at the end of the age, there will be men that will burn in hell!
- This is why the author is so adamant that they listen. These are the realities that God has left us with in His Word. Verse 9.
Hebrews 6:9 : " But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. " : Aren't you glad that our author continues! These things might be true of some, but gratefully, not all.
- He calls them "beloved." What a great word to use! No matter what you are going through and no matter how rough the Word may seem, it is given to those that He loves to hear it!
- You are beloved of God in Christ Jesus and thankfully, the author of Hebrews has the benefit of having a vantage point from which to confidently proclaim that he sees the work of salvation.
- These is evidence which "accompanies" salvation to be found among them and we'll begin to touch on that next week. Suffice it to say, he wants them to know that he has written them off.
- He has to speak this way because of those that were in their midst. I'm grateful that he did, because there are those in our midst that need to hear the same thing today.
Conclusion
- Let me be as clear as I can. Every person on earth is a sinner by birth and by choice. God's sole remedy for that is found in the work of Jesus Christ.
- If you will look to Him alone, you will be saved from the wrath of God and for eternity. Believing upon Him exclusively issues in a changed nature, being born again.
- Consequently, when you receive Christ, His presence in your life is proved by your willing repentance from all known sin and your newfound hunger for righteousness!
- Change will come slow, but it will be sure! Old things will pass and behold all things will be new!
- Those that remain in that faith can have the assurance that they will be brought into God's barn, heaven, at the end of the age!
- If there is one message that comes from this passage, that is it! Let's pray!

December 19 2017

00:44

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 5:12-Hebrews 6:3)

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Audio Access Available Above
“The Danger Of Spiritual Immaturity” • 12.17.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Our study has brought us to the end of Hebrews 5, which is also the end of the first section of the book. Our author has practically begged his audience to consider his plea.
- "Let's Come In To Our Rest!" Jesus Christ is superior to every other potential suitor and the benefits He offers are far greater than can be imagined.
- With that established, he transitions to his next plea: "Let's Go On To Maturity." Chapter 5:11 offers an insight into the reason why his writing has been necessary.
- He has enlightened them to the fact that Jesus is a superior High Priest. He wants to share in greater detail, but they have become "dull of hearing." Literally, they have become lazy or sluggish.
- They were no longer sharp or quick to respond to God's Word. Their habit didn't diminish God's Word, but it did impact their ability to be established in the faith and to subsequently grow in it.
- Consequently, they are a church plagued by spiritual immaturity. Far from being an insignificant issue, our author addresses their symptoms in this section. Let's begin at verse 12.
Text
Hebrews 5:12 : " For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. " : The phrase "by this time" reveals an expectation of progress. That is an appropriate expectation for every leader to have.
- A healthy Christian will make progress if their hearing, their receptivity to the Word of God remains sharp. It seems that this audience had not only become stagnant, but had digressed as well.
- The church at this writing, was in her 3rd decade. This specific fellowship might have been as old as 20. Most in attendance would have been in the church for multiple years.
- They were "old enough" to have become teachers. What does he mean? This is at least, a metaphor illustrating the depth of their lack of progress.
- For all of the instruction that they have had, they should have been masters of the information that our author has given them. They should have been able to teach others this material!
- They should not only be convinced of Christ's superiority to any suitor, but they should have been champions leading others in that cause! Their learning should lead to leading!
- Your learning must lead you beyond being personally convinced of the truth, to be passionately persuasive toward others who have not experienced it!
- You may not have the gift of being a teacher within the church, but among men and women without any idea regarding the faith, you should appear to be a Master! That is the metaphor.
- There might also be a bit more irony here regarding the concept of being a teacher.
- Our author is addressing Jewish Christians who are being tempted to return to Judaism. The Jews believed themselves to be "teachers of babes." Paul employed this title in Romans 2:20.
- Because of their knowledge of the law of Moses, the Jews believed themselves to be ones that could help the ignorant understand and relate to God.
- The prophet Zechariah describes a time when people from every nation will come to Jerusalem. Ten men will grab the arm of a Jew because he knows God. (Zechariah 8:21-23)
- Jewish people at large believed this to be the case regardless of their relationship to Christ.
- Those that had been in the church, those Jewish people who were being invited to trust in Messiah, are the exact types of people that Zechariah was prophesying about!
- These people who were invited into the faith should have been true teachers, Jews who had understanding of the law of God in the light of their Messiah, Jesus.
- These are the ones that truly knew the way of God. In that respect, it may be that the author is revealing to them how far they have fallen from their true calling by their flirtation with Judaism!
- By returning or being tempted to return to Judaism, they had regressed from a potential position to teach, to having to become a student! They needed someone to teach them!
- I've noted this before, especially when teaching books like Galatians and Colossians. Works based religions, like Judaism, present themselves as intellectually superior to Christianity.
- They might allege that this was the "original" way to God, that the "old" is better than the new. The problem is that the "old" only serves as a part of the whole! It's half of a story!
- Far from making them smarter, an adherence to Judaism has left these formerly sharp members of Christ's Church in a freshly dulled condition! All systems, all "isms," will do the same!
- This is the author's first note of their immaturity: There is a consistent need to review the basics! They still had need of an explanation of the spiritual "ABC's!" (Sandy Adams)
- It's not bad to desire to be taught. That is a good thing. Additionally, from time to time, one should go through a refresher course.
- The issue with an immature believer is that this is what they seem to always need, even after having spent many years hearing it!
- One commentator mentioned that he knew a 10 year old Christian who had experienced the same two year Christian existence 5 times! Unfortunately, that is the case with many Christians!
- They might be chronologically old, but they aren't properly developed! They are, as these Hebrews were: Still spiritual babies! They still needed milk, basic teaching. He explains in verse 13.
Hebrews 5:13,14 : " For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. " : Everyone who partakes only of milk. It's not just a part of their diet, as it should be for all of us. This is their only diet! Their intake is restricted to a liquid diet.
- This is the only thing that their dull ears and stunted digestive systems can endure! Imagine this on a physical level. We would call such a thing a tragedy for a grown person to be so ill.
- Spiritually, it's just as tragic. This immaturity issues in being unskilled in the word of righteousness, the second symptom of immaturity.
- These immature believers lack the insight, experience or knowledge to act properly, biblically.
- They want to act in a righteous way, but because they are not properly fed, when it comes time to act, they don't know what they should do! They know "why" but they don't know "how!"
- Is that not an appropriate way to describe those that remain stuck in their patterns of life? They don't feed upon nourishing, strong food, choosing instead to feed on what is easily digested.
- They return to their favorite passages or their go-to verses, neglecting anything that might challenge their own theological beliefs or their thought patterns.
- I find that this is especially true among those that define their experiences apart from the church as "their church." "I go out alone to the desert with my Bible and that's my church."
- What you will find with that sort of person is that they open their Bible to what they already agree with. You won't find them opening to passages that tear them apart or confront them.
- You won't find a "my church" believer reading Hebrews 10:26, an injunction against not assembling with other believers at their "church!"
- Is it any wonder then that they cannot break out of their patterned, learned behavior? God's Word hasn't transformed their minds! There isn't enough Biblical intake to affect the actions!
- The church exists to force you to love people that aren't like you. A true Pastor exists to teach you parts of the Bible you would otherwise ignore. That's how you learn to live as God intended!
- It's not a generational curse. It's not a "bad unbreakable habit." It's not a "vicious cycle!"
- It's a lack of God's strong Word sown into your spirit! If this fits you, you are a babe in Christ! Look though at the contrast!
- Babes need milk. Those who are of "full age" subsist upon solid, strong food. They have need of that kind of food. They crave a good, well balanced meal. Why?
- Unlike the unskilled babe who doesn't know what to do, these full aged mature believers have exercised their ability to perceive the life that God intends for them.
- They have literally been in the gym, repeatedly training themselves to recognize, to distinguish the difference between good and evil.
- These have taken God's Word and put it into immediate practice. They are working out each Monday with a new set of convictions born out of the systematic study of God's Word.
- They are able to take new pieces of scriptural information into the workplace and can see with greater clarity the balance between "good" and "evil."
- You might be thinking of these terms along generic or even archetypical lines. The good guy is clean cut, while the bad guy wear all black! Think of this in terms of personal considerations.
- Is this good for me or will this result in an evil result? Some decisions have seemed to be good at the outset, but have ended producing something that was never intended!
- An immature believer is defenseless in such a scenario. A meat feeder is not. Chapter 6.
Hebrews 6:1-3 : " Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we willdo if God permits. " : I really prefer the NLT's rendering of verse 1.
Hebrews 6:1a (NLT) : " So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. : The author has just lovingly rebuked, corrected them for their lazy hearing and their stunted growth. Did that offend you? Does it define you? It doesn't have to.
- I've noticed through scripture that there is never a correction where there isn't also a gracious invitation! God's grace isn't just good enough to save you. It's good enough to change you!
- The same author that offended you now invites you to join him in moving beyond the rudimental principles of Christ. Every one of us has the chance to progress!
- You can remain offended or you can allow the offense to fuel your progress! I suggest you take the latter course! Maturity in Christ is far superior to immaturity!
- That requires leaving behind repeated discussions of the elementary principles of Christ. What are those principles? Essentially, the subjects covered in the first five chapters!
- Those were the subjects that should have been elementary to them, that they should have been teaching others.
- With that subject matter mastered, let's us be in the habit of going on! Let's leave behind that which belongs to the immature and move on to perfection!
- Once again, our English word "perfection" fails to drive in the intended point. "Perfection" refers to a completed work, a fully realized goal.
- Let us go on to what we are intended to be. God intends you and I to be mature, fully formed believers! He will complete that work but we are involved in that process! We cooperate in that work.
- How? By opening our ears to hear and conforming our lives to practice what we have heard! We do this by feeding upon God's Word. That is how the Holy Spirit transforms our minds!
- Our author has demonstrated what they should have been masters at. He now covers a list of other doctrines that they might have spent the bulk of their time mastering.
- These five articles, it seems, were a fascination for them. They are also "foundational" or fundamental. Let's look at each particularly.
- They focused in upon "dead works." This refers to actions performed to produce a favorable response from God. They are dead because they have no impact upon God.
- He cannot be swayed by any person attempting to sell their righteousness over that of His Son's! It won't happen!
- Think of what you are saying to God when you say to Him, "Oh, your Son's gift is wonderful, but here's what I offer you instead?" Is that not an insult of colossal proportions? Dead works!
- Certainly, this community knew what it meant to turn their faith toward God. God cannot be pleased with dead works, but faith will provide living work!
- Before we are saved, there isn't a work on earth that God would accept. After we are saved, there isn't a work that He will forget! Why? Because they come from our faith toward Him!
- Our author continues with baptisms. Notice that plural usage. Most other translations favor the use of the word "washings." The Jews were experts in ceremonial cleansings.
- They had a washing ceremony for virtually every occasion. These were doctrines, not from God, but from men! He continues with the laying on of hands.
- This is truly vague to us. It could refer to prayers that are made for people. It might be related to the transferrence of guilt from a worshipper to a sacrifice. We aren't clear, but they were clear.
- Whatever it meant, it belonged in the elementary category. The same could be said of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
- Now, at this point, I'd like you to ask yourselves what seems to be missing from these five articles? What elementary doctrine or doctrines have been left out?
- Wouldn't you include doctrines regarding Jesus Christ? The Cross? Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone?
- All of these articles represent a shared set of values with the Jewish community! It's as if these Christians chose to focus themselves on the doctrines that were the least offensive.
- Think about it logically. It's possible that these Jewish Christians were afraid to leave Christianity but they also didn't want to lose their non-Christian Jewish friends.
- How could they maintain the balance? By remaining in the agreed upon middle!
- This brings us to our final symptom of immaturity: Hesitation to offend! I don't mean that we should be offensive. We aren't rewarded for being jerks or for wielding truth like a sword.
- What I do mean is that you understand that the contents of the Bible you hold contains that which offends the sensibilities of those that are in the world.
- There are truths that are irreducible, which if left unsaid, leave out the very power of a life transforming gospel!
- There is no salvation without the atonement of Christ. There is no forgiveness without the shedding of His blood.
- There is no Christianity without Jesus because there is no other Name under heaven given by God that men might be saved by!
- The immature Christian always wants to walk the line, to stay where it's safe, to keep themselves from experiencing the shame and the confrontation that comes from the World.
- That is not just a poor proposition for the believer. It is a recipe for disaster among those that are around them! Think about it: God has brought unbelievers into your life and you accept them.
- They are at your table and you are a Christian. You always are able to find common ground and there is never a disagreeable moment between you.
- You may have gained a friend, but you have partipated in losing a soul! That is the danger of immaturity! The author states "If God permits this, they will go on."
- The author hopes that he has gotten his point across. He hopes that God will not require him to go through this again!
- He is praying that this congregation will understand and comprehend these things, but it will take more than his effort. It will take God's will to produce this and their work to cooperate with it.
- The danger is that they will not progress, but that they will remain in this stunted condition. That leads us to what we find in verse 4 which we will consider next time.
Conclusion
- The symptoms of spiritual immaturity begin with malnourishment. This believer will only tolerate milk, that which is easy to digest.
- Unfortunately, that leaves the person without the faculty to discern God's will and therefore, leaves them to their own patterns of behavior.
- Because this person can barely lead their own spiritual life, they are a danger to others because they won't offend them with the truth. I pray that this doesn't describe you.
- Let us move on. Let us look for solid food. Let us seek to practice what's been preached and let us wield the truth of God in love to those around us. That is maturity in Christ!

December 11 2017

02:59

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 4:14-Hebrews 5:11)

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Audio Access Available Above
“Now THAT'S a High Priest!” • 12.10.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Our author has put his audience on high alert. They are caught between wanting to go further into Christ and making a swift return into the safe confines of Judaism.
- The author has answered each of their objections. Jesus is superior to prophets, to angels and to Moses. He offers a perfect rest that can't be found in Sabbath days or in Holy Lands!
- It seems that one major objection remains: If Christianity is superior to Judaism, where then is your High Priest? Who meets with and represents your soul to God?
- If you have no background in the Old Testament, please understand that this was a matter of extreme importance to the Jewish mind.
- God had set up an entire worship system, manned by 1/12th of the nation's people, solely to grant access through the Priesthood and there was only one High Priest.
- This is no minor question, but there is a major answer! If you guessed that it is Jesus, you are absolutely correct and here is why! Chapter 4:14.
Text
Hebrews 4:14-16 : " Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. " : Christians are not without a High Priest. In fact, we have a great High Priest! Literally, He is a mega High Priest! This isn't a new thought.
- The author made this proclamation earlier in this letter when he called Jesus "the High Priest of our confession." (Hebrews 3:1)
- In this verse, we see that Jesus is superior to High Priest of the Temple because of where He serves! He has passed through the Heavens!
- The earthly High Priest passed through a thick curtain veil, an emblem representing the heavens, which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.
- He was allowed to enter once a year, on the Day of Atonement and he was not allowed to remain. It was in fact, a very tenuous stay.
- Unlike the Temple High Priest, the way this reads, Jesus passed through the Heavens and then stayed there!
- He lives in the place that was represented by the Holy of Holies, a place so sacred that it, the copy, the model could only be visited by one man once a year!
- Jesus is superior because of where He serves and because of who He is!
- Jesus is the Son of God! There wasn't a Priest on earth that could make that claim! Jesus is the unique Son of God, a title again denoting His equality in the Godhead!
- Because He is our High Priest, let us continue to hold on tightly to the same beliefs that brought us into our walk with God! The NLT reads "let us hold firmly to what we believe!"
- Don't let go of what first brought you into the faith! The faith that initially saved you from your sin is good enough to keep you until the end!
- There isn't any need for new or updated information and there isn't any substitute Priest that could replace the Living Son of God!
- Incidently, this is the recurring challenge of the Christian faith. We are called to remain completely satisfied with what brought us into the faith to begin with!
- When we came into Christianity, we rejected our own worthiness and received by faith the righteousness that our Savior Jesus embodied!
- It was good enough to save us. It is good enough to keep us! It is all that we will ever need! And it is good news because our High Priest isn't aloof or removed from our circumstances.
- As God, He has the power to represent us before the Godhead. Because He had taken on human flesh, He has the power to relate to us! He can sympathize.
- He has the power to be touched by our infirmities because He experienced every temptation that we have faced! This doesn't refer to specific manifestations. It refers to general categories.
- He didn't have an internet where women made it their life's work to "blow things up," but there has always been libido and sexual temptation.
- He didn't have a corporate structure to fight against, but there have always been unreasonable people with unreasonable demands and the pride that inspires retribution!
 - As a human being, He lived through and experienced every single category of temptation that we have faced but did so without ever succumbing to a single one. Consider that!
- Jesus Christ is a superior High Priest because He knows what it takes to resist the impulse to sin! You might cry "foul" as many often do: "He had no sin nature!" That is true.
- Jesus took on a human body but never inherited the nature that is endemic to human beings bending them toward sinful expression. He is the car but there is no motor.
- Because He lacked the engine, you assume that there still wasn't a possibility that He might have sinned. You forget that Adam was without sinful nature as well when he sinned!
- Jesus could have sinned theoretically, but His sympathy isn't related to the actual sin.
- It's related to the struggle we face not to sin! He knows what it's like personally.
- That is why we are invited to approach the throne of grace with boldness. This was a mind blowing concept! The Jews weren't even allowed to look at the furniture of the Holy of Holies!
- Now, because of Jesus, we are given bold access. This isn't an irreverant invitation. It is a matter of belonging! You are walking into a place where you belong because of our High Priest!
- This is yet another reason that His Priesthood is superior: He offers greater access!
- What we will find with Him is mercy in exchange for what we deserve and grace for what we could never have earned!  Think of what a comfort that is?
- The God that knows our every thought and can employ that in our just judgment, can also, because He knows our ways, offer His hand to help us! For those that enter in, that is what they find!
- How many have come to Christ seeking mercy and been turned away? How many have needed grace in time of need and went away needy? I don't believe I'd hear of even one! Chapter 5.
Hebrews 5:1-4   : " For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. " : The high priest that served in the Temple was an appointed man, consecrated, set apart to serve other people.
- Generally, this human was the son of the previous High Priest. If he did not have a son, a man was chosen and confirmed by the Sanhedrin, Israel's governing authority.
- Once appointed, he went and stood between them and God, offering to God, the gifts and sacrifices that would be brought by the people of God to cover their sins.
- As a man, he has the ability to express compassion toward those that have acted in ignorance. That word doesn't express a lack of knowledge.
- Ignorance, biblically, speaks toward an unwillingess to accept certain facts. That is what we are expressing when we sin knowingly. We are choosing to ignore what we know to be true.
- This human priest can have compassion on them because he has seen others with the same condition. Additionally, he has seen man who have been seduced to wander out of the way.
- The human High Priest knows how difficult it is to walk with the Lord. He's even had to bring offerings for his own sins. He wasn't immune from the nature that plagued his entire kind!
- With regard to a final prerequisite, no High Priest could campaign for this position. There had to be a call of God upon his life like there was on the life of the original high priest, Aaron. Verse 5.
Hebrews 5:5-8 : " So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' As He also says in another place: 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. " : We have our next reason to consider Christ's Priesthood as superior to Aaron's: He has a better endorsement!
- You cannot ask for a better endorsement than that of the Most High God!
- When Jesus walked the face of this earth, He didn't glorify Himself in any way. He didn't seek honor or esteem from men. Rather, as Philippians 2 says, He took on the form of a servant!
- He accepted humiliation and because of that, God the Father bestowed upon Him that Name that is above all Names! It was God who said, "You are My Son, today I have begotten you!"
- Our author is again quoting from Psalm 2:7, a Psalm which speaks of the exaltation of God's ultimate King. He quoted this verse in 1:5 as well.
- The beginning of that writing refers to the rejection of God's King by men. There is even a sense of an agreed conspiracy against God's plan to install Him, but God has the last laugh!
- He alone sets His King upon His Holy Hill of Zion and then makes this declaration.
- Follow then the concept: Christ came into a very real, very humble human existence and was rejected based upon His humanity. The religious world of the time thought it could defeat Him.
- When He died, the Jews thought that the story was over, but Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, He passed through the heavens, while eyewitnesses watched!
- On that day, God declared unequivocably what we have known in retrospect: Jesus is the God Man who has come from the Father, that the Father endorses as having come from Him!
- "Begotten" refers to Christ, not in His incarnation, but in His ascension to the Throne post resurrection! That is the ultimate proof of His deity! He sits on the Throne without rival!
- Jesus is God's King and He is also God's choice for High Priest. If you were a priest that served in the Temple, you would have to be a Levite, a High Priest from the lineage of Aaron.
- According to His humanity, Christ was of the Tribe of Judah, through the line of King David. The Jewish audience must have cried out "Aha!"
- The issue is that God was not going to have His High Priest come from that line. Our author quotes from Psalm 110as he had in 1:13.
- Keep in mind how important scripture is in making his argument. He is not making things up as He goes along.
- He is quoting scripture, reconciling his theology with what his audience believes to be authoritative. They have read these verses, but have not put the theology together.
- "You guys want to follow the Word of God? Look at what it says!" Truthfully, anyone that wants to follow Judaism has to do so at the expense, not the endorsement of scripture! 
- Jesus, the Bible asserts, will serve as God's High Priest forever according to the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is an obscure character that we meet in Genesis 14.
- In that chapter, we find Abram on a mission to rescue his nephew Lot, who had been taken captive by a victorious band of Kings. Despite overwhelming odds, Abram succeeds!
- It's shortly after that victory that Melchizedek comes out of nowhere to greet Abram. He is a mysterious character, but he holds two offices: He is the King of Salem and the Priest of God!
- These two men meet over a specific meal of bread and wine! Sound familiar?
- There were many Kings that would have liked to have been Priests. I believe that David would have rather been a Priest than a King. A few even tried with disastrous results.
- Think of what happened to Saul's Kingdom because of the priestly offering he made or Uzziah who ran into the Temple. One lost their Kingdom, the other the privilege of their health!
- But none were qualified to hold both offices because of the limitation of the Aaronic line. Melchizedek's line had no such limitation! Our High Priest is also our King as Melchizedek was!
- You can see this in the nature of Christ's earthly ministry. His ministry was not like that of a King making decrees and issuing orders.
- Like a temple priest, Christ offered up prayers and supplications for the people that He encountered with great passion.  
- God listened to Him, not because He was a Son, but because of His reverence for the Father. Jesus didn't presume upon His Nature. He learned to submit Himself to God's decrees.
- He learned this through suffering. That doesn't necessarily refer exclusively to the Passion event, but the general suffering that is felt by all priests that attempt to aid those that walk with God!
- Think about Christ's response to Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus wept! Consider Christ's words as He looked over Jerusalem and it's rejection of Him.
- Don't you think that it might have entered His mind once or twice, that He could simply, as God, force conditions to alter people's perceptions?
- Instead, He submitted Himself to God and learned that God the Father is trustworthy, even when there is suffering involved.
- Of course, when His path led Him to a place where His personal suffering alone would bring about the redemption of many brothers, He learned that obedience brought glory!
- Think about that: As God, He never knew what it was like to obey. It was when He took on human flesh that He discovered how difficult that it was. Verse 9.
Hebrews 5:9-11 : " And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest 'according to the order of Melchizedek,' of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. " : Our author offers a final note upon the superiority of Christ's High Priestly function. He offers a better covenant!
- Jesus has been "perfected." That word brings up connotations that aren't intended by the author. Jesus was never imperfect in any way.
- Generally, the term implies a full and finished state. The idea here is that Christ has now come finally and fully into who He was always intended to be.
- He has come into the highest place and has become the author, most of the other translations prefer the word "source," of eternal salvation.
- Becaue He is in a perfected state, He alone can dispense a full and final salvation to those that obey Him! The entire Jewish sacrificial system was based upon the sustainability of sin.
- Year after year, animal sacrifice after animal sacrifce, all of it reminded the Jewish nation that their atonement was temporary and that another sacrifice was necessary.
- The work was never complete. Jesus though is able to definitively offer those that obey Him eternal salvation! The word "eternal" refers to that which has no beginning or end. From age to age.
- Jesus is the cause for eternal salvation, in that, He is so worthy of honor, it will take eternity to express it toward those that obey their High Priest!
- All of the rich inheritance that is given to God's people when they pass onto the eternal shore will be given to them on the basis of what Christ deserves to receive!
- Consider the alternate implication: If there is eternal salvation to all who obey Him, there is eternal damnation for those that refuse Him! This is a very important principle going forward.
- I might add that it is the most important principle for you to wrestle with if you have not!
- The author wants tell them more about Christ's Melchizedekian priesthood, but it will be difficult for them to receive it. They've become dull in their hearing!
- "Dull" refers to lazy or sluggish in their hearing. Through the process of time, the Hebrew audience that is listening to this has unknowingly become slow in their comprehension.
- There has been a steady digression in their capacity to digest sacred information.
- The NIV translates, "You no longer try to understand!" What an indictment! The author wants to deliver greater truths to them, but is finding his task virtually impossible.
- It's not for a lack of words or time. It's because his audience has not remained sharp. That is something to consider. How have they dulled? What does he mean? We'll consider that next week.
Conclusion
- Christ never wore the vestments of the High Priest, nor was He allowed as a Man to serve in the Temple. But He is a superior High Priest in every way! Add it up with me.
- Jesus Christ is superior because His Priesthood is practiced in heaven's realm. He is welcomed there because He is the Son of God!
- He is a superior High Priest because He never needed a sacrifice for His own sin. He didn't have any that required forgiveness!
- He is superior because He became the sacrifice for all that have struggled against their sin and He serves us with compassion, offering us mercy and grace because of it!
- He is a superior High Priest because He is God's choice that will endure forever! "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek!"
- Finallly, Christ is a superior High Priest because He alone is allowed to dispense eternal salvation to all that obey Him an offer that no earthly High Priest had the pay grade to back up!
- Our High Priest serves in a greater Temple, is a greater person, with a greater basis, His own righteousness, to dispense forgiveness!
- His is a greater term of service, forever, with a greater offer, eternal salvation, than anyone else! There is no question: Jesus Christ is our superior High Priest and He is worth our trust!



