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…

Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew

Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew
Sergio Voitenko
6 May 2018

7 years ago I asked this question: Can a perfect God speak imperfect words?. I wanted to know if the Bible has flaws?

There are multiple ways to prove the authenticity of the Scriptures. Just google it and youll find thousands of sermons and videos. There are multiple ways to logically prove that God is perfect and so His Word must be perfect. There are tools to find translation errors. And there are experiences and testimonies like the one I shared last week, which all add weight to finding the answer to these questions.

But the strongest answer I ever found is the evidence of a supernatural intelligence in the Bible. This evidence is hidden in plain-sight throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, evidence that points to the fact that no human mind could have ever written this text in its original form.

Some of this evidence I am going to present to you today.

But like with any evidence, one must have the proper tools to inspect it. So before I begin, I’m going to give you a tool from the scholar’s toolbox.

And the first tool in the toolbox is the Ancient Hebrew alphabet.

Why Hebrew? Because Hebrew is the main language God chose for the writing of the OT.

Now keep in mind that there is modern Hebrew today. It is the Hebrew that I grew up speaking, and even though it is based on the ancient Hebrew, it has slight differences. This is similar to the difference between Middle English used by John Wycliffe in the 14th century and Modern English used in the NIV.

On the screen, you can see an example. @ These are the first three verses as they appear in the Wycliffe Bible of the 14th century.

Okay I’m going to read this, and make a fool out of my self. Nonetheless, I must do it, in order to make an important point. @

1 In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. 2 This was in the bigynnyg at God. 3 All things weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing. That thing that was maad.”

I believe we have a few Church members from Ireland and Scotland, watching this live right now who would have done a much better job at reading this than me.

But now the point is this, someone speaking Modern English would have thought the text is about someone who has gone mad. What sounds and looks like the same word, in fact, has a different meaning in the Middle English. It is the same way that Ancient Hebrew compares to the Modern. With a few extra grammatical differences.

So how do the translators know what is the meaning of certain Hebrew words that have been lost over millenniums? Context.

Can you imagine the responsibility and the difficulty of a Bible translation job?

So without any further ado, please pay your attention to the screen. @ This is the ancient Hebrew Alphabet.

Look at it very well. I’m going to show you some really awesome stuff. And by the end of this presentation, you will be one step closer to becoming an expert in Ancient Biblical Hebrew! Or at the least, you’ll be able to impress some of your Hebrew friends, or maybe even Charlie when he comes back!

Let’s begin. @

Hebrew is read from Right to Left.

So these @ would be the first letters.

And just like we live in a four-dimensional world, so also the Hebrew alphabet has four dimensions that apply to each letter. @ Let me explain.

  1. @ the first dimension is The Phonetic Sound – Just like in English, each Hebrew letter produces a phonetic sound. @ ⟨a⟩, @ b, @ ⟨g⟩. This one is quite easy to understand because we have the same in English. However, this is the only dimension the English language has. Hebrew, on the other hand, has three more. So let’s take a look at them.

  2. @ the second dimension is the Name of the letter, which also gives it a meaning – That’s right, each letter is an actual word that has a meaning. For example – @ the first letter is El and it means strength. Does that ring a bell? Elohim is the plural of El and that is the Hebrew word for God. So if we were to literally translate the word ‘Elohim’ it would mean Strengths).
    The second letter is @ Bet and it means a house. The third is @ Gam and that means “to walk”, and so forth.
  3. @ the third dimension is the Numerical Value – the numbers as we know them today were not invented until 500 AD. Back then the Hebrews used letters instead of numbers. @ El – 1, @ Bet – 2, @ Gam – 3, and so forth.
    Now, this leaves us with the last and the most interesting dimension. Take another look at these letters. What do you see? Can you guess the last dimension?
  4. @ the fourth and the last dimension is the Pictograph – each letter is an actual drawing, an ancient picture, if you may. @ El is an Ox Head. Do you see it? It’s really cool. The second letter Bet is a drawing of a @ Tent Floor-plan. Can you try to guess what the third letter looks like? 
    @ a Foot. I challenge you to go through the rest of these at home. Simply rewind a few minutes back to the time when I showed the entire alphabet and try to figure out what they mean. After you’re done guessing, you can see if you were right by googling Ancient Hebrew alphabet.

