From the Chamber of the South Comes the Whirlwind

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

From the Chamber of the South
Comes the Whirlwind

Florida is a marvelous state. Its summers are not any hotter than most other places, they just go on and on (and, at times, on) longer than other places. The more difficult part of the summer weather is the humidity, but even that isn’t terrible once you acclimate to it.

On the other hand, while people up north are freezing in long, snowy winters, we are on the beaches or living out our lives in marvelous temps with low humidity and constant sunshine. While their ground is unproductive and their trees are void of leaves, we are coconutting in still-lush surroundings.

We are almost free of the things that many other states must constantly dread – droughts, earthquakes, blizzards, and so on. However, there is one calamity that Floridians joke about in the wintertime and fear its coming during the summer: the hurricane.

But even hurricanes are isolated events, and they have been shown to serve their own purpose in the bigger scheme of things. Because of the incredible devastation they bring, we normally only see their negative effects, but that is looking at God’s world with a myopic view of things.

After every such major event, people leave their classrooms and laboratories and head out to where the hurricanes have hit to study the effects of what occurred on the ecosystem. Scientific findings have shown us that there is a positive effect on the surrounding environment. Where we see carnage, the system that God has set in place finds benefit from these giant whirling storms.

Learning these effects will help us to better understand God’s healing powers that arise from the very storms that bring destruction and death. For example, from, we read one benefit derived from hurricanes –

“Despite the destructive effect of hurricanes on mangrove forests in tropical and subtropical latitudes, hurricanes are major drivers controlling soil fertility gradients in the Florida Everglades mangroves, and therefore represent a positive influence in maintaining observed mangrove spatial distribution and productivity patterns. Hurricane-induced mineral inputs to near-coast mangroves in the Everglades enhance phosphorus (P) concentrations in soils, increase plant P uptake, promote soil elevation gains relative to sea level, and facilitate rapid forest recovery following disturbance. The response of mangroves to large-scale P fertilization from hurricanes may be an important adaptation of neotropical mangroves in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean region to withstand the impacts of both sea-level rise and P limitation.”

Text Verse: God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.
For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’;
Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.
He seals the hand of every man,
That all men may know His work.
The beasts go into dens,
And remain in their lairs.
From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind,
And cold from the scattering winds of the north.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
And the broad waters are frozen.
11 Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds;
He scatters His bright clouds.
12 And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance,
That they may do whatever He commands them
On the face of the whole earth.
13 He causes it to come,
Whether for correction,
Or for His land,
Or for mercy. Job 37:5-13

God is aware of all things. Nothing happens apart from His knowledge, and nothing happens that is apart from His will. For those who understand this, even in our times of greatest trial, distress, sickness, or loss, that is a great and reassuring comfort. It is also something that we can cling to as we live out these lives in days that are uncertain, often confusing, and surely filled with trouble.

Mangroves are where so much life in the bays and coasts of Florida occur. Little creatures make their homes there, fish spawn in them, soil is captured by them, and new lands arise from the waters because of them.

Apparently, God knows when something is needed to help things like mangroves along and He has developed a means of providing that help on a massive scale. That is scary to humans who think we must somehow correct the natural cycle of things because we think we know better than He does.

We already know hurricanes are an expected danger. And yet, we still move onto the coastal islands and along the rivers and flood plains, hoping for the ideal spot to settle down, catch some fish, and show how “in control” of our surroundings we are. We can’t blame God for our choice of home. But that is often the voice that is heard just before, during, and after a hurricane. “Why, O God, did You allow this to happen?”

For my own part, and certainly for those who shared in last week’s events, I can honestly say that a lot of good came from what we might consider bad. Our house sure has a lot more sunshine coming down upon it now. The trees that might have died over the next few years, causing occasional interruptions in the regular routine of life all perished at one time.

Things that were old and no longer of use have been sorted out and eliminated from our lives. Lots of things that just needed to be done are all jammed into one quick event, and then life goes on. As a result, the mangroves have enough phosphorous to go wild for the next number of years, known to God, before He again sends another whirling monster upon our little haven by the Gulf of Mexico to rejuvenate things once again.

But something more than the surrounding natural effects upon the environment has occurred as well, hasn’t it? We have seen the better and worse sides of those we encountered. We have readjusted our priorities, at least temporarily. We have considered our end, at least for a span, so that we can contemplate what is most important. And, hopefully, we have brought the Lord God into more focus in relation to our lives.

Things such as these are indirect consequences of living through a large catastrophe. The wise will take heed and learn. The foolish will try to return to their vapid existence as quickly as possible without a moment of consideration concerning what might be learned and improved upon. The wicked will attempt to cheat others in their time of distress. And so on.

For those who have readjusted and determined to figure out what their lives mean in relation to both God and their eternal state before Him, there is the hope that they will do it right away before normality returns and life goes back to its regular, dull beat of daily tedium.

When that happens, the comfort of routine will steal away their current ponderings about what it all means. Hopefully, they will seek God while He is fresh on their minds and while He may be found. Or it may be that some now realize they need to get closer to the God they already know. That would be a nice bonus after the time of terror. “O God, I haven’t put you first lately. I want to correct that going into the future.”

If this is you, the only way you will really ever do this is by seeking Him out through His word.

God is.
God has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is revealed through the word of God.

One cannot intimately know God without knowing and understanding who Jesus Christ is, and we cannot know a thing about Jesus Christ without knowing the word that tells of Him. Therefore, if you are that person who wants to know God, or if you are that person who wants to readjust and get closer to God, you will need to pick up your Bible and start reading it.

And because the Bible is a big and, at times, complicated book, we will be here to help you to learn it and revel in its treasures all your days. This is the ultimate purpose of the Superior Word. Everything else we do is in hopes of meeting that main goal.

As an example, the weekly Prophecy Report we do that seemingly has little value beyond a weekly reminder of how bad things are in the world was started for one reason and for one reason only.

When Mike the Webguy suggested we do it over a decade ago, I told him, “No, I want to focus on the word. I want people in the sermons because they are based on the word.” His response was, “If you do these weekly reports, people will watch your channel and start watching your sermons.”

That was all I needed to hear. We started them that week and we have done them every week since. And he was right. I can’t tell you how many people now read their Bibles every day who first started with clicking on the ear-tickling Prophecy Reports.

The ultimate purpose of sharing the word of God was met, even through these reports. The irony is that many of them who started by watching the reports no longer do so. Instead, they watch the sermons and Bible studies. Mission accomplished!

If we will just look, great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us consider that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Never Alone in the Storm

After Ian passed, many of us here in Florida had a lot of clean-up to do. Some more than others, but I don’t think any of us was spared a bit of backache. Along with that, most had the inconvenience of either no power or no water or maybe both. For some south of us, power will not be restored for many months.

This is life. This is how it is, and it is inconvenient, but it is what we get in a fallen world. The ease of life is overthrown by the calamity of the moment, and we are left wondering when normal will return.

But what is normal anyway? As bad as we may currently have it, what we have – right now in our time of “deprivation” – is actually much more than billions around the world have on the best of their days. We should consider that and thank the Lord for each blessing we do have. With that in mind, I will tell you a story from my own interaction with Ian…

Having driven around Sarasota, I can attest that our property suffered about as much damage as any in town. No complaints, just stating how it is. While Hideko and I sat in the house and heard really big trees split in two and fall around us, and as large branches snapped and bounced off of the roof, I remember thinking, “It will take months to clean this all up.”

I couldn’t imagine how it would all get done. I even thought, “It’s the beginning of October. I will need to tell people I probably won’t be answering emails until as late as November.”

Really, that’s what I was thinking as another and then another tree fell over. Palms are heavy and hard to cut. Those alone would be backbreakers. And several fell over. That was just the start of the mess.

Despite that, when the storm passed and it was quiet enough to drive on the road safely (well, almost), I loaded up the truck and started winding my way around downed trees. First, I went to check on my uncle’s house. It looked ok, but with lots of branches down. They’ll be fine. They can get a crew to take care of things when they return to Florida.

Then I headed up to the mall I take care of. It is my responsibility and so it needed to be tended to before our own home. Several trees were down, one huge light pole was lying in the middle of the road, and lots of massive branches had to be cleared off the parking – both in front and out back.

The light pole was first. It was dangerous to have that in the road. It weighed about 500 pounds, so it took a tad out of me trying to move it, but eventually, the Davidson brothers who grew up with me on the island showed up and we got it out of the way.

As 7-11 is right next to the mall and that is my responsibility too, I got to work getting the small stuff out first, working from north to south. A strong north wind helped expedite that. From there, I removed all the branches in the parking lot and continued on the trees until I ran out of chain oil (don’t forget the chain oil, Charlie!).

While working there, a visit from Sergio helped lighten the morning mood. We were both glad the other was ok. It was by God’s grace that he still has my home address on his driver’s license. Otherwise, he would not have been allowed on the island. After he left, and with the mall at least safe, I headed back home to begin cleaning things up there.

Hideko was up and doing what she could and I started in with the chainsaw, trying to figure out how to organize absolute chaos into a manageable situation, starting at the road and working back the 250 feet to the bay, every inch of which was covered in so much damage that we had to cut a path just to take the dogs out without losing them.

We worked and we worked. After that, we worked some more. Hideko never stopped, from sun up to sun down, and did more physical work than any person I have ever seen – an eighty-five-pound dynamo. What I cut, she dragged, piling it up into a massive pile. This was Thursday.

At the end of the day, four friends from church came by, and we talked on the dock. That was a really special time for me. The property was safe and clear enough to finish the job in the morning. Each of us shared our stories and we were happy that all were ok. Praise God for His tender mercies.

Friday, Hideko had to go back to work and so I first went to the mall at about 6:00 AM and continued clearing the trees that were down but not any threat to public safety. Then, back home to hopefully get most of the big trees and other things I had left from the day before done.

By 5:00 PM Friday, a lot was done. I was out front cleaning the driveway so that Hideko could safely pull in when a silver truck pulled up by the road. I figured it was a line man or something. I was so tired, I couldn’t gather the strength to walk out and offer help; he was on his own.

It is for this point that everything I have said so far has been included. My work schedule is irrelevant, but I needed to lead you to understand how we can miss the important things in life over that which is actually unimportant.

I get myopic in relation to whatever I am doing. If it is sermon typing day, that is all I can think about. If it is Sunday afternoon, I focus on the sermon editing and nothing else. If I am cleaning up debris, that is all I can think about. But there are more than broken branches in life…

Rather than a line man being in the silver truck, a familiar face suddenly peered around the fence – Jim Dwyer. He was a welcome sight and I figured he was there to check up on things. I thought, “Thank God, I have no strength left for any more work. We can talk like the day before.” But no, after a short greeting, he said, “I’ve come to get the sermon for Sunday.”

I was so mentally exhausted that I didn’t even know what he was talking about. After him re-explaining it, I thought, “I don’t even know where it is!” I said, “They’ll have to do without it this week.” He said, “I can just get it off your computer. I’ll copy it and then send it out.”

The prospect of using one more brain cell to think almost made me collapse on the spot, but I said, “Let me finish this, and then we’ll get it.” I didn’t want Hideko to pull in and run over something and pop a tire. Suddenly, I remembered, we don’t have power.

I said to Jim, “They’ll have to do without it; there is no power.” He looked bummed to have come all that way just to be turned away, but I couldn’t think of anything we could do. So, he got in his truck and started to pull away. Just then, my brain fired one small synapse. I pounded on his truck and told him to wait.

I thought I could email it to him from my iPad because I always save sermons by emailing them to myself in case my computer crashes. Then, I realized, no internet, so that won’t work either. I stood there trying to come up with any solution at all so that his trip would not have been in vain.

Finally, I realized that Sergio has all my passwords. He could get the sermon. But I was so tired, I couldn’t remember his name. I think I said, “Jim has access to everything.” Something wasn’t right with that. “The… well, the… Sergio! Sergio can access my things. Email him and have him search for ‘Sermons and devotionals.’ Then he can send you what you need.”

Jim asked, “Is it the most current revision?” I thought, “What is a revision? This guy is just making that up.” True story. Then I remembered what a revision is and said, “Probably not, but it will have to do.”

He seemed happy with that and off he went. Had he asked one more question, I may have had a brain aneurism and died on the spot. I walked to the shower and then that was the end of the day. Hideko and I ate out of cans in the dark and went to bed.

The entire point is that Jim felt it was important enough to get the word into people’s hands that he drove 15 miles through traffic lights that didn’t work and down the island street that was still filled with trees to simply get that sermon for those in the online church to have for Sunday.

But he said something else to me that I could not get out of my head until today. He could see how tired I was and he said, “You know, so many people are praying for you right now.” I was too tired to cry, but that alone changed my perspective on everything else that I did and have done for these past days.

I was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities for the mall, the house, and the church that I never thought about people praying for our strength, knowing that their prayers included Hideko, and – indeed – everyone here at the Superior Word.

People around the world were praying for us as we were facing uncertainty before the storm and uncertainty after it passed. What a thought to consider. And there was more…

To worship and to serve the Lord our God
Eternal fellowship in a land of Delight
On hallowed soil our feet will trod
And the Lord shall always be in our sight

In His light, to walk and also to praise
The Lamb of God who was slain
Illuminated by His ever-glowing rays
No tears, no fear, no sorrow, no pain

Come to the waters and be restored
Drink and receive Grace from the Lord

II. Tender Mercies

While I tell you about the events in this section, I don’t want to use any names, not because I don’t want to recognize people, but because I don’t want to single anyone out and pass over others who also do so much throughout the year to bless the church.

In other words, if I mention anyone, I would have to mention everyone because everyone is a part of this group, whether in Japan or in Arizona, Sarasota or Michigan. If you are a part of this church, you are included in this section by name, by deed, and through hearing this sermon today. So, thank you.

On Saturday, I did something I have not done without a reason for many years. I did not go to the projects. There was still a lot of work to do at the house and – if the power came back on – there would be a lot to do to be ready for church.

Normally, I only miss going to the projects if there is a funeral, a wedding, or a baptism on Saturday. But this clean-up needed to be done and I knew others would be at the projects to fill in. So I got back to work, finally finishing at about 1:00 PM. Amazingly, the power came back on within about twenty minutes of the clean-up being done.

Opening up the emails, there were 214 to sort through, a large number of which were people telling me they were praying for us. I answered each one with a short note so that they would know we were ok and to thank them. Along with that, there were many people who offered to help in any way they could, including financial needs for us or those in the church.

I tried to reassure folks that we were ok, and that I would check with church members to see if there were other needs. The only one I became aware of is that Claudia had some damage to her house, but she was unable to come to church last Sunday. She is being sorted out, and her place will be repaired.

On Sunday, a few people still did not have power, but they still came to church. I was actually amazed that more than a handful of people would come, but people at the Superior Word seem to understand the priority of church. For that, I am grateful. It is a lifeline at all times. How much more of a lifeline when times are difficult?

One tender mercy I saw is that Jay and Joan, who lost power for 11 days after Hurricane Irma, the last hurricane in our area, never lost power during this one. What a blessing for them! We really felt for them during Irma as we all sat in nice air-conditioned houses J.

Another tender mercy of our Lord is that—maybe for the first time in the history of the universe—the last days of September and the first days of October have actually been cool and not so humid. As I sit typing on Monday morning, it is 66 degrees F out.