December 04 2017

01:51

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 4:1-13)

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“Where Can I Find Rest?” • 12.3.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- We find ourselves in the middle of an impassioned plea from an unknown author to a group of conflicted church members.
- They are of Jewish descent and are being tempted to return to Judaism. They are either young believers or they are repeat nominal visitors with great interest, but no clear commitment.
- This particular train of thought began in chapter 3:7 with the introduction of Psalm 95. We learned last week that this was a passage used in the Temple as a call to worship.
- Ironically, because a Christian has a heavenly invitation, any step away from that call is a step away from the worship that the True God desires from His people.
- Judaism requires work from it's adherents. God desires that they enter in His rest. Our author is attempting to make that case. Those that had followed Moses didn't come into rest.
- How then must we enter in His rest? He will clarify that in the section before us. Verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 4:1-3 : " Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. " : In the original text, this reads "Let us fear therefore." Usually, the Bible instructs us not to fear. In this case, it's appropriate.
- Think of the anticipation that you might have with regard to driving to an unknown address. It's healthy to be on the look out, especially if you've been told that many have missed the entrance!
- Because the first generation, led by Moses failed to enter into God's rest, let us who are listening be alarmed that we might miss it as well! There is a very real danger that is before us.
- The amazing news is that God has left His people a promise which remains in operation. The promise is still standing but it must be entered. The fact is that there were some that failed to enter it.
- To "come short" speaks of arriving late. The event was here, but the person came after everything was put away. It's interesting to think about it that way.
- The offer to enter God's rest is presently on the table, but there is a bit of a timeline isn't there? There is a "day" of salvation and "today" is the day that that offer stands!
- This group of people, by their potential indecision, were in danger of arriving at the destination too late in their lives!  How many people have we seen miss it?
- They have died without Christ, without entering in His rest. At that point, it's too late. Verse 2.
Hebrews 4:2 : " For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them,not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. " : The way into God's rest is through the gospel! There is no other way to enter it!
- To our ears, this seems a very strange proposition, but, the gospel that was proclaimed to the first century church had been proclaimed to the Old Testament saints as well!
- The gospel isn't a new invention made up by the New Testament church, though she has the clearest vantage point and the most complete, specific information.
- The Gospel has been God's program of redemption from as early in human history as Genesis 3:15, though we will discover it has roots that pre-date even that ancient time.
- In Genesis 3:15, God announces the victory of "the Seed of the Woman" over the Serpent that had caused Mankind's fall. This first mention is called the "Protoevangelium."
- That victory is then unveiled piece by piece throughout the Old Testament. From Genesis 3:15, we learn that a Man will be the victor over Satan.
- When an innocent animal was slain to provide covering for Adam and Eve's sin, we learned that the coming victor would provide a substitutionary covering for the sins of His people.
- We discover that He is the Lamb that God would be provided in the place of Isaac upon the Mount of God in Genesis 22, the Passover Lamb pure from birth defect or fault in life in Exodus 12.
- Throughout the Old Testament, the data was adding up, the unveiling becoming increasingly clear until Jesus Christ.
- He was conceived in a virgin's womb, escaping the sin nature that is passed from Father to children. He lived a spotless life and was executed on the basis of false charges, as a criminal.
- He was slaughtered on the same hill that Abraham brought Isaac up to and was resurrected three days later because God accepted His sacrifice. Over 5,000 people witnessed Him alive!
- The Old Testament saints had the puzzle pieces. New Testament saints have the box with the completed picture! They had the same ingredients, but it didn't benefit those that didn't enter.
- Was it possible to believe God and enter His rest given the information that they had? Certainly! Consider all of the saints that we know who did enter in!
- But there were some with the same information and the same opportunity that it was wasted upon! Why? Because their hearing was not mixed with faith.
- "Mixed together" refers to commingling, uniting two elements into one. The gospel information has power in itself. But transformation only occurs when one applies it by faith!
- People can hear the gospel message but not heed it. They can agree to it in principle, comprehend it logically, but not exercise personal investment.
- These cannot be saved because they will not trust in the One that is seeking to save them! But how can he say that the Jews hadn't entered into His rest? They had the Sabbath right? Verse 3.
Hebrews 4:3-5 : " For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ' So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'  and again in this place: 'They shall not enter My rest.' " : Believers in Christ do enter that rest. You and I have come to trust Jesus Christ by looking back into history.
- The believing Jews who lived prior to their Messiah, believed forward, trusting God to bring His promises to pass. We all have received the benefits of His rest. We are profited.
- But that isn't the case simply by being a Jew who lived under the covenant or by merely claiming to be a Christian or by regular attendance to a church. Nobody is grandfathered in!
- The author points his audience back to his central passage from Psalm 95. God spoke to the delivered Jews in His anger: "They shall not enter my rest!" These were Jews of the first order.
- They had the Sabbath ordinance given to them via the law of Moses. They had been delivered physically and they will have practiced Sabbath but they would not enter His rest!
- Certainly, God's works were finished from the time of creation. All that needed to be created, as well as the plan of salvation. All of it was completed in the mind of God.
- This has been the record since Genesis 2:2 and yet, here he says again of that generation that they would not enter His rest generations later! What does he mean? Verse 4.
Hebrews 4:4-7 : " Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, 'Today,' after such a long time, as it has been said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.' " : Some have entered His rest and there are some that must still enter it. The invitation is open today.
- The Jews that stood at the border of Canaan and refused to trust in God's power over that of the giants, did not enter in. This wasn't a logically deduced argument. This was sheer disobedience!
- Consider their fear in the light of the their knowledge of God's power to deliver!
- This was the gospel that was preached to them. "Enter into my rest. Trust and believe my Word. Their disobedience cut them off, but it did not cut off the extension of the promise!
- God designates a certain day! God is so gracious to the people of Israel and indeed to all of us! God keeps saying "Come" to each of us, despite our unwillingness to!
- Psalm 95 repeated the promise to the Jews nearly 500 years after the events of Numbers 13! The offer is implied by the word "today."
- Today, as in David's time, a person could respond to the voice of God in belief and come into a settled, satisfied relationship with the Lord.
- Because the word of God is ever living and current, that offer remains to the day in which the letter was written as well as to this very day!
- That rest had nothing to do with having the right leader, the right law or being part of the right people. Neither was it related to a right location! Verse 8.
Hebrews 4:8-11 : " For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. " : Moses was not allowed to bring the people of God into the promised land. Joshua was God's leader for that purpose.
- That physical settlement may have been a picture of entering into Christian life, but it was not God's rest. If it was God wouldn't have spoken of it again!
- There remains a rest for the people of God! There is something to enter in. What is it?
- The person who has enter God's rest has stopped working in the same way that God stopped working. Think about that from the perspective of these first century Jewish Christians.
- They were about to or had already begun to settle themselves in Christ when the fervor of the Temple's restoration reached their ears.
- As the pressure mounted from rising governmental persecution of the church, the temptation to return to the relatively safe confines of Judaism was overwhelming.
- Aside from some of the obvious tension relief, such a return would mean a return to a works based covenant! Anyone that is still working to please God for their salvation isn't resting in it!
- Judaism, like every other religion on Earth, is a religion of works. Christianity is a relationship based upon the finished work of Christ, and is therefore, of rest!
- Our author cannot be more clear. The only work left for the Jewish Christian to do is to enter God's rest! If we heard this today, we would hear, "let us make every effort to enter into that rest."
- Whatever work that you might expend in returning to Judaism, put it toward resting in Christ. That will mean enduring through persecution. That will mean being the outcast at family dinners!
- That might even mean the end of your very life on Earth, but it is worth it! The alternative would be far worse!
- If the people of the first century church fail to believe in Christ like the first Exodus generation failed to believe in God's power to deliver the Canaanites into their hands, they would fall too!
- There isn't any other way to put it. The Israelite example might have been romantic to the first century Jews in the "New Temple Delusional" way of thinking.
- Unfortunately, the scripture is clear: They failed to enter into what God intended for them. That brings us to this monumental section. Verse 12.
Hebrews 4:12-13 : " For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. " : What does the author mean by "the word of God?" Certainly, what is said here can refer to the entire canon of scripture.
- I might suggest however, that we narrow the view a bit. I believe that he is directly referring to the warning that is contained in Psalm 95.
- If the word offers a valid, current promise for entry into rest, then the warning of incurring the wrath of God for disbelief, is just as viable!
- The author is telling them that they cannot rely upon Moses to lead them into rest. He wasn't able to do it for that first generation.
- They could not rest in the law giver nor in the laws, ie., the Sabbath, that he administered! Their rest couldn't even be found in their location. It had to be found in obeying His Word alone!
- The word of God is alive. It's not dead. It's not dormant. It's alive now and it's claim upon a Christian life is powerful.
- Literally, it's effectual, active. It has the capacity to confront our ideas and imaginations, to stop them in their tracks. Have you noticed that about the Bible?
- There are times when I have believed certain things about myself, only to be confronted by an ancient text that seems more relevant than today's newsfeed!
- I'm sitting there alone, Bible open and I'm stunned by how it is working to confront or comfort me! You are holding a supernatural, living and effective document!
- The word of God is powerful and it is also precise. It is "sharper than any two-edged sword." What does that mean? The sword in question was a hand held short sword.
- The double edged sword was a relatively new innovation in ancient times. Until only recently, most swords were sharpened on one side, while the other side remained blunt.
- That was a more cost effective option expended for the lower class military fieldman and would often issue in mass casualties because of inefficiency of the blade.
- A double edged sword allowed you to hack in various directions and be effective!
- The fact that the word of God is "sharper" than any two edged sword speaks to two truths. The first is in regard to it's longevity. It will not dull.
- A physical sword could become blunt on both sides in the midst of a battle or just over time, removing the intitial advantage. God's word is sharper!
- No matter what comes up against it, no matter how much time has been expended, the word remains as capable, as sharp it was at the beginning of it's use!
- The other allusion might be the secondary use of such an instrument. A soldier would have one of these to fight with. The other person that might have access to one was a field surgeon!
- Think about that. The same blade that is effective for indiscriminate killing and wounding of ideas that are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ is just as proficient in matters of delicacy!
- This is where the precision factor really comes in. God's word is able to cut between that which belongs to the soul, the psyche, the personality of a person, and the Spirit.
- This is the proverbial correlation between the physical joints and marrow of the body.
- There are endless debates among theologians on this question: Is man a "dichotomy" or a "trichotomy?" Are we body and soul or are we body, soul and spirit? I thought I was a Mexican!?
- At the very least, without attempting to get near an answer, this text seems to indicate that there is a difference between our soul and spirit.
- I might explain things along this line: You have been shown ways to respond to situations. Your examples in life have modeled actions to you and have even applauded you for taking them.
- Additionally, there are personality traits which are passed down genetically. These are a part of your psyche. From that place, you can be angered, moved, inspired or challenged.
- Then you come to Christ and His Spirit begins to renovate the person that you have become. He begins to change you and redirect your authority structure.
- His word helps to cut between what is a part of your soul and what is a part of your spirit. "This belongs in this category and this belongs in this higher category!"
- The word of God teaches you the difference between what feels right and what is right! God's Spirit in you manages that training through the word!
- He goes further. The word is a "discerner." The word can also be translated "to judge." We get our English word "critic" from this. Does the word mean to judge or critique?
- It is true that God judges matters via His Word. There are actions which are definitively commanded and some that are strictly prohibited. In that way, God's word acts in judgment.
- But I'd very much commend the thought to you that God's word offers it's critique, it's analysis of your inner thoughts and intents. The word "thoughts" refers to deliberation.
- These are the things that we take the time to consider, which require us to weigh out positives and negatives.
- Our intent deals with the desired outcome of a given action. God's word exposes and governs our thought process from beginning to end.
- In that respect, understand that the author is expressing the comprehensive nature of God's word, both to govern actions and attitudes.
- It's effect is so thorough, it stands against every person that has ever lived! Nobody is exempt from it's gaze. All creatures stand before the word, naked and open.
- These words are quite picturesque. Greek athletes, especially those of the Olympiad, competed in the nude. The Hebrews are pictured as being in a wrestling match with God.
- The word of God is dealing with their duality, their conflict over Judaism and perhaps their bargaining with God over what was right and wrong.
- At every turn, with every argument, God's word is wrestling them into submission and ultimately, when the athlete was in the submission hold, his head would be pulled back by his hair.
- The audience would know that if they saw a competitor's neck, it meant victory. He had no choice but to submit to God. There was also another way that the Greeks employed this phrase.
- When a person was convicted of a crime, the executioner would raise his head in order to make him face those he had committed the crime against. The knife would sit over his neck.
- The picture is quite clear isn't it? The word of God will justify or condemn you! For those that believe God's Word and enter into Christ, there will be justification based upon His promise.
- For those that refuse, there will be a nagging witness that stands against you until you are cast away from His favorable presence.
- The Jews may have believed that they could justify their actions or explain the nuance of their potential decisions. Our author takes that away from them.
Conclusion
- God's Word stands to remind us today that we can enter into His rest by believing in His Son Jesus Christ. That rest will be entered by putting all of our trust in Him and none in ourselves.
- That rest will be like God's, who looked around at His creation and said, "it was good!" We too will be satisfied with what Christ has provided for us.
- When we have come into His rest, His Word will no longer confront us. It will comfort us as the Holy Spirit uses it to conform us into the image of Christ.
- Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest! Let's pray!


November 27 2017

20:30

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 3)

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Audio Access Available Above
“It's All About Where You Look” • 11.26.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The book of Hebrews was written at a time when there was a great resurgence in the practice of Judaism. Herod had finished his large scale renovation of the Temple in 63 A.D.
- Many of our first century brothers and sisters were beginning to miss the festivities and were openly wondering why they should maintain the position that they held.
- The temptation to return to their roots was greater than ever! That is why our author is writing! Having corrected their perspective on the subject of Prophets and Angels, he turns now to Moses.
- How does Jesus compare to the man that led the Israelites out of Egypt and mitigated the law of God to them? Let's have a look. Verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 3:1-4 : " Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. " : "Therefore" reminds us that doctrine and duty, belief and behavior are intimately connected.
- Because Christ has become the basis of our unity. Because Christ through His Spirit, is able to express divine sympathy in our time of need, we have the capacity to act accordingly!
- His address serves to remined them. They are "holy brethren" that Christ is not ashamed of!
- He has made them so by His sacrifice and His continual act of sanctifying them in the midst of their trials. We are joined to Christ and have been made one in Him. This was their present.
- Note also their future: They are "partakers of the heavenly calling." They are participants, shareholders, associates with a heavenly invitation.
- This is who you are! Now, from that vantage point, consider Jesus! The author is grabbing them by the shoulders and trying to wake them out of their religious delusion.
- "You are a member of a new people! You are living with the expection of Heaven! Don't look toward the Temple. Look to Jesus!" This isn't a suggestion. It's written as a command!
- "Consider" can also be translated to "fix your eyes" or to "set your mind." They are to look upon God's Apostle, His sent One, His Messenger as well as the High Priest of their confession.
- Every Christian believed the same thing about Jesus. He is our High Priest. He stands between us and the Father. There isn't another man that can fill that position!
- When you and I fix our eyes upon Him, we see in Him a faithful one in the same way that Moses was faithful to the Lord when He was God's servant. These two were faithful to God.
- That is where the comparison ends because Jesus is worthy of more esteem than Moses!
- In the climate that this was written, this was quite the audacious claim. The unbelieving Jews held that Jesus was a false Prophet.
- To say that Jesus was worthy, not of equal honor, but of exceeding honor was a difficult pill for them to swallow! Moses had been their leader, their law giver!
- Jesus is worthy of more esteem than Moses because He is the Founder of the house. This doesn't refer to a structure per se, but of descendants.
- When a person is named, he is given the individual distinction, but is more importantly in the Jewish mind, of the house of an original descendant. The "tribe of Levi." The "house of Jacob."
- The house of Christ then might be built upon by various servants including Moses, but they will never supercede His Name! God is the One who built all things!
- Once again, Moses and Jesus were both faithful to the Lord, but only One of them is God Himself! Jesus holds the title to this House! Verse 5.
Hebrews 3:5,6 : " And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. " : There is no disrespect intended toward Moses. Jews revere him. Christians genuinely admire and love him.
- The problem is that the Jews raised him above what is appropriate. The author seeks to set this straight. Moses was faithful in all of Christ's house as a servant.
- He was a wonderful implement in the hands of God, specifically relating to the Law that he administrated, which acted as a tutor to keep God's people in line. But he was only a servant.
- He was a "therapon," from which we gain our word "therapy." Moses was an attendant and the relation of heat to the word suggests one that employed that element in their service.
- Think about that when you want to consider your service to the Lord! Your service might be great among men and effective for generations. In the end, you and I are simple servants of the Lord.
- In Moses' case, as the NIV says, he served as "an illustration of the truths that God would reveal later." What does he mean by that?
- The word that is translated "testimony" can also be and is most often translated "witness."
- When Luke conveys Christ's story about the Rich Man that died and talked to Abraham, the Patriarch told him that Moses and the Prophet's testimony was enough to save his kin. (Luke 16:38)
- In Acts 15:21, the Jerusalem council reported that Moses was read in every city, every Sabbath throughout many generations!
- In this way, Moses was a faithful and enduring witness of that which would come afterward!
- Consider then the content of that particular witness. Turn with me to Deuteronomy 18.  Moses is talking about true and false prophets and points directly to One like Him who will come.
Deuteronomy 18:17-19 : " And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. " : Imagine that! Our Jewish brothers and sisters from the first century of the Church were tempted to return to hear Moses over the Word of the Gospel of Jesus!
- Imagine their surprise to listen to Moses sitting on the proverbial witness stand, proclaiming that they should be listening to Jesus, not Him! "Listen to the Son, not the steward!"
- Moses, Mary, Elijah or Isaiah would shudder to think that anyone would put them in the same category as the Son! Jesus Christ is a Son over His own house!
- Even as a little child, an heir is more valuable than a servant, no matter how great and well thought of that servant is!
- This proverbial house was built by Christ. Those that believe in Christ ARE that house if we hold fast, maintain a firm possession of what we have been given!
- Look at and consider that condition. The only way to differentiate between those that are truly in Christ and those that make that claim is their perseverance. They have held on with all they had!
- They will have held on to their "confidence." The word expresses a boldness in speech, an unwillingness to hide details or obscure what we believe by employing metaphors.
- That is the outward manifestation of the inward reality which is rejoicing over the hope, the certainty of our expected end! We must be steadfast in that belief if we will truly be His house!
- What do you mean? Is there any danger of not holding on? The author has told us to "Look To The Son." Now he says, "Look To The Scripture." Verse 7.
Hebrews 3:7-11 : " Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ' Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ " : Our author is leading us to another direct warning. Moses has been clear in his call to God's people. Listen to the one that God sends, whose witness will stand.
- He's about to quote from Psalm 95:7-11, a psalm with no clear attribution. It's ironic then that he would look to another anonymous work and recognize the Holy Spirit's authorship!
- The author notes that what Holy Spirit says in this particular passage written nearly 1,000 years earlier to a Jewish audience, still has applicability to this audience now.
- I would further add that the Holy Spirit continues to say it to our hearts today! But there was something even more interesting relating to this particular passage for these particular Jews.
˚ " Except for the Epistle to the Hebrews all the NT books are silent in respect to the 95th Psalm. Nor are there any references to it in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. Yet, its use in the Synagogue was well-established, for the psalm was regarded as a preamble of services on Friday evening and Sabbath morning. This practice undoubtedly stemmed from the Temple ritual which in later years was gradually taken over in the Synagogue. Pss. 95 and 96 were known as the psalms of the invitation to worship. "[i]   Simon Kistemaker
- Consider that! The Jews were used to hearing these words recited to them each Friday evening as an invitation into the synagogue!
- Given that they were listening to this letter on a Sunday, it's very possible that some of them had just heard this the day before! They had been "called in" with these words.
- Our author has already told them that they are partakers of "heavenly calling." It's perfect that he now shows them what this scripture was intended to mean by the warning it carried!
- "Today, if you will hear His voice!" God's voice through Moses and through Christ agree! All of scripture contains the very voice of God! "Do not harden your hearts!"
- The phrase is written in the present tense, meaning that as they are hearing the voice of God, they have the capacity to respond in this way.
- "Harden" comes from a word which refers to a drying out. The metaphor refers to stubbornness, an unwillingness to yield, to budge, or to accept a charge.
- Sadly, we can make our own hearts hard against the voice of God! "Oh, that's good for them." "I liked what he said about this, so I'll let that be my takeaway." Be careful friends!
- Who does He point to as the the chief illustration of hardening? Those that wandered in the wilderness! The Jews who followed Moses, which God calls "the rebellion!" What an indictment!
- The believing Jews might have wanted to connect to Moses, but not to the Wanderers!
- They were rebels. The word "rebellion" might better be translated "provocation." The people incited God to respond by their continual action. God doesn't stop there. He calls it "the day of trial."
- The people of God were being tried. The bitter circumstances were allowed to reveal to them what their heart condition was before the Lord. Only suffering can unveil our character to us.
- They were on trial, but they had the audacity to test and "try" the Lord! They examined and tested the Lord's authenticity when they saw all of His works for forty years! Think about that.
- That is the generation that watched God judge the gods of Egypt, humilating them with plague after plague. That is the generation that watched the sea open before them.
- That is the generation that watched the Egyptian army drown under the same sea that they had just walked through! And that was the only the beginning! Forty years of that kind of witness.
- Do you ever wonder what God's assessment of that generation was? You don't have to! Because they hardened their hearts against the Lord, God was angry with them!
- What was His complaint? Listen and truly comprehend. They always go astray in their hearts.
- There are many synonyms that bear consideration. They wander. They roam. They are seduced out of the way. Does that describe you?
- Are you prone to wander after you have been shown the truth? Do you roam wherever you'd like after leaving a Bible study? Does it take much to seduce you toward sin?
- Israel was like that because they had not known God's ways! What a statement to make!? Of course they knew His ways, right? How could they not?
- They listened and followed, but they did not understand His ways, the meaning of why He led them in the manner that He did! They never quite understood it. Moses said that directly to them!
- He follows the same path of speech and proclaims to them that God had not given them a heart to perceive, eyes to see or ears to hear to that very day! (Deuteronomy 29:4)
- Consequently, God decreed that this generation, that had been delivered, that had seen the miracles of the desert, would not enter His rest. This is a direct reference to Numbers 14.
- The 12 spies had gone out to look at Canaan for 40 days and were returning. 10 of them came back with a bad report, noting that having seen the inhabitants of the land, they'd be crushed!
- Hadn't God dealt with greater foes? Hadn't He proven Himself more than able to protect and provide for them? Because they would not believe Him, that generation would not enter His rest!
- "Rest" refers to settling in, abiding in. The word is found in Acts 7:49 and seven times here in the book of Hebrews. That first generation would not enter His rest.
- The author has told us to "Look To The Son." He has called them to "Look To The Scripture." Now, he tells them to "Look At Those Who Made Similar Choices."
- Here's comes the warning that they were to heed. Verse 12.
Hebrews 3:12,13 : " Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. " : The author claps his proverbial hands and commands his audience to comprehend this! - This applies to you brethren! Beware, lest there be in any of you. This shouldn't exist here!
- Wherever this was read, more than likely in a crowded home, it was all inclusive. Everyone here is a member of this body and everyone needs to be careful of this condition.
- This is a diseased heart condition, in which the affections are afflicted by a faithlessness toward God. If this were employed from a person to another person, it would be betrayal.
- Consider this: A person who has come to Christ has come to trust Him with all of their life. They are declaring that they will remain in relationship to Him for what He has shown Himself to be.
- To allow a heart of unbelief will necessarily issue in you departing, withdrawing yourself from the living God! What a statement!
- Those that were tempted to move back toward Judaism were in the throes of a decision. - To embrace Judaism is to depart from the living God! To remain Christian means that one clings to the living God!
- This group was in danger of choosing something that would alienate them from God! So what is the antidote? "Exhort one another daily!" The word "exhort" means to call alongside.
- The picture is of a person walking with another, coming up to aid the other in continuing to walk. Think of the Soldier that supports his wounded comrade with his own relatively healthier body.
- When you are that healthy soldier, you are fulfilling this picture. Exhort one another.
- This isn't an invitation to have another person exhort. This isn't for "someone more qualified." This isn't for professionals. This is your responsibility as a member of the body of Christ!
- When a member saw another struggling to remain in Christ, that member had the call to come up and encourage the other. And that was to be done daily.
- It's possible that their church held daily gatherings. It's possible that this church was interconnected through work relation throughout the week.
- The point is that there was a regular attention paid BY the members TO the members! They looked out for one another.
- Those that were struggling called out for help and those that were healthy made a response! That is how the body is meant to function.
- Do it while you have the opportunity! Do it while it is called "Today!" The danger will come from the seductive delusion offered by sin.
- In what ways can we say sin is deceptive? It's deceptive in what it promises and it's assessment of what it will cost to indulge it!
- In this case with the Jews, the sin was to abandon trusting exclusively in Christ in exchange for comfort and relief in this world, a deadly exchange. Verse 14.
Hebrews 3:14,15 : " For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.' " : These believers could only actualize their confession, become partakers of Christ, if they held on to the end!
- Their convictions that brought them into the faith. That which they had based their eternity upon. That which caused them to leave their lives of sin.
- When they first looked at Jesus and saw in Him the sufficiency and potency that the Law never possessed. It was their responsibility to feed that and hold that with greater strength.
- Do you believe in Him as you once did? Is that conviction as strong today as it was when you walked into Christ? Have you fed that belief or are your eyes elsewhere?
- "Don't harden your hearts!" That's how they lived in the time of the rebellion! They didn't maintain their bold conviction to the end. Verse 16.
Hebrews 3:16-19 : "   For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. " : Do you want to talk about the people that Moses led? They are the ones that rebelled against God!
- The ones that had been delivered from Egypt were the same ones that God was angry with for 40 years! They sinned against God and their bodies lay out in the desert sun!
- The wonderful law giver. The faithful servant. The blessed visual leader of the people of Israel could not bring God's people into God's rest because they would not obey!
- It wasn't God's fault. It wasn't Moses' fault. It won't be Christ's fault. It will be the fault of those that fail to allow Christ to be the center of their lives!
- Ironically, the Christians that were listening to this, that were tempted to fall back under the call of Judaism, were not just threatening to repeat history.
- They were on the verge of fulfilling it! Leaving Christ was to leave them doomed!
Conclusion
- "Today, if you hear His voice." Moses was a great servant of God's, but he can't compare with the Son! Think about it.
- Moses led a nation that God delivered from Egyptian slavery. Christ leads a people that He alone delivered from demonic slavery!
- Moses delivered a law that God wrote on Mt. Sinai. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and build a new copy within the heart of His people.
- Moses led the "living" to their graves because of their unbelief. Jesus Christ led the "dead" from their graves to a life in Christ because of their belief in Him!
- You can't compare Moses with Christ. "Look At The Son." It's His house. He built it. He sustains it. Moses might have worked in it, but it's not his house. He serves the Son!
- "Look At The Scripture." There is a danger of hardening our hearts at the sound of God's voice. There is a danger of missing out on His rest because of unbelief.
- Finally, "Look At Those Who Made Similar Choices." This works in every area of life. Look an older person who has made the choice you are wanting to make. How did it work out for them?
- In the same way, our author is asking his audience to look at how it worked out for those that followed Moses. What happened to them? They lost their lives wandering in the desert!
- "Today, if you hear His voice." Soften your heart. Trust Him completely. Rest. Settle yourself in Him. There isn't a better place to live than in His house!







