So,What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Sacrifice”

Mark Wheeler
4th Sunday in Lent, March 30, 2014
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Genesis 22:1-13; John 10:7-18; Romans 12:1
So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Sacrifice”

“God of love and faithfulness, help Your people to be loving, especially to those who are least loved, and inspire Your people to be faithful, especially in the most challenging times, that with our lives as well as our voices we will sing Your praise and show Your glory. Amen .”

We are now way past the half-way post for celebrating the Season of Lent. What’s the main way most people remember this season? We “give something up for Lent”, right? The idea is to make a sacrifice that we practice every day for 40 days, and in our “sacrifice” we recount our sins and repent, and maybe we commit to do something for others with the money or time we have saved by our “sacrifice”.

“Sacrifice”! Does that sound barbaric, or old-fashioned, or uncomfortable to you? What is this deal about “sacrifice”? That’s a great question.

In a couple of weeks we will confirm a few new members to our church fellowship, and that’s always exciting. These folks have gone through a “new member class”, and some of them have been in the Church for a long time, a few are much newer to their faith. But, no matter who is “joining” the church, one of the things we talk about in class deals with each person’s faith.
“What do you believe?” If I don’t ask that question quite that pointedly, we do get to it in conversation. And, while not everyone can articulate it perfectly clearly, Christians need to have an understanding of Christ on the cross, and why that is important.

In these weeks leading up to Easter we are taking the time to look at the whole Bible and see how, from Genesis through Revelation, it is knit together as a singular story covering thousands of years, written by dozens of authors, in a few different languages, across hundreds of miles.
On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, He walked with two of His disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus and explained to them, from Moses and the Prophets, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of everything Scripture talks about. So this week, we are looking at the biblical theme of Sacrifice, and seeing how it follows from Moses to the Messiah to you and me.

The lesson that is illustrated, explained, given rules for, demonstrated, and finally accomplished, is that sin requires a sacrifice. We do not have the time to look at every incident of biblical sacrifice this morning, but we will highlight a few and talk in generalities about the whys and the wherefores.
Who knows when the first “sacrifice” happens in the Bible? It is very early on – in Genesis 3. Right after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil – the “forbidden fruit” – they realized they were naked and they became ashamed. Verse 21 says, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
How did God make “garments of skin”? The first physical deaths on earth had to happen. Something had to die to “cover their sin”. “To cover” is the basic meaning of the word “atonement”. Adam and Eve were “covered” as an “atonement” for their sin.
Paul tells us in Romans 3, “The wages of sin is death.” Sin, apparently, requires death as a means of ultimate justice.

Let’s jump down to Genesis 22. The themes we have followed through the Bible so far are, Creation, the Fall, and Love. Today we follow the theme of Sacrifice. Last week, in the theme of Love, we watched as God called Abram out of idolatry and into covenant relationship with Him, and God chose Abram and his descendents, to be a great nation, and He called them to be a blessing, and even to bring about a Savior to the whole world. Ten chapters later, when Abraham’s only true son is probably coming to the age of accountability, we come to Genesis 22:1-13 …. —-
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
• Because God is holy – and holiness and unholiness cannot abide together – sin requires being “covered up”, an atoning sacrifice – sin is a debt that we cannot repay, but that God offers a way out through sacrifice.
• Because we live in a world surrounded by sin, through and through, God has required some kind of meaningful sacrifices to “cover/atone for” sins we may not even be aware we have committed.
• This is God’s way of loving us – holding us accountable and giving us a way out of “death”.
• In this story, the sacrifice required is the very means by which God has promised to bless the whole world! Abraham’s only legitimate offspring – through whom it appears God will build a nation with as many people as there are stars in the sky, and through whom, eventually, there will be a particular offspring whose sacrifice will be an atonement for the whole world – must die!
• But God provides a scapegoat – a substitute ram – for the atoning sacrifice.

The Old Testament is then filled with examples of and rules for these sacrifices. The Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy have chapter upon chapter of “how-to” instructions for making sacrifices. The reason why Jews today do not offer sacrifices on the altar, the only reason why, is because their Temple, and therefore their altar, was destroyed in AD70! The Jews have had no place to legitimately offer their atoning sacrifices for over 1,940 years!

Now, let’s jump 2,000 years. Scholars tell us that Moses lived about 2,000 years BC, and tradition says that Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, so for the sake of simplicity, let’s jump the 2,000 years from Moses to Jesus, where we find yet another “story-telling of Sacrifice” in John 10:7-18 …. —-
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
• At the same location that God showed His love to Abraham and Isaac by stopping the sacrifice on Mount Moriah, God showed His love to the world by not stopping the sacrifice of His own Son for the sake of His people!
• While on the cross Christ called out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?!” Why would that be His cry? Because by dying for our sins, by covering our backs, by atoning our debts, even the Son of God was separated from the Father! My sin put Jesus on the cross … to die … for me! GK Chesterton, a great Roman Catholic theologian from 100 years ago, asked, “What is wrong with this world? I am.”
• Jesus is the substitutionary atonement. He has covered my debt! Because He required it, He paid for it!
• Oh man, our God is an awesome God!
• Presbyterians do not even have an “altar” in our sanctuaries. That was not an oversight, it was totally on purpose! We do not have an altar because, Hebrews tells us, Jesus was the ultimate, the once-for-all, sacrifice! Hebrews 7:27, “Jesus sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Heb. 9:12, “Jesus did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:26, “Jesus has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Heb. 10:10, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Toward the end of his life, the Apostle John wrote a few letters that we have in the back of our New Testaments. Last week we made reference to the verse that says God is love. Let me read to you, again, that verse and a few that follow:
I John 4:8-10, 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed His love for us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

The Apostle Paul followed that up with a little, “so what?” answer. “Thank You Jesus for paying my debt, I appreciate it, and now I guess I can live however I want….” Well, John just said in I John 4:10, “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”, so it’s not exactly a free-for-all. Paul said it this way, in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

What have you given up for Lent? Was it truly a sacrifice? Can it be for longer than just the 6 or 7 weeks of Lent? Can you offer up your bodies as a “living sacrifice”?
Jesus said we must take up our cross and follow Him. We have too often interpreted that to mean we just have to live with whatever life burdens are put on us. “Well, I have Type 1 Diabetes, I guess that’s just my cross to bear.” Nope! That’s just a pain in the back-side to have to bear. A cross would be something I volunteer to carry, as a sacrifice, for my Savior! To show that I love Him and am willing to live for Him and even to die for Him. This is the “works” that James is talking about when he says that “faith without works is dead.”