Instead of suffering through heat, humidity, and exhaustion caused by them, we have been able to put things back together in fall-like weather. The Lord knows how grateful we all are for that.

Also, on Sunday, I learned of another expression of real compassion, not only in prayers and in financial help by those who offered it, but in genuine human care when two guys who attend online drove from Illinois and Maryland just to help out with the clean-up at the house. They brought a generator, chainsaws, and other things. Who could imagine such an offer of mercy!

Someone brought in a cake for the October birthday people, someone brought in an entire bag of avocados, while others brought in love and cheer, hugs and blessings. Every person can do something in a church to bless others, even it if is to pray for those who have needs.

And the sharing in thanks and help does not need to end at the church. We talk about who the heroes of society are. During times of war, we talk about the soldiers who fight to keep those of the nation free.

For those who respect the right to life, religion, and peaceful existence, we may have a civilian leader that is a hero to those causes. When things are prosperous and all is going well, we make false heroes, even idols, of those who are not heroes. Movie stars and sports figures become our heroes when all they are doing is serving themselves and profiting off the masses. Those are not, nor are they ever, heroes.

But think about your own situation right now. Do you have electricity at your home? In Sarasota, people have given up nights of sleep to work restoring power to the homes and businesses in Florida that do not yet have power.

Water, sewer, electric, traffic lights, and so on, all have to be restored. In the past few days, some of these utility workers have had people come up to them and yell at them for not working fast enough.

Instead, they should be thanking them, bringing them something to eat, and encouraging them. How is it that we can’t consider that they are tired, frustrated, and deprived of their own free time and sleep while doing their best to serve others? They may not all be good people, but they are doing a good service. Consider that as you head out to a store or restaurant that is open this week because of their efforts.

As for the church itself, I often get emails about the sermons, the weekly reports, the commentaries, and other things that have been put out. They include compliments and praises that are wholly undeserved. I do my job because it is the job I do.

But these things would not be if someone hadn’t first filmed the sermons, set up a YouTube channel, and posted them there. I didn’t do that and I am unqualified to figure out those things now. Someone, years ago, set up the website for the church.

He has maintained it for eleven years, checking on it every single day, he QC’s everything I type, he converts the sermons into podcasts, and he won’t even tell me his real name or even give me his address so I can send him a thank you in the mail. None of those things would exist if it wasn’t for him.

Others have developed other websites, podcasts, or YouTube channels to promote the church. They don’t ask for anything except permission to do what they do. Some quality check my pitiful grammar and spelling for the daily commentaries and weekly sermons.

One person does a unique painting for every sermon we have done since Exodus. Some help out monetarily, some come early and help clean, others bring food for the church to eat, while others stay after church or Bible class and clean up. Some have prayer groups or fellowship groups that are specifically linked to this church. Some send money to buy pizza or treats for class or church.

Of all of these things, and so many more that I haven’t mentioned, I have never asked for any of those things to be done. Rather, they have asked to do them, all because they love the word, they love the church, and they want to be a part of it. This is the meaning of tender mercies.

I am fortunate if I can find my way to the door or figure out how to turn on a computer. None of these things that we all take for granted would be happening if these wonderful people didn’t come together and want to be a part of what the Superior Word is doing.

I am just grateful that the word is being looked at, that it is being cherished, that it is being read, and that it is being shared. An example of the benefit of people’s help came to my inbox on Monday morning before I started typing these words.

Some months ago, a man in Pakistan emailed me with questions about Jesus and the Trinity. I responded and continue to respond by answering his questions. He and his wife accepted the Lord Jesus and began to email about their faith. He asked for a Bible. A friend in the UK sent him one. He then asked for some money for local Urdu Bibles.

That was sent. When he got the money, he sent us a picture of them holding their Bibles. He told us he wanted to tell others about Jesus, but it is dangerous in Pakistan to do so. There was an internal conflict going on in him concerning what to do. But the witness of the word won out.

He started to tell his neighbors. Some accepted Jesus; more Bibles needed. He then got the idea to invite people to a screening of the Jesus movie. But he would need money for that. He would have to rent a TV, a generator, buy the movie, and so on. Would we help?

I could have just sent the money, but it was Thursday and Sunday was just around the corner. Maybe people would want to participate. I would not want to deprive others of this honor. So on Sunday morning, I asked during the livestream.

I told the people that we would only accept money for that. The first people to respond making up the needed amount would be accepted and anyone else I would tell them not to send anything as the need was met. I didn’t know it at the time, but someone sitting in the church sent the money while I was still speaking.

So when I got home, I had to tell all the people who offered to provide the needed funds that the need had already been met. However, the Lord already knew they had offered, and so their offer, even if not accepted, still counts for what happened. I will read you from the email my now-friend from Pakistan sent, including a picture. All names have been changed –


Regards to you in the name of Jesus Christ,

First of all, my wife [Ruth] and I are very excited to share with you that the recent meeting called “Life Outreach” went very well by the Grace of God. We give praise & honor to God for all the success by His help. We want to thank Brother and Sister [Kermit and Frog] for their support to which made this possible to do the meeting successful. We also want to thank you Brother [Abbott] and Brother [Costello] for your precious prayers for us. We are always encouraged by your love and prayers in Christ.

We share things about the Life Outreach as below:

–          I led this meeting by praying the prayer of thanks in beginning
–          We invited about 40 people to attend this meeting
–          We found 38 people came to attend it
–          They were all very happy and enjoyed the meeting
–          We showed a part of Jesus movie about “Creation”
–          This led the people to learn about how God created the World
–          Then we showed another part of the movie about Jesus’ death on Cross
–          People were touched by the death of Christ
–          We found 3 people were weeping when they saw Jesus hanged on Cross
–          7 people came to believe in Jesus as their personal Lord & Savior
–          There were some others who are near to accept Jesus and they need more prayers
–          We had very nice time of prayers at the end of the meeting
–          We also had wonderful time of taking tea and refreshment at the end of this meeting
–          This remained very good time of fellowship to each other

We found some people want to come to attend this meeting again and they want to bring their family friends to enjoy to learn about God, His creation and His Salvation plan. This is very helpful to people understand the whole picture of God’s plan for human.

I had some people who raised questions to learn more at the end of the meeting, and there was good discussion with them.

A man from Hindu background told me that he only believed in Jesus as prophet and never knew that He is son of God. He came to believe in Him and committed his promise to follow true and only one God.

This was very encouraged to us by faith and we rejoiced in the Lord by prayers for the success and His safety. It is how wonderful that God helped 7 people to know Him and they believed in Him, 3 of them secretly believe in Jesus because of fear from their own family.

We are praying for your safety from the Hurricane that’s going on in your area and believe that you are doing well and safe.


From a man and a wife who were fearful to speak about Jesus, to two people who have thrown caution to the wind for the sake of Christ, we have people willing to open their mouths and speak out about the goodness of God toward the people of the world. You can see their photo in the kitchen, proudly holding their Bibles, confident in the salvation of God that is found in our Lord.

Someone had to make this possible. The Lord opened the doors, He provided the way, He placed the burden on people’s hearts, and He is glorified through those who responded. Our Pakistani friend’s words in the middle of his email will need attention –

“We found some people want to come to attend this meeting again and they want to bring their family friends to enjoy to learn about God, His creation and His Salvation plan.”

Surely this means they will want to show this film again. That will require the same help as before. If it fits your budget, and if he asks, I will offer you the opportunity to assist. Thirty-eight people came. Seven accepted the Lord. Maybe we can all talk to thirty-eight people this week in our own circle of life. Maybe we can help this young evangelist in Pakistan to do it for us as well.

Here he is, risking his own life to share the gospel and how did he close? He was thinking of us here in Sarasota – “We are praying for your safety from the Hurricane that’s going on in your area and believe that you are doing well and safe.”

And, indeed, we are. We were inconvenienced for a moment in a world of convenience and prosperity, and we are being prayed for by people that are so poor, they cannot afford a $7 Bible in their own language without compromising their own budget for the month’s expenses. Praise God for His tender mercies.

Heaven’s door is open for all to go through
But it’s guarded with cherub and sword
So, to pass through the gate, this you must do
Follow the gospel and call on the Lord

By faith in His work and by faith alone
Access is granted past heaven’s sword
His blood was shed for your sins to atone
Again, I beg you, call on the Lord

 I implore you, call on the Lord

III. A Heart for the Lord

The next time you feel the need to encourage me, I will accept your words. The next time you have the desire to compliment me, please don’t. What you experience each week has very little to do with me. Pray for those who actually make this church run. Pray that the Lord will give them wisdom, skill, ability, and stamina.

Have a heart for the Lord. In all you do, fix your eyes on Him, cherish Him, and remember His cross. We are servants, temporarily granted the honor and privilege of serving the King of the universe until our days are spent.

For those who spend them wisely, they will not only rise to everlasting life, but they will do so to rewards for their faithfulness that they cannot even imagine right now. So stand fast in your faith, persevere in doing good, and be sure it is good that is done by faith in Jesus.

A good deed not done in His name has no lasting meaning. It may benefit for a moment, it may temporarily ease a pain or a sorrow, but it will not be remembered beyond this tearful path we trod each day until we return to dust under our feet.

But a good deed done in Jesus’ name will endure. It will find an eternal reward, and its purpose in this life will surely extend beyond the deed itself. Eyes will hopefully be opened to the Source of what you have done, and the recipient will then find joy in the everlasting arms of the Lord.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9, 10

A hurricane is a difficult thing to get through, but it is also a time when the storm around us will help us to reconsider the storms within us. We have things raging inside that can be calmed by the compassionate hand of the Lord, we have conflicts that can be eased by the knowledge of His word, and we have pressures and burdens that we can cast upon the Lord because He cares for us.

Let us spend our time wisely. Let us endeavor to get into the word of God and find out about Jesus because in finding out about Jesus, we can then find out about the very heart of God. But you must first start with the word. Nothing else can replace this and nothing else will be found as an acceptable substitute.

We are the Superior Word not simply because we happen to be on Superior Avenue, but because we understand that God’s word is superior. It is the light to dispel darkness. It is a place to find hope for the human soul. It is our guide when we are on the right path, and it is the way to get on that path in the first place. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Have a heart for the Lord by having a heart for His word. And in that, you will then have a properly directed heart for how to conduct your lives in accord with His word.

This life is short, your time was set before the first grain of sand came into existence, and God already knows how things will end up for you. But you do not. Hence, it is up to you to find out by first expending yourself for Him. The reward awaits and the reward is Jesus. How much does what He offers matter to you? I encourage you today, have a heart for the Lord.

“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:1, 2

Closing Verse: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9

Next Week: Joshua 8:1-20 Jay got a practice week last time, by and by… and yes, he makes it so fun (The Fall of Ai, Part I)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Though the storms of life may rage around you, the Lord is your hiding place and your safe refuge. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.


Luke 1:26-38 (The Power of the Highest Will Overshadow You)

Luke 1:26-38
The Power of the Highest Will Overshadow You

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Yesterday, 25 December 2021, we celebrated Christmas as Christians do all over the world at this time each year. However, it is clearly evident from Scripture that Jesus was not born at this time of the year. Some falsely proclaim that Jesus was born in the springtime around the Passover. That is unmistakably wrong from the biblical text, but it is sensational, and it sells well.

The biblical narrative clearly places His birth during the fall season. Specifically, it would have been on Yom Teruah, or the Feast of Acclamation as is recorded in Leviticus 23:23-25. This can be easily determined from the Bible itself by first following the account set down in Luke 1 and Luke 2, and then by using the information he provides to search the Old Testament to definitively place the timing of the event.

To more clearly see this, you can read or watch the sermon entitled “Leviticus 23:23-25 (The Feasts of the Lord, The Memorial of Acclamation)” from the Superior Word Leviticus sermons. There, the account is laid out to demonstrate this.

This day that would have been Jesus’ birth, Yom Teruah, or the “Feast of Acclamation,” is known by some as the “Feast of Trumpets.” But the Hebrew word used, teruah, does not necessarily refer to trumpets, even if trumpets were blown. It simply means that the people were to raise a tumult of joy – shouting, whooping and yelping, blowing trumpets, and so on.

The specific name is stated in Numbers 29 where it is called Yom Teruah, or Day of Acclamation. In Job 38, the root of teruah – the word rua – is used when speaking of a shout of rejoicing at the time of creation –

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7

This is the sense of the word, and of what is to occur. Teruah can be a war cry, an alarm, a shout of joy, the blast of the trumpet, and so forth. In the words of Leviticus 23, it is termed zikaron teruah, or a “memorial of acclamation.”

The Greek Old Testament specifically translates this day as mnémosunon salpiggon, or “memorial of trumpets,” but that is more of an explanation than of a translation of the Hebrew.

In modern Israel, the day is known as Rosh Hoshana or “Beginning of the year.” But biblically, that term is not appropriate to describe the event. The redemptive calendar, upon which the Feasts of the Lord are given, begins in the spring, not in the fall. The modern calendar used in Israel does not follow the biblical calendar that was given by the Lord for clues about the coming Messiah

It is a problem because people in the church have mixed up the events of the Feasts of the Lord so completely that almost nothing taught matches what the Bible actually says. It really takes a complete severing from everything that is taught today, and a return to the biblical text alone, to properly know what is going on and how it points to Jesus. Without this, there is complete confusion concerning the purpose, meaning, and significance of the Feasts of the Lord as detailed in Scripture.

Text Verse: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

The reason for repeating all of this detail concerning the timing of Jesus’ birth, and the appropriate terminology concerning it from previous sermons, is to establish a baseline for us to consider why we celebrate “Christmas” at this time of year.

But even before that, we should define what the term “Christmas” actually means. This is because folks love to find a conspiracy in everything, including what they claim is an overt connection to the Roman Catholic mass. It is true the word is from the word that defines the mass, but that doesn’t imply that this is some unholy word that should never be used.

The word is simply a shortened form of “Christ’s mass.” It is found in writings as early as 1038 where it is called Crīstesmæsse. The word “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christόs, meaning Christ. That comes from the Hebrew mashiakh, or “Messiah.” And both Messiah and Christ mean “anointed.” Thus, it refers to the “Anointed One.”

The word mass comes from the Latin word missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. That comes from eucharistia, or “thanksgiving.” It is a word found predominantly in Paul’s writings, but it is also found in Acts and in Revelation. The last use of it in Scripture is in Revelation 7 –

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen.” Revelation 7:12

Hence, one can see the word “Christmas” is a perfectly biblical word, even if it is not actually found in the Bible. It is the giving of thanks for what God has done in Christ. At times, the term is substituted for Xmas, something seen as derogatory and a dismissal of the name of “Christ,” but that is also incorrect.

That is a shortened form of Christόs which in the Greek alphabet reads Χριστός. The Greek letter chi looks like a modern X. This is not a new invention, but it actually goes back to Middle English where the first two letters, Χρ (chi and rho), are seen in place of the full word.

So far, that has been a lot of information that hasn’t told us anything about our sermon text, but it gives us the basis for much of what we need to know concerning why we just celebrated Christmas yesterday, except for why we celebrated it yesterday and not in the September/October time frame when Christ was born.

If the birth of Christ is what we are celebrating, and if that happened in the fall, then people argue that there must be some devilish reason why we have been so misdirected to observe it at the end of December. And, indeed, haters of everything Roman Catholic do their best to come to this conclusion.