[i] The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Simon Kistemaker, pg. 35

November 20 2017

05:29

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 2:5-8)

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margin:.5in .5in .5in .5in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} </style> --> <div class="chapter-2" style="margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <a href="https://www.mediafire.com/file/o3hcxray001f11f/Hebrews%202_5-18.m4a"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;">Hebrews 2:5-18</span> </a> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Audio Access Available Above </span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">“Why Did Jesus Become A Man?” • 11.19.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Intro</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The first section of Hebrews leaned heavily upon the superiority of Christ to the Prophets and to the Angels by reason of His being. </span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Christ is greater than any Prophet or angel because He is God! He is God's present communication (v.<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">2</b>), the express Image impress of the Father (v.<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">3</b>)</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He alone upholds all things by His Word and He alone effected the forgiveness of our sins. (v.<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">3</b>) God the Father calls Jesus "God" and commands the angels to worship and serve Him. (v.<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">5,6</b>)</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- As God, there is little to be ashamed of. However, as a man, Jesus had come from the wrong side of Israel, from the home of a working class man and laid to rest after a shameful death!</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author is tasked with answering this question: "Why was Christ's humanity necessary?" He lays out three arguments for us to consider in relation to this question. "Jesus became a man"</span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">I.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Fulfill Mankind's Destiny</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.5-9)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Text</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;"></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:5-8a</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-2-5"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. </span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-6"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">But one testified in a certain place, saying: </span> </span> <span class="oblique"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">'What is man that You are mindful of him,</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> <span class="oblique">or the son of man that You take care of him?</span> <span class="oblique">You have made him a little lower than the angels;</span> <span class="oblique">You have crowned him with glory and honor,</span><span class="textheb-2-7"><sup></sup></span><span class="oblique">and set him over the works of Your hands.</span> <span class="oblique">You have put all things in subjection under his feet.'</span></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : History is moving toward a time when God will reign through Christ upon the Earth. We believe this to be the "Millenium." A thousand years of God's rule upon the Earth.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- At Christ's ascension, the Disciples asked if the time was right to establish the Kingdom. (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Acts 1:7</b>) They believed it to be something to expect. In our text here, expectation remains.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When the Kingdom comes, Angels will be there, but not in authority. As we have seen, they exist to worship Christ and serve those that will inherit salvation. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Our author explains from scripture, playfully referring to a passage that any good Jewish person would know. <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Psalm 8</b>was written by King David. Verses <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">4-6</b>are his concentration. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Imagine David, not as a King, but as a shepherd boy, sitting in a quiet field at night. The stars reveal the glory and magnificence of God. In the midst of his thoughts, he is struck by this reality.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God attends to and is thoughtful toward mankind! What a concept! God cares about little, seemingly insignificant man! He concerns Himself with their affairs! He acts on their behalf!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- David is referring to mankind in the widest, most general terms. We are a little lower, less in rank, than the angels. Perhaps an understatement.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In truth, mankind is inferior to angels by virtually any assesment! Mankind is limited, vulnerable and weak. But we are created in God's image and have been given the right to rule.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author agrees with the record of <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Genesis</b>. God has placed man above all the rest of His creation as the co-regent over His creation. Everything is under His domain.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Evolutionary theory teaches that mankind is simply an extension of the Animal Kingdom and it is only by chance that we have "evolved" to become the most sophisticated among Earth's elite.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The Bible teaches the exact opposite. Because men have been created in the image of God, they maintain the highest place above creation, a position given to them by God! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- All things are under the feet of mankind. To some degree, that also applies to the angels, who are set apart to serve those that will inherit salvation. (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Hebrews 1:14</b>) </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author moves from the general truth of his proposition to the specific motivation of God in the work of the incarnation. Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">8</b>. </span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:8b,9</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-2-8"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. </span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-9"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : All is supposed to be put in subjection to mankind, but that isn't what we see. That isn't our present reality. In fact, what we do see is oppression and pain!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Primary in the Jewish world was the struggle to exist under Rome's rule. But look around today. The creation is not at peace. Where is all of the fulfillment? That is a difficult truth to deal with.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Scripture, especially prophecy, reports what will be as though it is. David, in this case, sees a picture that is complete in the future, but not now.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is consistent admission for the Christian to make. We are living now on the hope of promises that are yet to be fulfilled.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is a tension in scripture that we cannot avoid, but that we also need not be ashamed to defend. We measure what we don't see by committing to what we do see! "But we see Jesus!"</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Mankind abdicated his reign when he disobeyed God in the garden of Eden! Adam, man's federal representative, failed to obey God and the Earth was subjected to a fallen condition.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is why Jesus came, who was made a little lower than the angels. He took on human flesh in order that He might become our new federal representative!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He has come to succeed under duress where Adam once failed in perfect conditions!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- We see Jesus, the Man, who suffered the worst fate of Mankind after the Fall: Death! When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the people of God saw Jesus crowned!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That was His coronation event! Today, with the eyes of faith, we see Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, no longer suffering the shame of His humanity, but in the glory of His divinity!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He is the One, according to God's grace, that has tasted death for everyone! In this way, Jesus reverses Adam's fall.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Adam's disobedience allowed every man to taste death. Christ's obedience issues in Him tasting death for everyone. </span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In Adam's case, the effect was universal. In Christ's case, the blessings are available to all, but the effect is reserved for those that believe and repent.</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Christ necessarily took on human flesh to fulfill Mankind's destiny. Because He has already done this, the Kingdom which is coming is inevitable. ("Jesus became a Man to")</span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">I.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Fulfill Mankind's Destiny</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.5-9)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">II.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Provide A Basis For Our Unity</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.10-13)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:10-13 </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">: "</span> <span class="textheb-2-10"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">10</b> in the NKJV obscures the meaning. Allow me to read it to you from the NLT.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:10</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> (NLT) : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : It was only right for God to do this. He is the One that brought everything into being and He is the One that deserves the direct benefit.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- If I may freely translate the idea, God gets to determine what is right based upon what gives Him the maximum amount of joy. Everything exists to serve that purpose.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Consequently, when we as human beings are serving that purpose, we are living out of what brings Him the most joy. That begins with His choice to bring many children to glory.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- There is an entrance to heaven that is promised, which God has opened by the Son! But it is not the most simple path. In that way, it was only fitting, appropriate, to allow Jesus to suffer.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He is after all, our divine huMAN. It would not have been right, fair, appropriate, for Jesus to take on humanity and not take on the full experience of humanity!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He experienced sorrow, pain, betrayal and anger. Why? Because He is our leader! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He is our Captain. The ESV uses the word "Founder," the NIV employs the term "Pioneer." Jesus Christ is the first to lead His people along this path toward salvation!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Those that are following Him toward salvation are presently suffering. It is certainly not an easy road. The author tells us that Christ's role was complete through sufferings.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These were not arbitrary actions, nor are they so in our lives. Our sufferings purify us and cause us to long for His deliverance. Suffering reminds us that we are not home yet.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- And in the case of suffering for choosing a godly life, we know from Christ's example that we are in good company! Allow me to further explain.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Human life, our existence on this planet, will issue in all kinds of pain, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Some of this will come upon us through our genes. We will be subject to certain conditions.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Some of us will reap what we have sown. Our younger lives and the foolish choices that accompany our youth, will often leave our bodies in poor shape for the long haul.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Some of us will experience suffering through the treatment of others. There will be many that are victimized in this life. To some extent, this is not what the author is referring to.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These are sufferings that come from the choices related to the sustaining of a godly life in Christ. This goes out to those that choose to live visibly upon that which cannot be seen presently! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Christ's sufferings were productive. We'll note that ours will be as well! Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">11</b>. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:11-13 </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">: "</span> <span class="textheb-2-11"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, </span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-12"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">saying: </span> </span> <span class="oblique"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">'I will declare Your name to My brethren;</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> <span class="oblique">In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.' </span><span class="textheb-2-13">And again: </span><span class="oblique">'I will put My trust in Him.' </span><span class="textheb-2-13">And again: </span><span class="oblique">'Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.'</span></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : The One who cleanses us, who is setting us apart, is God. Our suffering to remain in God's will unites us to Christ!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- As justified members, who will be glorified, we all have one source. We are of the same family. That work of sanctification, preparing us to enter into the Kingdom, is related to our suffering!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is why the Lord looks upon us as His brethren and that without shame! The word relates to the dsfigurement of the face. He doesn't make a face when thinking about us!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Jesus doesn't shrink back or get red with embarassment when our names are brought up. Quite to the contrary, He longs to lead us in praise of the Father, according to <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Psalm 22:22</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Jesus will proclaim the Name of the Father and, literally do so in the midst of the church! He will be our worship leader! Can you imagine that? What sort of people will He be leading?</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author quotes from <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Isaiah 8:17,18</b>. The scripture in question relates to the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the yet future Assyrian conquest of Israel.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Isaiah's children will watch in horror as Israel falls to the mighty Assyrian Empire. In the midst of what they see, Isaiah tells all who will listen that there is still a refuge to be found in the Lord.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Though many will be taken and caught in the snare that God was setting for them, for Isaiah's part, he will trust in the Lord along with the children that God had given to him.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The writer of Hebrews understands that Isaiah stands in scripture as a picture of Christ! God has determined that the World, like ancient Israel, is headed for judgment.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- A world which rejects Christ, which forsakes God's Word, which denigrates His Spirit, can only expect their existence to be progressively doomed.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Yet, it is Christ who calls His church to follow, to trust in this God who is allowing and is in fact, the source of this coming judgment. Those that hear that call are called out, the church!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- We are the children of God that have been given to Christ! We are His brothers and sisters and He has not lost one of us! In fact, we are joined to Him! "Jesus became a man"</span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">I.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Fulfill Mankind's Destiny</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.5-9)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">II.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Provide A Basis For Our Unity</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.10-13)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";">III.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> <u> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">To Express Divine Sympathy</span> </u> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;">(v.14-18)</span> <span style="font-family: "arial";"></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:14-16</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-2-14"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,</span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-15"> <sup> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> </span> </sup> </span> <span class="textheb-2-15"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. </span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-16"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Christ took on human flesh because we are made of human flesh.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He suffered in the same way that we suffer, so that His death might stand as a proper substitute, as a fully human representative, in the eyes of God. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When He died, He effectively destroyed, rendered inoperable, the power of death.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author asserts that this power belonged to the Devil. Later, in John's epistle, the Apostle comments that Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil. (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">I John 3:8</b>)</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In what way does the Devil have the power of death? We know that it is God who decrees when a life begins and when it ends. What did Christ destroy in relation to Satan's power? Fear!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He died that He might release, deliver, free those that had spent their whole life enslaved by it's power! Consider that! How many today live in fear of their eventual death?</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- What sorts of decisions are made from that motivation? How many will spend untold amounts of money to extend their life for another year or two? The believer never needs to fear death. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- None of us will be faulted for being concerned about our dying, but death is nothing to fear!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That isn't something that Christ accomplished for the angelic host. They have no need! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- But that is what Christ did for the people of Israel. Why? Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">17</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Hebrews 2:17,18</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textheb-2-17"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. </span> </span> <span class="textheb-2-18"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : In order to help God's people, He had to become just like them!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The power that Satan had been given through the Fall, He has crushed by being the human that submitted to God! Now, He can be a merciful and faithful High Priest!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- That is the balance that must be maintained. When dealing with people, a Priest had to learn to dispense God's mercy. He had to be full of mercy, but He also had to be completely reliable!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- How could Jesus be merciful toward us if He had never lived a life like us? He could have known about suffering, but He would never have known how to sympathize.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Our High Priest, Jesus Christ is merciful because He knows what a broken heart feels like! At the same time, He is faithful in things pertaining to God!<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He will never allow His mercy to upend His faithfulness! He will be true to God's Word and will exist to make propitiation for the sins of the people!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- I know that many of us shy away from "big words." I encourage you to shed that attitude as soon as possible because the author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, expects you to learn and grow!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Propitiation, in the simplest terms, refers to a satisfying, appeasing payment. The Greek word refers to the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, called "The Mercy Seat."</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- If you recall our studies in the book of <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Exodus</b>, the Mercy Seat covered over the plate of manna, Aaron's rod that budded and the two tables of the Law that were stored in the Ark.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Each of these items were directly related to the sin of Israel. Manna was produced when the people complained against God. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The Ten commandments were re-written after the people of God bowed before the Golden Calf. Aaron's rod, his dead walking stick, flourished to life again when God's people rebelled.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These items represent Israel's guilt that was ever before God, but they were covered by the Mercy Seat, so that when God looked down upon the case, all He saw was the basis for His mercy!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It was on that Mercy seat that the blood of Atonement was sprinkled once a year by the High Priest who would offer it on behalf of the people of God!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The blood of Jesus, once typified by the sacrificial lamb, remains God's sole satisfying payment for sin! There isn't another that is worthy, nor is there another that is necessary! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is Christ's faithfulness to God, not in making a sacrifice, but in being the Sacrifice! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Note also the extend of His mercy toward His brethren! Because He has suffered. Because He has been tempted. He is able to aid those that are being tempted! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This is a wonderfully profound statement. One Pastor put it like this: "He is able to run to our aid like a Parent who sees their child's distress." Can't you see that? </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Christ has the power to reach us and is quick to aid us when we call! Notice though: He is able to aid us. God's mercy is not in place to remove us from temptation. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- There will never come a time in your human life when you will be free from temptation.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- And it will never be that God will take you out of it permanently. But, for those that love Him and refuse to give in, He promises to run to your aid!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">Conclusion <br /></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Jesus took on human flesh to fulfill our destiny. He is the One who lived our lives, but He did so without sin, obediently following the Father to the point of the death of the cross!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In His death, Jesus united us to Himself. He brought us along in His justifying act and is sanctifying us today, that He might glorify us with Himself tomorrow!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- While we wait, a condition that plagued the anxious first century Jewish reader, we can know the divine expression of sympathy, from our true Big Brother, who exists to aid us by His Holy Spirit!</span> </div><div class="first-line-nonetop-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- I'm perpetually in awe of the divinity of Christ. I pray that you will join me in greater thanksgiving for the sake of His humanity.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal"> <br /> </div><div class="MsoNormal"> <br /> </div><div class="MsoNormal"> <br /> </div>