The Good News of Christianity is that on the cross Jesus Christ accomplished salvation! He made [perfect and complete] atonement for [our] sin.
The only question is, did He do this for you? Jesus said that He gave His life as a ransom for many. Are you among the many? Jesus said that He laid His life down for His sheep. Who are His sheep? They are those who listen to His voice and respond to His call. Last week we read John 3:18, which says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.”
One of the most amazing pictures of sacrifice in the Bible is found in Revelation 5. There we learn that Jesus Christ, whose death was planned by God since the foundation of the world, will for all eternity bear the marks of His sacrifice. The Lamb who was slain, the Old Testament image of the sacrificial lamb, the blood on the Passover doorposts, the sin sacrifice in the Temple, is the image to which we are being conformed. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we will be an eternally living sacrifice of praise to the One who alone is worthy of praise, Christ, our Passover, the Lamb who was slain but now lives forevermore.

If you are a Christian – know that you are loved! God has chosen you … and has saved You through His Son’s death on the cross!
If you are not a Christian believer, but you think you might want to be – know that you, too, are loved. God wishes that no one would be outside His love – all you need do is accept it, and then know that God has chosen you … and has saved you through His Son’s death on the cross! Amen.

Resources:
Lawrence, Michael; Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church; Crossway; Wheaton, IL; 2010; Pp. 153-164.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 363.

Wheeler, Mark; The Ledger newsletter; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church; 03/2014.

 

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So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Love.”

Mark Wheeler

March 23, 2014

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Genesis 12:1-3; John 3:14-17; I Corinthians 13:4-13

So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Love

God of justice and mercy, You count our tears and hear our prayers. Fill us with Your light, O God, and help us to trust Your promise and not be afraid. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen .

Today’s message is called “Let’s Talk about Love”. And after last week’s message on our sin-filled human condition, this message probably sounds like a relief!

Most of us want to be loved. Most of us want someone we can love. Most of us are fairly lovableMost of us have our moments when we are not very lovable.

So what is this thing called “love” we talk so much about? And how do we know when we are in it?

The fact is, and I say this at each and every wedding I officiate at, the most powerful way most of us know that we are truly loved is in marriage. On a wedding day, a man says to his bride, and a woman to her groom, that of all the possibilities and options, “I choose you.”

Families have to love us; friends get to go home at night; but spouses are another matter all together. Jennifer could have married anyone, or chosen not to marry, rather than marry me. But she chose me until death us do part, and those who know me know that’s true love.

Shakespeare has tried to describe this kind of love; Harlequin has defrauded this kind of love; the movies have tainted this kind of love. There are love stories all around us. [Fiddler on the Roof references to marriage]

But surely the greatest love story of all is the story of God’s love, a story as wide as creation, as dramatic as anything Shakespeare has ever thought up, and as personal as you and me. The best love stories in print and on film are mere echoes of this far greater story of God’s love for His people.

In these weeks leading up to Easter we are taking the time to look at the whole Bible and see how, from Genesis through Revelation, it is knit together as a singular story covering thousands of years written by dozens of authors across hundreds of miles.

On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, He walked with two of His disciples from Jerusalem to Emaus and explained to them, from Moses and the Prophets, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of everything Scripture talks about. So this week, we are looking at the biblical theme of love, and seeing how it follows from Moses to the Messiah to you and me, from eternity past to eternity next – and beyond.

The story of God’s love is really a fairly simple story – it’s the story of God choosing to love His people, and that choice is repeated and clarified as biblical history unfolds.

In the beginning, God displays His love for all humanity by providing a perfect and beautiful world for us. Unbelievably, Adam and Eve reject God’s love when they decide to reject God’s Word. God excludes them from the Garden, but He continues to love them. In practical ways, He loves them in the simple act of covering their nakedness with clothes.

God’s love continues with marking Cain so no one will harm him, and then Seth, and all the generations down to Noah. And then God shows His love by saving Noah and his family from destruction, and then He particularly blesses Shem, Noah’s son, and the generations that descend from him.

Let’s jump down to Genesis 12. In this story God’s love comes into sharp focus with God’s call of Abram out of idolatry and into covenant relationship with Him. God chooses Abram and his descendents, to be a great nation, and He calls them to be a blessing, an expression of God’s love, to the whole world. Listen to Genesis 12:1-3 …. —-

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,       and I will bless you;    I will make your name great,        and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

  • The promise of God’s love is duly kept in this story. God completely fulfills this promise. He sets His love on Isaac, then on Jacob, then on Jacob’s descendents who are called the Israelites.
  • God rescues them from slavery in Egypt, and sets them apart with the 10 Commandments.
  • And God gives that nation a covenant and calls them to be a blessing, an expression of God’s love to the whole world. The class that I’m taking on Monday nights uses the phrase, “We are blessed to be a blessing.” Think how wrong it would be to receive the greatest blessing ever, and to not share it with others, with everyone!
  • Like Adam, the nation of Israel rebels against God by turning to other gods, idols that their own hands have made; and God responds by judging Israel, but throughout the judgment God continues to love His people.