Just type into your search bar “pagan origins of Christmas,” and you will find every possible reason why this is not a Christ-oriented day at all. One example of this is the common saying that the Norse, Druids, Celtics, and others – all pagan of course – observed the winter solstice at this time.

Others tie it directly to the Roman feast called Saturnalia, in honor of the god Saturn, which was held on 17 December, and which was later expanded to hold festivities as late as 23 December.

There is a problem with these analyses though. And that is that we are not observing Saturnalia on those dates. We are also not observing the winter solstice on 21 December. We are observing a thanksgiving to Christ on 25 December.

The timing of the events is close, and there is a reason for that, just as there is a reason that the feast of Passover was at the same general time as the spring equinox which occurs around March 20th of each year. Not unsurprisingly, this was also a time of pagan observances.

This time of year is one of renewal and new hope as the long winter comes to a close. To say that Christians are observing the equinox or a pagan ritual at this time is shallow, and it is no different than saying that Christians are observing the winter solstice in some pagan fashion.

It is important not to make stuff up that is without any basis in reality, but rather we are to instead seek out the knowledge of God in Christ and find out why we observe the things we do. And that is what we do when we search out the word of God. And so, having just noted that the timing of the Passover was given by God for a reason, we should think on what that is.

Its timing in the annual calendar comes at the time when Christ died, was buried, and when He resurrected. The spring is the perfect time for this to occur. Just as the season looks to the renewal of life, so the resurrection of Christ looks to it as well. There is new life to be found for every believer who comes to Him based on faith in what occurred at that time.

Yes, the exact timing of what many call “Easter” is not always the same as the day that the Jews observe the Passover, even though they do occur at the same time occasionally. But the calendars we use are not the same either. In order to accommodate the calendar and thus the life cycle of those under that different calendar, a specific dating of the observance was made for the Christian calendar.

Likewise, the timing of Christmas is a time of thanksgiving for what God has done at this time of the year when the nights are the longest and the world seems at its darkest.

But what does that timing have to do with the Holy One of God? The answer is so simple and so easily determined that it is sad that people spend so much time trying to connect the day to pagan festivals instead of just thinking the matter through.

The birth of Jesus Christ from the womb occurred on the day of Yom Teruah, in the fall time. Armed with that knowledge, all we need to do is backdate from there 280 days (+/-), the approximate time for human gestation. From there, we come up with approximately 25 December.

This is the same approximate time that the Feast of Dedication, mentioned in John 10:22, was observed. Today, Jews call that Hannukah, or the “Festival of Lights.”

Like the timing of the Passover and Firstfruits, and the timing of Good Friday and Resurrection day (aka “Easter”) – which do not always coincide, but which do from time to time – the Feast of Dedication and Christmas do not always coincide, but they will from time to time. This happens when the two calendars (the Hebrew and the Christian) merge.

We don’t know who first sat down and did the calculation for fixing what we today call Christmas, but someone did. He did so to align with 25 December, not on 17 or 21 December. And he did so not to align with a pagan festival, but it was surely to align with the birth of Christ. However, it was not from the womb, but in the womb.

This One, who explicitly calls Himself “the light of the world” in John 8:12 and again in John 9:5, is the One who came at the darkest time of the year, thus fulfilling a pattern based on the words of John –

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19

The Feast of Dedication, also known extra-biblically as the Festival of Lights, was celebrated by the Jews at this time of year as a foreshadowing of the true Light that would come into the world at that darkest of times. It is He that would dedicate God’s true temple and sanctify it as holy to the Lord.

One thing is for certain, despite what modern society tries so desperately to hide, the true birth of a person is the day he or she is conceived. That is why the term in the womb is called “human gestation.” A human has come to exist, and that child is being prepared in the womb to survive outside of the womb.

The Koreans get this. They consider a year in the womb as being counted toward their actual age. Thus, each person is considered a year old at birth. They then add a new year onto their age each year on New Year’s Day. Despite this, their actual birthday is still considered as a day of celebration of their birth.

That’s just a cute squiggle for your brain and has nothing to do with the biblical narrative. But it reveals a truth that they get, whereas the hateful left dismisses any such notion as completely unfounded. In them, we can say in Gumpish fashion, “Stupid is as stupid believes.”

And it is certain they don’t actually believe this, but they believe the lie outwardly so that they can continue to try to feel good about their wickedness. To understand this thinking, take time to read Romans 1 today. Paul explains it exactingly.

Regardless of that, now that we have all of this wonderful background information to understand the why and the when of what occurred, we can return to Luke and marvel at what God has done in Christ at this time of the year.

Mary, being a girl who understood how such things work, asked the angel who came to her, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The question was not one lacking faith. She simply didn’t get how it could be.

Her words indicate that she surely understood the whole thing about having babies, and what she understood didn’t include the thought of virgins having them. As such, the angel spoke to her words that are more incredible than anything else that had ever been heard by human ears.

If you think of the enormity of what he says, it is literally impossible to grasp the totality of it. He began his words saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” Exactly what this means must be determined from a careful analysis of the rest of Scripture.

In such an analysis, it is perfectly evident that the Holy Spirit is God. This is completely obvious, and it is undeniable when properly looked into. We did a ten-part series on doctrine before we started into Deuteronomy. One sermon from that series carefully evaluates the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a doctrine that is manifestly clear. God is three Persons in one essence – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Therefore, to say that the Holy Spirit would come upon Mary is to say that the essence of God, as revealed in the Person of the Holy Spirit, would come upon Mary. This is the same Person in the Godhead that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1:2 and who brought the chaos into order. It is also the same Person in the Godhead that is said to be the Source of life for all beings –

“You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.” Psalm 104:30

What is said to Mary, however, does not speak at all of the creation of life. Rather, it speaks of the issuance of life. The son born to Eve in her union with Adam was not a creation, but was rather a product of who they were as beings. Thus, the term “conceive” is used.

The Greek word that defines conception, not creation, is what is used concerning Christ in Luke 1:31. It is the word sullambanó, a compound word coming from sun, with or together, and lambanó, to receive.

There is the sense of life issuing from both Mary and the Holy Spirit just as there is life from the union of a man and a woman. Creation is excluded in the thought. Rather, the word “beget” is what defines what occurred. The union of two issuing forth into a new being. In this case, and because of who the two are, we have something unique in all of the universe – both temporal and physical.

The pattern was set forth on the first page of the Bible where all life is said to produce after its own kind. As such:

The Father is God: the issuance is God.
The mother is a human being: the issuance is a human.

As the Child is a male, the issuance is the God/Man, Christ who is Jesus.

Again, the word “creation” cannot be used in the explanation of what occurred. To do so will introduce heresy into what is said. Life begetting life is what has occurred. There is human life that was originally created, but there is the Divine life which is uncreated.

Without explaining how it happened, Paul explains that it did, in fact, happen –

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16

God was manifested in the flesh. This is what we call the Incarnation. God did not become a man – as if the infinite became finite, a logical contradiction and an impossibility. Rather, God united with humanity. The infinite has united with the finite. It is something both non-contradictory and completely possible.

John, with failing human words, expresses what occurred –

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4


“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

What came forth was flesh, because He came through humanity. But He is also begotten of the Father. As such, He bears a glory that extends beyond that of humanity. Even to the glory of God because He was there before flesh existed. Paul refers to this at several times and in various ways, such as –

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Likewise, John opens his first epistle with this thought –

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—” 1 John 1:1, 2

This concept continued to be explained to Mary with the next words of the angel, “and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.”

Here the term “power” is used to describe the “Highest.” In other words, the One who is Most High is also the Most Powerful. They are not two things, but one. As such, it makes the words of Luke 1:32 more understandable. There, the angel – using the same word – said, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.”

As such, the same thing that makes a child receive the paternal nature of a man is what makes Christ receive the paternal nature of the Highest. Again, Paul alludes to this –

“but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24

What God possesses because of who He is, is then revealed through the Son because of who He is. He has received the paternal nature of the Highest, and thus Christ possesses the power of God and the wisdom of God. And, once again, Paul tells us of what God is doing through this dual nature of Jesus – who is the Christ – when he says –

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not  imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19

God didn’t just send a man to reconcile the world to Himself, such as, “Elijah, I want you to be the one who will reconcile fallen man to Me.” Obviously, that wouldn’t have worked, because Elijah was born of fallen man; he received the sin of Adam. But more, God didn’t create a new man, like Adam, and say, “I am sending you to reconcile the world to Me.”

That wouldn’t have worked, because that man would have no knowledge of good and evil. As such, he would not be a suitable substitute for fallen man. But once he gained that knowledge, he would be fallen, just as Adam fell. It is the inevitable outcome of gaining that knowledge.

Rather, God took care of the matter Himself. The One with infinite knowledge of all things – God – was “in Christ.” As such, He was capable of reconciling the world to Himself. The marvel, the absolute stunning and incredible nature, of what God has done is beyond our ability to grasp.

We fight with words in order to explain what God has done, but we are always just one misspoken word away from heresy. Or we provide words that are insufficient to bring the mind to the state of where it should be in relation to the knowledge of how God did it.

But the words do generally tell us what occurred and what it means, even if we cannot properly and fully grasp, or state, the extent of what happened. As such, we come to the next words of the angel to Mary, which are, “therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Mary was a physical human being who bore the DNA of her parents. Her DNA would have transmitted on from her to Jesus. This isn’t only logical, it is to be inferred from those verses that say Jesus is the Offspring of David, is of the seed of David, and so on.

This is also to be perfectly understood from the genealogies recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. If this were not true, and if God created Jesus immediately and directly in the womb of Mary (a heresy known as Valentinianism), then Jesus would be a created, not a begotten, being. But this was not the case.

However, what is it that completed the human nature of Jesus? How did that come about? The Bible does not tell us. It simply states that Jesus was born and that no human father was involved in the process. That leaves us with a mystery at this time, but it did occur.

Somehow, God clicked the tumblers of the building blocks of Jesus’ humanity in the womb of Mary to have this incredible framework form into a human being. And it came about. And even though we don’t know how this occurred, the record testifies to the fact that it did happen.

And to leave Mary (and thus us who have been told the story) with a sufficient (albeit incomplete) explanation for how it occurred, the angel said to her, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” At this time, and maybe forever, we do not have all of the information to know what transpired in the womb of Mary – at least I don’t, and I don’t think anyone else has suitably explained it either.

But we are armed with the words of the text, and we are asked to believe that the seemingly impossible was possible because God is in the details. With this knowledge, we can know that on that Christmas day, over two thousand years ago now, God united with humanity, and then the Offspring of that union developed into a Child who was born from the womb and into the world.

The record of His birth, His life, and the works that He accomplished is sufficiently detailed in the four gospels to give us all we need to know in order to make an informed decision about “Who is this Man?” He is the Son of the Highest who possesses all of the power of heaven and earth. He is the Son of God who bears His holiness, His grace, His love, and His mercy.

He is also the Judge who will preside over all mankind because He is the incarnate word of God who reveals and expresses the unseen God to us. What God spoke through the prophets is more fully realized in Christ. Where the prophets might say, “Judgment is coming,” God in Christ says, “Judgment is come.”

And be sure, judgment is also coming, but it is coming, because it has already come –

“Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” John 12:30-33

Judgment has come through the death of the humanity of Jesus. As we already saw, God did not become a man, and God did not die on the cross of Calvary. Rather, Jesus the Man, who is also fully God, died on the cross. But God in Christ did not die.

When Jesus died, the world was judged. Everything necessary for all of judgment, for all of human history, was judged at that moment. Everything from the fall of Adam until the last breath of the last man that will ever take place on this earth was judged at that moment.

Jesus Christ has the power to judge, He has the authority to judge, and He has the right to judge it all. It doesn’t matter one diddly if we like that, or if we don’t like it. It doesn’t matter one smidgeon if we believe it or not. And it doesn’t matter doodly squat what we think, because what God has done in this matter does not include us in the process. Rather, it includes us in the results of the process.

God in Christ did the work, and He did it for us. The incarnation was for us. The circumcision on the eighth day was for us. The temptations He faced were for us. The long walks along the paths, trails, and highways of Israel were for us. The reviling accusations, the jeers, the sneers, and being shunned by His people was for us.

And when Jesus was betrayed, mocked, disowned by His people, scourged, and crucified – it was for us. There is nothing in what God did in Christ Jesus that filled a need in Him. He is the ruler of this universe and the One who directs all things according to His wisdom. And yet, He did what He did for us.

For whatever incomprehensible reason, He decided that this thing that He would do in Christ was of value. David, even before the cross, asked of the Lord the most honest question he could put forth. In fact, he was so curious about the matter, that he repeated it in two psalms, Psalm 8, and Psalm 144 –

“Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?” Psalm 144:3

David just wasn’t getting it. “Lord, why do you even bother with us?” He knew He did, and he knew that there was a purpose for it, but he just couldn’t fathom what that purpose could be.

Now, here we are on the other side of the cross. We have seen what God was willing to go through for us. And we consistently fail to ask that same question, even now when it is infinitely more appropriate to ask, “Lord, why did You ever do what You did for people like us?”

This is why the Lord has the right to judge all things. It is because He did it. And that judgment can go in only one of two directions. It will be imputed to us because God already judged us in Christ, or it will be a judgment against us because we have failed to receive what God has done in Christ.

God in Christ is the measure. He is the standard. He is where we must find ourselves. Or we will be forever separated from Him. The choice is ours because a bit over two thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit came upon a young virgin, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. When that happened, the Holy One who was born from this event was and is called THE SON OF GOD.

What is Christmas day? It is the celebration of and the giving thanks for that which is simply incredible. It is a day of contemplating the infinite love of God which is found in the giving of a Son to the people of the world. Through this, we can experience the divine – not in some ethereal way, but in a real and personal way.

The life that is Christ Jesus is essentially the same life that now quickens us, but it is realized in a different way. We are not begotten of humanity and deity as Christ was, thus becoming the God/Man. We are humans who are born of God through an act of faith in what He did for us.

As this is so, we are now called children of God, we are now granted an inheritance that is incorruptible and eternal in nature, and we have the everlasting hope of paradise restored, plus. The plus is Jesus.

Adam couldn’t have fathomed what the Lord would do to bring him back to Himself. David pondered why he was attentive to us at all, and he could find no suitable answer. We, on the other hand, do know what extent God would go to make it possible. But our knowing only makes what He did all the more difficult to grasp.

Surely, O God, what is man that you are mindful of him? We may never fully know, but we have eternity in His presence to try to find it out. Thank God for our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank God for the child of Christmas who is also the Lamb who was slain. Yes, thank God for Jesus Christ. And all of God’s people say… Amen.

Closing Verse: “And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:5, 6

Upon hearing the news of what would happen to her, Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” If you are the redeemed of the Lord, you can be assured that whatever comes your way, from moment to moment, is already known to God.

As surely as he had planned and purposed for Mary to be the mother of Jesus, He knows what is in store for you as well. And so, through the good and through the bad in the year to come, be of the mind that you will respond according to the words of Mary, “Let it be to me according to your word.” He will see you through to a good end, even if things are rocky along the way.

My friend Izabela sent me a note recently, she said, “My 10-year-old granddaughter Lily wrote her first poem.” It is a great poem and I’d like to read it to you now.