November 13 2017

03:56

Sunday Morning Service

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Audio Access Available Above
“Don't Drift Away” • 11.12.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The church that was founded on the day of Pentecost has now grown past her third decade. By all accounts, she is thriving in the Gentile world.
- In the Jewish world, especially near the center of Jewish life, the story is much more complicated. The Temple in Jerusalem has only recently seen it's restoration completed by Herod.
- There is renewed zeal among the Jewish nation to return to her roots, to enjoy her beloved traditions, to once again take part of the full Jewish life.
- I can imagine many relatives calling out to their cousins to give up this new fad and return to what they once considered "home."
- This is the climate that gave birth to this letter to the Hebrews. It addresses all of the allure that Judaism held by promoting how much greater it is to be in Christ.
- Having a relationship to God through Christ, serving His interest, is far superior to any traditional tie that once held them, beginning with the office of the Prophets themselves. Verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 1:1,2 : " God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; " : For those that are interested in such things, you'll note that this book begins in an unorthodox way. Most treat the book of Hebrews as an epistle, but it doesn't act like one.
- There is no greeting, no address to it's recipients and no attempt to acknowledge authorship. It begins with a bang! Our author jumps right into his treatise. This is about God!
- There is no argument for His existence, because as the title of the book reveals, this book is written to Jewish people. Their God's will is the matter of debate, so here we go!
- The Hebrew God, our God, is One who has spoken. He is the first cause, the initiator.
- Without His willingness to be revealed, we would know nothing of Him. Thanfully, He is the One who has revealed Himself and His ways to His people through the Prophets.
- He has done so at many different times and with many different methods. The phrase "different times" might better be translated "with varying portions."
- The way that the author puts this informs us to the distinct advantage that God maintained over His Old Testament Prophets. He gave them pieces, portions of the truth about Himself.
- Think about the nature of scriptural revelation and what Abraham knew, which was later enlarged by what Moses knew, and so forth. These were pieces and think of the different ways.
- Some gave speeches. Others lived out dramatic scenes. The lives and obedience of the Prophets are incredible, given their lack of total information!
- At the ministry of John the Baptist, the prophetic voice came to an end, but God has continued to speak, and in these last days after the Prophets, He has employed One voice.
- It is His Son! At the time of this writng, which most believe to be the late 60's, the whole world is hearing the message of God through the Son. Listen to the finality.
- God spoke, past tense, through the prophets. In verse 2, the tense of the verb is present: God is presently speaking to His people through His Son!
- In contrast to His communication through His Prophets, this is His complete message and His singular method!
- The Son of God embodies an enduring message to the people of God. He stands for all time to be the divine and living communication, the Word of God!
- He is not only greater than the Prophet's message. He is superior to the Prophets in being!
- Jesus Christ is the One that God has appointed heir of all things. The NLT says, "God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance." God has ordained it.
- Jesus Christ deserves to have everything that the Father has to give. That is the "end," the goal. Christ has been given all things as an inheritance. This refers to His right by humanity.
- When Christ completed His work on the cross, He earned the right to inherit. However, it was actually all His by virtue of His deity in creating it! Jesus made the worlds! He is it's creator!
- The apostle John begins his account of Christ's life with a similar statement. John 1:3 declares that all things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made!
- It can be said that the Prophets changed the world. However, it can never be said of any of them that they made the world! Jesus is superior to the Prophets!
- You might think this a minor distinction because of all of your knowledge and training in the things of God. That wasn't so clear to the disciples that were living in the shadow of Judaism.
- Recognize the built in rebuke to those that held Christ to be a Prophet. At the time of this writing, Judaism had labeled Jesus a false prophet. Today, Islam calls Him a true prophet.
- The author makes no bones about it: He is in fact greater than any Prophet! He continues to investigate the nature of the Son in verse 3.
Hebrews 1:3,4 : " who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himselfpurged oursins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. " : Jesus is the radiance of the reality of God. He is the source of divine light.
- The DBY and the ASV both employ the word "effulgence," which captures this concept perfectly. It refers to the overwhelming power of the effect of radiance.
- It is the glory of the sun in all of it's strength striking the vision of the person who has come out of a movie theater! It's brightness that stops you in your tracks!
- There is no doubt that the author has heard the stories of the disciples who witnessed Christ's glory on the mount of transfiguration or Paul's eyewitness account from Damascus.
- I don't think that it's much of a stretch to believe that the author is pointing at Christ as the Shekinah Glory that once stood over the Tabernacle and Temple!
- He is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person! "Express image" comes from the word "character." They understood it as an impression made upon a leather surface.
- The ESV has it right when it says that Jesus is the "exact imprint of His nature." Jesus is identical in substance to the Father! There is no drop off or differentiation.
- The author is still referring to Jesus when he say that Jesus "upholds all things by the word of His power." He bears upon Himself the sustaining of the Universe by His command!
- We read that same sentiment in Paul's letter to the Colossians, when he wrote that all things subsist in Him, meaning that Christ holds all of the Universe together! (Colossians 1:7)
- Scientists observe that it takes a tremendous amount of power to hold atomic material together. They have called that power electromagnetism. "Atomic glue." Biblicists call Him Jesus!
- Consider this against the record of creation found in Genesis 1, where it reveals that God spoke and things came into being.
- That same authoritative voice that spoke the creation into existence, also holds it in place! These are concepts that tax our minds.
- The greatness of Christ is profound and yet, these were not His greatest accomplishments. The Creator God took on human flesh and suffered in our stead.
- He Himself, without any other help, worked to cleanse us from our sins. It was then that He sat down at the most privileged place of favor, by the right hand of the Father.
- The concept of sitting down speaks to belonging, to the comfort that comes from an established right and a completed task.
- Christ has earned His place of superiority to the Prophets and also the angels, in the same way as His Name is superior to theirs. You'll note a transition here, from Prophets to angels.
- The reality of Christ's position implies superiority to both, but then, the author strengthens their argument by noting that the scriptures affirmed this as well. Verse 5.
Hebrews 1:5-7 : " For to which of the angels did He ever say: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You'?And again: 'I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son'?But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.' And of the angels He says: 'Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.' " : This scriptural barrage comes from four Old Testament quotations. There will be seven in all.
- The angels are often designated as "sons of God. But none were ever addressed specifically as the specially designated Son. Jesus was and repeatedly so!
- He begins with a reference to Psalm 2:7. The Psalm is about Heaven's response to Earthly rebellion. It is a laughable matter to the counsel of heaven because it is God's King who will rule.
- "Today, I have begotten you." This doesn't refer to Christ's incarnation. As you have seen, Christ existed before His incarnation. So, that can't be what God refers to.
- This must refer to His ascension, when Christ revealed His Kingdom by physically ascending above any Earthly rival!
- It was only then that God begot an entirely new order of beings: Redeemed and glorified humanity! Jesus took on flesh to come to earth and He took flesh back with Him to heaven!
- The second verse comes from II Samuel 7:14 and God's comment regarding David's ultimate Son Jesus.
- This was a point of some controversy when we studied that passage, but this verse settles it. God was referring to His Son Jesus.
- Solomon, David's literal son, would be a son that God would look at as His own. He would correct him when he went astray, which we know he did. But Solomon was the anti-type to Christ.
- Where Solomon went astray from God's Words and ways, Jesus followed them perfectly, even unto the sacrificing of His own life!
- When Jesus comes again, revealed as God's "firstborn," this will be made more obvious. By the way, the term "firstborn" has nothing to do Biblically with the order of birth.
- This is a title of preeminence! Solomon was the firstborn son even though he was David's 10th son! Judah is Israel's firstborn even though he came in third!
- God looks upon Jesus and demands that His angelic host recognize who He is! He addresses that beginning with a reference to Deuteronomy 32:43.
- On this particular occasion, you will not likely find the verse unless you are holding an NLT or ESV Bible. The author is quoting from the Greek translation of the Old Testament.
- The Septuagint says clearly that the angels were to bow down before the Son and as Psalm 104:4 asserts, they were designated by God to serve His needs.
- The superiority of Christ is seen in the greatness of the beings that worship Him! Angels that are vastly superior to you and I, exist merely to worship and serve Him!
- Consider that statement: The beings that were being held in high regard, were actually created to worship the Son! This was their assignment, given to them by God!
- Now, think about the implications. If God commands the angels to worship Christ, what does that make Christ? If He is not God, then God the Father is commanding idolatry!
- There can be no other conclusion. Jesus Christ is God! We've seen what the Father says about the Son and what He says to the angels. Now, we get a sense of what He says to the Son.
Hebrews 1:8-12 : " But to the Son He says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.' And: 'You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment;Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.' " : The Father looks to the Son and says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever!" What a profound statement!
- Today, there are people who question the deity of Christ. Their opinion might be different, but I hope that you will recognize that Jesus has the Father's endorsement! I'll go with what He says!
- The reference here is to Psalm 45:6,7 which is a beautiful Psalm about the coming King. God acknowledges the deity of the Son.
- Consequently, His throne, His rule, must endure for all time, literally from age to age. What kind of rule will He have? It will be a rule of righteousness!
- The scepter was the rod that royalty held, by which he decreed and dispensed his rule. The rod that Christ holds is one of pure justice! That is what He loves above all!
- Consequently, He hates lawlessness, unrighteousness, anything that attempts to rob from what is right. It's because Christ has embodied these virtues that God has annointed Him.
- If you were to consider the Kingdom of Christ, you'd understand from these verses that He is the King of Righteousness and joy! There isn't another King that can compare with Him!
- God has poured out His endorsement upon Christ above any other King!
- The author continues by pointing his reader's attention to Psalm 102:25-27. In the case of this Psalm, virtually half of it is dedicated to the life that Christ lived here on earth.
- It's a life marked by anxiety and insult. Then the tide turns in verse 12and there is a change in tone. It begins to speak of the victory that has been achieved by the Lord.
- It culminates in what we see here. The Creator Messiah laid the foundations for the world to stand upon. And while they grow old, He remains unchanged! He is the same from age to age!
- This is the attribute of God known as "immutability." Only God has this attribute. Verse 13.
Hebrews 1:13,14 : " But to which of the angels has He ever said: ' Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool'?' Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? " : The angels were never told to assume a place at the right hand of God. Jesus was told exactly that!
- Psalm 110 is the author's seventh referernce andi it figures quite prominently in this book. Jesus is pictured as sitting until something takes place.
- He is waiting patiently, comfortably for the Lord to make an end of the enemies of Christ. The idea of making Christ's enemies a footstool speaks of His final victory and their final humiliation.
- There is a time that is coming when the King will have final and complete victory over every single enemy. That is a promise from scripture and what the Hebrews were waiting to see.
- The angels have no such place. They are simply ministering spirits. They are employed in godly service to those that will inherit salvation.
- The author is saying that the angels that might have taken some place of prominence in the minds of God's people, are actually beings committed to serving those exact people!
- We are the beneficiaries of their service! They are not to be worshipped. Our author begins to draw a conclusion to his intended point. Chapter 2.
Hebrews 2:1 : " Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. " : "Therefore." This is why he has been writing. Because Christ is exalted above the prophets and the angels. Because He is the inheritor of all things.
- Because there is a plan that will lead to His final victory, we must act accordingly.
- It begins with a more urgent need to listen carefully to what has been transmitted.
- The life of a Christian is not measured in the accumulation of new infomation, but in their faithfulness to hold fast to the old revelation! That was the need then and it is certainly so now!
- With Biblical illiteracy at an all time high, God's church needs a more firm commitment in the realm of truth intake! Why? "Lest we drift away." What a perfect picture!
- How many have embraced Christ, only to return to old ways of relating to God?
- This is the only place that this word is used and it means to "slip past" or to "glide by" an intended destination. He explains further in verse 2.
Hebrews 2:2-4 : " For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? " : What is the "word spoken through angels?" Stephen in Acts 7:53 and Paul in Galatians 3:19 identify it as the law of God, which proved to be firm.
- Consequently, in the history of God's people, sin was punished. Every transgression. Every disobedience. Remember the end of II Kings?
- If that was true, how will it be possible for the the Jewish audience listening to this to escape if they neglect so great a salvation? Listen to those words. "How shall they escape?"
- Where can they flee? How will they run? There will be no place that they can hide from the hand of God if they are negligent in this opportunity for salvation!
- Think of the language that is being used? How can we escape from the hand of God if we ignore such a vast opportunity for salvation? Let's not drift past it!
- This is the salvation that was endorsed by Jesus Himself, and was confirmed by His disciples who were His eyewitnesses!
- The Father Himself proved this gospel message to be authentic with the signs, wonders and miracles that we have been witnessing in our study of the book ofActs.
- And certainly, last but not least, consider the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You may want to mark it yet again: Right here we have the three persons of the Trinity named separately, but together!
- The Holy Spirit's gifts never came through the law, but by believing in Christ! There was the actual arrival of the Holy Spirit when He came upon the church at Pentecost.
- Then, as the church organized, His gifts, His work through the personalities of the redeemed, began to show forth. God built the house on the foundation of Christ and the Holy Spirit decorates it!
- He gives the gifts as He wills, out of His desire. He sees what's missing and He begins to facilitate His vision it by drawing people toward a congregation and unveiling His work through them!
- They have no excuse to miss this. If they do, they are truly lost forever!
Conclusion
- Jesus is the greatest being, who has done the greatest work. He calls us to trust Him.
- He is the subject that the Prophets spoke of. He is the object of the Angel's worship. He is the King that God proposes that we follow.
- For those that believe and hold onto their faith in Him, there is a great reward that awaits. For those that drift past, who decide not to settle upon Christ, there can only be certain dread.
- I know most of you have, but for those that have not, I pray you will settle upon Jesus Christ. He is worthy of His Name and worthy of your life!

November 05 2017

23:27

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 23:31-II Kings 25:30)

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Audio Access Available Above
“The Bell Tolls” • 11.5.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Last week, we watched as King Josiah took extreme measures to act upon the Word of God that had been recently discovered. His campaign to rid Judah of it's wickedness was extensive.
- And for their part, the people complied with their King, standing for the covenant when he called to them. With merely the eye, one might believe that Judah was on a path to revival.
- Jeremiah, whose book serves as a commentary on this period of history, gives God's assessment of what has taken place.
Jeremiah 3:10b (NLT) : " Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken! "
- God has seen that all of their movement has been external, to satisy the zealous King of Judah. None of that action prompted any true repentance which signals their final demise. Verse 31.
Text
II Kings 23:31-34 : " Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord , according to all that his fathers had done. Now Pharaoh Necho put him in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Then Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and hedied there. " : Jehoahaz wasn't Josiah's natural successor. The oldest would traditionally assume the throne.
- According to I Chronicles 3:15, Jehoahaz, also called "Shallum," was Josiah's fourth son.
- II Kings 23:30 notes that he was "the people's choice." They annointed him and made him King. What kind of man did they choose? Was it a man of Josiah's righteous character?
- Given the short three month sample size, you can see that they chose a man that would not uphold the standards of his godly Father! He did evil in God's sight.
- One of the worst things that God can allow is for us to have what we want! The people wanted a King that would conform to their desire for idolatry.
- It's sad when even the Pharaoh won't accept your choice! Remember that Egypt had defeated Josiah's forces at Meggido. He was not in the position to exert control over Judah.
  - He wasn't impressed with Jehoahaz and quickly deposed him and imposed a fine upon the people of Judah, exerting control over Judah's economy and government.
- He appoints their new ruler Eliakim, who he renames Jehoiakim and take Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he died apart from his people, but near to where his rebellious heart lived. Verse 35.
II Kings 23:35-37 : " So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necho. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord , according to all that his fathers had done. " : Jehoiakim inherited his brother's fee and promptly assessed it to the people. This was the beginning of eleven wicked years.
- In the background, Egypt has been fighting a losing battle against the rising Babylonian Empire. The definitive battle of Carchemish, the subject of Jeremiah 46, has just ended.
- Egypt and Assyria have been soundly defeated, which leaves Judah in the sights of the nation of Babylon. Chapter 24.
II Kings 24:1-7 : " In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him raiding bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim rested with his fathers. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place. And the king of Egypt did not come out of his land anymore, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the River Euphrates. " : Jehoiakim doesn't seem to understand the times that he is living in. The King was willing to submit to Babylonian rule for three years, but then decided to rebel against him.
- This seems to coincide with the death of Nebuchadnezzar's Father. In that time, Nebuchadnezzar was made King and Jehoiakim, testing potential weakness, rebelled.
- In Jeremiah 36, the Prophet sends the King a scroll which essentially warns him to cooperate with the King of Babylon.
- At the same time, false prophets are assuring the nation of it's success in warding off the Babylonians. Jehoiakim's belief is clearly seen when he tears Jeremiah's scroll and has it burned.
- Jehoiakim thought it would be wise to ignore God's clear, yet highly unpopular wisdom. Maybe he would withstand the Babylonians, despite what God was saying through Jeremiah.
- But the Lord would not allow him to revel in that belief. In the absense of the Babylonians God sent these raiding bands, members of nations in league with the Babylonians.
- They were allowed to plunder Judah as God's prophets had spoken. There was no escaping. These nations were carrying out God's discipline against this nation.
- Manasseh's sins are to blame. This is not to say that Judah was being punished for his sins, but they were perpetuating Manasseh's sins themselves! The finished what the King started!
- As for Jehoiakim, he died and his son Jehoichin took over his position. At this point in history, nobody is a match for Babylon. Even the mighty Egypt is limited to a portion of their land. Verse 8.
II Kings 24:8-12 : " Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the L ord , according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner. " : Like Jehoahaz, Jehoichin, known also as Jeconiah or Coniah, reigned for only three months.
- His reign saw the first wave of the Babylonian empire lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, which resulted in the displacement of many within the King's household!
- Some of the people that are included in that first wave of captives are Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego. That was not all that Nebuchadnezzar left with. Verse 13.
II Kings 24:13-16 : " And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord , as the Lord had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. " : Verse 13 is a promise fulfilled. Hezekiah had shown the delegation from Babylon all of his treasures. God promised through Isaiah that they would one day possess them.
- At the time, nearly a century earlier, it might have been hard to believe. Babylon was struggling for it's survival against Assyria, which looked as though it would never fall.
- And even if it did, they would still have to go through Egypt. They had been a consistent  and dominant empire in the region. God will move heaven and earth to fulfill His Word!
- Think about that in relation to future judgments and what might need to occur for them to be fulfilled. God has already found ways in history and He will do so again!
- The day that Isaiah prophecied would come, had come, physically and literally!
- Everything that Solomon had laid up in and for the Temple, was carried away to Babylon, as were the future leaders of Judah.
- The Captains, the most brave soldieers, the tradesmen and the royal household all went into captivity, a number of people totaling nearly 20,000.
- Jerusalem was left in the hands of the most poor people and it's final puppet King. Verse 17.
II Kings 24:17-20 : " Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.   Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He also did evil in the sight of the Lord , according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the Lord this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. " : Zedekiah was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to reign in Jehoiachin's place. All of the King's names are interesting.
- We've had Jehoahaz, whose name means "Jehovah has seized." Judah was seized by Egypt in his days, surrendering her sovereignty. Jehoiakim meant, "Jehovah raises up."
- In his day, the Babylonians began to raise their heads above their peers. Jehoiachin means "Jehovah establishes." In his day, Babylon established a firm foothold over Judah.
- Now, we come to Zedekiah, whose original name, Mattaniah, meant "Gift of God." Nebuchadnezzar thought Zedekiah, "Jehovah is righteous," was a better name!
- It seems that the Gentile King knew more about God's justice than Judah's King did. Zedekiah's eleven year reign was predictably evil, just like Jehoiakim.
- This speaks to Zedekiah's unwillingness to bend his neck under the yoke of Babylon. Like Jehoiakim, Zedekiah refused the direct word of God from Jeremiah's mouth. (Jeremiah 38)
- And right on cue, the Bible records that Zedekiah foolishly rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar too! Chapter 25.
II Kings 25:1-4a : " Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled at night by way of the gate between two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were still encamped all around against the city. " : Nebuchadnezzar's siege upon Jerusalem lasted two years until they broke through.
- They surrounded the city and the people slowly ate away all of their stores. When the walls were breached, the people were then left defenseless as the men of war fled.
- It was an irrational move because the Babylonians or Chaldeans still maintained a perimeter around the city. There was no escape. Verse 4.
II Kings 25:4b-7 : " And the kingwent by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon. " : Jeremiah told Zedekiah explicitly that cooperation was the only way out of the mess that he was in.
- Foolishly, he sought to escape, but ran right into the waiting net of the Babylonians, who caught him in the plains of Jericho. Think about that for a moment.
- It hasn't even been 1,000 years since Joshua and the nation came upon Jericho. They had watched God miraculously pull down the city's wall.
- Now, the final King of Judah endures the same inevitable judgment that the enemies of God once faced! God told him to cooperate and surrender. He chose to run. It was his undoing!
- The King was set up in a Babylonian Kangaroo court. They took his sons and killed them while he was watching and then made sure that that was the last thing he ever saw!
- This fulfilled two very seemingly contradictory prophecies regarding the King. Jeremiah 32:4,5 tells us that the King would see Nebuchadnezzar eye to eye.
- Meanwhile, in Babylon, Ezekiel the prophet prophecied in Ezekiel 12:13-16 that the King would go to Babylon and not see it though he die there! Once again, God's Word is fulfilled perfectly.
- Zedekiah, the blind King was taken prisoner and brought to Babylon. Verse 8.
II Kings 25:8-21 : " And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude. But the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers. The bronze pillars that were in the house of the Lord, and the carts and the bronze Sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the spoons, and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. The firepans and the basins, the things of solid gold and solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. The two pillars, one Sea, and the carts, which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. The height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the capital on it was of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits, and the network and pomegranates all around the capital were all of bronze. The second pillar was the same, with a network. And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. He also took out of the city an officer who had charge of the men of war, five men of the king’s close associates who were found in the city, the chief recruiting officer of the army, who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. So Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, took these and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land. " : There isn't much that needs to be said. Consider though what this place meant just 400 years earlier. Think about the dedication of the Temple.
- Think about Joab's run to defeat the Jebusites. Think back just a few chapters and recall the slaying of 185,000 Assyrians. All of that because God was with the people of Judah.
- Now, God has removed His hand of protection and what do we see? A city that is ransacked from the palace to the streets. The smell of fire burning out of control.
- We hear the sound of mass panic and the discovery of the final vestiges of a once proud fighting force, being led to their executions. The city of Jerusalem is lost.
- Nebuchadnezzar didn't want to do this, but Judah's Kings left him no choice but to leave the city in ruins. Notice the author says this all with clinical detachment.
- To get the emotional picture, I'd encourage you to read Lamentations. Suffice it to say, we would be hard pressed to offer a comparitive national trauma. Verse 22.
II Kings 25:22-26 : " Then he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left. Now when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan the son of Careah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniahthe son of a Maachathite, they and their men. And Gedaliah took an oath before them and their men, and said to them, 'Do not be afraid of the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.' But it happened in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck and killed Gedaliah, the Jews, as well as the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. And all the people, small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans. " : When the Babylonians left, they left the poorest, most unqualified, to lead. The best of the least was Gedaliah.
- He's the Babylonian provisional governor, who is earnest in dispatching his duties. He is following the party line precisely: "Cooperate with and submit to the Babylonians!"
- He has the right message but is naively believes that his constituency will follow!
- In Jeremiah 40:14, a man comes to warn Gedaliah about a pending assassination attempt by Ishmael, which he immediately rebuffs in verse 16. In the very next verse, Gedaliah is murdered.
- That led to the majority of the people carrying Jeremiah away to the land of Egypt.
- Once again, the picture at hand is poignant. The people can still turn to the Lord and repent.
- They can, even in their miserable condition, trust the Lord for the future of Israel that He has promised everywhere in the prophets. Instead, where do they turn? To Egypt!
- What a sad commentary! Even at the end of their nation's history, the people of God refused to turn themselves over to the God of their history!
- It's at this moment that you would expect God to shut the door forever on the people that He once rescued. That is not what happens! Verse 27.
II Kings 25:27-30 : " Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodachking of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life. " : Nearly a full 18 years have passed since the final days of Babylon's siege. That is where we find the final link to the Davidic line.
- Nebuchadnezzar's third son reigned upon the throne and he looked upon Jehoiachin with some amount of favor. He released the King from confinement and allowed him a place of privilege.
- He allowed him to get out of his prison clothes and had him as a guest at his table for the rest of his life. We find him eating and drinking, sitting at the King's table all the days of his life.
- Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 1. Remember Jehoiachin's other names? Jeconiah? Coniah? Have a look at verse 11.
Matthew 1:11-16 : " Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. " : Life went on. Jeconiah's son had a son who had a son. Even in Babylon, God allowed His promise to Israel and David to continue.
- He would do so right up until the true and final Son of David emerged from Mary's womb!
- As much as God moved heaven and earth to fulfill His Word of judgment against the people of Judah, so also He would find His people at their lowest point fulfill His promise of their hope!
Conclusion
- That is the message that the author of the Kings leave us with. The people lived lives of forfeit when they turned away from God. But God was never unfaithful to them.
- He gave them chance upon chance to repent and even when they did not, even when He had to judge them, He made a choice not to leave them without hope. That hope isn't theirs alone.
- Their future hope is our present hope, Jesus Christ, the True King of the True people of God!