Now, let’s jump 2,000 years.  Scholars tell us that Moses lived about 2,000 years BC, and tradition says that Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, so for the sake of simplicity, let’s jump the 2,000 years from Moses to Jesus, where we find yet another “story-telling of God’s Love” in John 3:14-17 …. —-

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

  • At the same location that God showed His love to Abraham and Isaac by stopping the sacrifice on Mount Moriah, God showed His love to the world by not stopping the sacrifice of His own Son for the sake of His people!
  • Suddenly, into this seeming picture of love’s labor lost, comes the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen. God sends Jesus, the Son whom He has loved since the beginning of eternity past.
  • Jesus lives the life of loving obedience toward God that we should have, but didn’t. Then He takes upon Himself our penalty for spurning God’s love by dying our death on the cross!

There’s a reason why, I think, the Bible seems to use marriage as an illustration of God’s perfect love for us. The Bible begins with a weddingAdam and Eve, and there are several wedding analogies throughout Scripture where God’s love for His people is compared to a marriage, Christ is called the bridegroom to His bride the Church, and the Bible closes with heaven being described as a wedding feast!

It appears that marriage matters to Godnot that everyone must be married, but that those who are married need to know that it mattersGod created marriage, and therefore only God has the right to define marriage.

That’s nearly a tangent, so I won’t go any further, except to remind us that, just in case we haven’t yet figured out what God’s love story means and looks like, God gave us the Apostle Paul to define it for us – in several ways. Paul wrote, that “while we were yet/still sinners, Christ died for us”, “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised Him from the dead, and you shall be saved!”, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.”

But his clearest definition of God’s love is in I Corinthians 13. Listen to these words which we normally only hear read at weddingsPaul did not intend that they be wedding words, they’re appropriate for weddings, but he meant them for all of life.  Hear the Word of God defining “Love” from I Corinthians 13:4-13 …. —-

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

      8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.    

     11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

     13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

With all that said, the world still asks that, if all this is true, then just exactly who does God love?

Let’s take these biblical theological truths, and answer that question.

1)   We have all probably heard the Bible verse that says “God is love” (what it actually says is, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” [I John 4:8]). But, what does that mean?

First, it means that the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. And somehow, in a mysterious Trinitarian formula, both the Father and the Son are wrapped in the love of the Holy Spirit. Love is bound up in the very nature of the Trinity. God is love; and God cannot be God without love.

What this suggests is that, at the end of the day, life and love is not about me! It is about God. If we can find love firmly established in the nature of God, then there is hope, despite what we encounter here.

2)   Second, God loves the world in two ways.

First, God loves creation! The Scriptures are filled with God’s love for His creation!

Second, God loves rebellious humanity.  God loves the world that hates Him, rejects Him, and even denies His existence! Jesus died for rebellious humanity.  There is no love greater than that!

3)   Third, God loves His own people distinctively!

Not only does God love the world, God loves people. Throughout the story of God’s love, God makes a distinction between people and then He places His [unique] love on the ones He has chosen. The biblical language for this love is “election”. In Deuteronomy 7 as the Israelite people are standing on the brink of the Promised Land, Moses says, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But    those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;        he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.    11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

Why did God choose Israel? Because they were better than anyone else? Because they were bigger than the others? Because they were more righteous? No. No. No. God chose them simply because He loved them! And He loved them simply because He did!

4)   Fourth, God loves sinners!

Romans 5:8 tells us, “God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were yet/still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So, why does God love? Three quick reasons: God loves because He chooses to love! God loves because God loves His Son. God loves because God isLove.

And the Good News is that, to our eternal joy and happiness, our lives can be caught up in that incredible story of love! As we saw earlier, the Bible begins and ends with a marriage. The first marriage in the Bible was an arranged marriage Adam had no choice! Adam was given Eve as his wife. [In Fiddler on the Roof, after the second daughter decides to marry a man without even asking permission Tevye asks, “Did Adam and Eve have a match-maker? I guess they did – and it looks like these two have the same one.”]

But the last marriage is very different. The last marriage is between Christ and His people. And as we’ve seen, we were chosen from before the foundation of the world. The last marriage in the Bible, the last marriage in all of history, is not an arranged marriage. It is a marriage for love.

If you are a Christian – know that you are loved! God has chosen you … because God is love!

If you are not a Christian believer, but you think you might want to be – know that you, too, are loved. God wishes that no one would be outside His loveall you need do is accept it, and then know that God has chosen you … because God is love! Amen.

Resources:

Lawrence, Michael; Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church; Crossway; Wheaton, IL; 2010; Pp. 141-152.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 358.

Stein, Joseph; Fiddler on the Roof; 1964.

Wheeler, Mark; The Ledger newsletter; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church; 03/2014.

 

What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about the Fall.”

Mark Wheeler

March 16, 2014

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Genesis 3:1-7; John 1:10-11; 3:18-21; Revelation 18:21-23; Romans 3:23; II Corinthians 6:14

So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about the Fall

Loving God, help us when we have been betrayed to look beyond hypocrisy and deceit to Your throne of grace, and there to lay our burdens down. We trust in Your covenant of unfailing love, revealed to us in the betrayal, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

Today’s message is called “Let’s Talk about the Fall” – and it’s not even officially Spring until Thursday! Yeah, well, I believe in planning ahead…. Or maybe I wanna talk about LAST Fall! Actually I don’t ever wanna talk about last Fall again! And, no, I’m not talking about Autumn, I’m talking about THE Fall – the biblical telling of mankind’s lostness, when darkness overcame the light, when evil started moving into our neighborhoods, and how you and I are a real part of that story.

We ask questions like:

“What is wrong with this world – that my niece has cancer?”