Christmas is fun
Gifts are nice
But the best gift of all
Is Jesus Christ

Next Week:  Deuteronomy 29:1-9 Moses has something he wants to address… (I Have Led You Forty Years in the Wilderness) (84th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. He sent His own Son into the world to reconcile you to Himself. Remember the enormity of what that means each day of your life. And then, follow Him and trust Him as He continues to do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts

Unto us a Child is born
A time to rejoice and not to mourn

Unto us a Son is given
The One to lead us from death to a’livin’

And the government will be upon His shoulder
Every eye will see Him; every soul will be His beholder

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever – He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace, no end shall we see

Do not be afraid, for behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people, forever told
The wondrous story, the birth of a Boy

For there is born to you this day
In the city of David, a Savior, it is He
Who is Christ the Lord, to whom heaven’s hosts obey
The Messiah has come, and now you may go and see

And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
Lying in a manger, a glorious view
The Christmas Child whom our Heavenly Father bestows

A Child like no other has come to dwell among us
He shall lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
And His name is called out, His name is JESUS
Come, and of the Heavenly Child partake

He is God’s gift and heaven’s treasure
He is Immanuel – God with us
And He bestows upon us grace without measure
The Christmas Child, our glorious Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…








Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

A close friend of mine asked me to have breakfast with him recently so that we could discuss something pressing upon him. Not sure of what was up, I – of course – agreed.

In our conversation, he said he had come to the conclusion, from a purely secular perspective, that the only thing that could save our nation from inevitable collapse was for the people to be turned back to a right relationship with God. There is nothing in the political arena that is capable of doing that at this point.

I think his thoughts are based on the fact that there is really no other avenue that will stop the fast-paced moral slide into the abyss that is occurring in the nation, and indeed in the entire world. There is no doubt that unless this unholy tide is stemmed, it will be too late in a very short time. Indeed, it may be too late even now.

In fact, just a week ago, I reported that “More than 120 retired American military officials have signed an open letter warning that America has veered left under Democratic control and that the nation’s survival is on the line.” They said –

“Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration, our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”

The main problem in America comes from the fact that the same people who have crept into the government, meaning the communists, have also secured themselves into almost every seminary in the nation. This may sound conspiratorial, but it is not. The leftist agenda in this nation is a communist agenda. The two, at this point, are inseparable.

If all you watch is the mainstream media, this may seem surprising to you, but they have been, for many years now, at the forefront of this by reporting a false narrative while these communists have slowly worked their way through both the government and our churches.

Text Verse: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5

To understand this problem, and to look back at how long this has been planned, we will go to a report submitted to the US Congress in 1963.

On Thursday, January 10, 1963, the Honorable A.S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida submitted, in an extension of remarks to the US House of Representatives, what he entitled “Current Communist Goals.” In his submission, he specifically named forty-five goals of the communists in order to gain control of this nation.

What I am presenting to you now is a sermon on how I prepare my sermons. It seems like this would otherwise be a waste of time. There are churches everywhere. Seminaries have courses on homiletics. And so on. Isn’t that enough to get the word of God out in a proper manner to the church? No, I do not believe it is.

Many seminaries teach a great deal, but little of it is based solely on the word of God. Some of them teach nothing of the word of God at all. And it is perfectly evident from what issues from innumerable churches across our land, from week to week, that the word of God is not the main concern of what they are presenting to the attendees.

But that is exactly what the structure of the church is established for. It is not there to push agendas, it is not there to make people feel good, and it is not there to be a self-perpetuating money maker. It is an institution that is to be designed around one main thing – the word of God. And that word of God is given to tell us, above all else, about His dealings with humanity through the Person of Jesus Christ.

Further, I’m not saying that the way I prepare sermons is the best way to do so. However, there are countless sermons spoken forth on any given Sunday that have – literally – nothing to do with the word of God. And those that do may only touch on the word. The rest of the time, people are simply given an easy message that is intended to encourage them in some manner.

This is not a proper way of informing people about the contents of the word of God. Whatever these people are being taught in seminary, it is not enough. That is perfectly evident. And so, I will convey to you my own method of sermon preparation so that any who truly cares about the word will be able to follow this path without all of the learning curve that I had to go through in order to come to where I am now.

The truth is, though, that this would be unnecessary if pastors were properly trained in the biblical text and proper theology, and also if they were willing to spend the necessary time it takes to prepare and present the type of sermons to their congregations that would protect their flocks from the damage inflicted by such ungodly people within the society.

This is not a sermon on either politics or communism, but these points must be understood as – at least in part – a basis for understanding why such a sermon is deemed by my friend to be necessary at all. Our churches have been led down a sad path of theological apostasy, and the only way to rectify that is to turn ourselves to what is sound and reasonable. And this is to be issued forth from any pastor who truly feels the weight of his responsibility to the flock he presents himself to each week.

Immensely important things like exalting the word of God that tells us about Jesus Christ in our church gatherings are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us consider that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. An Unholy Agenda

With the thought in mind that I said earlier about the leftist agenda in the United States actually being a communist agenda, and that it is being championed by the democrat party, I need to substantiate that before we go on. And so, of the forty-five points submitted by Representative Herlong to the United States House of Representatives in 1963 that I mentioned a moment ago, please consider the following twenty-eight –

  1. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
  2. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
  3. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
  4. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
  5. Gain control of all student newspapers.
  6. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
  7. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, and policymaking positions.
  8. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
  9. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
  10. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
  11. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
  12. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  13. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, and healthy.”
  14. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
  15. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.” (Remember these goals were published to expose them in 1958) Coincidence?
  16. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  17. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
  18. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
  19. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
  20. Eliminate all laws or procedures, which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
  21. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
  22. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
  23. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
  24. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
  25. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  26. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
  27. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
  28. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“] united force [“] to solve economic, political or social problems.

This was 1963, almost sixty years ago. Were we to go over each of these points, even with only with a broad brushstroke of printed articles from the past year, we would be able to identify that almost each and every one of them has been carefully and meticulously introduced, pursued, and fully completed within one party of the United States of America – the democrat party. This is unquestionable, it is without controversy, and it is beyond contestation.

Our government has been fully taken over by the communists and we have let it happen, above all, because we have replaced our faith in God with false idols of prosperity, wealth, consumption, moral turpitude, and even downright depravity. And, sadly, it is the church that has often been at the forefront of this amazingly precipitous decline.

Of all these forty-five points, the most important one, though only listed in position 27, says, “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with ‘social’ religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a ‘religious crutch.’”

The reason this is the most important one is that if proper religion were maintained within the churches of our nation, none of these other points would have occurred. We would have remained on guard, we would not have allowed sexually, politically, and morally deviant people to overtake our society. And we surely would not have allowed the democrat party of these United States to succeed in destroying the foundational Christian underpinnings of this nation.

The man in the White House, his vice president, and indeed all of his associates – along with the democrats in the House and the Senate – are opposed to the right, perfect, and moral doctrines found in Scripture – wholly and entirely. Any person who has read through the Bible even once, and even if he does not accept the Bible as God’s word, could come to no other conclusion.

Everything stems back to, as Jude says, the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” In our somnambulance, it is a faith that we have let go of, and we are now paying the price for our slumbering.

Almost every mainstream denomination has been completely sold out to this leftist agenda. Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and so on. They have, for all intents and purposes, become bastions of communist ideology. Even the once sound Southern Baptist Convention has been infiltrated by this ideology, and it is quickly turning aside from the sacred and precious faith.

And because people within the congregations were unwilling to step away from what was occurring before their eyes, the power of these miscreants increased within the government because the people who run these churches are in the same bed as those who run this government.

It no longer matters to those in the democrat party if they commit the most horrendous of perversions because those in the churches are not there to condemn them. Think of Barney Frank – and how many years ago was that! Indeed, these churches are there to support them.

These words are not intended to condemn immorality within society. I am not the judge of those things. I can only highlight them as examples that are contrary to what the Bible expects for the society, and especially for the people of God. God will judge. Our accusations will convert no one. Only a proper explanation of what God expects in order to come to a precious saving faith in His provision will convert anyone.

Those churches that have held to the morality of Scripture as sacrosanct are belittled by members of their own denominations, by a complicit media, and now by a complicit group within Big Tech.

The voices of moral reason and godliness have been silenced both actively and passively. Actively by the tech companies, by government itself, and even by those within the hierarchies of these denominations who hold power over those in lower positions. And passively this has come about by those pastors who are too afraid to speak out at what is going on.

I do not need to dwell on this point any further, and I shall not. The damage is done, the infection has set in, and unless pastors are willing to exalt the morality found in Scripture to its rightful place within this society once again, even those pastors who ride a borderline approach are soon to be rounded up… and executed. Mock that if you will, but the hour is not long in coming. History is not without precedent in this regard. Rather, it is filled with it.

When faced with their own demise, most pastors will, sadly, simply step off the borderline and set their feet ontto the left of it, aligning themselves with the forces of iniquity that they are too terrified of to speak out against any longer. Yes, I suppose most will choose this path when the time comes.

Tragedy in the Garden

The woman was enticed, and she ate of the fruit
She passed it on to Adam and he ate as well
He became the second willing recruit
And together they left a sad story to tell

Their eyes were opened to their exposed state
They realized that life in sin just ain’t so great

They sewed together figs to hide their shame
And made coverings that just wouldn’t suffice
The Lord questioned them about their hiding game
And they realized that sin just ain’t so nice

“Where are you?” called the LORD. (Though he already knew)
“I was hiding because I realized something wasn’t right
I was afraid to answer, I’m naked … yes, it’s true
And so, I hid myself, like a shadow in the night”

“Who told you that you were naked? What is this you did do?
Have you taken of the fruit which I told you not to eat?”
“It was the women who did it… the one made by You
She told me of its yumminess… and how it was so sweet”

I thought it would be so good, but I guess I paid the price
I’m beginning to see that sin really ain’t so nice

“Woman, what is this thing that you have done?
Traded life under the heavens for life under the sun.”
Oh my Lord it was the serpent. He deceived me and I ate
And now I’m seeing that sin just ain’t so great”

Oh God that we could take it back and undo what we have done
Life was wonderful under the heavens
But it’s terrible under the sun

What can we do make things right?
Where can we turn to be healed?
How long will we be cast from Your sight?
How long until the grave is unsealed?

I have a plan, children, but you’ll have to wait
Many years under the sun toiling in the heat
But I will someday open wide heaven’s gate
When My own Son, the devil will defeat

I will send My own Son, the devil to defeat

II. How My Sermons are Prepared

For those preachers who are set and ready to put as first position the lives they have been called to, it means hard work is ahead. It is undoubtedly true that most pastors do not write their own sermons. Some have their staff write them so that they can deliver them with panache on Sunday morning.

There are books with formatted sermons already available. Sermons can be downloaded from the internet, and they can be purchased from innumerable people who will do the work for them so that they can get back to the more important issues of the ministry – be it a day of golfing each week, or some other time of leisure that would be otherwise unheard of if they truly devoted themselves to the calling set before them.

This should not be. Though you will not find this in Scripture, I am of the belief that no sermon should ever be preached by a pastor that he has not personally put together after struggling in the battle of preparing it. If he cannot do this one thing – this most important and intimate thing – for those he is shepherding, he should not be their shepherd.

Congregants should find out where their pastor’s sermons come from. If they are not from him and his personal studies, then what he is preaching is the work of another, and the doctrine may or may not even be what he believes. But it is the doctrine presented by the pastor that guides the church. And it is the church alone, that can stand against the unholy tide flooding the nations of this world.

And, before going on, a note of correction for those pastors who are willing to speak out – from the word – concerning the moral issues of the society: The term “Judeo-Christian values” is not a sound or appropriate way to refer to the values of the nation they are trying to return morality to.

Pastors may put forth terms such as “biblical values,” or they may be more specific and say, “Christ-centered biblical values.” But the term “Judeo Christian values” exalts the faith, whatever that may be, of Jews who do not believe in Christ… to the same level as those people – Jew or Gentile – who do. It is a perverse term that should never have become a part of the standard lexicon of faithful preachers of the word of God.

The entire body of Scripture, Old Testament and New, cannot be properly understood or explained without Jesus Christ being the central focus of what is being presented from Scripture. Jesus made that explicit in John 5 –

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39, 40


“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

It is unconscionable for the preacher to preach in the church of the saints of Jesus Christ without clearly demonstrating, each and every week, that this precious word of God – conveyed to us by God through men of God – points to His workings in redemptive history completely and entirely, with Jesus Christ as the focus of what God is doing.

And finally, before I explain the mechanical “how” of preparing a sermon as I do, I will say this – clearly and without ambiguity. No person should be allowed into the pulpit to preach on the word of God unless he is fully versed in the word of God.

If he has not read the Bible through, innumerable times, and if he does not commit to reading this word every single day of his life – first thing in the morning and last thing at night – he should not be your preacher.

Any person can go to the streets and share the gospel, even preach the gospel. But for a complete and well-prepared analysis of God’s word from the pulpit, that person must be fully aware of the contents of the entire body of Scripture.

This does not mean various theologies of Scripture that anyone can learn in a seminary without knowing the word of God. This means knowing the word of God so that they can tell when the theologies of Scripture are being improperly taught to them when they attend seminary.

We have put the cart before the horse by sending people unaware of Scripture off to seminary to learn doctrine. Proper doctrine is to be derived from an analysis of Scripture. Scripture is not to be interpreted from man-derived doctrines.

No wonder we are in the pickle we are in! When a person enters a theological seminary and he is not yet well-versed in Scripture, he is subject to be taught anything – no matter how perverse – and he will accept it from that point on.

This is the same model that has been introduced into our secular schools all over this nation. We are training young minds to believe in a communist model of life, and this is what they will cling to – believing that what they are trained is correct – for all their days. And this all started because these communists first infected the churches of those who are now the teachers in our schools.

When Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the young democracy planted in this nation, he highlighted the religious nature of the people of this land. He was adamant that the traditional religion of America is certainly of the highest importance in the nation’s statesmanship.

So much was this the case that he said that our religion – our Christian faith – “should be considered the first” of the nation’s “political institutions.” He concluded that America must at all costs “maintain Christianity.” This cannot occur unless pastors first properly explain this precious message to those who will enter into the political arena.

And that cannot occur when we ordain pastors who are unaware of the contents of the precious treasure we call “The Word of God.” If a person is well-versed in Scripture, there are many ways to present it to a congregation. Today, most sermons are presented as “life application” sermons, instructing the congregation on how to live one’s life in regard to whatever issue is being presented in the subject material.

Although there is nothing wrong with this approach, teaching the contents of the word of God, line by line, will mold congregants into people who are aware of the nuances of Scripture. With such a presentation, from week to week, they will not need to be told how to live their lives in a biblical manner. They will know how to do so because they will be aware of what the Bible expects of them.

This is the approach that some denominations take, and it is the approach that I myself follow. And so, as tedious as it may appear, I want to give a brief overview of how these sermons are put together. I honestly believe it is the most effective way of conveying the word of God to the people of God, and if enough voices rise from the pulpit with this approach, those who hear will understand the truth, reliability, and power of this word.

Each week, I follow on from whatever passage ended the previous week. We started our biblical adventure on October 23th, 2011, with Genesis 1:1. Since then, we have slowly and methodically progressed through the five books of Moses, so that today, a bit less than ten years later, we are going through the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy.