October 30 2017

18:28

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 23:4-30)

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“As For Me And My House” • 10.29.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- We left King Josiah standing in the Temple, calling God's people to make a stand for the law of God. The Torah had been re-discovered and Josiah was announcing his intention to obey it.
- That is how revival or reform begins in the life of a believer. The Word of God takes center stage in a heart and then proceeds to take precedence in a life.
- Soon, it dominates that person's sphere of influence and issues in zealous action. That is what the Word prompted in Josiah's life and what we will see on display in the section before us.
- He will illustrate the energy that it takes to bring a nation or a life into complicity with God's Word. Let's begin at verse 4.
Text
II Kings 23:4-9 : " And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah,and for all the host of heaven;and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the wooden imagefrom the house of the Lord , to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people. Then he tore down the ritual booths of the perverted personsthat were in the house of the Lord , where the women wove hangings for the wooden image. And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate. Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren. " : As you read through this section, the emphasis is on what had been taking place in the Temple during Manasseh and Amon's wicked reigns.
- Josiah isn't content to merely call people away from these items. He takes the initiative to rid the land of them to an incredibly thorough degree! We'll get 16 verses of this!
- The King begins at the Temple and moves out from there. The Temple had gone from being a house devoted to the Lord God of Israel, to being a religious center for false gods.
- Josiah is not going to allow this to continue. Baal and Asherah's implements were taken out and burned. Their ashes were spread in Bethel, the site of Jeroboam's false worship.
- After ridding the temple of these implements, the King removed the idolatrous priests that Manasseh and Amon set apart for carrying on the worship practice on the high places.
- He took out the wooden image, likely a phallic symbol inspired by the days of Ahab, and ground it down to an ash heap that then covered over the graves of men nearby.
- It might be that the ash was defiling the memory of men that were loyal to these false idols or that the graves defiled the ashes of these false idols. Either way, it's not meant to be good!
- Josiah took down the houses of ill repute that were set aside for the false idol worshipping temple prostitutes and he brought an end to many of the false worship sites in Judah's territory.
- The King punished the priests who had facilitated the worship of the High places, allowing them to continue to eat of the unleavened bread, but blocking them from returning to the Temple.
- Their sin was forgiven but their office was lost. Josiah continues his campaign in verse 10.
II Kings 23:10-14 : " And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Sonof Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord , by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord , the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron. Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men. " : - We move from the center of a godly life, the Temple, to the surrounding city where God declared that His Name would stand
- Topheth, literally, the "Place of Fire," was an area designated for the worship of Molech. It was where worshippers brought their infant children to sacrifice. The King "defiled" this place.
- He ruined it for those uses. We are not told how, but Josiah made sure that Topheth was closed for good.
- The King also removed the horses that were set apart for the worship of the sun. They were not repurposed or resold for profit. They were taken out, as were the chariots, which were burnt.
- The altars that Ahaz and Manasseh had constructed to foreign gods, Josiah broke into pieces and pulverized.
- The high places on the east, which dated back to Solomon's time, were also defiled. These were over 300 years old and had been left standing! This was a massive undertaking. Verse 15. 
II Kings 23:15-20 : " Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, 'What gravestone is this that I see?' So the men of the city told him, 'It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.' And he said, 'Let him alone; let no one move his bones.' So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel. He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem. " :
- From Jerusalem, Josiah's eyes turned to the farthest reaches of his territory and beyond! Bethel had been the southernmost site of Israel's former territory.
- He is reaching into the original boundary lines of God's united nation!
- This was only possible because Assyria was now struggling for survival on the world stage against the combined force of Babylon, Egypt, Media and Persia.
- Josiah once and for all destroyed the altar that stood in Bethel and leveled the elevated place. It would have been enough to destroy it or to leave it desolate. He crushed it to powder!
- Look back over the last sections. Notice the words. His aggression reveals his heart toward God! Perhaps your zeal for God is great, but your mercy upon your idols is not so severe.
- You may want to think about that in relation to this text and the example of King Josiah.
- A walk with God requires zeal toward God and violence against all that displeases Him! Does His heart confront you or does it encourage you to continue?
- What stands opposed to God in your life that God is calling you to violently pulverize, crush to powder or beat into submission?
- Josiah's actions were full of hatred toward these idols that have put Judah in it's current perilous predicament. Most of our trouble comes from our divided hearts as well.
- Love for God means hatred toward anything that interrupts it! Josiah is showing us that.
- There also seems to be an awareness of God drawing him to this place in Bethel.
- When Jeroboam's altar was constructed and barely open for business, an unnamed prophet came to visit and offered this stunning prophecy.
I Kings 13:2 : " Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, 'O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ " : Here we stand, roughly 400 years after the fact, and Josiah is fulfilling the prophet's words!
- Josiah's men went into the tombs, reclaiming the bones of dead men, presumably those that were most faithful to Jeroboam's cult and ground their bones to powder over the site!
- This is truly a tremendous insult in the eyes of the people of Israel. Men were buried the day that they died and to be laid peacefully with dignity was a sign of God's blessing.
- To disturb their graves and their bones was very unusual. As they came to the bones of the prophet, the King decreed that they allow his body to rest in it's place.
- From Bethel, the King went straight to the old capital of Israel and performed the same works there, including an execution of the priests. Verse 21.
II Kings 23:21-23 : " Then the king commanded all the people, saying, 'Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.' Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the Lord in Jerusalem. " : After clearing out the nation of it's idolatrous infrastructure, Josiah now sees an open door to do something that has been done since the time of the Judges.
- We don't have the time to look at it, but please take some time this afternoon to read II Chronicles 35, which gives greater detail about this particular event.
- This was significant to Israel, as the Passover celebrates the Exodus that God accomplished for the people of Israel. In that respect, this is a great and poignant picture.
- God's people are once again being unbound from slavery, not to a physical enemy, but from an ideological enemy! They are coming into the freedom that God intended His people to have!
- This is the Old Testament's central narrative regarding redemption. Ours is much better! God's Lamb, Jesus Christ, was slaughtered in the place of all who would believe.
- His sinless life has opened the treasure chest of the Father's grace which is now extended toward us because of our relation to Him! How much more should we seek to turn from wickedness?
- Josiah's was 26 years old when he lived this. Whatever age you are, it is the right time to celebrate our freedom in Christ. Verse 24.
II Kings 23:24-27 : " Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord . Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And the Lord said, 'I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’ " : At this point in time, there is such a push for covenantal standards, that nobody living in a godless state was safe.
- God's law demanded that even those who practiced in private be put away. There was no room for that type of spiritual hypocrisy.
- There were still people who wanted the benefits that a life of fidelity to God offers, but still sought after mediums and spiritists. The law called for their execution.
- There were those that loved that passover feast, but still had little gods, tokens perhaps of a former life. Those had to be surrendered.
- Any activity that was left over from the years of idolatry was discontinued. Why?
- Isn't there a bit of an entertainment factor involved? Aren't there emotional ties to such items? Isn't there a place for nostalgia, enjoying the "good ol days?"
- Josiah, and indeed the entire counsel of God's Word, sees all of this an a deterrent to a fully realized life in God!
- He got rid of all of this, in order that, for the purpose of, performing the words of the Law!
- You cannot continue to cater to your past, to make allowance for your fleshly delights and follow truly and wholly after the Lord! That is incompatible with life in God!
- When Josiah heard God's Word, he knew that it was incumbent upon him to perform it! That is what he is doing and because of it, there is this wonderful statement that encapsulates his life.
- "There was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might, according to the Law of Moses!" What a statement!
- To hear God's Word and obey is to prove that you are a man or woman who has turned to God with all of themselves! There wasn't any like him, before or after!
- Unfortunately, his actions were not enough to dismiss the charges against the land. Manasseh's actions had caused the people of Judah to sin greatly, even to this day.
- While they are willing to go along with Josiah because of the external pressure, they are not truly with him internally. This will show when Josiah is gone! God sees that truth.
- He reiterates His promise here, reminding us that His holy Name has been trampled upon. His reputation is at stake and He must act to judge the actions that had provoked Him. Verse 28.
II Kings 23:28-30 : " Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place. " : In this final act, we read of Josiah's entry into what historians call "The Battle Of Megiddo."
- In the background, Assyria's capital city has fallen. Ninevah has been breached by Nebuchadnezzar and his allies, the Medes and the Persians.
- Assyria has resettled their capital and the Pharoah is attempting to cross Judah's territory in order to bring aid to Assyria. Josiah sides with Babylon and prevents Pharaoh from his purpose.
- Turn in your Bibles to II Chronicles 35. The Pharoah makes an impassioned plea through his messengers to Josiah. Verse 21.
II Chronicles 35:21-24 : " But he sent messengers to him, saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, 'Take me away, for I am severely wounded.' His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. " - Necho isn't being aggressive toward Judah and is actually on a mission from God! Despite this information, Josiah remained in opposition, even entering into battle disguised as a warrior.
- What is going on with him? Because he enters in disguised, he is treated as any of the infantry and as the arrows flew through the air, a few landed in the King's body. This is interesting.
- In the things of God that are clear, zeal is our most appropriate response. When it is written, we are to act with all vengeance against that which impedes our spiritual progress.
- When it comes to debatable questions, zeal must be replaced with quiet submission and a call for greater clarity.
- Josiah's life came to an end because he went into a debatable situation with only his zeal. He had no knowledge or word from God and thought his actions would be enough.
- What a profound lesson! How many men have "died" young spiritually, because they have ventured into areas without first confirming God's call?
- Zeal for God requires a submission to God and a continuing knowledge of what God wants us to do. Josiah paid for that lesson with his life. I pray that you won't have to pay it at all!
Conclusion
- Colossians 2:15 tells us that Christ, by His death on the cross, disarmed and put to shame principalities and powers.
- Josiah did physically for Israel what Christ did spiritually for us! He destroyed our enemy and the power that his Kingdom once had upon our lives.
- Jesus Christ died to give us a life of freedom, not to sin, but to have fellowship with Him. How shall our lives not then be at least a rival in imitation to what we see in Josiah.
- Josiah had God's Word, which we have. He had a clear mandate to perform it, which we also have. And we have a Spirit dwelling in us that he did not have!
- At the end of the day, In things that are clear, let decisive, zealous action rule. In things that are not clear, let a quiet heart of submission await further instruction!
- That's the lesson. May we learn it well!

October 23 2017

05:12

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 22:1-II Kings 23:3)

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“Kings And The Word Of God” • 10.22.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Last week, we looked at King Manasseh, who spent much of his 55 year reign in open rebellion to God, choosing instead to follow everything else.
- At an undisclosed time, he repented toward the Lord, but the nation was slow to recover it's spiritual heritage. His son Amon slowed that growth even further during his two year reign.
- Today, we'll discover a person who will find the keys to revival and use them. Let's take a look at the reign of King Josiah. Verse 1.
Text
II Kings 22:1,2 : " Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord , and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. " : You aren't misreading the text. Josiah is King Amon's eight year old son who assumed the throne after his Father's assassination.
- Josiah will enjoy a 31 year reign and will be 39 years young when he passes away. The record shows that he will have been one that did right in the sight of the Lord!
- Such a thing was not only no longer guaranteed, it's downright surprising given what we've seen among his predecessors.
- Aside from his Father's two year interruption, Josiah will now resume the course that was set by his Grandfather Manasseh in his later repentant years.
- Whereas Manasseh was once related in wickedness to the Canaanites and Ahab, Josiah's point of reference will be to his descendant David. He walked in all his ways.
- II Chronicles 34:3 reports that Josiah was 16 years old when he began to seek the God of his Father David. He began a true relationship with God at that point and didn't waver from that.
- Think about our previous studies. Hezekiah began on the right path and veered to the left. Manasseh began on the wrong path and veered to the right.
- Josiah began on the right path and never moved to either side! That's the type of summary we should all hope to have when we turn to Jesus Christ! Verse 3.
II Kigns 22:3-7 : " Now it came to pass, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the scribe, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the house of the Lord , saying: 'Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money which has been brought into the house of the Lord , which the doorkeepers have gathered from the people. And let them deliver it into the hand of those doing the work, who are the overseers in the house of the Lord ; let them give it to those who are in the house of the Lord doing the work, to repair the damages of the house— to carpenters and builders and masons—and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. However there need be no accounting made with them of the money delivered into their hand, because they deal faithfully.' " : The author does not intend to provide us with a chronological portrait. Other things took place, but the theme of revival took genuine shape in Josiah's 26th year.
- Manasseh's reign brought great damage to the temple and though he began to restore it at the end of his life, it was a project that was left unfinished.
- Josiah took up the charge and sent his scribe on this occasion to check in with the High Priest Hilkiah, who was to count the money that had come in from the people.
- Incidently, Hilkiah is also the Father of Jeremiah the prophet, whose ministry is about to bloom. Otherwise, this is a fairly routine business engagement with very little out of the ordinary.
- The labor unions needed their materials but were so privileged to work in the temple that they did business impeccably to remain on the job! This is when Hilkiah stops the presses. Verse 8.
II Kings 22:8-13 : " Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord .' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, 'Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord .' Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, 'Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.' And Shaphan read it before the king. Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achborthe son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 'Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.' " : Hilkiah found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord. This is a strange thing to say.
- The idolatry of Manasseh's day was so pervasive, that it even caused the copy of God's law to be lost among the things that were in the temple!
- Some have speculated that Manasseh and Amon, even made sure to burn every other remaining copy and that this one was hidden to secure it's continuing existence!
- In either case, that is the true source of the wicked power that these previous Kings wielded. They removed the restraining power of God's law from the sight of the people!
- What a near tragedy and y et, how many like Manasseh, have sought to eradicate the word of God from the consciousness of God's people?
- How many today, in favor of their own agenda, hide His Word behind "assorted" or "various" scriptures in their topical teaching?
- It's a tragedy that while the Word is not lost, it also cannot be found in many places where it should have the central place of importance!
- Hilkiah gives the book to Shaphan, who takes it and reads it. It's not entirely clear if Hilkiah read it or if he sent it to the King for his reading. Shaphan doesn't seem to bring it with urgency.
- When he comes to report to the King, he gives him the news regarding his errand and then, as an aside reports that he "has a book." "Hilkiah threw this in as well."
- Even after reading it, Josiah's chief scribe didn't seem to be impressed or wise enough to consider that finding it trumped his other news!
- Shaphan reminds me of many who find the Word interesting, maybe even noteworthy, but it fails to make a permanent impression. That wasn't the case with Josiah.
- When Shaphan began reading it, the King's expressions certainly began to tell the story and when he had finished listening, Shaphan knew he had missed the boat by a mile!
- The King tore his clothes in shock, in mourning and in great distress! What a difference a man devoted to God makes! Josiah has already been seeking the God of David.
- He has already been walking in the ways of his descendant. When he hears the word of God, He responds with personal responsibility. He is wounded by these things. He is cut to the heart!
- I shudder to think of the people who read or hear the word like Shaphan did and I pray for more people who read and hear it like King Josiah!
- Shaphan discerned that Hilkiah found "a book" and treated it as such. Josiah saw it as "the book" and treated it as such by his response. Shaphan was intriqued. Josiah was in awe.
- Shaphan seems as if he didn't even want to bother the King with it. The King stopped all  other business to address the Bible's concerns!
- From his torn and raw emotional state, the King hurriedly commands his men to find out what God's Word is for his people! II Chronicles 34:14 identifies this with the Torah.
- If he has just finished Deuteronomy, he knows that he is living in a time of great trouble!
- He understands that what he has read has implications for him as the King, for the people of God and for the nation as it stood! The King is a wise person because of his concern for God's Word!
- He believes that it is from God and the contents are directions for life. He has just read that there are rewards for following it and consequences for ignoring it!
- He wants to discover how he should act now. God cannot be pleased with his nation! They have neither obeyed in spirit, nor performed in action, the things that were written concerning them.
- Josiah needs to know what to do now and the men seem to know where to go! Verse 14.
II Kings 22:14-17 : " So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. " : The King's entourage, led by the High Priest, made their way to meet with Huldah the prophetess.
- Being a "prophetess" was how she served the Lord's interests. She spoke forth His truth, as much as any man could do. God's gifts are not restricted to a certain sex or nationality.
- When the time was right to discover what God was saying to the nation, God's providence demanded that Huldah be the one that stood up to deliver it! How did they come to her?
- As I've mentioned, Jeremiah was beginning to prophecy, as was Zephaniah. But this woman had some other ties to the government, being that her husband was the keeper of the wardrobe.
- He was the guardian of the King's royal clothing, meaning that he had charge of maintaining and altering it as needed. Notice also that she is local. She lived right there in Jerusalem.
- The fact that she lived in the "second quarter" indicates that she is a member of the working class, the blue collar crew. The fact that they came to her means that she was regarded for her gift.
- I wonder if you might consider this with regard to where you are and what you do. You might not have the eloquence of Jeremiah or the wisdom of Zephaniah.
- You might not have their breadth of ministry or their profile. But you are always around and you are accessible to the people in your life who need to hear what God would have them do!
- Never despise being faithful and loyal to God in the "small things" of life! There are a few who may reach a nation like Jeremiah. More of us will be like Huldah!
- She didn't disappoint! She was probably ready to respond before they finished speaking!
II Kings 22:15-17 : " Then she said to them, 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 'Thus says the Lord : ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read— because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’ " : Her message is not initially what they want to hear but it is from the Lord!
- God has determined that Jerusalem and it's inhabitants are living on borrowed time. God was going to bring calamity, evil upon Judah. The case has been made.
- Judah had put God behind their back. The NLT uses the more direct word, "abandoned."
- It would be one thing to leave a god from another nation who couldn't stand before Yahweh.
- The people of Israel left the Living God to worship gods that were the works of their own hands! Ultimately that is what everyone who abandons God abandons Him for!
- Huldah's statement is reminiscent of what Isaiahsays regarding idols in Isaiah 44-46. Their preference toward these self-made images has caused the Lord to become angry.
- Because of that, His wrath upon the city won't be abated. This is bad news, but there is a glimmer of hope. Verse 18.
II Kings 22:18-20 : " But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord , in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Concerning the words which you have heard— because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the Lord . 'Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.' So they brought back word to the king. " : For all that has been decreed by the Lord against Judah, there was a more mild response toward her King.
- God will not relent from His determination to judge the nation, but He will delay it for his sake. Huldah assures the King that God will treat him differently. Why was it so?
- The people of God had consistently provoked the Lord to anger and had ignored every disciplinary act that He had sent their way.
- In contrast, Josiah heard the Word on a single day and tore his clothes! God will always rush to bless the humble in heart the moment they turn toward Him!
- God diagnoses Josiah's heart as "tender" toward what he had heard. The word refers to a softened condition.Other translations get at the concept, when they offer up the word "sensitive."
- Josiah's heart was sensitive to God's word. Would that describe you? When you are confronted by the truth of God's Word and you realize that your actions are contrary to it, who wins?
- When there is a clear command that cannot be denied, is it acknowledged and repented of or is it swept under the rug?
- Josiah was sensitive in acknowledging God's Word and then humbled himself by tearing his clothes and weeping before the Lord! What a beautiful picture!
- This is the type of person who can expect to hear and see that God had heard them!
- Because of that, Josiah could know that he would die without seeing what he knew was coming. He wouldn't experience calamity and Judah would be safe in his days!
- This doesn't mean that he won't die prematurely, which he will. This just means that God will spare him from seeing what He was going to bring upon the nation of Judah.
- What did Josiah do in response to God's Word? We'll fnd the answer in chapter 23.
II Kings 23:1-3 : " Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord . Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord , to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant. " : The King gathered the elders to himself. They all went to the temple complex together. The priests, the prophets, the people. Nobody was excluded.
- Can you imagine the curious excitement that filled the air? In all the time that we have been studying the Kings, can you recall any time that a King called this kind of assembly?
- The only other time that I can recall harkens back to when Solomon dedicated the Temple!
- When everyone was assembled, the King read to the people what he had only read recently. He read all of the words to them. He didn't skip any parts or present things in the most positive light.
- He read all of God's Word! You wonder how many had ever heard any part of it!?
- After he read to them, he was the first to show the people that he was committed to what had been read. He would follow the Lord.
- Because Josiah is the King, the implication is that the nation will also be committed nationally to follow the Lord by keeping His commands, testimonies and statutes.
- They will not follow with their hearts. They will be obligated to follow because the King said so! That is what a person in authority does. Josiah says, "This is my Kingdom. God will be honored!"
- His position reminds me of Joshua, who looked at Israel and said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" (Joshua 24:15)
- That is the effect of a godly person who has let the Word do it's work in their souls: Their sphere of influence will be dominated by the presence of God!
- Josiah looks at the Bible and sees God's decrees, His commands that must be followed. He hears His testimonies, God's truths for life.
- Josiah understands His statutes are the ways of the Lord that he must walk in! Josiah wasn't just giving lipservice to this. He gave his whole being to it!
- When he stood there before the people, it was his desire to follow the Lord with everything that he was. He was going to live this covenant and the people stood with him.
- They were excited about following the Lord with the King, but something had to be done first before that could take place. We'll talk about that next week.
Conclusion
- The wheels of revival begin to turn when God's people discover His Word. When a person is sensitive to it and seeks it's priority, God responds.
- When a person sees his responsibility to it and moves in humility to see it enacted in his life, the power of God is flowing.
- When he asserts it's authority over his domain, lives are spared! Judgment may be inevitable, but when the Word of God takes hold of enough lives, God delays for their sakes.
- God is ever wanting to preserve His people through His Word. It is more than "a book." It is our life! Let's pray!

October 16 2017

04:24

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 21)