“What’s with all the terrorists we read about in the paper?”

“Are people basically good or bad? I feel like I’m good, but sometimes I do things I regret.”

“Why do people die? My dear friend is about to die.”

“Why does it seem like there’s so little true justice in the world? I just read about all those people starving in Sudan because of an unjust government.”

“Can I trust the God whom you claim rules over this world?”

That said, this Lenten sermon series we are looking at how the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, tells the story of Jesus.  We began this series looking at how Jesus met with two of His disciples, Cleopas and the “other one”, and shared with them, from Moses and the Prophets, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises and prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah.

And for the next six Sundays, we are taking some guesses as to how Jesus did that.  So I invite you to buckle up, open your Bibles, and hear the Word of God, from Moses all the way to the MessiahWhat’s the Story?  Today we look at “the Fall”, and we see it all the way to the “Resurrection”.

Our Old Testament reading comes from Genesis 3, this is connected to the second Creation story of Genesis. Hear the Word of God from Genesis 3:1-7 …. —-

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”     The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat from the trees in the garden,  but God did say, ‘You must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”     “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “ For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”      6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.     Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

  • This story begins in Paradisethe Garden of Eden. Everything is right in this world. God the Creator has given every blessing needed to thrive!
  • But there is one limit – “Do not eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
  • In comes Satan, and Eve and AdamFall” to temptation!
  • The result of “the Fall”? Adam and Eve are exiled from Paradise, must work and labor for their survival, and are separated from God’s immediate presence.
  • Is this a one-time event? No this happens over and over and over again – and it seems to grow with each generation. Satan, in effect, murders Adam’s and Eve’s soul. ->Cain murders Abel out of jealousy ->Lamech abandons marital union and takes two wives ->then Lamech murders because someone has injured him -> and so on ->and so on->and so on until we come to today! ->by the time Moses gets to Genesis 6, the evil has gotten so great that “every inclination of the thoughts of man’s heart was evil all the time” ->the flood.
  • And that cycle continues after the flood, as I said, all the way to this moment in history.
  • Adam and Eve are “exposed/naked” for how they have chosen. And the results seem unstoppable!

Now, let’s jump 2,000 years.  Scholars tell us that Moses lived about 2,000 years BC, and tradition says that Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, so for the sake of simplicity, let’s jump the 2,000 years from Moses to Jesus, where we find yet another “story of the Fall” in John 1:10-11 and 3:18-21 …. —-

John 1 10 He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him…. 

John 3 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he does has been done through God.

  • As the New Testament opens, John the Baptist comes on the scene and picks up where Malachi (the end of the Old Testament) left off, warning of the judgment to come.
  • The Son of God came, lived right in their midst, and was rejected!
  • Verse 20 says, 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be “exposed/naked” for how they have chosen. And the results seem unstoppable!

What will be the end of the Fall? How can this resolve in a good way? Now, let’s jump another 70 or so years into the futureThe same Disciple who wrote John’s Gospel, John the brother of James, also wrote the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.  In this strange, difficult to interpret book of “end times” prophecy, John writes one last  “Fall story” in Revelation 18:21-23 …. —-

21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:

    “With such violence   the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,         never to be found again.

    22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters,         will never be heard in you again.

     No workman of any trade   will ever be found in you again.       The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again.

    23 The light of a lamp  will never shine in you again.       The voice of a bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you      

    again….”

 This is the Fall still yet to be experienced by us, but it is as real as the 1st Fall, and it is as terrifying as the “Fall story” in John 1 and 3.

  • Those who choose to worship idols rather than God are completely exposed/naked and therefore “fall” outside of Paradise, and the tormented anguish of their exile in hell will last for all eternityunstoppable!

Jesus explained to His two disciples, from Moses and the Prophets, how all the Messianic Old Testament Bible verses were fulfilled in Him; and we have seen this morning, how in the theme of the Fall the whole Bible is knit together as a singular story of God’s perfect power and love for us – but so what?

Here’s one more Bible passage, from the Apostle Paul: “14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14)

How do we normally hear this verse applied?  I most often hear people use this verse to counsel young couples about interfaith marriages.  “Don’t be yoked with an unbelieving husband or wife!”  And, while I do think that is good advice, it is not what Paul is talking about here.  His primary context is probably more related to business partners, and is meant to be applied also to friendships and relational connections, certainly marriages would be included.

But a careful look also suggests that this is to be applied directly to you and me.

We live in a very broken and fallen world! There is no way to escape this truth, or to deny its existence! Yes, we have the splendors of God’s glory, amazing sunrises and awe-inspiring sunsets, mountain scenes and beaches, wildlife and weather that takes our breath away; music of our Chancel Choir, the songs of the birds bringing this Spring to life, the coos and cries and giggles of babies – but we need glasses to see these beauties clearly and hearing aids to enjoy the sounds.

That’s God’s perfect Creation and our brokenness, fallenness, side-by-side!

Some patterns we see in this storyline: First, on the one hand, every time we Fall it is instigated by Satan – he tries to trip us up!; and on the other hand, we are completely responsible for choosing to follow Satan rather than God!

Second, we see a pattern of effects from the Fall:

Effect 1: We are banished from God’s presence (on that day you shall surely die) – Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden; Cain from God’s people; ultimately, those who die without ever choosing God, from His eternal presence in heaven.

Effect 2: We are corrupted in natureAdam and Eve disobeyed, Cain killed, Tower of Babel built to suggest equality with God. The problem of sin is found in our heart! It’s not just an issue of education or surroundings, it’s a heart condition!

Third, we see a pattern of progressionsin goes from bad to worse, all the way through the history of humanity!

But this is not the end of the story!

What this proves is that we do not live in a spiritually neutral worldEvery decision we make is a battle between listening for God’s voice or deciding we don’t need to!