Following this approach has been both spiritually rewarding, and I am sure it has been edifying to all who have continued through these books, myself included. In the early chapters of Genesis, even until about Genesis 35, I feel I went far too fast through the verses. I wasn’t attentive to the detail as I should have been, and I was unlearned in any meaningful sense in the Hebrew.

Therefore, this has been as much of a learning experience for me as it has been for those who have participated in these sermons. The process has remained basically the same, but it has been slowly modified here and there to where we are now. It is my hope that in explaining how I write these sermons, it will help others in progressing more quickly past those points of learning that I had to struggle through.

I had no model to go by, no pattern laid out, and I had to discover what did work and what did not work. Even today, I will slightly amend my approach as needed.

When I started typing the sermons, I chose a passage by the size or content of the passage and determined to write a sermon based on that. At times, this is still necessary, but it is now the exception rather than the rule.

Instead, I will have the framework of the sermon laid out each week – a template that I use for each sermon. This has a title (which includes the book, chapter, and verses of the sermon and the subject of it); a text passage (whatever the subject verses are referred to during the sermon); a text verse (a verse that will anchor the entire text passage to the mind of the listener); and the standard closing of the opening section which is substantially repeated each and every week.

After this, will be a place for the main points of the sermon – be it two, three, or even four sections. Then comes a closing verse (a verse that will sum up the thought of what has been presented). After that will be a note of what the contents of the next sermon will be. And then a place is left for a poem based on all of the text passage for that sermon.

There is a reason for each of these. Maybe surprisingly, the poem for the sermon, or sermons, for the entire coming chapter is the first thing I type. Supposing I have completed the verses for Deuteronomy 17, then before I actually start the Chapter 18 sermons – meaning the week before I start – I compose a poem based on all verses of Chapter 18. This poem is as close to the original text as I can possibly make it.

That is now complete, and I don’t have to worry about it interfering with the typing of whatever sermons come out of Chapter 18, be it one sermon or five. As the contents of each sermon are completed, I simply take the poem and divide it according to the verses that were included in it. For example, Deuteronomy 18 turned out to be three sermons – 1-8; 9-14; and 15-22.

The question may be, “Why do you do a poem based on the verses of each chapter?” Being glad you asked, I will explain. The reason is that before giving the sermon, the sermon text is read – Deuteronomy 18:15-22, for example. After that, the sermon is given based on those eight verses. After the sermon has been given, a poem, based directly on those eight verses and matching them as closely as possible, is then read.

In all, the sermon passage is therefore heard in three different ways. It is, thus, a memory tool for the congregation. As poetry is different in tone and make-up, even if it is almost a mirror of the text itself, it is a completely unique memory tool.

Out of sheer laziness, because of the amount of time it takes, several times, I have thought to drop this part of the sermon. And each time I thought to do so, someone has walked up out of the blue and said how much the poem helps them to process what they have just heard.

With the format laid out and the poem done for the entire chapter, on the next Monday, I start into the sermon itself. I have the format all ready, and so I start by reviewing the verses that I will be going over and immediately get into analyzing the first verse. We’ll say it is Deuteronomy 18:15.

What I do is to open (at least) 8 tabs on the computer. The first six are from and are set to the following:

1) Bible Hub – a parallel of the verse being evaluated with approximately 25 different translations of that verse. Sometimes, looking at them isn’t necessary. Sometimes reading all 25 translations is needed. It is an invaluable tool.

2) Bible Hub – the entire verse in the Hebrew with a link to Strong’s concordance for each word; each word in Hebrew; a literal English translation for each word; and the morphology of each word. Each word is linked to those various tools, and each is meticulously reviewed by me in all four of these aspects, as needed.

If the word being looked at is a new word in Scripture, that is noted, and its meaning and etymology are explained during the sermon. The introduction of new words, the number of times the words are used in Scripture, and other such information can be an integral part of understanding the passage.

This may be the most important tab open and spending an hour or more on a single verse is not uncommon.

3) Bible Hub – commentaries from (for the Old Testament) Charles Ellicott, Joseph Benson, Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, John Gill, the Geneva Bible, Cambridge, and the Pulpit Commentary.

4) Bible Hub – the commentary of Adam Clarke.

5) Bible Hub – the commentary of John Lange.

6) Bible Hub – the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch.

To get a fuller idea of what the verse being looked at is saying, I read almost every word of every commentary just named. This is an important step. These men have been trained in the biblical languages, and they have built their commentaries on some of the finest Bible scholars in all of church history who preceded them.

With the exception of Cambridge, for an evaluation of the Bible as an inspired text, these are some of the finest commentaries available. Cambridge is terrible in this regard, and their commentaries are often worse than useless – they being a bunch of liberal scholars.

And yet, their insights into the structure of the passage, and their analyses of the mechanical aspects of the Hebrew are invaluable. This past Monday, they pointed out a gender error in Deuteronomy 21:10 that not one of the 28 translations of the Bible that I read for the sermon caught, and not one of the scholars named above caught. And yet, without that, the typology of Jesus Christ in that passage would have been overlooked or flawed.

Even when their conclusion concerning the meaning of the text is completely wrong, as it most often is, what they submit can often alert the reader to something nobody else ever even hints at.

In other words, in their attempt to call the contents of the Bible into question, they will often bring out marvelous insights that – when thought through – do exactly the opposite.

As a side note concerning Bible Hub. It is one of the best sites I know of for the type of work I do. It is an invaluable resource and without it, the labor involved in what I do would go from 6-10 hours to 15 or even 20 hours, or more. There is no site that I appreciate more.

However, as this was put together by man, there will be errors at times. When I find an error in any part of the pages I am evaluating, I do not ignore it. I immediately stop my sermon typing and email John at with the corrections. I sent one to him this Monday from that same verse. His site is a masterpiece of biblical information, and we want a perfect site for the users.

7) Bible Gateway – the chapter that is being evaluated (in this case Deuteronomy 18) is opened. This is kept open all day and often needs to be referred to innumerable times. I always use the same version for sermon typing (NKJV). Any variations in version are always cited.

8) Bible Gateway – an extra bible search engine is opened in order to search out passages from elsewhere in the Bible that will be cited. At times, I may open two or three extras if there is a lot going on.

9) In addition to the above, if there are any names of places or people included in the passage, a tab is opened for Abarim Publications. They have the finest and most accurate analyses of the meaning of biblical names to be found. Many “Bible Name” sites are so far off of an actual meaning of the names that they are useless. Caution and care must be taken when considering biblical names.

With all of these tabs open, and with reading everything involved with each of them for analyzing each verse, and then putting it together into a cohesive and understandable (well, hopefully) analysis for the congregation, I still take time to do one more thing with the verse that seemingly has nothing to do with the sermon. And yet, it often helps me to put together thoughts that are actually invaluable for the sermon.

It is something I recommend to anyone who wants to progress in their understanding of the Hebrew, the structure of the verse, and of how that verse can be misunderstood. I have taken one version of the Bible and I compare it directly with the Hebrew, word for word, and then check that translation for error – for every verse I look at.

In my case, and for personal reasons, I chose the King James Version. The reason this is productive is because it leads to other really valuable insights that you might not even have imagined. If you are going to analyze the Bible for your sermons as I do, I wholly recommend you pick a version of the Bible and do exactly this with each verse.

As a side note, I also type a commentary on a single verse of the New Testament seven days a week. Other than the Gospels, Acts (which is next), and Revelation (which is now three quarter complete), I have a full commentary on the entire New Testament. The reason I bring this up is that I do the same evaluation of the Greek against the KJV as I do for the sermon from the Old Testament Hebrew. If you would like my Hebrew/Greek comparison of the KJV, it is on our website.

At the end of the text study and sermon typing, we will say for Deuteronomy 18:15-22, I immediately finish the body of the sermon by typing closing comments. They are usually something that is more of a life application concerning what has been looked at.

However, there are times I will completely skip a life application, and simply go on to convey the glory of what Christ has done in relation to the subject matter at hand. In the end, the summary to the sermon is what will settle the minds of those listening and help them to redirect to what is most important.

That is either their life responsibility in relation to God, or simply contemplating the glory of God. Either way, this is an invaluable part of a sermon, and it must be carefully presented to leave the listener with the thought that they are accountable to this great, gracious, and yet holy God.

When that is spoken out to them, they should be moved into their soul over His goodness as is relayed to us in the redemptive narrative that is presented in the pages of Scripture.

Once this is completed, I will usually only then figure out what I want to be my text verse for the sermon. As I explained earlier, it is a verse that will anchor the entire text passage to the mind of the listener. In the case of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 the text verse is of Isaiah 8:19, 20.

Normally a text verse will be one verse, or a few at best. However, at times, it may be a whole passage if needed to convey the thought properly.

Next, I will figure out a closing verse. That is a verse that will, hopefully, sum up the content of the passage for the reader to say, “Yeah, I get that!” For that particular Deuteronomy sermon, I chose Hebrews 12:18-24.

Next, unless I have already divided the sermon up into individual sections, I will do that at this time. This is important because there are almost always changes of thought within the sermon that should be separated in order to help the reader transition.

In the case of Deuteronomy 18:15-22, it was divided up into three sections –

  1. Him You Shall Hear (verses 15 & 16)
  2. I Will Require It of Him (verses 17-19)
  3. III. You Shall Not Be Afraid of Him (verses 20-22)

Each of these main points are based on words that are conveyed directly within those verses. It is, thus, a word for word memory tool for the listener of the sermon, whether he or she realizes it or not.

After dividing the sermon up in this way, I then take the time to type a poem that reflects the sentiment of what was and what will be conveyed between the sections. I do one poem prior to the beginning of any second, third, or fourth section.

Hence, because there are three sections in the sermon from Deuteronomy 18:15-22, there will be two intervening poems. The reason for this is that it allows listeners or readers to mentally stop and clear their minds of the overload of information that they have just been presented… because there is an overload of information that has just been presented.

I learned to do this while reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon, and it has been something I have done almost since the very beginning of my time as a preacher. I cannot imagine giving a sermon without this.

So, what is left at this point? Only two things are left for the sermon to be completed. The next thing I do is to now type the introduction to the sermon. Yes, that is almost the last – not the first – thing that I do. It is very rare for me to do it at any other time, but it does happen occasionally.

This comes at the end of the sermon typing because until I have done the conclusion of the sermon, I don’t know what that conclusion will be. But the conclusion is based on the contents of the sermon, and I don’t know what the contents of the sermon will be until the sermon is complete.

Once the conclusion is done, then the opening is typed to closely match what is said at the conclusion, and I can’t match that opening with the conclusion until I know what the conclusion says. This is the standard way of presenting such information – give a thought, explain that thought, and then sum up that thought.

In the case of the sermon, because the summing up is done first, then the opening must come afterward in order to match the summary, which is based on the contents of the sermon. Everything finds its place when it is done this way. Listeners are reminded of what they were told at the beginning of the sermon, and it will thus much better instill in their minds the contents of the entire sermon.

After the opening comments are completed, there is one more thing that needs to be done – the main title to the sermon. The sermon verses need to be put into the title. These weren’t known until the sermon was complete. In this case, Deuteronomy 18:15-22. After that, and last of all, the sermon is given a name.

Obviously, a title is a normal part of a sermon, but that is only chosen based on the contents of the sermon. Therefore, the contents of the title are usually the first and the last parts of the sermon to be completed. For example:

Deuteronomy 18:15-XX is the first thing I know about the sermon. When the sermon is complete and I know which verse has ended the passage, I then complete that part: Deuteronomy 18:15-22. This is actually necessary because there are times where I will start a sermon and will end up only evaluating one verse for the entire sermon. So, this part of the title must be completed after I know the sermon’s contents.

From there, and only then, is a title chosen. I used to choose titles for viewer appeal – “This sounds good and will catch people’s attention.” I no longer do this. I don’t care about catching people’s attention. I care about a proper presentation of the word of God. Therefore, the title is now, almost always, chosen directly and word-for-word from the sermon text. Thus, the sermon title is now complete –

Deuteronomy 18:15-22
A Prophet Like Moses

This is how sermons are prepared at the Superior Word.

To worship and to serve the Lord our God
Eternal fellowship in a land of Delight
On hallowed soil our feet will trod
And the Lord shall always be in our sight

In His light, to walk and also to praise
The Lamb of God who was slain
Illuminated by His ever-glowing rays
No tears, no fear, no sorrow, no pain

Come to the waters and be restored
Drink and receive Grace from the Lord

Heaven’s door is open for all to go through
But you see it’s guarded with cherub and sword
So, to pass through the gate, this you must do
It is the gospel, “Call on the Lord”

By faith in His work and by faith alone
Access is granted past heaven’s sword
His blood was shed for your sins to atone
Again, I beg you, call on the Lord

Again, I implore you, call on the Lord

III. Other Technical Aspects

Preparing a sermon as I do does not mean that when I am done on Monday, that the sermon work is done. Not by a longshot. Unlike a life application sermon that you can type up and have ready in an hour or so and then set it aside for Sunday morning, my 7-10 (or more) hour Monday sermon typing is only a beginning step.

First, a sermon that has been done in the way I do it cannot be conveyed to the congregation with minimal notes. It cannot be looked at once and then spoken forth either. Rather, what is typed is usually so intricate and complicated that it must be read, just as it is typed, to the church.

The first thing I do is to set the sermon aside for an entire week or more so that I mentally let go of everything that has been put together. After this, I read it out loud, check for errors, move things so that they fit better within the sermon, add in or amend things, and so on.

At the same time, I do the graphics work for the sermon. Everything that will be inserted into the video copy of the sermon that the congregation doesn’t get to see (but they get to see me live, so it’s a happy trade off), is prepared for when the video work is done.

After that, the sermon is set off to the side for the next nine or so weeks. That is because I type the sermons ten weeks in advance. This is an invaluable tool for several reasons. First, if I get sick or am otherwise unable to be at the church, I am unlikely to get behind.

Secondly, in doing another nine sermons in the order of Scripture, I am able to learn much more about what is coming, and often new points that I had not even thought of for those nine as-yet unread sermons will come out. If I could do sermons one hundred weeks in advance, how much more would this be the case. But one can only do so much.

And third, special sermons – such as at Christmas or Resurrection Day – will not interfere with the flow of the sermons out of the book we are engaged in at that time.

One week before giving the sermon, usually on Friday, I practice it out loud. This actually has the benefit of me getting my mind off the sermon I will be giving on Sunday, and it will have me ready for the next week because I now have all of the information from two sermons in my head to some extent.

On the week that I give the sermon, I will then practice it out loud each day, checking for things to correct or amend, and getting myself familiar enough with it so that it, hopefully, is passable to the church when it is given. They are far too gracious as they ignore my less than satisfactory oratory skills. For this, I am blessed.

Finally, on Thursday, I print off a copy for everyone that attends, I put it on the church website, scheduling it to appear on Sunday morning, and on Friday morning I send a copy of it out to those who attend online. And, on Friday as with each week, I then practice the next week’s sermon again, and the cycle continues on.

After giving the sermon on Sunday, I must then go home and edit and render the video, and then upload it to various sites on the internet. Once that is done, everything for the next ten weeks of sermons is moved forward one week in my sermon files, and the day is done.

Monday morning, a new battle is engaged as I face the daunting challenge of typing a new sermon – “Oh Lord, prepare my fingers for the battle that lies ahead.” It is my weekly petition to be given the grace of facing His word and not being left entirely defeated in the process.