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“Kings And Foxhole Confessions” • 10.15.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Hezekiah's fifteen years of grace are over. Those weren't his best years spiritually, as evidenced by his self-centered tour offered to the Babylonians or his lack of prayer at Isaiah's word.
- These were the years that his son was being raised in. How might that have affected him? Let's have a look at Hezekiah's son, Manasseh.
Text
II Kings 21:1 : " Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. " : The new King of Judah is only 12 years old when he assumes the throne. Puberty in authority!
- He will reign in Judah until he is a Senior citizen at 67 years old. In an ironic turn, Manasseh's name means "one who forgets." We use that word to describe our failure to remember.
- The Bible often employs this word to describe a decision to reject something, to walk away from it. That will be a bit of an understatement! Verse 2.
II Kings 21:2,3 : " And he did evil in the sight of the Lord , according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image,as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heavenand served them. " : When the author needs a point of reference for comparitive evil, he calls to mind the original inhabitants of the land!
- God told Israel that He had cast them out the "ites" because of their wickedness in Deuteronomy 9:4,5. How could Manasseh bring Judah back to such an abominable place?
- He accomplished this by reversing all of Hezekiah's previous reforms. The high places were back in business. Altars for Baal were erected once again.
- He commissioned a wooden image, an Asherah, to be constructed. These were monuments to open sexual expression which darted the land of Israel during Ahab's time.
- Think about that: Manasseh's reign is associated with the Canaanites and with Ahab! That is some really bad company! But he even managed to outperform them!
- He worshipped all the host of heaven and served them. Jeremiah will begin his prophetic career during the next King's reign.
- In Jeremiah 7:17,18, the prophet declares that the people made cakes for the "Queen of Heaven." Later, in Jeremiah 44, the prevailing wisdom of the age exposed itself.
- The women who listened to Jeremiah decry the false worship of the Queen of Heaven remarked that Judah's demise occurred after they stopped offering to her!
- The seeds of that idolatry began right here when Manasseh opened the door for Judah's eventual fall. But Manasseh didn't stop there. Verse 4.
II Kings 21:4,5 : " He also built altars in the house of the Lord , of which the Lord had said, 'In Jerusalem I will put My name.' And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord . " : He built altars in the house of the Lord, in the very temple, not to the Lord, but to these false gods!
- The author is simply stunned! "He did this where God said He would put His Name!" The world would know of Israel's exclusive relationship to God through the Temple.
- Manasseh marred that image, building the altars in and around the Temple complex. Wherever you looked, you saw the altars of false gods sharing space with the God of the Universe!
- That is an utter contradiction! God will not share His space with any false god, but Manasseh forced the issue. How many believe that they can do the same?
- You cannot worship God and your favorite idol. God will not share what is rightfully His! We want to believe that this is a possibility, but God doesn't do co-habitation or offer time shares!
- Verses 2-5 represent Manasseh's false religious revival, which had been practiced widely in Israel before. Verse 6  and following might have been considered new depths of depravity.
II Kings 21:6-9 : " Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord , to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image of Asherahthat he had made, in the house of which the Lord had said to David and to Solomon his son, 'In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers—only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them' But they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. " : Making his son pass through the fire, refers to the sacrifice of his living child, which was the chief practice of Molech worship.
- What more could he have done? Look at this list. He was spiritually insatiable!
- He practiced occultism and sought out spiritists and mediums. This covered everything from astrology to drug induced hallucination. Manasseh opened every door that was presented to him.
- He went so far as to produce an Asherah pole that was set up in the very temple of God! Asherah "worship" was performed by ritual prostitution. Manasseh turned the Temple into a brothel!
- When a person rejects the truth of God and accepts a lie, they are open to anything and everything. Manasseh is a man who is a bottomless spiritual pit because of rejection of God.
- And here is the critical information that he was overlooking: Judah was only allowed to remain in Jerusalem under certain conditions. His idolatry would not come without a hefty price!
- The author quotes from an unknown source, though the sentiment is contained in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. This exact statement however, was given to David and Solomon.
- It may be a widely known set of statements that were orally transmitted, but not written.
- Consider what God was telling them. They had spent years wandering, being led from location to location, but never able to permanently settle.
- By David and Solomon's time, they had settled and God promised that they would never have to wander again on the condition that they obeyed the commands of Moses.
- "Only if they are careful." The word speaks generally of listening, but carries the meaning of guarding something precious. What did they do? Listen to the next words.
- "But they paid no attention!" The NLT prefers the translation, "But the people refused to listen." Judah's spiritual decline wasn't just Manasseh's fault.
- Manasseh could never have stayed in power had the people of God acted as they were supposed to. Manasseh succeeded because the people wanted to live in idolatry!
- Manasseh was their leader, but the people were excellent followers! They had the Word of God, but they chose to forget it as well!
- They knew that their safety, their growth, their stability was based upon their obedience, but they made their choice. It's baffling but unfortunately all too common.
- God's people today are powerless, not for a lack of knowledge, but for a lack of concern!
- They are happy with "high place" Christianity, which is self-absorbed individualism that requires only what they are willing to sacrifice to God, ignoring the command to love others and Him.
- When the King found nobody to push him back, he seduced the children of Judah to do more wickedness than any of the nations that God had kicked out!
- Judah exceeded the wickedness of the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites! What an indictment! To some extent, it would be fair to say that they did even worse.
- The Canaanites were not covenant nations. They had never been delivered by the God of Israel. They had not been given Israel's laws.
- To our knowledge, they didn't have great moral leaders like Moses, Joshua, Samuel or David.
- No, Judah's folly is far worse because their fall was from a greater height! And yet, once again, God didn't let their past teachers stand alone. He sent more servants! Verse 10.
II Kings 21:10-15 : " And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying,   'Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols),   therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.’' " : God has taken credit for talking to Judah through His Word, through Moses and here, through His servants the Prophets!
- Imagine the difficulty that their job entailed! They had to speak out against the King of Judah! What we have before us is the substance of their divinely inspired rebuke.
- Manasseh established a new spiritual low. Consequently, what he was about to hear would be unthinkable! "Their ears will tingle!" The idea comes from vibration, a shuddering.
- What they hear will cause them to shudder in terror! God was going to employ the same standard of judgment that he used with Samaria and the house of Ahab!
- Both of those standards called for a complete wiping away of the respective houses!
- God was going to allow them to fall before their enemies because of all that they had done, from the first day to this very day!
- As you listen to that, consider the truth of Israel's existence in the land. Their distinction as having been "God's people" has never been denied here.
- Yet, as we have studied and as God testifies Himself, they are God's people not by virtue of their own righteous character or their ability to follow His law.
- They are God's people by His choosing of them. Their record, according to this verse, according to the history that we have taken time to study, has been tenuous from the very beginning!
- Certainly, there have been stand out personalities and men that have held a Godly line in their days, but the people had provoked God to anger since day one! What has kept them?
- God's patient lovingkindness and mercy! Never forget that! It is the same virtue that covers you by virtue of the blood of a better covenant! Back to Manasseh. Verse 16.
II Kings 21:16 : " Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord . " : Man, there is a moreover!? Additional to what we have already seen, Manasseh shed an enormous amount of innocent blood!
- Given it's proximity to the announcement of God's prophetic program, we can deduce that the author refers to the murder of those that opposed his religious beliefs.
- In fact, Jewish tradition holds Manasseh responsible for the execution of Isaiah the Prophet.
- There isn't consensus as to the particulars, but tradition has it that Isaiah hid from Manasseh in a cedar tree. When Isaiah's position was discovered, Manasseh order the tree cut down.
- Hebrews 11:37 mentions servants that were sawn in two. Isaiah might have been one of many that endured the same fate.
- Every prophetic voice from one end of Jerusalem to the other was silenced by Manasseh's tyranny! The land that belonged to the Lord was no longer safe for those that would speak for Him!
- At this point, I'd ask you to turn over to II Chronicles 33. Manasseh has ignored every one of God's divine measures of discipline. As a measure of last resort, God allowed a more dire action.
II Chronicles 33:10,11 : " And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. " : Hezekiah's latter reign was free from the Assyrians, but God brought them up again to deal with his son.
- God made every attempt to speak to Manasseh, to reason with him, to offer him the chance at repentance, but neither he nor the people would listen!
- God's patience and kindness is always His first line of attack! His inaction is not impotence or indifference! It is loving and hopeful! Amazingly, there are some that out last His initial lovingkindness!
- Manasseh would choose the hard way at the hands of Assyria. The KJV tells us that they took him among the thorns, which the NKJV interprets as hooks.
- It is possible that Manasseh hid himself among the thorns AND that the Assyrians put their nose hooks in him and led him away to Babylon. That was standard procedure and a great picture!
- How many have chosen a life of sin and found themselves hiding, but in a place of self-induced pain, only to be led out into greater pain than what they went in with!?
- At this time, Assyria, though waning in power, still had control over Babylon. Esarhaddon was the only Assyrian King to act as governor of Babylon. That was where Manasseh was headed.
- For years, this was a stumbling block to scholars who considered this an error. That is until the Essarhaddon prism was discovered, which mentions Manasseh by name!
- Manasseh was one of 22 Kings from the region that had been carted off to Babylon. According to the prism, they were Esarhaddon's palace work detail.
- This was the lowest moment in any of the lives of David's descendants. Gratefully, Manasseh had the right response! Verse 12.
II Chronicles 33:12,13 : " Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. " : Manasseh was in "great distress." The word refers to being in a narrow and cramped place. It was at that time, that he turned to God for help. He "implored" the Lord his God.
- He called out to the Lord and kept bowing his knee before the God of his Fathers.
- He called upon the heritage that he had once dismissed in the favor of idolatry. He invoked the covenant that God had made with the people of Israel, that he had broken.
- His actions are reflective of what Solomon had prayed at the dedication of the Temple three hundred years earlier in I Kings 8:46-50.
- When a person was carried captive for their sins, if while in captivity, they return to God, Solomon called upon God to respond. When Manasseh took God at His Word, He responded!
- God listened to his prayers, revealing this by allowing him to return to his Kingdom from the land of Babylon. This was the proof that finally convinced Manasseh!
- The NLT puts verse 13 like this: "Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!" This is what it took for Manasseh to turn his life to God.
- We might say that one could do things the "easy way." One could hear the gospel for the first time and realize that the Lord Jesus is the only true way to God the Father.
- They could simply acknowledge that fact, repent from their sins and begin a life of devotion to Jesus Christ. Or, they could do things the Manasseh way.
- Manasseh turned his back on the rich heritage that was given to him, preferring instead to indulge his flesh through idolatry.
- He ignored every other disciplinary tactic and was consigned to a life that suddenly dropped out from underneath him. At his most desperate moment, he turned his face to God.
- It works, but there is a lot of life that is lost in the process! I pray that you or the ones you love won't have to follow the Manasseh way.
- The good news of course, is that God still hears those in the deepest, darkest places and He is as much the Savior there, as He is anywhere else!
- Manasseh is free. He has had a "jailhouse conversion." What fruit will that produce? Will he return to his old ways or will he forge a new path? Verse 14.
II Chronicles 33:14-16 : " After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord , and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the Lord , sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. " : Upon his return, Manasseh looked at his Kingdom with a greater sense of honor.
- He built up the city's defenses in all directions and put the military into their stations.
- That was important for the nation, but not as important as what he did next. He took away the foreign gods and idols from the house of the Lord. Essentially, he reversed all of his previous actions.
- He repaired the altar of the Lord, made sacrifice and commanded Judah to follow suit!
- Manasseh didn't just mouth a few words and walk back to Jerusalem ready to re-engage his old life. He proved the validity of his confession by the priority of his actions!
- This is an excellent picture of true repentance! Repentance begins with an acknowledgment of one's sins. Generally, there is an outpouring of emotion as one understands the depth of sin.
- Next comes the determination to make a break from the attitude or action that caused the sin to flourish. From there, regardless of the cost, the person who is repenting acts to reverse his way!
- He went back determined to be as influential in his allegiance to God, as he had previously been to the idols he had followed! This brings us back to II Kings 21:17.
II Kings 21:17,18 : " Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh—all that he did, and the sin that he committed—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Manasseh rested with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza. Then his son Amon reigned in his place. " : Manasseh began horribly, but ended wonderfully. I can't help by think that Hezekiah's final prideful years contributed to those early years of Manasseh's failure.
- It may also be that Manasseh's late return proved to be too little to late at least for his own son Amon who ascended the throne after him. Verse 19.
II Kings 21:19-23 : " Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. And he did evil in the sight of the L ord , as his father Manasseh had done. So he walked in all the ways that his father had walked; and he served the idols that his father had served, and worshiped them. He forsook the L ord God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the L ord . " : Amon's reign was only two years long and they were filled with evil that was reminiscent of Manasseh's early days.
- Unlike Manasseh, there is no "missing part." In fact, the author of II Chronicles can only add that he transgressed more and more! (II Chronicles 33:23)
- Manasseh's example led Amon to follow in his old ways. Thankfully, the people of God made a different choice. Verse 23.
II Kings 21:24,25 : " Then his servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house. But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon. Then the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place. " : Historically, this conspiracy might have been connected to the shifting geopolitical landscape. Some believed in Assyria, others in Egypt's Pharaoh.
- Ultimately, it seems that Manasseh's influence upon the people bore fruit. Having had a taste of the goodness related to their revival, they couldn't stomach another return to idolatry.
- We certainly can't endorse the way they went about it, but when the smoke cleared, God gave them a King that would match their heart's desire for righteousness in King Josiah.
Conclusion
- When Manasseh forgot the Lord, he opened every spiritual door and found himself among the thorns, hooked by his own devices. When he was in captivity, God set him free.
- That story is a reminder that there isn't a life that is too lost that God cannot find!

October 09 2017

21:23

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 20)

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“Kings And The Pride Of Life” • 10.8.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The city of Jerusalem has been miraculously relieved once again. Assyria has been expelled and life is slowly returning to normal.
- Now that the action is over, the author takes some time to explain what had transpired in the royal palace. The first half of our text takes place prior to Assyria's first appearance in Judah
- The final portion will relate to what happened after Judah's deliverance. In this chapter, you and I will see the contrast between a desperate King and a delivered King. Verse 1.
Text
II Kings 20:1-3 : " In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, 'Thus says the Lord : ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord , saying, 'Remember now, O Lord , I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly. " : Hezekiah had taken ill and over time, it went from bad to worse. Soon, the King was at death's door.
- He's has the most resource, he's quite close to the Lord, but there was nothing anyone could do for him. Isaiah came to visit and confirmed that he would "die and not live."
- Before we move on, it's not likely, especially given what we are about to see, that Hezekiah expected this kind of message from the prophet. It's direct and it's decidely not good.
- I've never been on the receiving end of such a message, but I can imagine my heart dropping and my face draining of color. How would you feel? What would be your response?
- Hezekiah hears the prophet's prognosis and turns away toward the wall. He's not pouting, nor is he angry with Isaiah. He turns toward the wall to begin a conversation with the Lord.
- When you and I are facing our greatest trials, it is our great privilege to come into the very throne of grace to find our help! We are wired to turn to Him in that moment.
- When the King's words are spoken, they sound a bit out of place to us. We read this and think that he is bragging. Actually, he is giving a fairly accurate assessment of his own record.
- He's not claiming perfection. He's stating that he had lived according to the covenant that God had made with His people Israel.
- "I've been faithful to you Lord! My heart has been completely yours. I've done what was good in your sight." Hezekiah is not ready to die. He wants to live and not die!
- Part of his angst could be related to the fact that Josephus mentions his lack of children.
- As a King of Judah, a descendant of King David and a predecessor to the Messiah, there is certainly still work to do!
- As he continues to think about his situation, he just breaks down, weeping uncontrollably. Only a few minutes have passed. We catch Isaiah out in the foyer. Verse 4.
II Kings 20:4-6 : " And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord , the God of David your father: 'I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord . And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.' "
- I'm pretty sure that this was a rare occurrence for Isaiah. He had to come back to Hezekiah to reverse his previous message! "Aw c'mon Lord! I was just there!"
- Delivering news of death isn't any fun for anyone! I'm sure that Isaiah was happy to return to Hezekiah's chamber with this word from the Lord! Consider this message.
- God says, "I have heard your prayer." Hezekiah had just offered it! God hears the prayers of His people! It's not a worthless exercise. It is an open invitation to fellowship with God Almighty!
- God had seen Hezekiah's tears. He knows His people's pain. He sees our struggles. He takes notice. In Hezekiah's case, God was going to choose to physically heal him.
- There are times today when God makes the same decision. Isaiah tells him that he'll be back in the house of the Lord in three days.
- However long Hezekiah had been sick, being near the Lord in His Temple, had been the King's greatest loss. This is incredibly interesting.
- Hezekiah has access to a Prophet. He has his times of intense prayer. But the true person of God longs to be in the presence of God when the people of God are present as well!
- There is something that happens corporately, publically that cannot be replicated individually, privately! God's response to Hezekiah indicates that he longed to be in God's presence.
- Truly, that is an indicator of one's maturity in Christ. The greater the maturity, the more steady the commitment to God's presence and Word. At this point, one might have been happy to stop.
- God will heal and Hezekiah will be able to resume his regular routines. This is when God drops a special note in his box. "You have 15 years!"
- What would you do if you knew you had 15 years of life left? I'm not sure I'd like to know!
- As we progress through Hezekiah's life, we might see evidence that this was part of a test.
- In any event, verse 6 is the indicator of when this took place. These are the same words that God used before taking action against Assyria.
- He is not acting on Hezekiah's part per se, but for the honor of His own Name and His promise to David. Verse 7.
II Kings 20:7-11 : " Then Isaiah said, 'Take a lump of figs.' So they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day?' Then Isaiah said, 'This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?' And Hezekiah answered, 'It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.' So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz. " : Isaiah says, "God's gonna heal you!" then yells, "Someone get me some figs!"
- Our homeopathic friends are currently beaming with pride! "See, even God endorses natural methods!" Yes, Jesus Himself once even used mud!
- Isaiah asks for a fig poultice to be made, which when heated, would cause the blood flow to increase in a given area, thus speeding the healing necessary.
- God's heals instantaneously, through the practice of medicine and through the process of time. He's not confined to any one method.
- Hezekiah recovered from the pain of the boil but still wanted a sign of his complete recovery.
- From where they were sitting, the sundial of Ahaz was visible. Some believe it be a large outdoor edifice shaped like a staircase. Isaiah asks Hezekiah if he'd like to see it's shadow move.
- "Pick a direction and the Lord will move it ten degrees." Hezekiah won't be satisfied to see it move in the normal direction. That's where it would be going anyway. "Let's have it go backward!"
- Isaiah prayed and that's what took place. What a gracious God to meet Hezekiah in that way! That's the story, but how did this happen? There are a few very interesting theories available.
- One suggests that a large celestial body passed by our planet, causing it's rotation to reverse. I read of another account in which Chinese astronomers witnessed a double sunset!
- The Bible tells us that the shadow receded. Could it be that God merely allowed a tiny bit of His own Shekinah glory to shine over the stair case?
- The point is that while there may be a natural explanation, it is a "super"natural God that we believe in!
- When you are dealing with miraculous intervention, a belief that begins with Genesis 1:1, all that needs to be said is that God did this! Hezekiah didn't even ask! He just poured out his praise!
- Isaiah 38:10-20 gives an account of Hezekiah's response. Listen to verses 17-20.
Isaiah 38:17-20 : " Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, As I do this day; The father shall make known Your truth to the children. The Lord was ready to save me; Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the house of the Lord.' " : What fitting praise! What wonderful words! "You have cast all my sins behind your back!" How true for Hezekiah! How much more true for those of us in Christ!
- God healed Hezekiah and revealed a sign to him, which issued in praise, but the effect upon him seems to have been temporary.
II Chronicles 32:25 (NLT) : " But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. " : Hezekiah did not respond appropriately. Yes, he said the right words. He believed them when he said them.
- However, after the fact, he began to see things differently and the conditions were such that the temptation was rather high.
- He was highly favored of God and he was greatly enriched by men after God dealt with Assyria via "Project Angel One!"
- II Chronicles 32:23 speaks of men bringing great gifts to him so that he was exalted in the sight of the nations. Verses 27 through 29 detail the riches that were at his disposal.
- This is the backdrop to what we are about to see next: Judah has been delivered, Hezekiah has been healed, the nations are singing the King's praises and some visitors arrive. Verse 12.
II Kings 20:12 : " At that time Berodach-Baladanthe son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. " : The name of the King of Babylon is Merodach-Baladin. At this time, he has returned to the throne of Babylon after years of exile due to Assyria's dominance over Babylon.
- The geo-political tide is beginning to turn and Babylon will be the apex predator. At this moment though, they are searching for ways to turn the tide.
- There are obvious gestures of good will, but there is a greater hint at a desired alliance between the two countries who have a vested interest in Assyria's fall.
- Why would Babylon be so interested? Given what you know how could they not be!? The author of II Chroniclesexplains.
II Chronicles 32:31 : " However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. " : For all that Babylon knew, Judah had defeated an army of 185,000 Assyrian men! They wanted to know how this had taken place and used Hezekiah's recent illness as pretext!
- At the same time, God used this occasion to test Hezekiah's heart. He stepped back from him momentarily to reveal all that was in his heart.
- Think about that statement: God left him for a second to see what the King would do! That's incredible! Hezekiah revealed quite a bit! Verse 13.
II Kings 20:13 : " And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and allhis armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. " : Hezekiah welcomed his Babylonian guests and gave them a personal tour of the Palace complex.
- The fact that he was personally attentive to them speaks to the King's great desire to impress. He wasn't discreet. He wasn't guarded in any way. He should have been.
- The force of the text indicates that he was the initiator. He kept opening new rooms and telling them, "Oh wait, you've got to see this!" They were only as interested as he was to continue!
- The occasion is there, but if the question pertains to how Judah overcame Assyria, the answer from Hezekiah is related to his wealth. This becomes a bit more clear in verse 14.
II Kings 20:14,15 : " Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, 'What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?' So Hezekiah said, 'They came from a far country, from Babylon.' And he said, 'What have they seen in your house?' So Hezekiah answered, 'They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.' " :
- Isaiah is curious about what had gone on between the King and the foreign envoy. Hezekiah's answer indicates that he felt no threat.
- "They came from a far country, from Babylon." They're not from around here. They are not big enough yet to be much of a threat. Isaiah continues his query. "What did they see?"
- At this point, I imagine the prophet wanting to hear what we would have all wished to hear. "They saw the Temple and the presence of God which resides over Judah!"
- How refreshing would it have been to hear that they heard a true report of Hezekiah's prayer and God's great angelic deliverance that could only have come by His mercy!
- Instead, they saw all that was in "my house." They saw "my treasures." The King's heart is completely puffed up in pride!
- People are looking for the reason why your marriage is a success. They want to know why you are such a joy to work with on Monday mornings.
- They want to know why you aren't caught up in the office gossip and why you never order drinks, cuss or cut out early from work!
- When they ask, are you ready to answer, "I live this way because of my love for Jesus Christ, whose Spirit empowers me to act in the way that you see me?"
- Please don't let your answer betray that you think it's all because of you! Don't point to your disciplined sleep schedule or vitamin intake! Show them the true treasure! Isaiah is disappointed too.
II Kings 20:16-18 : " Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, 'Hear the word of the Lord : ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord . ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ " : "Hear the word of the Lord!" Here comes the rebuke.
- What a jarring prophecy to hear!? Babylon, represented by the "friends" that have just left, will one day be responsible for sacking the city of Jerusalem!
- Everything that they had been shown would eventually be in their possession! Everything that belonged to Hezekiah in Jerusalem would be stored in Babylon!
- You and I are only pages away from the account of Babylon's full strength. At this moment, they are still fighting for survival against the Assyrians.
- They are about a century away from rising to the peak of their power. To hear that they would be the ones that would overtake Judah, was at this time, unthinkable! Yet it was true.
- And here was the worst of the news. Hezekiah's pride would issue in a loss of materials, which is often the case. Worse yet, was the loss of people!
- His pride would cost Judah some of his own descendants, that he would beget! Remember the comments of Josephus? According to him, Hezekiah had been childless.
- The historian comments that he was childless at the time of his illness. Now, he has fifteen years left and he gambled part of it away for the sake of his pride!
- His own precious descendants, the ones that carried on the promise of God's Messiah, were going to be taken into captivity! What was Hezekiah's response? Verse 19.
II Kings 20:19 : " So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!' For he said, 'Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?' " : Hezekiah's attitude is puzzling. The word of the Lord is good. What does he mean? Does this intone an agreement? Does this refer to his surrender to God's will in it?
- Either way, it doesn't really set well with me, given the fact that he prayed with great fervor when his Kingdom and his own life were at stake!
- He had gone before the Lord with all of his heart to keep the Assyrians from their invasion. His prayer was a model prayer for us.
- When he was told that he was going to "die and not live," he faced the wall and went into the proverbial throne of grace! Here he is simply resigned to the facts of Babylon's invasion.
- He's not particularly moved by what will happen to God's city. He's just content with the fact that it won't take place during his reign.
- "My pride is killing my children's chances at having the full experience of a godly life. Well, at least I'm good!" Keep his attitude in mind when you think about his son next week. Verse 20.
II Kings 20:20,21 : " Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Hezekiah rested with his fathers. Then Manasseh his son reigned in his place. " : We don't have the book that's mentioned here, but Hezekiah's tunnel is a feat of engineering legend.
- Two teams began digging at opposite ends of solid bedrock. One team began at the Gihon spring where the water originated outside the city, the other at what is known as the pool of Siloam.
- Both teams began to dig what would become a 1,814 ft tunnel between the two points.
- Experts suggest that they used soundings to continually mark their way.
- Without modern machinery or technology, the two teams met in the middle, where you can to this day see the markings contrast each other on the wall.
- This is how the end of his story went? If what can be said about you is limited to the work you did and the stuff you had, it will be sad!
- Wouldn't you have wished to hear this instead: Hezekiah spent every last bit of his resource into the spiritual education of his nation and his son.
- Wouldn't you like to hear that Hezekiah wrote sweeping reforms against idolatry and introduced further reasons to celebrate God's deliverance from the Assyrians?
- What if he had authored a book telling of the good that God had done for him, the mercy that he was shown, when he was helpless in his health and overwhelmed by his enemies?
- That would have been a great epithet. Instead, we have a disappointing end to an otherwise great King and a far more disappointing descendant in his son Manasseh, who we'll meet next week.
Conclusion
- Hezekiah began this chapter in a sick bed, unwilling to accept Isaiah's prophecy. He turned toward the wall and petitioned the throne.
- At the end, in his greatest time of prosperity, he accepts Isaiah's prophecy without so much as a prayer for his descendants!
- You and I are not promised an amount of years. We have this life to live before God and to help establish a foundation for our kids to live on spiritually.
- Which part of Hezekiah's life best describes you? Are you unwilling to yield? Are you pressing forward, delighting in God's presence? Or are you just hoping that things will be good in your day?
- I pray that this challenges you, especially you who have greater promises and a greater person who is owed God's favor, Jesus Christ.
- Because of His faithfulness, God promises that He will never leave or forsake us. How will we respond? Will we pray like a desperate King or a delivered King? I pray it will be the former.