This story tells us that God is not the one to blame for the condition of this world – we are!

People do bad things simply because we want to! Maybe because we want to be God! And God is, therefore, just when He judges us.

And because God is perfectly holy, He can have nothing to do with sin! What fellowship can light have with darkness? Remember last week when we read from II Corinthians 5 that God calls us to partner with Him? And today in II Corinthians 6 we read where He asks, What do righteousness and wickedness have in common?! God can have nothing to do with being yoked with our sinfulness!

And here’s the Good News! We cannot save ourselves from this condition of hell-bent destiny – and we don’t need to! God has sent us a Savior – and that salvation comes to us in the form of ultimate judgment! Did you hear that? God saves us by judging us as guilty of sin!

He does that because His Son, the promised seed of Abraham, the Son of all-mankind and the Son of God, paid the guilty-price for our sinOur only responsibility is to receive that gift with an open life – and then to live like we believe what we say we believe!

So how does the Bible answer our questions about cancer and death and terrorism? How we understand our concerns about environmental degradation and economic collapse? What does God say about injustice?

God did not create this world to be ravaged by things like cancer and terrorism. But He did curse the “very good” world He had madebecause of our sinWe have all set ourselves up as gods in His place, and as such we have attracted His deserved wrath. God has rightly cursed this world because of us. We have no one to blame but ourselvesRomans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!”

But we can still trust this God whose anger we have stirred, because way more than His anger He has loved us with His very Son

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He is the cure for the fallen, broken world we have corrupted! He offers us a rescue from this terrifying, accelerating descent into hellThat rescue is Jesus!

Beginning in the desert and continuing to Calvary, Jesus did what Adam (and you and I) failed to do! He resisted Satan’s temptation to exalt Himself on His own terms! Jesus freely chose to obey God all the way to His death!

Here is the answer for how we can trust God in the face of so much evil and suffering in the world.  Here is the reason we can trust the God who has cursed us for our sin. He is the same God who suffered for us to conquer evil and sin and death! He is the same God who bore the curse on our behalf!

 On the day in the Garden of Eden when God declared  that the judgment for sin would be death, on that same day the Son of God was there sharing in that decision. It was a judgment, but it was also a mercy. To remain in the presence of this holy God as a very unholy sinner meant eternal death. To be banished from His presence meant only temporary death.

Here is the answer why we can trust God in a fallen world: He is none other than “the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world” for sinners such as me!

I invite you to trust this God!  Amen.

Resources:

Lawrence, Michael; Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church; Crossway; Wheaton, IL; 2010; Pp. 129-140.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 355.

Wheeler, Mark; The Ledger newsletter; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church; 03/2014.

So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Creation!”

Mark Wheeler

March 9, 2014

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Genesis 1:1-3, 31; John 1:1-14; Revelation 21:1-5, 22-24; II Corinthians 5:17-21

So, What’s the Story? “Let’s Talk about Creation”

God who hears and answers prayer, Your Word teaches us to place our anxiety on You because You care for us. Help us to remember this truth – not only today, but all the days of our lives.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

There’s this new Kindle app – for those who I just lost because the word “kindle” has to do with starting a fire and the word “app” means nothing at all, please bear with me for a minute – there’s this new Kindle app that will allow entire novels to be read in 90 minutes.

Those who know me well know that I’m not a fast reader, so this caught my attentionI probably read about 40-60 words per minute – it takes me forever to read a novel.  This new app, on a trial basis, works by showing one word at a time, with key letters printed in red, and it starts at 250 words per minute. And I could read that fastThey say, with better comprehension.  Then it moves to 350 words per minute; and I could keep up! Then it moves to 500 words per minutethat’s where it lost me.  But probably, with practice, I could make that work – maybe with decent comprehension. Now, I am not buying the app, just out of principleI want to read my novels for enjoyment, not just to “beat” my old record.

That said, this Lenten sermon series might feel a little like we’re testing that kind of speed-reading appLast week we saw how Jesus met with two of His disciples, Cleopas and the “other one”, and shared with them, from Moses and the Prophets, how He was the ultimate fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises and prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah.

For the next six Sundays, we are going to take some guesses as to how Jesus did that.  So I invite you to buckle up, open your Bibles, and with better comprehension, hear the Word of God, from Moses all the way to the MessiahWhat’s the Story?  Today we look at “Creation”, and we see it all the way to the “New Creation”.

Our Old Testament reading comes from Genesis 1, the beginning of the first Creation story. Hear the Word of God from Genesis 1:1-5, and 31 …. —-

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.…. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

  • 1st Creation storyname for God = elohim (plural noun, singular verbs), not Yahweh; (theos is Septuagint)
  • Traditionally written by Moses
  • Notice what “creation” involved: (formless & empty ->formed & full; darkness -> light; God’s Word [God said, “Let there be light ….”]; God’s perfect approval [“It was very good.”])