To conclude: The point of this sermon is to help those who cherish this word, but who have not yet formed a sound approach to presenting this precious gift to the people they minister to.

Please note: it will make no difference that I have done this sermon unless it gets out to others, so I hope you will be willing to share it if it has been a blessing to you.

Closing Verse: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Luke 4:4

The Word of God – holy, pure, and perfect too
It is given to satisfy man’s weary soul
In this life we trod, let us take an eternal view
And allow the word to convert us to God’s heavenly roll

There, in the Book of Life our names will be
Because we pursued His word and found Jesus
Innumerable redeemed, there by the glassy sea
Such a marvelous thing God has done for us

If we will just open the Bible, our own Book of Life
And accept what it says as holy and true
Then between us and God will end the strife
The word is given; to us life begins anew

Thank You, O God, for this marvelous word
In accepting its truths our place in heaven is forever assured

 Hallelujah and Amen…

He Brought Us out From There That He Might Bring Us In

He Brought Us out From There
That He Might Bring Us In

“Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.” Deuteronomy 6:23

In the late 1990s, I worked in the wastewater business, just down the road here in Gulf Gate. I was the lead operator of the plant owned by Florida Cities Water Company. It was a private company, which owned wastewater plants throughout Florida, and it ran them well. Private industry can make a good profit off of such things while paying well and giving great service to their customers at low costs.

Eventually, as always seems to be the case with intrusive government, Sarasota County decided they wanted a monopoly on the wastewater business within its borders. They already had several plants which they owned and operated. The service was not as good, the pay was not as high, and the cost to the customers was higher – all in all, it was a typical government project.

Seeing how much Florida Cities made in profit, the county greedily wanted to take them over as well so that it could be added into their profits for the commissioners to spend as they wished. And so, they eventually dug their hands into Florida Cities and forced them to sell off their Sarasota plants.

Having spent nine years, four months, and fifteen days in government service in the United States Air Force, it was obvious what was coming – waste, incompetence, and frustration for anyone who desired to do an honest day’s work while watching those around him take advantage of the system to do as little as possible.

Knowing what was ahead, and before the transfer to the county, I left that employ and headed to Alaska to mine gold for the summer. The location I went to was on the Fortymile River a bit south and east of Fairbanks, and directly on the US/Canada border.

The spot is so remote that the nearest town, Chicken Alaska, which had a year-round population of nine, was up the river seventeen miles, and then a four-hour drive away. If you Google the location, you can delight yourself in the remoteness of the land and the beauty of the spot. There are bears, beavers, and mosquitoes in abundance.

There, at the claim working from day to day, one would not know if the rest of the world had collapsed, gone into nuclear war, or been destroyed by pestilence. There were no radios, there was no internet, and there was no way to contact the outside world apart from an emergency beacon if someone was in need of immediate medical attention.

For me, I was brought out of a situation of impending doom, and into a place of beauty, riches, and delight – not heaven, but compared to staying on with Sarasota County, it was close to paradise. For the residents of Gulf Gate and the employees who stayed with the county, the service went down, the utility prices went up, and the pay of Sarasota County became the standard.

Text Verse: “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

After coming home from Alaska, I did various jobs. One was working right across the road from my house, restoring an old motel on the island. The travel to work took all of ten seconds, I worked alone, and the pay – though not great – was enough to make the day worth the work.

After a while, I started a retail business just down the road from here and enjoyed a couple years of that. During the time there, and through the Lord’s sure hand of Providence, my heart was turned toward Him, and a hunger for the word of God, the Holy Bible, consumed me.

Eventually, I had to close the store. I could no longer sell Buddha’s and other things people would take home and pray to. It bothered me to even put the key in the door each morning. But what to do when you have a wife and two children?

At that time, I got a call from Siesta Key Utilities Authority – the wastewater plant on the island I live on, and one which I had worked at in high school. My old boss said he needed to fill a position and he wanted to interview me.

I said, “Thanks Art, but I never kept up my license, and so I can’t be an operator.” He said, “We already checked. Your license doesn’t expire for thirty more days. If you come in, we will pay for the necessary courses, and for the renewal of your license.”

As incredible as it seems, the Lord had directed the events of my life to get me out of one sore spot, and to lead me into a good job, with good pay, and which was right down the road from my house. While there, Art eventually retired, and I took over as the lead operator of the utility. It was a sweet deal, great hours, amazing pay, a company car, and the best crew one could imagine working with.

However, the company was under obligation to be transferred – lock, stock, and barrel – to… Sarasota County on a set date which had been agreed upon many, many years earlier. I was asked to stay during the transfer, which I did, but eventually I left the keys on the desk one day and told them it was enough.

You see, the service went down, the utility prices went up, and anyone who desired to do a good job was left to do it alone. Not all county employees are this way, but it is the norm. The one who desires to do an honest day’s work is the exception. With the transfer of the utility complete, I left there, finished my degree at Southern Evangelical Seminary, and was ordained as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on 24 January of 2010.

For me, I was brought out of a situation of impending doom, and into a place of beauty, riches, and delight – not heaven, but compared to staying on with Sarasota County, it is close to paradise.

I. And He Brought Us out From There

Today is Resurrection Day, 12 April 2020. The world is in turmoil, pestilence – real or imagined – fills the land, and the anxiety and stress level of the people of the world is exceedingly high. This isn’t just in our own nation, but it permeates much of the world.

Normally, to be a missionary in an isolated part of the world would be considered something only the hardiest and most dedicated souls would venture out to do. Like going into the middle of nowhere to mine gold, it may be that they have no contact with anyone for extended periods. But today, it seems that a such a choice is not only the smart one, more so – it seems like the wise one.

To be taken out of our present distress, and to be placed in a location where none of this is even considered, would be a delight and a relief. Like my time on the Fortymile, some of our missionaries are simply living their lives, sharing their knowledge of Jesus Christ, and have very little care about how the rest of the world has devolved into a state of near lunacy.

To them, those things are behind and are forgotten as they reach forward to those things which are ahead. For those of us who are sequestered away in our homes, we are living in a new reality which seems to consume our very existence.

In this, we have a choice. We can be fearful, selfish, anxious, and stressed, or we can – as mature and faithful followers of Jesus Christ – submit to Him, place our trust and hope in Him, and stand faithfully on the knowledge that He has brought us out.

For those who have followed the sermons from Genesis through until Deuteronomy, the patterns have become increasingly clear as God continually weaves the lives and events of real human beings, who really existed, into the model and plan of redemption which He has revealed – and which He continues to reveal – in the stream of human existence.

Using Israel as a template, or pattern, for what He would do in and through Christ for humanity, God brought this particular group of people out of the bondage of slavery under a harsh and brutal taskmaster and unto Himself. The redemption of Israel from Egypt is a type, or picture, of the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and the control of the devil to the freedom of God in Christ.

But Israel wasn’t just brought out and granted entrance into the Promise. That would have been insufficient to meet God’s goals and purposes for humanity. As He says in Isaiah –

“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:6, 7

No, what the Lord God did in, through, and for, Israel is only a small part of what He had determined to do for all of the people of the world. He brought Israel out of Egypt as a typological foreshadowing of His bringing us out from the power of the devil.

But God didn’t just bring Israel out of Egypt. He brought them out of Egypt and to Himself at Mount Sinai. It is the fulfillment of a promise made to Moses there on that same mountain. Moses was uncertain of his abilities, and he was fearful of the appointment –

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:11, 12

The Lord said that he would bring them out, and He did. He kept His word and Israel was redeemed from the bondage. In this, He brought them to Himself, carrying them along until they arrived at the sacred mountain. When Israel arrived, however, they quickly realized the terrifying nature of this awesome and holy God.

In presenting to them the basis of His law, the Ten Commandments, the people were terrified. The reason must be two-fold, although we normally only consider one aspect of the event –

“And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” Exodus 19:17-19

During this terrifying display, the Lord thundered forth His commandments to the people – You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet.

From the intensity of the display, and at the giving of the word, the people’s natural and obvious response is recorded –

“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” Exodus 20:18, 19

This is the obvious, and first, reason the people were terrified. The splendor of the Lord was too great for them to behold and listen to. Relief was needed, or they would die. But there is a second reason they should have been terrified, and it is the reason for the display of the Lord in the first place.

It is because the word of the Lord, the demand of the law, and, therefore, the expectation of what would occur if the demand of the law was not met, was now a reality to them. The law cannot be separated from the Lawgiver. The former is an absolute and perfect revelation of the latter. The nature of the Lawgiver is revealed in His law.

If Israel was terrified of the sight which they beheld, which was only a mere demonstration of His power, then how much more terrified should they have been of the words which issued forth from Him!

The words were not merely a demonstration of His power, they are an exact reflection of His nature. To violate His word is to come under His judgment. The power on display was to alert them to this, and to bring them to understand what the consequences of violating His nature would then be – “What you have seen at the giving of My word is terrifying, because I am terrifying when you violate My word.”

Israel had been brought out of a terrible bondage. The yoke they bore was heavy and it afflicted their bodies until their bodies were broken and cast away while others would come and assume the burdens they could no longer bear.

But Israel had been brought into actually a greater bondage than they had left. They had been brought under the yoke of the law. The taskmaster they were now to serve would not merely break their bodies, consigning them to the pit of death, but it would break their souls, consigning them to the pit of hell.

If it were not for provisions within the law which accompanied the giving of these Ten Commandments – which form the basis of the law – none could have been saved. No not even one. But in the law came mercy. The Lord gave Israel a system of sacrifices to atone for their wrongdoings, and to provide remission of their sins.

These provisions were offered through the Lord’s grace, and through His grace alone. The people had agreed to the covenant, in advance, and they had done so without any such provision agreed to at that point.

In Exodus 24:7, at the renewing of the covenant, and before much of the law had been brought to the ears of the people, the word says, v’yomeru kol asher dibber Yehovah naaseh v’nishma – “And they said, all that has said Yehovah, we will do and we will hear.” The promise to do came before the promise to hear. Israel had agreed to their own new, and more comprehensive, bondage.

Thus, any infraction of the law is the fault of the people and is deserving of the entire weight and penalty of the law. Thus, any atonement for, or remission of, the sins of the people is then – by default – an act of grace. They would receive what they did not deserve. It would further be an act of mercy – they would not receive what they did deserve.

The bondage of Israel was complete at that time, even if the scope of it was not understood. But freedom within the law was also revealed – a lamb for this sin, a goat for that sin, and a bull for this sin. There were grain offerings and fat offerings. There were offerings at certain times of the day, and there were offerings for certain days.

The whole system was set up to provide relief from the terror of the bondage that the people were in. And of all of these sacrifices and offerings, they together culminated in several special offerings – that of the red heifer and that of the Day of Atonement.

These, and any other particular offerings, were given for particular reasons and for special release from the burden of the law. Through them, the Lord would bring them out of the bondage they were in. But each of these special offerings required something exceptional as well. They required faith.

For the Day of Atonement, it says in Leviticus 23:28, 29 –

“And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 23:28, 29

On this momentous and august day, which came each year, they were to do nothing but rest and afflict their souls. But this was totally up to them. They would be scattered throughout the land of Israel, and for many, nobody but they alone would know if they had actually refrained from work and food, and if they had also actively afflicted their souls.

In other words, this Day of days was a day of faith. It would be between their hearts and God. Would they come by faith in their minds to Jerusalem and accept the atoning sacrifice which was being made for them? Or would they continue on in their own futile attempts at pleasing God and/or just living life without regard to Him, ignoring His word, and trusting in their own supposed righteousness?

Likewise, with the sprinkling of the water of purification from the red heifer, the person had to stand and allow himself to be sprinkled. The word used there for the action is not the normal word for sprinkling that was found elsewhere in the same passage.

Rather, the word zaraq, a scattering, is used. It is the scattering which is caused by a sprinkling. And more, in the Hebrew the word is passive, not active. A more literal translation would say something like the person “received as a scattering on him.”

To be purified, the person had to receive what was to be done. It could not be obtained by self, but it had to be imparted by another; no works of his own were involved.

Each sacrificial allowance was given to Israel to bring them out of the bondage they were in. If the requirements of the rite which accompanied the sacrifice or offering were met, release from the infraction of the law was realized in the person.

In this, then, the Lord could say, “I have brought you out.” He didn’t need to provide these avenues of release, and being a codified law, only these avenues of release were acceptable. The parameters of the law are found within the law, not within any change or addition to it by the recipients of the law.

It is an important point to understand. When a covenant is made, and when the parameters are set, no man may add to it, and no man may annul it, except as defined within the covenant itself.

With this understanding, the law – though providing release for individual infractions – remained a bondage to the people, even in their times of release. How is this? It is because the provisions of the law were only as good as the committing of a new infraction.

The requirements of the law still stood, and for each new infraction, a new and separate release was required. And more, the annual Day of Atonement was just that. It was annual. It implied that none under the law had met the demands of the law. Though the Lord would bring them out from the infractions, He did not bring them out of the bondage of the law. At least, not through their actions under the law.

However, He was not only able to bring them out of their infractions, but He was also able to bring them out of their bondage. This is what the message of Scripture speaks to, and it is what all of Scripture is directed to. The Lord would bring them out, and it was for a reason. That reason was that He might bring us in.

I have brought you out, My beloved redeemed
The burdens of the past are no more
Please do not doubt, as if I had schemed
To only bring you to a closed Door 

Rather, you have been brought out, and I shall care for you
Each step of the way is a step with Me at your side
Trust that I will do what I have promised to do
As on eagle’s wings you now currently ride 

You shall be carried through to the end
And on a day that I have set for you
For your soul I will send
And through the Door, I will carry you through

II. That He Might Bring Us In

The Thursday before typing this sermon, I said to Berk Carrico, before Bible study, that I wanted to present something to you all that was different than a normal sermon.

Rather than pick apart a passage which obviously looks to Christ and which could then be used to deepen your theology, I thought that the state of the times we are living in necessitated a word to you that would build you up and give you confidence before the Lord and in your own hearts and souls.

Berk excitedly quoted Deuteronomy 6:23 because it was fresh on his mind from having read it that day, “Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.” In his usually excited way, he then repeated, “He brought us out, that He might bring us in.” Yes, that will do. Thank you, Berk.

The Lord didn’t just bring Israel out of Egypt in order to bring them into another permanent form and type of bondage. No, the law is merely an incidental step on the way to bringing them in. But into what? The answer is, “Their inheritance.”

Canaan was the immediate promise and the Lord would fulfill what He had promised. But, for any who have followed the sermons on the books of Moses, Canaan is not an end in and of itself. It is not the true goal. Rather, it is only a picture of something far more expansive and glorious.

The author of Hebrews tells us this. He goes through several chapters of discourse concerning God’s promised rest. He cites the 95th Psalm which spoke of Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness –

“Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Psalm 95:7-11

It was a rebellion that brought about a denial of entry into Canaan for that entire generation. Only when all those who had rebelled were dead, would Israel enter the land. But in his citation of the Psalm he wisely, and carefully, again notes David’s first words, “Today, if you will hear His voice.”

If David speaks of entering the Lord’s rest, and if he lived hundreds of years after Israel entered Canaan, then Israel’s entering Canaan could not have been an entrance into His promised rest. As He says –

“For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” Hebrews 4:8

Joshua did bring Israel into Canaan, and yet Joshua did not bring them into the rest. Therefore, the promise of entering His rest must have still stood, and Israel must still have remained in bondage at that time. One plus one will always equal two in proper theology.