October 02 2017

05:19

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 19)

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Audio Access Available Above
“Kings And Blessed Deliverance” • 10.1.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The Assyrian army has come into the land of Judah. They have sacked the outlying fortified cities and now sit opposite of the wall of Jerusalem.
- There are three prominent military officials that are seeking to negotiate Judah's surrender. They are breathing out threats, running down their victories, filling the ears of Judah's men with fear.
- Hezekiah's men have asked that the Rabshakeh speak only in a language that they could hear, but he only speaks louder.
- When his message is finished, the men return with their clothes torn and relay the message to the King. What would you do in his position?
- What will you do when the enemy tells you of your own defeat spiritually? When he runs down a list of casualties that you know exist? Let us learn from King Hezekiah. Verse 1.
Text
II Kings 19:1-5 : " And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord . Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. And they said to him, 'Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’ So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. " : Hezekiah is at his lowest point emotionally and professionally. His men have returned from the frontlines and their report is not good.
- Hezekiah tore his royal robes and replaced them with sackcloth. This is a symbol both of mourning and outrage. The King is powerless to do anything about this.
- Where is a King supposed to go at this time? Other Kings, like David, put on their own armor and led their troops. Some would gather their military commanders and begin strategizing a defense.
- Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord! He knew that this was the only place to be.
- Notice that he doesn't take sackloth off. He isn't interested in hiding his feelings or presenting some phony emotional pallete. He goes in just as he is!
- Why do we feel the need to camoflauge our true feelings before the Lord and to some extent, before His people? Hezekiah wasn't going to pretend or hide anything.
- He went into the outer court. Remember that he refurbished and repopulated the temple complex in the first month of his reign. His investment pays off in spades!
- He knows where to go and he knows who he needs to talk to. He sends a message to the prophet that he no doubt grew up listening to.
- He tells Isaiah that a day of great difficulty has come upon them. It's comparable to a woman's extremely difficult labor. The woman is ready to give birth but doesn't have strength to push.
- The mother and the baby are in danger of losing their lives! Could it be that the Rabshakeh's  words will come true? Will God allow that? He doesn't see any other true possiblity.
- "Isaiah, pray for those that survive this!" The King is resigned to what he believes is his nation's fate. Isaiah has something much better for him to hear. Verse 6.
II Kings 19:6,7 : " And Isaiah said to them, 'Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord : 'Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.' " : Hezekiah was down to a few choices and none of them were good. Thankfully, God is good at introducing new choices!
- The King of Judah wouldn't have to fight a hopeless battle. He wouldn't be forced to surrender to this vicious foe. God would simply cause the King of Assyria to choose a different battle!
- I've found myself calling upon God to do this very thing for friends of mine who have been in "no-win" situations. It comforts me that God isn't confined to accepting our conditions!
- In this case, God would simply introduce a rumor that would compel the King of Assyria to go back to his own land. Eventually, God will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
- That part will come at the end of the story. For now, the rumor was going to be more powerful than the sword. Verse 8.
II Kings 19:8-13 : " Then the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish. And the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, 'Look, he has come out to make war with you.' So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 'Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, 'Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.' Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?’ " : The Rabshakeh returned from Jerusalem to Lachish only to discover his boss had gone out to fight against the King of Ethiopia. Isaiah 37:9 tells us that Hezekiah heard about it to.
- Can you imagine the encouragement that he received from this news? Have you been there?
- Any ray of sunshine is welcomed in the midst of a difficult storm! It's wonderful to breathe in a sigh of relief. The enemy will make sure that that feeling doesn't last long!
- Before the King leaves, he re-sends his previous message, hoping to reset his previous stance of intimidation! "The facts haven't changed! Don't let your God deceive you!"
- The message is that He is not working on His behalf. He is not orchestrating events. He is not to be trusted. Don't play the fool, Hezekiah! Some of us give up at this point. Not him! Verse 14.
II Kings 19:14-15a : " And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord , and spread it before the Lord . Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord , and said: " : Hezekiah received the threatening, fear inspiring letter and read it. "God, I thought you had this?"
- Haven't you been there before? Instead of being put off by that, he went directly to the house of the Lord. He didn't waste any time.
- He didn't reason that he had "already done that." Nor did he dismiss the activity as something that he "tried, but that obviously had seen it fail!" He became a fixture at the temple!
- I've seen people act this way most of my Christian life. When trouble comes, all of a sudden, you see them at everything. That's a good thing.
- What's much better is when a Christian remains in fellowship and is always present! Those people seem to have far fewer calamities and are far less impacted when they inevitably come!
- Hezekiah's example here is vital: If help is going to be found, it won't be found in a military meeting or in a financial institution. It will be found in the presence of God!
- Your help will be found in His presence, among His people and by His Word!
- When Hezekiah arrived, he took the Assyrian's scroll and spread it out before the Lord. He says, "Lord, look what just came for you!"
- In a very real sense, because God is Father to those that have believed upon Christ, He takes upon Himself the responsibility to meet His children's needs.
- In reality, this letter truly shows that the Assyrian is picking a fight with Hezekiah's God! This was the right place to bring that correspondance. His prayer at that point is enlightening.
- What is your perspective when you get a troubling letter or have an overwhelming need? - From my own experience, I tend to look at the size of the difficulty, the expense related to the trouble or the time that will be taken by what is before me.
- Generally, that can cause my prayers to begin from the perspective of the issue at hand. Hezekiah doesn't begin his prayer with the problem. He begins with the person of God! Verse 15.
II Kings 19:15b-19 : " Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord , and said: 'O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord , and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord , and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, Lord , the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.' " : Hezekiah begins his prayer by acknowledging who he is praying to. This is the Lord God of Israel. He is the One who lives between the Angels that worship Him.
- He is the God that reigns over all of the Kingdoms of the Earth! What is Hezekiah doing?
- Does God need this information? God knows who and where He is! No, instead Hezekiah confesses and affirms this for his own sake! He needs to know who truly sits on The Throne!
- He chooses to see this letter in light of the One who is receiving it! The One who is receiving it is well established, sitting in authority, with all security. The noise and fear of Jerusalem isn't there!
- He is transcendant above every circumstance and nothing can move Him from His rightful place. Yet, He is also imminent, close, involved because He made heaven and earth!
- This is the God that Hezekiah is talking to. This is the being that he calls upon to listen, to bend His ear toward. To open His eyes to see. To hear the words of this blasphemous King.
- Hezekiah invites God to consider these things. He wants God to be active on His account.
- Notice also that the King is not ignoring the severity of the issue. He knows how effective the Assyrians have been, but he also acknowledges the truth out from among the Rabshakeh's lies.
- The Assyrians were able to destroy those nations because those nations trusted in gods that were inventions of Men!
- These little statues and figurines weren't representations of powerful deities. They were figments of men's imaginations! No wonder the Assyrians were so successful!
- But now Assyria has to deal with a true, living and powerful God! All of this praise and acknowledgment leads to Hezekiah's request: Save us from his hand!
- Why? So that everyone will know that You are God alone! "Advertise your greatness Lord!" "Do this for your own reputation!" "Do this so that other nations will know the difference." Verse 20.
II Kings 19:20-28 : "   Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’ This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him: ‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn; The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back! ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. By your messengers you have reproached the Lord, and said: 'By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees; I will enter the extremity of its borders, to its fruitful forest. I have dug and drunk strange water, and with the soles of my feet I have dried up all the brooks of defense.' ‘Did you not hear long ago how I made it, from ancient times that I formed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins. Therefore their inhabitants had little power; They were dismayed and confounded; They were as the grass of the field and the green herb, as the grass on the housetops and grain blighted before it is grown.‘But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me.Because your rage against Me and your tumulthave come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came. " : Did you notice what God called Judah? The virgin daughter of Zion! Assyria thought that they would "have their way" with Judah!
- They will be untouched and will be endlessly laughing at and mocking the Assyrians!
- Assyria has bitten off more than they can chew. They haven't come up against a fragile, overwhelmed city. They have come up against a fear inspiring God!
- The enemy put all of it's stock in their previous victories. Their chariots had conquered mountains. They had cut down trees that blocked their path and overtook foreign water supplies.
- God asks the Assyrians, "Why did you think that you had so much success?" God planned to use the Assyrians against those nations. That's why they were mowed down like grass before them!
- Ultimately, Assyria's success became the fuel for their rage against the Lord. Their victories propped up their hearts, not to be thankful to, but to hate the Lord!
- They wanted to be their own gods, to determine their own destinies. God has seen and heard it and will now use their own cruelty to judge them.
- God will put His hook in their nose and send them back in humiliating defeat. Verse 29.
II Kings 19:29-31 : " This shall be a sign to you: You shall eat this year such as grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from the same; also in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of hostswill do this.’ " When an agrarian society is forced to survive behind it's city walls, it is missing the time necessary to plant crops and tend to their growth.
- Judah is living off of it's stores of food and with every day, the inhabitants are becoming increasingly desperate. God tells them not to worry.
- They will be able to eat the food that will come up from the remnant crop for the next two years and in the third year, the ones that were barely surviving behind the wall will flourish!
- This is a beautiful picture of what happens in the life of a believer. There will be times of great testing and difficulty. You will feel as though there is only one miserable outcome.
- But when you trust in the Lord, there is always hope for a better day! Just like the crops would be sustained to bring them nourishment, their own lives would again be fruitful!
- They'll take root downward. They'll be healthy, established, secure. And they'll bear fruit upward. They'll worship and give praise to the Lord! Is that not the way it goes for believers?
- They will have had to drink deep from the wells of trust. When they have, they rise up in praise to the Lord! That was what God promised because that is what He is passionate about!
- They couldn't make this happen. But because God wanted it to happen, there was no way that it wasn't going to happen! Verse 32.
II Kings 19:32-34 : " And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: 'His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shieldsnor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city, says the Lord.For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.' " : Isaiah relays this wonderful message to King Hezekiah. "They won't even get started!"
- They are not going to get inside the city. They are not even going to shoot a single arrow at the city! The King will come and go on the same road. Why?
- God will defend His people for His own honor. Assyria thought to mock God. God will defend His own Name! He will do this for His promise to David! He would be Jerusalem's defense. Verse 35.
II Kings 19:35,36 : " That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrianswoke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. " : While the Assyrians slept, God released a single angel who killed 185,000 of the most fierce soldiers on the planet!
- Josephus mentions an outbreak of the plague from field mice! If so, the angel released them!
- Can you imagine waking up to this massacre? "They found corpses everywhere!" There was no sign of struggle. No chariot tracks. How did this happen?
- However many were left, went back to Ninevah with their King and they didn't return.
- No more letters of intimidation. No more threats. No more discussions on the nature of Assyria's power. They silently retreat to their own land. Judah will not have to face them again.
- God had rescued them, but what about His promise regarding Sennacherib? Verse 37.
II Kings 19:37 : " One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sonsAdrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria. " : The text makes it seem as though this happened fairly quickly after the fact, but nearly two decades have transpired. We find the King worshipping in the temple of Nisroch.
- His defeat at the hands of Yahweh did not sway him from his faith. Here he is twenty years later, still faithfully attending the services of his false, failure god! How sad!
- How many have had their lives rocked, only to remain in their idolatry and to become twice as deluded as they were before.
- Add Sennacherib to that list and pray that God will take your loved ones off of it!
- There are Jewish legends that tell of an inquisitive heart in Sennacherib. You don't just lose like he did without trying to understand why it happened.
- Legend has it that he discovered that Abraham had nearly sacrificed his only son and that that was why God had acted favorably toward the Jewish nation.
- He felt that if God helped them for that reason, then he might turn favorably toward him if he sacrificed both of his sons! It seems that they beat him to the punch!
- It's certainly not worth much, but what legends are!? The picture though is abundantly clear. Chapter 19 began with Sennacherib at the walls of Jerusalem. He ends in the temple of his god.
- He asked out loud, "What God can deliver you from my hands?" He ends wondering how it was that his own god could not deliver him from his own son's hands while in his temple!
- The people of God begin in mourning and confusion, scared to death of their violent foe. They end in peace, grateful that the God they served was bigger than the foe they faced!
Conclusion
- At his most desperate point, Hezekiah ran into the temple. He wore his clothes of mourning and shame. He sought the Word of God and he laid out his burden before the Lord.
- Friends, I pray you will do the same! We exist as a church to encourage you in the right direction and to bear your burden with you.
- Hezekiah learned to see his problem in the light of God's person. He discovered that God acted because of His own reputation and for the sake of His servant David.
- How much more will He deliver you, not for the sake of a servant, but for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ, by whom we are His own children?
- He didn't fail Hezekiah then. Christian, He won't fail you now!


September 25 2017

04:45

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 18)

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Audio Access Available Above
“Kings And The Panic Button” • 9.24.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- We learned last week of God's reasoning for allowing the North to go into captivity. The author takes us back in time to cover what was happening in the South at that same time. Verse 1.
Text
II Kings 18:1-3 : " Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abithe daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord , according to all that his father David had done. " : Hezekiah takes the reins in the South a third of the way into King Hoshea's reign in the North. Hoshea was a vassal King for the nation of Assyria.
- Assyria had already occupied a large part of the North's territory and is soon to discover Hoshea's plot to conspire with the King of Egypt.
- Hezekiah is a 25 year old man when he ascends to the throne after his Father Ahaz. Ahaz had sought an alliance with Assyria, even retrofitting the temple to appease him.
- Ahaz was the most wicked King of Judah to date, embracing the ways of the Kings of Israel, even sacrificing one of his sons, Hezekiah's brother, to Molech!
- With the mounting political pressure and the example provided for him, it wouldn't be hard to imagine Hezekiah simply falling in line to maintain the tenuous peace. That isn't what he did.
- He did what was right in the sight of the Lord along the same trajectory of his ancestor, King David himself! How is this possible?
- His Mother Abi, which is short for Abijah, had been the daughter of Zechariah, former wicked King of Israel. (II Kings 15:8-12)
- She had seen the effects of wickedness first hand and then married into it, presumably by means of a treaty, with Ahaz.
- When she saw another of Ahaz's children sacrificed to a foreign god, I can't help but believe that she spent every minute teaching Hezekiah the right way to live.
- She may have even taken Hezekiah to see Isaiah, whose ministry is blossoming at this time.
- This nearly anonymous woman wouldn't accept the line of the status quo and wouldn't let her son be a statistic! Moms, your voice matters!
- If your voice is the only one, make it as loud as possible! But even that doesn't matter if the child won't do the work himself! For Hezekiah's part, he put his money where his heart was. Verse 4.
II Kings 18:4 : " He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. " : II Chronicles 29:3-5 tells us that the first thing he did was re-open and renovate the Temple. In fact, that entire chapter is devoted to Hezekiah's passion for the Temple.
- Why? Because forsaking the God of the Temple had led to God's wrath being poured out against them! (II Chronicles 29:8-11)
- After taking care of the center of Israel's worship, he did what other Kings had failed to do.
- Hezekiah eliminated access to the high places by removing them. No more convenient, culturally sensitive, individualistic worship!  He refused to accept the standard reply.
- "We can meet with God anywhere!" While it is true that God will meet you where you are, how can you fulfill His command to love His family outside of His commanded assembly?
- Hezekiah condemned, as God does, a self-loving, self-worshipping, practice among God's people. I wish our hearts would emulate Hezekiah's.
- The King condemned the false practice of the true religion as well as the practices of false religion. He "smashed" the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah pole that His Father allowed.
- That was a new and foreign defilement upon the nation of Judah, but there was another that was home grown: The bronze serpent of Numbers 21!
- Moses constructed the serpent at God's command 700 years prior, so that the people might look at it and live when serpents were allowed to attack them for their unbelief.
- The fact that they burned incense to it shows just how far they had gone and how little they understood! It was God who healed them when they looked to it in faith. Worship Him!
- Unfortunately, they were willing to worship anything! Hezekiah had the right attitude. He looked at the same object and called it "Nehushtan" which just means "Bronze thing!" I love this!
- The rest of Judah looked at the bronze serpent with awe and attached value to it. Hezekiah just looked at it and said "Get that bronze thing out of here!" Verse 5.
II Kings 18:5-8 : " He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord ; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. " : Hezekiah put his confidence in the Lord God of Israel!
- His nation was polluted with idols and Assyria is bearing down with it's idols. Not so for Hezekiah! Can the same be said of you? Are you in a faith relationship with Jesus Christ?
- Is that faith as strong today as it once was or is there an idol nearby that occupies your mind?
- Hezekiah placed unwavering trust in the Lord which set him apart from all the Kings of Judah, from Rehoboam until himself. His trust was displayed by the fact that he held fast to the Lord!
- "Held fast" is the translation of the Hebrew word "davak" which means to cleave. It's the same word that is used to describe a husband and wife bond in Genesis 2:24.  
- Hezekiah joined himself to God. He fastened himself to the Lord. Does this describe your pursuit of the Lord?
- It's sad to see how many are satisfied with a superficial relationship to the Lord. Such a person is attempting dictating their terms. With Hezekiah, there isn't any question!
- He pursued the Lord and did not depart from following Him! What did that mean? It meant that he kept the commands that the Lord gave Moses. It keeps coming back to the word of God!
- You will trust the Lord, cleave to the Lord, only as much as it can be said that you are devoted to His Word!  There are no shortcuts and there are no exceptions!
- Hezekiahs are not made by casual, comfortable, half committed Christians who follow when it! suits them Hezekiah's are determined to stand as close to God as they can possibly get!
- Hezekiah response to the Lord demanded God's response toward him! The Lord was "with him." The word carries the connotation of closely watching over the King.
- The result was obvious: He prospered wherever he went! His confidence was high enough to rebel outright against Assyria's presiding government.
- He also expanded his territory in the other direction by slaying the Philistines. Everything is going Hezekiah's way, but a dark cloud is looming. Verse 9.
II Kings 18:9-13 : " Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them. And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. " : Judah was busy conquering the Philistines and the Assyrians were dealing with the northern tribes.
- This short recap is mentioned here to connect us to Hezekiah's motive. Of all that can be said about Israel's collapse, the most tragic thing is that it never needed to happen!
- They were taken away because they refused to obey God's voice! The same can be said of us! Nobody here needs to fall into sin. Everyone should know better, but will you obey?
- Hezekiah ran toward the Lord in complete desperation, knowing that He was his and Judah's greatest defense. By the end of this section, he has held his ground for 12 years.
- At about that time he is watching the largest army assembled ransack the best defended cities. How far will his trust in the Lord carry him? Verse 14.
II Kings 18:14-16 : " Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, 'I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.' And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord , and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. " : Hezekiah's character and conduct thus far should be applauded. That doesn't make him perfect. All that can be said here is that Hezekiah panicked!
- The pressure became intense and without thinking or praying, he offered the King of Assyria a bribe, which amounted to over 11 tons of silver and a boatload of God!
- Hezekiah took everything that he had and even had to strip the Temple of the gold overlay that it boasted in order to amass the appropriate amount. Do you think this satisfied the Assyrian?
- Whenever you give into a bully, you had better know that you will have to keep giving in to him and with increasing amounts! Hezekiah's momentary lapse of faith was an invitation. Verse 17.
II Kings 18:17,18 : " Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan,the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakehfrom Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. And when they had called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them. " : The Tartan and the Rabsaris represent special forces and command large troop deployment. The Rabshakeh is the Assyrian secretary of state.
- Behind them is a mighty army essentially surrounding the city. This isn't a negotiation, as much as it is a call to surrender. Hezekiah sends out his delegation to receive their terms. Verse 19.
II Kings 18:19-25 : "   Then the Rabshakeh said to them, 'Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: 'What confidence is this in which you trust? You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? Now look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen? Have I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’ " : When the Assyrians came to surround the city, Judah refused to surrender outright.
- II Chronicles 32:1-8 tells the story. Hezekiah cut off the water supply to the Assyrians, while at the same time, built up the fortified positions and stocked up the armory with weapons.
- He acted like a King that would withstand the army of the Assyrians. He explains why in verses 7 and 8.
II Chronicles 32:7,8 : " Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. " : These are the words that the Rabshakeh is puzzled by. "What confidence is this in which you trust?"
- He is thinking out loud, trying to comprehend the source of Hezekiah's courage to resist. It can't be Egypt can it?
- Egypt was on the verge of collapse against the Assyrians as well. Leaning on the Pharaoh will only bring harm to themselves. It can't be them. "Are they thinking that the Lord is on their side?"
- From an outsiders perspective, Hezekiah had spent a good deal of time destroying all of the false altars in Israel. The Assyrian assumes that Hezekiah has offended this God.
- He also asserts that it was the Lord who brought them up against the land to destroy it! He could very well be meaning the land of the North. God had called Assyria to take Israel away.
- He seems ignorant of the two different Kingdoms and assumes that his charge remains intact. Verse 26.
II Kings 18:26,27 : " Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, 'Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrewin the hearing of the people who are on the wall.' But the Rabshakeh said to them, 'Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?' " : Hezekiah's representatives would like the Assyrians to speak exclusively to them, without having to raise the panic of the people.
- It was enough to have to deal with Assyria's forces. They didn't want to deal with a panic within the city walls. The Rabshakeh though has no desire to pare back his rhetoric.
- He's fairly confident that his army can create the same conditions here that he has in previous campaigns.
- In his mind, they will win and the people within will suffer for every day that they hold out. Their desperation will be profound. He continues on with no sensitivity. Verse 28.
II Kings 18:28-35 : " Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, 'Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord , saying, 'The Lord will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, 'The Lord will deliver us.' Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ " : Roman historian Procopious asserts that the Rabshakeh was an apostate Jew, which would make this all the more heinous.
- He yelled out in perfect Hebrew for all to hear. This was a direct message from the King of Assyria. "Don't let Hezekiah fool you. Neither he, nor the Lord can do anything to stop us!"
- Isn't this just like the enemy? "Don't trust the Lord! Trust your eyes and trust our experience!"
- Even if they give him a gift, it will only delay the inevitable. Assyria planned on taking Judah into captivity as it had Israel. The Rabshakeh wants them to surrender and all will be well for them.
- If the enemy can get you and I to give up, he'll promise to meet our desires, but we will have to forego our freedom! The Rabshakeh is on a roll.
- He brings up the fact that there are people he had just deposited in Samaria who trusted in gods who weren't able to help them. It might be best to quit now.
-  It's not wise to compare the living God with the lifeless gods of the nations. He'll soon regret this line of rhetoric. Verse 36.
II Kings 18:36,37 : " But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, 'Do not answer him.' Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh. " : The people were quiet at their King's command. The Rabshakeh didn't need any more fuel for his vitriol.
- They didn't need to answer verbally. Their responses were telling enough. They came before their King in shock and horror at the blasphemy that they had just heard.
Conclusion
- King Hezekiah is such a refreshing person to study. God's people were blessed to have such a King who would buck tradition, fight fervently against idolatry and fervently for the Lord's presence.
- Aren't you inspired by his ability to rise above his circumstances and culture? Doesn't his confidence in and zeal for God challenge you?
- Hezekiah reminds me of our King, who rose above His religious culture to show the world what true obedience to God was.
- Of all the people that should not have been a Savior, it was the One who came from Nazareth, whose heritage was questioned in the eyes of the world!
- Our King showed us what confidence was, by putting His own life in the hands of Almighty God, going beyond the threat of death, to the very worst of executions.
- Our King never negotiated with the enemy or entertained his lies. He stood firm without failing until His dying breath!
- He is the King who not only bucked tradition, but gives us His Spirit that we might do the same! He is the King who not only has confidence in His Father, but causes us to walk boldly.
- He is the King who has faced our enemy and reminds us that because He lives, we never have to buy the lie because He will never fail. Let's pray.