Now, let’s jump 2,000 years.  Scholars tell us that Moses lived about 2,000 years BC, and if you count the years in the Bible from Creation to Jesus we could see that it is about 4,000 years BC.  Of course science suggests, and there is considerable debate about this that we’re not about to try to settle this morning, but science suggests that “creation” started several billion (with a B) years ago. So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s jump the 2,000 years from Moses to Jesus, where we find yet another “Creation story” in John 1:1-14 …. —-

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Matthew = the Jews, Jesus is King; Mark = the Jews, Jesus is Suffering Servant; Luke = Greeks, Jesus is Son of Man; John = all peoples, Jesus is Son of God
  • Opening words are exactly the same as Genesis 1: “In the beginning …God’s name is “theos” = “God
  • Notice what “creation” involved: (God’s Word = “was with God and was God”!; through “Him”, i.e., the Word, all things were formed!; light -> darkness! [creation and Fall]; the Word became flesh, dwelt among us, the glory of God, through the Son of God -> God’s perfect approval)

Now, let’s jump another 70 or so years into the futureOne of JesusDisciples, named John, the brother of James, the author of the Gospel according to John, also wrote the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.  In this strange, difficult to interpret book of “end times” prophecy, John writes one last  “Creation story” in Revelation 21:1-5, and verse 23 …. —-

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” …  23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

  • This “New Creation” is still yet to be experienced by us, but it is as real as the 1st Creation, and it is as wonderful as the “creation story” in John 1.
  • Another theme in the 1st Creation story deals with the “man” that God created, male and female He created them – in Genesis 2, we read in that 2nd version of the Creation story how the male-“man needed a help-mate, and God provided the female-“man” from his rib.  In this “New Creation”, that theme of bridegroom and bride is repeated, only now the “bride” is the “church” and the bridegroom is Christ Himself.
  • Again we hear the Word of God, in verse 3, a “loud voice from the throne
  • And again, what this loud voice declares is God with us.
  • And in thisNew Creation” we will experience the glory of God in ways we cannot even imagine, including the need for no more sun or moon because God’s glory Himself will be the Light! There will be no more darkness!
  • Notice what this “new creation” involved: (formation of the New Heaven and New Jerusalem; no more darkness because God’s glory is the light; God’s Word; God’s absolute perfect approval!)

Jesus explained to His two disciples, from Moses and the Prophets, how all the Messianic Old Testament Bible verses were fulfilled in Him; and we have seen this morning, how in the theme of Creation the whole Bible is knit together as a singular story of God’s perfect power and love for us – but so what?

Here’s one more Bible passage, from the Apostle Paul: “17 If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:17-21)

Did you hear that Good News?  The Bible tells us of God’s perfect Creation, and how it all ends with perfect justice and mercy – but you and I live in this in-between time, between the Fall and our Resurrection, between God’s act of salvation on the cross and our inheritance of eternal life through faith; between the “already” and “not yet” of God’s perfect paradise.

And in this in-between time, if anyone is in Christ, she or he is a new creation!  The old has gone and the new has come.  We get to wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning Lord!” because we know that God is with us throughout the day; instead of “Good Lord it’s morning!” like those who are afraid to face the challenges that the next calendar-date brings.

And God invites us to join in His recreation work!  As His Ambassadors!  To offer His Word of Light to our dark world; to bring reconciliation to a world torn apart, by war and greed and envy and fear.

In a few minutes we will come to our God in prayer, let’s pray for an understanding of our role as Ambassadors in a day that sees civil war in the Ukraine; where Venezuela is being torn apart by political factions; where south Sudan is again under siege; where even the Church, even the PCUSA, stoops to name-calling and infightingChrist has committed to us the message of reconciliation!  We dare not take that with a wink and a nod.  We must pray and listen with due diligence for the opportunities to share the Gospel in ways that offer life to a dying community.

What are you facing today? Surgeries? Family disputes? Financial despair? Spiritual warfare? – In Christ, the mercies of God are new every morning!

Sheryl Kinder-Pyle, our Presbytery’s “executive” leader, is with us this morning.  Sheryl, I hope you can join us downstairs for a few minutes during our “family-fellowship” time.  And then, about 10 minutes after the benediction, some of us will gather in the Fellowship Room (on the south end of the building) to hear Sheryl present a potential program to help us take this “commission by Christ to be His Ambassadorsseriously. If you did not RSVP to me, there might not be enough lunch, but feel free to join us and be a part of the discussion anyway.

The Creation stories in Scripture invite us into active participation in the New Creation.  Let’s live like we believe what we say we believe, and be a part of His perfect prophetic plan.  Amen.

Resources:

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 350.

Wheeler, Mark; The Ledger newsletter; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church; 03/2014.

“The WORD’s on the Street”

Mark Wheeler

March 2, 2014

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Luke 24:13-27

“So, What’s the Story?” or “The Word’s on the Street” (From Moses to Messiah)

Patient and loving God, so often we live as though we were God.  By Your Holy Spirit show us that You alone are sovereign and holy. Help us to see the foolishness of earthly wisdom, and to discover the joy of knowing Jesus Christ, God’s wisdom.  We pray this Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have you ever noticed that reading the Old Testament is not always easy. I discovered this again over the last the 3 months reading Genesis thru I Samuel. Ken Onstot, pastor at Hamblin Park Presby Church says, “There is more violence than a Bruce Willis movie”; and some of it seems to be initiated by God: the flood in the time of Noah, the plagues in Egypt, the destruction of Jericho, David’s wars against the Philistines, and Elijah’s slaughter of the prophets of Baal. Thankfully most children’s Bibles leave out some of the gory details, but our regular Bibles do not. It makes me anxious to get to the New Testament.

But when Jesus speaks of God, He is clearly talking about the God of the Old Testament: the God who created mankind in His own image, the God who called Abraham, the God who set free the slaves from Egypt, the God who gave us the Ten Commandments and was not hesitant to punish those who broke them. John Bright, a brilliant Old Testament scholar who died about 20 years ago once said, “I am quite unable to get around the fact … that the Old Testament was the authoritative Scripture for Jesus himself. Jesus knew no scripture save the Old Testament, no God save its God; it was this God whom he addressed as ‘Father.’

Ken Onstot, again, reminds us that we cannot skip the Old Testament; it prepares us for Jesus in two important ways.

First, [the Old Testament] reminds us in vivid terms that God cares deeply about earthly human life—all of it—family relationships, economics, politics, personal morality, social justice, and care of the earth—all of it! Believing in Jesus is not simply about going to heaven; it is about preparing for the new heaven and [new] earth that Jesus came to bring.