And so how can one enter God’s rest? The law was intended to bring life. As Moses said to the people after finishing his final discourse, and just before ascending Mount Nebo to die, he specifically told them –

 “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:46, 47

Moses said that through obedience to the law life could come. In its fulfillment, one could expect life. It is a truth that the Lord had told them almost forty years earlier –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

But we have already seen that no man could do the things of the law. It is clearly implied in the Day of Atonement rites. One MUST observe the rite because the person had offended the awesome, terrifying, and glorious Lord who had spoken out the law which they had broken.

But more specifically, and to the point at hand, every person who was under the law died. With one exception, Elijah, who was taken to heaven for a set purpose, all of them died. But the law promised that the person who did the things of the law would live. And yet, they all died.

The testimony to the people’s failure stands as a witness against them. Were it not for the mercy of the Lord, they would not only have died, but they would have perished as well. But even under the law, the promise of life for those who died under the law is seen. That is found, for example, in Daniel 12. There the word says –

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

The hope of the redeemed of Israel is the hope of man’s promise – everlasting life. The Lord had brought them out to bring them in. And the Lord through the giving of His Son, has brought us out so that He may bring us in.

God’s promise of life, however, did not come at a small cost. Rather, it came in the giving of His Son for us. Though man in general could not meet the demands of the law, a Man in particular could. He was to be a special Man, a perfect Man – a Man without sin.

The Lord God Himself, united with His own creation to bring about what He had purposed. The Holy Spirit overshadowed a young Jewish girl, and in her womb, God united with humanity. Thus, the child is fully God, being born of God, and fully Human, being born of the seed of man.

But this union came about through a person bound under the constraints of the law. The very bondage which Israel stood under is the bondage to which God subjected Himself to. The Child – Jesus – was born under the law, but without the limitations of other men.

With God as His Father, He was born without sin. And thus, He was qualified to fulfill the law. No other man was, because all were already born with sin. Jesus, however, had no such constraint on Him. Being qualified to doing so, however, He still had to prove Himself capable.

The demands of the law had to be met, perfectly and entirely. But Moses said, “He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in.” The process had been initiated, and so the process must come to its completion.

This is the purpose of the gospels. They are given to show that not only did Christ come, but that He came for us. Whether the world at large is under the law or not, the world at large will be judged by the law. The reason this is so, is because the law is God’s standard.

The same holy God who spoke forth the Ten Commandments will have all flesh stand before Him for judgment. The demand of the law – perfection – will be the standard, and those who fail to meet that demand will be removed from His presence, forever.

One can perish apart from the law, or one can perish under the law, but the law reflects the nature of God. This is what Christ came to fulfill – God’s standard. And this is what He did. Jesus Christ was born under the law – without sin. Jesus Christ lived under the law – as testified to in the gospels – without sin. And Christ died under the law – without sin.

The terrifying display of God, which Israel begged to no longer hear, came from God who is truly angry at sin. The anger of God, for the sin of the world was directed to His own beloved Son. Not because He had sinned, but because you have sinned; we have sinned. Jesus Christ’s death was not for Himself, but for us.

In having accomplished this, the law was fulfilled. The terms of the covenant were met in Him, and thus the penalty of the law ended in Him. How can we know that this is so? It is because of what the Lord said – “which if a man does, he shall live by them.” And it is what Moses repeated – “it is your life.”

If Jesus Christ had not done the things of the law, He would be in the same place where all the multitudes of Israel who came before Him still are to this day. He would have remained in the pit of death and corruption. But such is not the case.

The reason we are here today, is because this Man – born under the law, who lived under the law, and who died because of the law – came out of the grave, proving He fulfilled the law. In Him is life because He embodies the law. In His death, the law died with Him.

As He embodies the law, then He embodies all of the law, including the Day of Atonement, and the purification of the red heifer. He is the Day – our Day – of Atonement. And, He is the Water of Purification – our source of cleansing from sin. And as both of those had to be accepted and received by faith, so does the cleansing and atonement of Christ.

God does not make salvation difficult for us, but the terms of the New Covenant are set and cannot be procured in any way other than how He has determined. One must believe what God did in Jesus Christ, He must receive that offering by faith, and He must receive it apart from any personal merit. We come with empty hands and we procure what God has done.

This is the marvel of Resurrection Day. It is the day where the hope of man – since the moment of the fall of our first father – is realized. The Lord God brought Israel out in order to bring them in. And along with Israel, He said –

“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:7

The whole world has the Door opened to them for the forgiveness of sin and for the purification of all unrighteousness, if they will just but believe. If they will just reach out and receive.

Have I left you after the work I have begun?
Would I abandon you after only a part of the way?
What would be the point in the giving of My Son
If I were to abandon you now? Tell Me, I pray 

I have not brought you just part of the way
To then leave you wandering in a wilderness
Believe the past words when I did say
That I will bring you in, and your soul I will bless 

The Door lies yet ahead, but it remains ever open to you
Because you started in faith, believing in My Son
And through that Door, I shall see you through
I shall complete the task. Yes, it shall be done

Have faith in Me when things are rough
The end for you is secure; your faith is enough

III. Not Just Part of the Way

The Lord God said that He had brought Israel out that He might bring them in. We then saw that the land He promised to bring them into was not the promised Rest of which He had spoken. Like the law itself, it was only a step on the way to the promise.

Paul, in the book of Galatians, says that the law was a tutor to lead us to Christ. God brought Israel into the law to teach them (and us!) of our desperate need for Christ. In coming to Christ, the Promise is found, and the Rest is realized. That is stated explicitly in Hebrews 4:3 with the words, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.”

If you have trusted Jesus with your eternal soul, the victory is won, and the battle is complete. The promise is realized. Oh! How joyfully we sing of the great redemption, of the blood, and of the cross. We rejoice in the mighty working of God, so sure of our salvation and of the glory which lies ahead.

And yet…

How fearful are you today? How anxious are you of the events surrounding you? How discouraged are you at being shut up in your home, unable to go out, lacking toilet paper because someone who cares less about others than he does about the backside of his own body has, through hoarding, deprived you of this temporary comfort?

Who is it that has pains in his body, and who questions the Lord’s goodness because of it? Who is it that says the Lord must not love him because his dog was killed? Which one of us will question God’s goodness when his finances are lost through the current crisis, or because a hacker came online and cleaned out his account?

Is there someone here who wonders why God so unfairly allowed the coronavirus to come and steal away his life of ease instead of taking him out at the rapture. The nerve of God to leave me like this! Who would talk this way? Who would think this way?

Is the rest of your life, after the victory you have received, supposed to be one of luxury, ease, and paths of rose petals? The Lord God has brought us out so that He may bring us in. He didn’t say that He would start bringing us in and then stop short along the way.

Why would God go through four thousand years of preparation, of meticulous recording of human history, of working through Israel and the law, and of the giving of His Son – think of it! – the giving of His Son to bring us out, just to fail in bringing us in?

Are we so faithless in ourselves that our faith will get us to Christ, but not to truly dwell in Christ? We started in faith; shall we now expect sight? We have the word; shall we now demand more?

Rather, the victory in Christ is a victory which asks us to trust that what happens to us is not out of His control. It is a victory which belongs to us as an inheritance and it is both ours, and it must be waited upon.

We have come here today to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – giving God the glory for what He has done. But we diminish that glory every time we allow our personal circumstances to stand above the significance of what Christ did for us.

When we lose hope because of some worldly affliction, pain, trial, sadness, pestilence, or famine, we are putting the test of this world above our faith in the next. Let us remember always that the Lord – our Lord Jesus Christ – brought us out, so that He might bring us in.

He took the terror of the law, with all of its associated punishments for disobedience, upon Himself. He took all of God’s wrath concerning all of the sin in human existence upon Himself. And He died so that we could meet the demands of the law in Him and thus… live.

The sin-debt is paid, the pardon is granted, and the everlasting life has begun. It isn’t that it will start some nebulously placed day in our future. No, it has begun – right at the moment we received Jesus Christ. The joys of eternal life apart from this present life may be yet ahead, but the JOY of eternal life – even during this life – should ever be with us.

Don’t lose heart, don’t be fearful, don’t be discouraged, and be anxious for nothing. But rather, “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7)

Each of us is bound to suffer. Each of us is bound to mourn. Each of us is bound to be burdened in heart and in soul. But each of us is to remain hopeful and hope-filled through those things. This, rather than diminishing the glory of the cross of Jesus Christ, will add to its glory.

God sent His Son on a mission of love and mercy, and God now asks you to remain faithful to the pronouncement you made when you first called out to Him to receive the Gift and to be called into His brilliantly glorious light. God has brought you out, so that He might (and indeed will) bring you in.

Have faith, be encouraged in the Lord, and be filled with the peace and calm of life in Jesus Christ – to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Closing Verse: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9

Next Week: Deuteronomy 1:34-46 When done there, a new direction will come, happy and fresh… (Many Days in Kadesh) (5th Deuteronomy Sermon)

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land

What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard

Now, if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew

And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly streets we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed

Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon

But indeed, Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one man, Adam, our federal head
So, Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep

But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep?
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep?

Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it is true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so, heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds, we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story\

Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring\

Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…

Micah 5:1-5 (The One to Be Ruler in Israel)

Micah 5:1-5
The One to Be Ruler in Israel

Each year at this time, those who believe in Christ Jesus gather together to celebrate His coming. And it is appropriate that we do so. It is true that Jesus wasn’t born on 25 December, at least not born from the womb. According to Scripture that actually occurred in the September/October time frame. However, by knowing this, we can know, with all certainty, that Christ was born in the womb at this time of year.

And that fact is the true miracle of Christmas. The incarnation occurred in the womb of Mary, and it represents the most pivotal moment in all of creation. God created all things by His spoken Word, and then on that first Christmas, God united to that creation through that same Word. This is what Micah prophesied of long before it came to pass. Isaiah prophesied of this event as well.

Taking what the prophets say about the coming Messiah, a clear picture begins to develop. Though the words seem impossible, they are either true, or the word we read and cherish isn’t the word of God. Isaiah first says –

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

People have attempted to diminish the reality of what is written there as not meaning what it says. In other words, it is claimed in the Hebrew, the word “virgin” doesn’t necessarily mean “virgin.” But the Greek translation of the passage, and the New Testament which cites what is stated here, which is also in Greek, shows that “virgin” absolutely means “virgin.” When we take that, and then add in the words of our sermon text from Micah, we are left with no other possibility than the birth of Christ is more than just a supernatural event, but it is THE supernatural event. As incredible as the creation of the universe itself, is the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ – even more so.

Text Verse:  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

The Christmas Child didn’t just come and set up a kingdom to demonstrate His great power over the people of the world. Rather, He came in humility, He lived in obscurity, and He died in obedience to the will of His Father for an unimaginable purpose. It is something so incomprehensible, that the words of David are needed to help us adequately see the reality of the matter. In Psalm 144, David asked, “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?”

That is what we should ask when we consider what God did for us in Jesus Christ. Because what He did was for us is actually beyond our ability to mentally grasp. It was the Father’s will that Christ would come into this futile stream of time, live out a perfect life, and die in our stead. Knowing that should make us realize one thing, and ask another. It should make us realize that we have value to God, and it should make us ask Him, “What is it about us that You find of any value at all?” Yes, David’s question is perfectly relevant to what occurred in the coming of the Christmas Child and how it relates to us.

I have thought about it for many years, and I am no closer to an answer than I was when I first asked the question. But the fact is that it is true. Man has great value to God. It is a truth which is revealed in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. From Eternity Past (Micah 5:1-5)

Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;

The book of Micah is dated at somewhere between 750 and 686 BC. This places him as contemporary with Isaiah. The prophet foretold the coming fall of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, and he also spoke of the future destruction of the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah 5 begins with a picture of war being waged against Judah, even to the point where it would come to its destruction and a subsequent and continuous external rule over it from that time on.

The city of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, is told to gather herself into troops. In Micah Chapter 4, a scene of misery is prophesied against her in verses 9 and 11. The prophet returns to that thought here. Things will be so bad within the city that the people will have to muster themselves as a band of defenders. Babylon is coming, and the siege will require every capable person to be mustered in defense of that great, terrible horde.

However, there must be more to this than the Babylonian invasion. Verse 4:10 says that the people would go to Babylon, but they would be delivered from there. And in fact, Jerusalem was rebuilt after the exile. But it was always under foreign rule. There was the later deliverance of the people under the Maccabees, and there was also the siege and desolation of the city under the Romans. The temple was destroyed in AD70 and Israel, God’s chosen, was dispersed among the nations, seemingly forever abandoned to obscurity in punishment.

During each of these incidents, the people gathered themselves together into troops, sometimes finding temporary deliverance, but also eventually finding destruction. The prophecy of verse 2 will show that each of these is centered on One to come who would be put in contrast to the people and the ruler of the city. Where they were placing their hope of life was (and remains to this day) misdirected.

1 (con’t) He has laid siege against us;

Here, the prophet identifies himself with those who were being besieged by saying “against us.” Prophetically, he is of the people who were to be attacked, destroyed, and dispersed. Therefore, he intimately identifies himself with the future coming upon them. This future would include…

1 (con’t) They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.

The “judge of Israel” spoken of here is its leader. He is set in contrast to the Lord, Yehovah, who is called their King in verse 2:13. It may even be a sort of pun that the prophet is relaying. The King of Israel is Yehovah who breaks forth before the people. But the judge of Israel is a man in a city-besieged and who is struck with a rod on the cheek. It is the greatest of insults to be so struck. Time and again, a strike on the cheek in Scripture indicates this.

This was first fulfilled in Zedekiah, Judah’s king at the time of its destruction by Babylon. He was captured, his sons were killed before his eyes, and then his eyes were put out. From there, he was bound and carried captive to Babylon, imprisoned, and remained so until his death. But, what is subtly being hinted at is that they would continue to suffer terribly at the hands of their foes until the coming of Messiah. The rulers of the land cannot protect the people apart from Him. With Israel returned to her land in modern times, but still being in a state of rejection of Christ Jesus, the prophecy actually continues to be fulfilled in modern Israel. They trust in a human ruler who will inevitably be humiliated, but there is One who can end this, once and for all…

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,

Jerusalem is now contrasted to Bethlehem, Ephrathah. Both names indicate the fertility of the location. Bethlehem means, “House of Bread.” Ephrathah signifies “Fruitfulness.” The reason for including the name Ephrathah, is because there were actually two Bethlehem’s in Israel. The other was located in the north, in the tribe of Zebulun, about six miles north of Nazareth. It is named only once in the Bible, in Joshua 19:15.

To ensure that the southern Bethlehem, the one in Judah, was more specifically identified, both names are given here. As it is contrasted to Jerusalem, the great city of kings is shown to be lesser than this little, and even insignificant, town of Bethlehem. It is noted, not because of its size or fame in weaponry, but because of One who will come forth from her…

(con’t)Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,

The words are formed in such a way as to show motion leading to an outcome. There is a contrast between what was said and what is now stated. In Jerusalem, there is a great city. In Jerusalem, there is a multitude of people. In Jerusalem, there is the judge of Israel. But coming forth to the Lord, out of an insignificant and backwater town, there is One coming who would be a mashal, or ruler, in Israel. The word signifies to have dominion over.