September 18 2017

05:05

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 17:7-41)

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“God's Closing Argument” • 9.17.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- In our last session, we witnessed the end of the northern Kingdom. Assyria, after initially occupying a large portion of their land, set up a King with the contingency that he serve their interest.
- When King Hoshea sought to betray that agreement by enlisting the help of Egypt, Shalmaneser displayed his power and moved against the capital city of Samaria.
- In 722 BC, after a three year siege, the inhabitants of the northern Kingdom were removed from their land and scattered among other Assyrian conquered nations.
- We aren't surprised. The record has been clear in the palace: The Kings of Israel all chose to live evil, God forsaking lives! The minor prophets paint the same picture on the street level.
- But in the section before us, God calls upon His author to lay out His case once and for all. Let's pick it up in verse 7.
Text
II Kings 17:7-12 : " For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. ' " :  This section, read from the heart of God, is heartbreaking. If you have ever trained up a child in the way that they should go and seen them depart for a time, know that God understands!
- Generally speaking, Israel sinned against the Lord their God. From a worldly perspective, it may have seemed inevitable geopolitically. Assyria was a dominant and aggressive regional power.
- But that wasn't the reason for Israel's collapse. God says that it was because of their sin!
- The word "sin" means "to miss the goal or path of right and duty." Israel not only missed it, they seemed to be aiming in another direction!
- They sinned against the Lord their God. We would like to believe that our actions are independent choices, judged on the basis of their impact upon another.
- Sin is primarily an offense against God. King David's famous words that He wrote when he sinned with Bathsheba establishes this: "Against You and You only have I sinned!" (Ps. 51:4)
- When you sin against a great human, you should expect a terrifying sentence. Imagine then the consequence of sinning against the God of the Universe!
- They couldn't even claim ignorance. They were not ignorant of His character or His activity. This God had rescued them from the previous regional power represented by the land of Egypt!
- He took them out from under the determined hand of the Pharaoh, who would have kept them enslaved until they fell off the face of the earth! God's faithful love emanicipated them!
- Israel was guilty of sinning against light and love! Instead of spending their lives living out a testimony of gratitude, these people chose to give their respect and reverence to other gods!
- Consider that for a moment: God had defeated the gods of Egypt when He delivered them. The gods of the Canaanites were powerless against Him. But they gave themselves to them anyway!
- A life which gives preference to something over God will eventually lead to a character that emulates all nations that have fallen under God's judgment.
- What you worship will eventually shape your character. If you worship financial gain, Baal, expect to be greedy and to treat people like disposable commodities.
- If you worship pleasure, Molech, expect to value people as tokens of sexual expression!
- Likewise, the people of Israel worshipped the gods of the nations that God rejected and they naturally lived a life that led them to being rejected by God! Verse 9.
II Kings 17:9-12 : " Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden imageson every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, 'You shall not do this thing.' " : Verse 9 reads ackwardly in the NKJV. The NASB and the CSB both translate the words "things" as words spoken. Literally, they spoke things against the Lord secretly.
- The author doesn't mean that they could actually do something that was unknown to God.
- Rather, the people of Israel were speaking covertly, privately, against the Lord, things which were not right. God is allowing them to go into judgment because of what they said about Him!
- A good example of what the author refers to can be found in Hosea 11:7 (NLT). "They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me." We would call this hypocrisy!
- The nation of Israel continued to acknowledge God, but without any intention of honoring Him as God! What did that result in? The build up of false religious infrastructure. It was everywhere!
- They set up pillars and images throughout their territory. There was no difference between them and the nations that had acted in this exact manner.
- Their continual wickedness was a provocative act against the Lord and His Word.
- "You shall not do this thing!" This is a summation of all the passages that addressed God's prohibition upon creating an idol.
- You can reference Exodus 20:3-5, Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 5:7-9 and 12:1-4.
- Their Bibles were repelete with verses that ministered this same truth. They had the law and we'll see in the next verse, that they also had the prophets! Verse 13.
II Kings 17:13 : " Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, 'Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.' " : The people of Israel did not fall into idolatry ignorantly or without a witness.
- In a sense, one could say that God has them "dead to rights." They are openly guilty.
- And yet! God "testified," the language indicating that He kept testifying or witnessing to them. The word "protest" would also be appropriate when using this Hebrew word.
- He kept providing warnings by or through these individuals, the prophets. They are speaking, but it was God who was protesting through them! This is a vital distinction for us to consider.
- These were human authors trapped in their own time, informed by their own distinct culture, commenting upon what they saw. What came through was beyond them.
- It was God breathing out His message for them to hear. When you read Hosea, Joel, Zechariah, and Isaiah, you see different personalities.
- Some were given dramatic plays to act out for the nation, but all had a united voice of God!
- What has been preserved, what has been written is God's final revelation. His Word is complete. Whatever can be read in the prophetic books, can be boiled down to verse 13.
- "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments!" God never calls for a tolerance of our own evil ways. He calls us to turn from them! But that is only half of the equation.
- It does you no good to turn from your evil ways to a state of neutrality. That only leaves you open to adopting new evil ways!
- He called them to turn from their evil ways and then to turn to the keeping of His commandments and statutes that He had given them through His servants.
- Did you notice that? He doesn't call His people to anything new. He recalls them to that which they had already known! God's Word is not only sufficient. It's eternal! It transcends time!
- The people of God needed to return to the Word of God if they were to experience the favor of God! It's that simple! The prophets did their job, but the problem was in the people! Verse 14.
II Kings 17:14-18 : " Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord , to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. " : The people of Israel could hear, but they would not listen! They refused to alter their course. They doggedly pursued their own course, making their necks increasingly stiff.
- They had their chance, but instead, took after their ancestors, specifically, those which came out of the Exodus, who did not trust the Lord.
- After the Lord led them through the wilderness, miraculously providing for their needs, the people stopped short of entering Canaan because of the bad report of 12 elders!
- That is the summary of Numbers 13. In the very next breath, they threaten to replace Moses with a new leader so that they can return to Egypt! (Numbers 14:4)
- That group of people rejected His statutes, covenant and testimonies, and became idolators. Instead of being distinct from the neighboring nations, they became just like them!
- This was true of the first generation of Israelites and it had become true of this final generation of Israelites!
- As we have been studying, we have noted their abandonment of God's religion for the sake of their molded image and the two calves. This represented Jeroboam's religion.
- But that was merely a gateway which opened the nation to the worship of astrology and Baal, the God of fertility! When that wasn't enough, they sacrificed their own infant children to Molech!
- The people practiced witchcraft, the NLT adding that the "people consulted fortune tellers." They bought into enchantments, the whispers of an oracle.
- Israel sold themselves into slavery and God removed them from His sight! Verse 19.
II Kings 17:19-23 : "   Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord , and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. " : The author lets us know that Israel was not alone in it's rebellion. Judah was also beginning to walk in the same paths as Israel had.
- The author, writing in retrospect, sees the North's actions as an infection that spread to all of Israel. Eventually, in 135 years, Judah will be led into exile as well.
- Israel's idolatry was already influencing the life of Judah's King Ahaz and the people were following right along. These were events that God's prophets were predicting.
- As Israel was carried away captive, nobody could claim that their messages were metaphors! This was a physical removal that should stand as a deep warning to Judah. Verse 24.
II Kings 17:24 : " Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. " : The Assyrians had a very specific plan to settle conquered lands. They would relocate the brightest and most influential people other conquered lands to repopulate an area.
- The trick was that these were all members of rival nations, whose mixed customs and languages would create an environment of chaos.
- While Israel is being deported en masse, the people from these nations are coming in. Note the prominence of Babylon. At this time, Assyria was dominating Babylon.
- The citizens from these countries all had this in common: They had been humiliated and devastated by the Assyrian empire and were now being brought into this foreign land. Verse 25.
II Kings 17:25-27 : " And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord ; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, 'The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land.' Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, 'Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land.' " : When these various people groups came to dwell in the land, they didn't respect the Lord or realize that this was His land.
- Even though God's people had been defeated, He had not been dethroned as their gods had.
- Living without any fear of God, without respect to His person in His land brought about severe consequences in which several people lost their lives.
- Whatever representatives were in Samaria came to speak to the King and advised him of the situation. They realized that the new population was offending the God of the land.
- How did they come to this conclusion? How could they have known? It's plausible that some of the least influential that had been left, had conveyed the information. We aren't sure.
- But when the King received this news, he called for an Israeli priest to return to Samaria to teach the people the rituals of the land. Two things should jump out to you at this juncture.
- The first relates to the purpose that is served by the content before us.
- At the very least, someone randomly deduced that there was a God who ruled over Israel, who could be offended. At best, someone responded positively to another person's testimony.
- Either way, a group of complete heathens sought to right their wrong! They sought to appease the God of Israel. They sought to make a change.
- With just that much light, they rightly responded to the God of Israel! How much more does that condemn the nation of Israel!?
- Second, it's interesting that the King of Assyria would seek out a priest from Samaria to teach the customs of how to live before God. Do you think that he had Israel's best intentions in mind?
- Don't you think it was a calculated move to keep the land of Samaria from succeeding? Send in an Israelite priest, one who only knew how to compromise and antagonize God!
- I believe that the Assyrian King knew exactly what he was doing. Look at the fruit of that decision. Verse 28.
II Kings 17:28-33 : " Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord . However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. So they feared the Lord , and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the Lord , yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away. " : This unnamed priest returned right back to one of the centers of Jeroboam's religion and began to teach on the fear of the Lord.
- What did that mean to him? Did he teach them a few old songs? Did he show them how to make an offering? Whatever he taught them, he got it wrong!
- Every nation continued to make gods of it's own! God will not be one of many. He will be all in all or not at all! These heathens were judged upon the revelation given to them.
- This priest however will be held accountable for teaching an entire generation that it's good to worship God and acceptable if you want to indulge yourself!
- There is no such teaching in scripture and living a life like this will only lead to your destruction. These people were allowed to endure. Verse 34.
II Kings 17:34-41 : " To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord , nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the Lord had made a covenant and charged them, saying: 'You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the Lord , who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. But the Lord your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.' However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals. So these nations feared the Lord , yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day. " : This section doesn't really require much comment. Instead, I will say that here is the true guilt of the people of Israel. Even after all of their chastisement, here is the enduring fruit.
- When the priest returned from Assyria, he had the opportunity to reset the people in the ways of the Lord, to turn himself back to the law of God and to turn the people in that direction.
- Instead, he taught them to do the same thing that he had helped to teach Israel to do. The nations feared the Lord. The respected Him, but they served their carved images!
- They believed that He had a place among the gods, but they chose to expend their duties toward themselves! That was going on until that very day and indeed many years after the fact!
Conclusion
- Israel turned her back upon the God that had shown her His greatest love. He delivered them when they were powerless, from the nation of Egypt that would have extinguished them.
- When He settled them in Canaan, He warned them not to pursue the gods of the land and when they did, He patiently worked to convince them to return to Him.
- When they proved that they would not be turned, He judiciously handed them over to judgment, making good on His promise.
- How much more should we consider this? God has provided a deliverance from the very hands of the Devil Himself?
- He has called us to look unto Jesus Christ, His Savior and to turn from the idols that are representative of our own desires.
- If we turn, He will show us greater love and mercy as a Father. If we resist, He will be our judge and we will have nothing to say. May we consider our ways and be found in Him!



September 11 2017

05:13

Sunday Morning Service (II Kings 16:1-II Kings 17:6)

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margin:.5in .5in .5in .5in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} </style> --> <div class="chapter-2" style="margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <a href="https://www.mediafire.com/file/d0bo7v77lnrn0qt/II%20Kings%2016_1-II%20Kings%2017_6.m4a"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;">II Kings 16-II Kings 17:6</span> </a> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 16.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Audio Access Available Above </span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 10.0pt;">“Reaching For The Wrong Arm” • 9.10.17 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Intro</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- In our study last week, we made note of the great incursion made by the Assyrian army, which took a large percentage of Israel's territory. Their shadow looms large over the land.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's hard to believe that Israel once held a dominant position over it's neighbors during the days of David and Solomon. Only 200 years have passed and the nation is on the brink of disaster.</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- As we have read, the North will succumb to it's long awaited fate. What would you have been doing if you lived in the South? If you were David's descendant, how would you have responded?</span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Let's have a look, beginning at chapter <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">16</b>, verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">1</b>.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 150%;"></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 10.0pt;">Text</span> <span style="font-family: "times"; font-size: 10.0pt;"></span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial";"> <span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:1-4</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-1"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-2"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-2"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> his God, as his father David had done. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-3"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-3"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> had cast out from before the children of Israel. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-4"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Jotham, the previous King of Judah restored a bridge to the house of the Lord from the Palace complex. </span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It was a bridge that Ahaz never sought to use! He wasn't interested in proximity to God. From his first year at age 20 to his last year at age 36, Ahaz did not do what was right in the Lord's sight.</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He has his Grandfather Uzziah, and his Father Jotham as examples. He can even look to the prototype in his great ancestor David. He still makes a choice to live out his reign in wickedness.</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ahaz has no heart for God. He in fact, walked in the ways, he fashioned himself after the Kings of Israel. </span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ahaz, like his northern cousins, chose idolotry over the worship of Yahweh, though he wasn't necessarily an adherant of Jeroboam's religion.</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">II Chronicles 28:2,3</b> discloses that Ahaz worshipped Baal and even entered into the worship of Molech, which required the sacrifice of at least one of his sons!</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Worshippers came to a hollowed out metallic statue that was heated from the inside. People who worshipped Molech laid their infants upon the heated metal.</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- To drown out the screams of the children, the band merely began to play louder. This is part of the legacy of Ahaz, which was unprecedented in the southern Kingdom.</span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When other Kings reigned, we've made note of the people being guilty of worshipping on the high places. Now, we see Judah's King leading in that pursuit! </span> </div><div class="chapter-2" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The end of this section reads as if he left off all abandon, sacrificing and burning incense every where he could. Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">5</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:5,6</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-5"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-6"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites<sup></sup>went to Elath, and dwell there to this day.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Syria and the northern tribes had united in an effort to repel the Assyrian force. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These two entities came up to attempt to take Jerusalem but they weren't alone.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The Edomites joined in with this coalition and settled in Elath, the city that Uzziah restored to Judah. At the same time, the Philistines also invaded the southern part of Judah. (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">II Chron. 28:18</b>) </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">II Chronicles 28:5-8</b> details the extent of Syria's victory over Judah, as they lost 120,000 valiant men in a single day!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The author of Chronicles explains the reason for all of this activity when he says, </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Chronicles 28:19</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">For the L<span class="yhwh">ord</span>brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the L<span class="yhwh">ord</span>.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : God is allowing the pressure to build, in order that the King would turn himself and his nation over to Him! Please turn over to <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Isaiah 7</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When the King and the people of Judah heard about the Syrian's plot, their hearts were moved like trees in the wind! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God sent Isaiah to let the King know that He would not allow Judah to fall into Syrian hands, even predicting the eventual fall of Israel.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Isaiah 7:10-17</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="textisa-7-10"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Moreover the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="textisa-7-10"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> spoke again to Ahaz, saying, </span> </span> <span class="textisa-7-11"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">'Ask a sign for yourself from the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="textisa-7-11"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.'</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> <span class="textisa-7-12">But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the </span><span class="small-caps">Lord</span><span class="textisa-7-12">!'</span> <span class="textisa-7-13">Then he said, 'Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? </span><span class="textisa-7-14">Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.<sup></sup></span><span class="textisa-7-15">Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. </span><span class="textisa-7-16">For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. </span><span class="textisa-7-17">The </span><span class="small-caps">Lord</span><span class="textisa-7-17"> will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.'</span></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : God is so gracious to come to Ahaz, to offer him this reassuring sign of His willingness to act.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- As most of you know, this is the famous prediction of the virgin birth of Christ! It was initially given to this wicked man as an extraordinary sign that God would deliver him.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- All Ahaz has to do is trust the Lord. God is holding out His hand, giving the King every opportunity. What do you think that Ahaz did with this information? Take a look at verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">7</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:7-9</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-7"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, 'I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me.' </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-8"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-8"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-9"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"></span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Instead of turning to God, in an act of utter desperation, Ahaz went directly to Tiglath-Pileser and swore an oath of allegiance to Assyria!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He asked for his protection and paid him off to deal with his enemies. That request caused Assyria to move upon Damascus and to eventually take control over the North.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This was less to help Ahaz and more for the sake of his dominance over the region. All Ahaz has done is buy a little time. Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">10</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:10-14</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-10"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship.</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-11"> <sup> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> </span> </sup> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-11"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Then Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. So Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz came back from Damascus. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-12"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And when the king came back from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-13"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-14"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">He also brought the bronze altar which was before the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-14"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">, from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the house of the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-14"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">—and put it on the north side of the new altar.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Ahaz went to meet with Tiglath-Plieser in Damascus, presumably to pay personal homage. When he arrived, he was taken by an altar of the Syrians that left a large impression.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He immediately orders a drawing made and commissions a replica for use in Israel!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When he returns to Jerusalem, he makes an administrative decision to replace the altar that stood at the front of the Temple with this Syrian altar! Why would he do that? </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Some have suggested that this was done to show the Assyrian King his genuine heart, but the author of Chronicles discloses the true reason.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Chronicles 28:22,23</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the L<span class="yhwh">ord</span>. This <i><span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-style: normal;">is that</span></i>King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, 'Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.' But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : He wasn't just turning to the King of Assyria. He was turning now to the gods of Damascus who had just been beaten by Assyria!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- The Syrians had beaten him, but their gods were no help against the Assyrian army! Where does an altar to a defeated god belong? He put it in the house of the Lord! Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">15</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:15,16</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-15"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, 'On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.' </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-16"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : The altar that had been given to Israel by God was now merely the King's personal trinket. "I'll use it to inquire by." </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He would use this in extreme cases, when he needed guidance. The altar that once raised the smoke of the sacrifices will now simply sit around until the King decides he needs a little help! </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- How many of us know this spirit? How many people want God "around" when they need Him.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- They want Him to be accessible in times of trouble and travail. "Just don't take the center!"</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- They want to dictate the terms of their relationship to God! They don't want to accept the terms that God has laid out for them!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- God never accepts the position of being one of many gods. He will be all or not be at all!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's sad enough that Ahaz has adopted this position personally. What makes it worse is that he had a willing accomplice in the priest. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- "<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Thus did Urijah the priest according to all that King Ahaz commanded.</b>" No protest? No defense of the Lord? This would have been a great time to point out that it wasn't God who failed!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This would have been a great time to stand firm and convince his King that it was not too late to turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but you don't see any of that!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When you think about it, you can almost understand Ahaz' decisions. He comes from a political world. He has just seen Syria's effectiveness against Judah. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He might even be taking his cue from the Assyrian King. All of his idolatry may be linked to an ill-advised attempt to imitate Assyria.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- But that's not where Urijah's vision has been. He has lived in the Temple that Solomon built. He has been near the very presence of God.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He has heard of his predecessor's bravery in the face of Uzziah, when he and 80 of his priests stood together to bar the entrance of the King into the Temple, risking their very lives.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Unfortunately, Urijah was just the King's "yes" man, devoid of all fear of the Lord. You could imagine that his punishment would be far worse than the King's. Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">17</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 16:17-20</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-16-17"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And King Ahaz cut off the panels of the carts, and removed the lavers from them; and he took down the Sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stones. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-18"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king’s outer entrance from the house of the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-16-18"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">, on account of the king of Assyria.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> <span class="text2kgs-16-19">Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? </span><span class="text2kgs-16-20">So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.</span></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- There are some who believe that the King's actions were taken here to preserve the valuable items of the Temple from the King of Assyria.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's just as likely however that he did removed these items because it made the Temple complex more appealing to the King of Assyria.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Either way, there is a presumptive air on the part of young King Ahaz. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These were not men's ornaments which had come from their own ingenuity.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These were divinely placed symbolic reminders of the order of Yahweh's worship. It is God's order that His priests walk through. But he cut off the panels of the carts. He removed the lavers. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He took down the Sea, the large pool of cleansing water. He removed the Sabbath pavillion and removed the King's outer entrance from the house of the Lord.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ultimately, whatever can be said regarding his motives, Ahaz chose the fear of the King of Assyria over the King of the Universe! He died and faced the reality of his error.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ahaz is undoubtebtly the most wicked King that Judah has had to date.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He proceeded from two fairly righteous Kings and embraced evil. What do you think his child Hezekiah will be like? He will be one of the greatest, most spiritually admirable Kings of Judah!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- It's a mystery that cannot be explained when a child turns from a good example and chooses a life of wickedness. It is a triumph of God's mercy when the opposite occurs!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Ahaz' death and the darkness that he left behind is swallowed up in the light of Hezekiah. And it really can't happen soon enough. Chapter <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">17</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 17:1-4</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-17-1"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-17-2"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And he did evil in the sight of the </span> </span> <span class="small-caps"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Lord</span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-17-2"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-17-3"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-17-4"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>We return to the north and the final King of Israel Hoshea. </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He's an interesting man, first because most believe him to be an Assyrian appointed regent King. Second, his name ironically means "salvation." </span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He represented Israel's final chance to be saved from what was a nearly determined fate.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Third, he did not do evil in the same way that his predecessors did. The sentiment seems to be one of degree. He didn't quite live up to their previous standard.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When Hezekiah invites the north to join them in a celebration of the Passover, Hoshea allows the messengers to bring the invitation and does not stop the few participants. (<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">II Chron. 30:5ff</b>)</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- This could be some of the reasoning behind the statement, though I also suspect that some of his "lesser evil" status was owed to the fact that he was simply a puppet King for Assyria.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He largely existed to carry out Assyria's desires and was not really allowed to act outside of those perameters. He managed to carry out his office well for about 6 years.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- When Shalmaneser succeeded Tiglath-Pileser, Hoshea believed that he could capitalize on Assyria's change in power and perhaps save a little money in the process. What does he do?</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- He sent messengers to the Egyptian King to propose a new alliance with him against Assyria!</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Hoshea, Salvation, sought deliverance by reaching out to Egypt! When the Assyrian King discovered his plot, he showed just how strong he was and imprisoned the vassal King. Verse <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">5</b>.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>• </span> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">II Kings 17:5,6</span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"> : "</span> <span class="text2kgs-17-5"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. </span> </span> <span class="text2kgs-17-6"> <span style="font-family: "arial black"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.</span> </span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;">" : Hoshea's plot became the act of war that the King of Assyria needed to fully assert himself against the Northern Kingdom.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- After holding out for three years, the King took Samaria and relocated the citizens of Israel to these foreign lands. Assyria's modus operandi was to remove all of the best and brightest.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- They would leave the most poor and the least influential to take care of the needs of the land.</span> </div><div style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Of the lands, you will recognize the "cities of the Medes," which would be Iraq and Iran. The nation of Israel is scattered from their home, never to return.</span> </div><div class="chapter-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial black";">Conclusion <br /></span> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Two Kings and two very poor choices. Ahaz was given a promise of deliverance by God through Isaiah. He ran to the King of Assyria, the rising power of his time.</span> </div><div class="chapter-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Hoshea, salvation, knew of his people's history and knew of his people's God. When he needed deliverance, he turned to Egypt, the nation that once enslaved his own people!</span> </div><div class="chapter-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- These men faced the crisis of their time, choosing the hands that seemed most powerful and reliable to deliver, only to realize that they reached for the wrong hand!</span> </div><div class="chapter-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;"> </span>- Which hand will you and I reach for in the time of our crisis? Will it be the arm of the flesh or the arm of the Lord? May we have the grace to choose wisely! </span> </div><div class="chapter-1" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: .1pt; margin-left: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: .1pt; text-align: justify;"> <br /> </div><div class="MsoNormal"> <br /> </div>
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