Second, it reminds us how serious are the consequences of sin. We should not need such a reminder: the consequences of slavery in a bloody civil war, the consequences of aggression in the destruction of World War II, the consequences of greed when the economic bubble bursts, the consequences of addiction, abuse, and adultery in subsequent generations. The Old Testament reminds us that turning our back on God can have a horrible ripple effect on the world, and the damage cannot be undone with a simple apology. It took nothing less than the death of God’s own Son on a cross.

Reading the Old Testament will make you glad for the coming of Jesus. In Jesus we see a compassion and love that is glimpsed only partially and intermittently in the Old Testament. But if we do not see the connection between Jesus and the justice of God or between the deadly consequences of sin and Jesus’ death, then we have not yet grasped what Jesus is about. We cannot skip the Old Testament, because without it we will not understand the New [Testament].”

This week begins the church season of Lent – we start to recognize the days getting longer (and warmer, we hope); but more importantly, Christmas becomes a distant memory of the baby in the manger and we remember that the whole purpose of Christmas was Easter – which is just around the corner.  The season of Lent is meant to help us prepare for the power of the Resurrection story.

Those of you who have looked at your March newsletter, or at the calendar in today’s bulletin, may have noticed that starting this Wednesday we have Bible passages to read “together”, all from the Gospel according to LukeThese Bible passages will walk us through the last week of Jesus’ life before His arrest, illegal trial, and unfounded execution on the cross; and by Easter Sunday we will be at His resurrection – together.  I do invite and encourage you to take the five minutes or less each day to read these passages, with your family if you have one.

Today’s Scripture reading starts at the end.  This story starts off with, “Now on that same day …”the day of Jesus’ Resurrection – the first Easter Sunday, the third day after His crucifixion and burial.

And the next phrase is, “… two of them …”, meaning two of Jesus’ followers, two of His disciples, one whose name was CLEOPAS (an otherwise unknown disciple) and the other whose name we are never even told (a still-unknown disciple), were walking home and talking about all the craziness of that day.

Now, before we start reading the story, I just want to say that the unknown-ness of these two disciples (not loud-mouthed Peter, not sons-of-thunder James and John; these two disciples) suggests that their topic of discussion was everywhere, and that Jesus chose to walk and talk with them just BECAUSE of their unknown-ness.

What does that say to you and me?  I think what that suggests is that the value of the follower of Jesus is not based on how famous or well-known we are, but solely on how loved by God we are.  We might be an otherwise unknown Cleopas, or even a lesser known un-named in history follower of Jesusand our part in communicating the Gospel is no less important or vital to the world around us.

OK, that seems like enough introduction to today’s sermon and this season’s series.  My original title was “From Moses to Messiah”, but I changed it to either “So, What’s the Story?” or “The Word’s on the Street”. I couldn’t decide. Let’s hear the Word of God from Luke 24:13-27 …. —-

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him….     17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”    They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “(Are you kidding us?) Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”        19 “What things?” he asked.        “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”        … 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

On that very first Christian Easter Sunday, the only thing anyone talked about was the events of that weekend – including the annual Passover celebration, the arrest and illegal trial of the itinerant preacher named Jesus, his “conviction” and execution on the cross, and how on the third day he miraculously resurrected!

Of course, that’s all anyone talked about!  What else was there?

Luke 24:27 tells of Jesus meeting with two men talking about the amazing feats of the day, and Jesus, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets … expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

I wish I could have heard that Word on the street.  What, exactly, did Jesus say?

When Luke records that description of Jesus’ explanation (beginning at Moses and all the Prophets), to what was he referring? This was that very same Old Testament we started talking about at the very beginning of this message. The authoritative Word of God Scriptures that Jesus held as His own rule for life and faith.

We do not know exactly which Old Testament stories, which verses or books, Jesus relied on or told about; but let me just list off a number of Old Testament references which definitely allude to the person of Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of those Moses and Prophet events.  Listen carefully and write down a favorite or two of yours:

And maybe if some catch you as a surprise, which ones do that?

Genesis: The Seed of the Woman – Messiah would be born of the seed of a woman (Gen 3:15, Luke 1:34-35)
Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Gen 12:3, 17:19, 28:14, Luke 3:23-34)
Messiah would be a king in the line of Judah (Gen 49:10, John 1:49)
Typified in the person of Melchizedek (Gen 14:18)
The life of Isaac – the sacrificed son of Abraham (Gen 22)
The life of Joseph – the rejected brother (Gen 37)

Exodus: The Passover Lamb Typified in the life of Moses – the deliverer
The Passover Lamb (Ex 12, John 1:29,36)
The Manna from Heaven – the bread of life (Ex 16, John 6)
The Tabernacle (Brazen Altar, Lampstand, Table of Showbread, Ark of the covenant etc) (Gen 25-30)

Leviticus: The High Priest Typified in the sacrifices and offerings (Lev 1-7)
In the Jewish festivals (Passover, Atonement, Lev 16, 23)
In the scapegoat (Lev 16:7-9)
In the person and duties of the High Priest (Lev 16)

Numbers: Typified in the bronze serpent (Num 21:8-9)
The Water from the Rock (Num 20)

Deuteronomy: The Prophet Like Moses – Messiah will be a prophet (Deut 18:15-19, John 6:14)

Joshua: The Captain of Our Salvation Typified in the person of Joshua (our leader into the promised land)
In the Commander of the Lord’s Army (Josh 5:13-15)

Judges: The Judge And Lawgiver Typified in the Judges (for He is true Judge of the living and the dead)

Ruth: The Kinsman Redeemer Messiah would be a descendant of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:12-17)