The Lord’s name is not stated here, but it is implied. The prophet is not speaking of himself, but the One who is speaking through him. The Lord has proclaimed the birthplace of Messiah, but He next throws the thought into confusion for those who refuse to see…

(con’t) Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”

The coming Ruler was to have a beginning. This is evident from the idea that He would come forth out of a location. Because the location is a part of creation, it could not have existed into eternity past. Because it has a name, it was identified as a location at some point after it came into existence at the creation. But, at the same time, the One who is coming forth from that location has motsaah, or “goings forth,” which are miqedem, or “from the east.” It is an idiom meaning, from the absolute forepart. In other words, from eternity itself.

Just as – from man’s perspective – the sun rises from nowhere, so this ruler would also come from the eternal past. There is no beginning to His coming. Instead, it simply is. The author then further defines this by saying mime olam, or “from the vanishing point,” meaning from the place where nothing is known of it.

The motsaah, or “goings forth” is a plural construct in the Hebrew, and signifies the eternal and continual generation of the Son from the Father. There is no time that it did not occur, and it shall occur for all eternity.

Charles Ellicott says of this, “The nativity of the governor of Israel is evidently contrasted with an eternal nativity, the depth of which mystery passes the comprehension of human intellect: it must be spiritually discerned.” And so this is true. Israel could not, and indeed still does not, discern this. The veil remains when the law is read. What the words here clearly imply is that because He was before the creation, He must be the Creator, because only the Creator can exist before that which is created.

Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time 
that she who is in labor has given birth;

The words here have long been misconstrued by most scholars. And yet, lone voices of understanding have arisen, even going back hundreds of years. Adam Clarke rightly states that, “Jesus Christ shall give up the disobedient and rebellious Jews into the hands of all the nations of the earth, till she who travaileth hath brought forth.” It is obvious that “He” is speaking of the One described in the previous verse. It is also obvious that Israel is the subject who is being given up.

Therefore, this is not speaking of something occurring before the coming of Messiah, but after. The coming One, this eternal Ruler, would give up Israel, until a specific point in time which Micah says is when “she who is in labor has given birth.” It is a reference to what Micah’s contemporary, the prophet Isaiah wrote about –

“Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came,
She delivered a male child.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.” Isaiah 66:7, 8

Zion, the woman in labor, would once again give birth to a male child, and so Israel was prophesied to be brought forth once again. That occurred on 14 May 1948, and the time prophesied has now arrived. The Messiah had given up His people, turning His love and affection upon a people who were not a people. Now, that body of believers has almost reached its fullness. When that day arrives, and with Zion once again prepared to resume her role in redemptive history, the church will be taken to glory, and…

(con’t) Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.

The prophet speaks of a remnant of His brethren. The only two times a remnant is mentioned in the New Testament, it is speaking of Israel. Paul, in both Romans 9 and Romans 11, refers to the fact that only a very small portion of Israel would survive what lies ahead, and that only a very small portion of them would be saved in belief before that time. That has proven true throughout the history of the church age. And it is a history which is quickly catching up to the events prophesied in these ancient verses.

At a future date, probably not far off from our time now, something will occur among them that has been anticipated since the time of the words of the prophet. Most translations say that this remnant “Shall return to the children of Israel.” However, the word “return” can also be interpreted as “convert.” And this is how the Latin translation states it – “they shall be converted to the children of Israel.” And so the meaning is that either the saved remnant shall return with the Savior when Israel is saved, or that the remnant of survivors of Israel, shall be converted at the end of the tribulation period. The latter is more likely based on Jesus’ words to Israel –

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:27-39

Jesus says that they will call out to Him as the One who comes in the name of Yehovah. This is exactly what Micah is speaking of, and it is what Jesus says will occur. When Israel is converted, they will call to Him as the Lord, Yehovah. Peter’s words to the Jews then further confirm this

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9, 10

Israel had been set aside, but Peter, writing to the Jews of the end times, shows that though they had been set aside, they will once again be the people of God. That this is correct, is based on the words of the next verse…

And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,

v’amad v’raah b’oz Yehovah – “And shall stand and shall shepherd in the strength of Yehovah.” There is dual meaning in these words. The first is that He shall stand as a King and yet he shall do so in the tender lovingkindness of a Shepherd over His people.

The symbolism permeates Scripture, but the 23rd Psalm is sufficient to set the example – Yehovah roi –“Yehovah is My Shepherd.” John 10:11 is then sufficient to explain the meaning – “I am the good shepherd.” Messiah, meaning Christ Jesus, is the embodiment of Yehovah, and it is He who will, in kingly splendor, stand and tenderly shepherd in the strength of Yehovah. And yet, there is more. He shall shepherd…

(con’t) In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;

bigon shem Yehovah elohav – “in the excellency of the name of Yehovah His God.” The Shepherd of Israel, will possess all the majesty, and indeed, all the excellency of the name of Yehovah His God. The dual nature of the Man, who is God, is revealed in the words of the prophet.

(con’t) And they shall abide,

The word here – v’yashavu, is rendered v’yashuvu in many manuscripts of antiquity, including three Hebrew, as well as the Syriac, the Chaldee, and the Latin Vulgate. Instead of “and they shall abide,” it would then say, “and they shall be converted.” Considering that Messiah gave up Israel until the time of their return to the land – and that because of unbelief – this is the more likely rendering. Israel shall be converted, and Israel shall be saved. And the purpose of this is that the Lord shall be magnified among His people, as is next stated…

(con’t) For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;

ki attah yigdal / ad aphse arets – “For now He is great, to the ends of the earth.” The words, though speaking of the distant future by the prophet, are written as if it is already accomplished. Translators are not wrong to state this in the future tense, but it is only future to what we know in relation to the state of the world as it now exists. However, in the mind of God, the outcome is as if it has already happened. In that, time is simply catching up with what has occurred in His mind. The thought here is that from among His people, who are now converted, even to the ends of the earth, the Messiah will be known for who He is.

The words here are directly tied to the final conversion of Israel in the knowledge of who He is. Until that happens, it cannot be said that He is great even to the ends of the earth. When His own people do not recognize Him for who He is, there is a lack. The lack is not in Him, but in the knowledge of Him. However, when they finally realize what even the ends of the earth have come to know, then the knowledge of His greatness will be universal. And in that universal knowledge, there will be a new order of things…

*And this One shall be peace.

v’hayah zeh shalom – “and shall be this One peace.” Here, peace is personified, because this One is the personification of peace. He is the Author and Provider of it. In Isaiah 9:6, one of the titles of the coming Messiah is Prince of Peace. The Hebrew there is sar shalom. Sar signifies a leader, a captain, or an officer. It is someone who is in charge of something. In the case of the Messiah, He is the Prince of Peace. He is the one in charge of it. He grants it to those under Him.

Where there was strife and enmity with God, He now brings peace. Where there was the fear of death, there is in Him the eternal hope of life. Where there was only groping in heavy darkness, in Him is found the confident stride of walking in eternal light. He bestows all blessings, and from Him flows all prosperity and goodness. He is complete in all ways and this wholesome state of completeness will be transmitted to all things and to all of His people. He will be the lamp through which the radiance of God will illuminate New Jerusalem for all eternity – absolute peace flowing in pure light.

In Him, there will be no desire left unfilled because He is the Creator of all things, and thus the Source of all blessings. These things bring shalom, or peace, because He is our Shalom, our Peace. And this is how Paul describes Him in his letter to the Ephesians. When speaking of what is occurring in Micah, meaning the conversion of Israel to the conversion already found by the Gentiles, Paul says this of Christ Jesus –

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

In darkness I groped, darkness of the deepest night
Looking for life that would last, but it could not be found
But then came the most marvelous Light
And with it came the heavenly chorus, a glorious sound

Through the tender mercy of our God
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us
There is now light on the path that we trod
The everlasting light of our resplendent Lord Jesus

Now there is a new hope for us, a hope eternal
To those who sit in darkness, and in death’s shadow
There is salvation from hell’s pit so infernal
There is from the Lamp of God, Christ’s eternal glow

II. But Who Do You Say I Am?

A prophecy about a coming Savior is only as good as the fulfilling of that prophecy. Unless a prophecy is to actually occur, the words written out are no better than the countless predictions of the rapture which come and go year by year. Such “prophets” are proven false, and their words quickly wither away. This is why, if you must speculate on the date of the rapture, or make any other prediction, you should never say, “The Lord says.” When your prediction is proven wrong, you have not only made yourself look stupid, you have also brought shame on His immeasurably great name.

In the case of the words of Micah, the Jews of Israel believed what he had written was true. They accepted that his words were inspired by God, and they trusted that they would come to pass, even if they didn’t understand all of what was being said. That is why, after Jesus’ birth – which, by the way, happened to be in Bethlehem, as recorded in Scripture – we read the words of Matthew 2:1-12.

These fellows show up and asked where the Messiah would be born. The account doesn’t say that the chief priests and scribes had to stop and look it up. Rather, it was common knowledge. They simply said, “Bethlehem of Judea.” We know they didn’t bother looking it up because they then cited the words of Micah, but instead of citing it exactly from the scroll, they gave a paraphrase from memory. This is how common the knowledge was. But even more than this, it was common knowledge to all of Israel. In John 7, we read this –

“Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.” John 7:40-44

The prophecies were read openly from Scripture in the synagogues, and from there, the story went out to even the people who may not have attended a synagogue. It was commonly held knowledge.

The thing about this prophecy is that Bethlehem is still there. The same location from before still exists today. But the Jews of today don’t look to the words of Micah and expect that their Messiah will come from there. And even if they did, they couldn’t prove Davidic ancestry. Those records were destroyed 2000 years ago. And even if DNA could someday prove this, their supposed Messiah would still have to be born of a virgin. And even if a virgin could be artificially inseminated in order to bear a child, could it be said of that child, without really stretching the intent of the Hebrew, that his goings forth were from of old, even from everlasting?

And suppose they could somehow accept that, they would then need to accept that they were – at that time – going to be given up by this supposed Messiah for an unknown duration of time. Would they be willing to accept this? From this one short prophecy of Micah, which was commonly accepted as the reliable truth of God by Israel 2000 years ago, there are several impossible dilemmas concerning the identification of a coming Messiah in modern day Israel.

If we were to add in the countless other prophecies of this coming Christmas Child, the absolute impossibility of anyone in human history fulfilling all of them is seen. That is, with but one exception. The person who claims that the Bible is true is faced with one, and only one, possible conclusion – Messiah has come, He fulfilled every prophecy concerning His first coming, including that Israel did to Him exactly what Scripture prophesied they would do. Thus, that only possible One is JESUS.

In all honestly, the only other explanation is that the Bible isn’t true, and Israel of today is an aberration, exactly as most of the people of the world claim. And if that is true, then Israel actually has no basis for who they claim to be, for the land they claim to possess, and for the claim that they are the chosen people of God. There is a terrible disconnect, a national cognitive dissonance, between Israel’s identification with who they are, and with what they believe concerning the basis for who they are.

And all of this stems from one thing, and from one thing alone. That is in answering, “Who is Jesus?” That question was asked of the disciples 2000 years ago, and their response is recorded for all to accept or to dismiss –

“‘“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”’” Matthew 16:13-16

What happened to Israel over the past 2000 years is because of how they responded to the question. What will happen to them in the days ahead, is because of how they continue to respond to that same question. And the eternal destiny of every person on this planet, whether they are aware of it or not, is tied up in the answer to that same question.

The Bible shows us that after much suffering and great loss, Israel will someday call out to this wonderful Child of Christmas, barukh haba b’shem Yehovah – “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Yehovah.” When they do, they will be saved. For them, there is both an individual salvation, and a national salvation. For each of us, there is only individual salvation or condemnation. The Messiah has come, He has performed His work, and we are asked to respond to that in faith that what He has done is sufficient to save. That is all He asks of us.

And so today, here on this marvelous celebration of the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, I would ask you to consider well what you believe. Jesus, through His word, is asking the question, “But who do you say that I am?” Is it possible that Micah’s words are true? Could the eternal God really reveal Himself to the people of the world as a helpless Baby in a manger? Could He come without pomp and ceremony and walk the hills of Israel, telling His people about the completion of all things being found in Him? Could He really be the same Person who wept in agony over the punishment He was about to face for sins He did not commit? And could He – this perfect Lamb of God without spot or blemish – really go forth by the will of the Father to His death by crucifixion on a wooden cross?

As for me, I am fully convinced of this truth. I believe that the eternal God took on our nature and assumed the punishment that I deserve in my place. He died in my place, and He rose again by the power of God, cleansing me from all unrighteousness. I believe this with every fiber of my soul, because it is the only thing that actually makes any sense in this otherwise confused and worthless existence. Without Jesus Christ, nothing matters. But with the Child of Christmas having come, everything makes complete sense. The times are reaching their end, and Christ will be here to collect His people soon. I hope and I pray that you will be on board that express line to glory. Have your ticket ready. Have Christ in your life now, and climb aboard.

Closing Verse: “For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6,7

Next Week: Numbers 11:16-35 You may get it and even more… (Be Careful What You Ask For) (21st Numbers Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. He was willing to put on a body of flesh and to dwell among us despite all the pains He had to endure in the process. If He did that for you, think of how much more lies ahead when we walk with Him in glory! So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Child of Glory

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and thus He said
Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God
Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above your head
Ask it from the heavens under which you trod

But Ahaz said, I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord
I will not be presumptuous and speak another word

Then he said, “Hear now, Oh house of David!” I want to know
Is it a small thing for you to weary men?
But will you weary my God also?
Is this how to live in iniquity’s hidden den?

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign
Behold, the virgin shall conceive
And she shall bear a Son, by my glorious design
His name shall be Immanuel, hear now and believe

And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, I know that you agree
You are little among the thousands of Judah, it is so
Yet out of you shall come forth even unto Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel, My word is true you know

His goings forth are from of old
From everlasting, thus you have been told

Praise God O Israel, For unto us a Child is born
Praise the Lord Land of Judah, For Unto us a Son is given
And the government shall upon His shoulder be worn
And through Him shall man’s sins be forgiven

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace no end shall we see

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever, He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this

The scepter shall not depart from Judah
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet
Until Shiloh comes and we shout Hallelujah
And to Him the obedience of the people shall be sweet

Do not be afraid, for behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people, forever told
The wondrous story, the birth of a Boy

For there is born to you this day
In the city of David a Savior, it is He
Who is Christ the Lord, to whom heaven’s hosts obey
The Messiah has come, and now you may go and see

And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
Lying in a manger, a glorious view
The Christmas Child whom our Heavenly Father bestows

A Child like no other has come to dwell among us
He shall lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
And His name is called out, His name is Jesus
Come, and of the Heavenly Child partake

He is God’s gift and heaven’s treasure
He is Immanuel, God with us
And He bestows upon us grace without measure
The Christmas Child, our glorious Lord Jesus

This helpless Baby lying in a manger
Will rule the world in everlasting peace
Through Him will come security with no danger
And the rule of His glory shall never, never cease

All praise to our stupendous Lord of Glory
Yes, all honor to this precious King
Praising God for the wondrous Christmas story
Let all the Lord’s redeemed shout aloud and sing

Hallelujah and Amen…