I & II Samuel: Messiah would be a descendant of David (2 Sam 7:12-16, Matt 1:1)
Messiah would be the ‘Rock’ (2 Sam 23:2-3, 1 Cor 10:4)
Typified in the life of David – The King in Exile (1 Sam 22)
The life of Jonathon – the faithful friend (1 Sam 18:1-4)

I & II Kings: In the life and miracles of the prophet Elisha (multiplying bread 2 Kings 4:42, healing leper 2 Kings 5)

I & II Chronicles: Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (1 Chron 5:2, Luke 3:23-32)
Typified in Solomon’s temple
In the Wisdom of Solomon (2 Chron 9:22)

Ezra: The Faithful Scribe Typified in person of Zerubbabel, the rebuilder of the temple (Ezra 4)

Nehemiah: The Rebuilder of the Walls Typified in the person of Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the walls of salvation

Esther: Typified in the person of Mordecai

Job: The Dayspring From on High Typified in the sufferings of Job and the blessings that would follow

Psalms: The Lord Who Is Our Shepherd Messiah would be the Son of God (Ps 2:7, 12, Matt 17:5)
Messiah would be resurrected (Ps 16:8-10, Acts 13:30-37)
Messiah would be despised & crucified (Ps 22:6-8, 14, Luke 23:21-23, Matt 27:35)
Messiah would be hated without cause (Ps 69:4, Luke 23:13-22)
Messiah would be Lord, seated at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1,5, 1 Pet 3:21-22)
Messiah would be in the line of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4, Heb 6:17-20)
Messiah would be the ‘stone’ rejected by the Jews (Ps 118:22, Matt 21:42-43)
Key Messianic Psalms: Chapters 2, 8, 16, 22, 45, 69, 89, 109, 110, 118

Proverbs & Ecclesiastes: Messiah would be the Son of God (Prov 30:4, Matt 3:16-17)

Song of Solomon: The Lover & Bridegroom Typified in the Bridegroom’s love for, and marriage to, the bride

Isaiah: The Suffering Servant Messiah would be born of a virgin (Is 7:14, Luke 1:34-35)
Messiah would be Immanuel “God with us” (Is 7:14, Matt 1:21-23)
Messiah would be God and Man (Is 9:6, John 10:30)
Messiah would have the 7-fold Spirit upon Him (Is 11:1-2, Matt 3:16-17)
Messiah would heal the blind, lame, deaf (Is 35:5-6, Mark 10:51-52)
Messiah would be proceeded by a forerunner (Is 40:3, Luke 1:17)
Messiah would be a light to the gentiles (Is 42:6, John 8:12)
Messiah would be despised by the Jewish nation (Is 49:7, John 10:20, Matt 27:23)
Messiah would be whipped and beaten (Is 50:6, Matt 26:67, 27:26)
Messiah would die as a guilt offering for sin (Is 53:10, John 18:11)
Messiah would be resurrected and live forever (Is 53:10, Mark 16:16)

Jeremiah & Lamentations: Messiah would be a righteous Branch (Jer 23:5)
Messiah would be our righteousness (Jer 23:6, 1 Cor 1:30)

Ezekiel: The Son of Man Messiah would be a descendant of David (Ez 34:23-24, Matt 1:1)

Daniel: The Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven Messiah would be ‘a son of man’ given an everlasting kingdom (Dan 7:13-14, Luke 1:31-34)
Messiah would come 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan 9:25, John 12:12-23)
Messiah would be killed (Dan 9:26, Matt 27:35)
Revealed as the ‘stone’ (and His kingdom) that smashes the kingdoms of the world (Dan 2:34,44)
Typified in the 4th man in the fiery furnace – one like ‘the son of gods’ (Dan 3:25)

Hosea: The Bridegroom Typified in Hosea’s faithfulness to his adulterous wife (Hos 3)

Joel: The Baptizer With The Holy Spirit Messiah will offer salvation to all mankind (Joel 2:32, Rom 10:12-13)
Messiah would baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32)

Amos: The Burden Bearer God would darken the day at noon during Messiah’s death (Amos 8:9, Matt 27:45-46)

Obadiah: The Mighty Savior

Jonah: The Forgiving God Typified in Jonah being 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish (Jon 1:17, Matt 12:40)

Micah: The Messenger With Beautiful Feet Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2, Matt 2:1-2)
Messiah would be from everlasting (Mic 5:2, Rev:1-8)

Nahum: The Avenger of God’s Elect

Habakkuk: The Great Evangelist, Crying For Revival Messiah would come from Teman at His return, full of glory (Hab 3:3)

Zephaniah: The Restorer of the Remnant

Haggai: The Cleansing Fountain Messiah would visit the 2nd temple (Hag 2:6-9, Luke 2:27-32)

Zechariah: Messiah would be ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech 9:9, Matt 21:6-9)
Messiah would be God (Zech 11:12-13, John 12:45)
Messiah would be pierced (Zech 12:10, John 19:34-37)

Malachi: The Son of Righteousness Messiah would appear at the temple (Mal 3:1, Mark 11:15-16)
Messiah’s forerunner would come in the spirit of Elijah (Mat 4:5, Matt 3:1-2)

Back in the day, historians record, that was all anyone talked about!  We don’t live in that culture in Spokane in the 21st century – but maybe we can be the catalyst that starts a rebound!

What do you say? Let’s get the local news to report: “The Word’s on the Street”!  Amen.

Resources:

Bright, John (as quoted by Josh McDowell; “The Historic Reliability of the Old Testament”; Theology Matters; Jan/Feb 2014; Presbyterians for faith, Family and Ministry; P. 4).

Onstot, Ken; Hamblin Park Presbyterian Church, Spokane, WA; March-April 2014 newsletter.

Prophecy Source: http://www.messiahrevealed.org/book-index.html.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 350.

Wheeler, Mark; Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, Spokane, WA; March 2014 newsletter.