Now in these four dimensions of the Hebrew alphabet are hidden great mysteries and marvelous treasures. And now that we know how to read it, we can take a look at some of those mysteries.

@ The first mystery we’ll look at is in Ezekiel 9:4-6

This chapter deals with the judgment day. In these verses, Ezekiel sees a vision where the Lord instructs His angels to execute judgment upon the disobedient people. But these verses conceal one of the coolest mysteries of the OT. @ Let’s read it together,

and the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. To the others He said in my hearing, Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.So they began with the elders who were before the temple.”

A very scary passage, unless you have @ the mark! What is this mark? And why does it protected them from death? Let’s check this verse out in it’s Hebrew form: @

עַל־כָּל־אִ֨ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָלָ֤יו הַתָּו֙ אַל־תִּגַּ֔שׁוּ

This very verse had been read and sung in the synagogues for thousands of years. Yet it hides a magnificent mystery.

You see, in Hebrew, the word for “the mark”, in this verse is Tav @

This Tav, whatever this mark looks like, if it appears on the forehead of those people mentioned in this verse, it would protect them from God’s wrath. So the question is – “What is this mark; what is this Tav?”

What is interesting is that this is not the regular word for “a mark”. @ Hebrew has much better words to describe a mark on a forehead, like Siman or Ot. So why did Ezekiel use this particular rare word? And do you know how rare it is? @ it appears only three times in the entire Old Testament. @ Two appearances are in the verses we just read, and the other one is in Job @ when he yearns for salvation from God’s punishment. @ Take a look:

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
Here is my mark.
Oh, that the Almighty would answer me,
That my Prosecutor had written a book!”

Isn’t that interesting? The only three times this word was used, it is used in the context of protection from God’s wrath. Fascinating!

So what is the meaning of this word – Tav? To understand that, we’ll reach out to our toolbox and pull the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet. @

As you remember, the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is Alpeh. @ Which means Strength, it represents the El Elyon, the God in the Highest, the Father. But now let’s go to the end of the Hebrew alphabet. @  I’m not ready to reveal what this letter looks like just yet. You see, it is the last letter of the alphabet. @ Its number is 400 and it’s phonetic sound @ is /T/.

And it happens to be that the name of this letter @ is Tav. 

## This is the same word that Ezekiel uses to describe the Mark on the foreheads. But there are other words to say “a Mark”, which are much more common, why use this rare, yet significant word “Tav” which also happens to be the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The answer lies in the pictograph. Take a look at the screen.

@

Does that look like something you know?

This letter is a cross! Isn’t that incredible?? Do you remember the first letter? It was Aleph, OX Head, Strength. While the last letter is a cross? Does that remind you of anything?

I am the Alpha and the Omega, I am the beginning and the End” said the Lord. He is Elohim, the Ox Head, the Strength, the Beginning and He is the End, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross, and rose from the dead on the third day. 

## Ezekiel was seeing a cross on the foreheads of the people who were spared from utter destruction!

At the time of Ezekiel, the cross did not bear the symbolism that it does today. Back then, if he saw this symbol on the foreheads of the people, it is very likely that what he saw was what he knew looked like that – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

This, together with the verse from Job, is fascinating.

@ Job is crying out “Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark.” @ Here is my cross.

How can there be any other explanation than a divine inspiration of the Scriptures?

## No man on earth can come up with these “coincidences”. One, sure; two, maybe; three, okay. But when 7 years ago I was set to find all the flaws of the Bible, instead I found hundreds of these supernatural ‘coincidences’. Take this is in addition to the harmonious unity in the narrative of the entire Bible, despite the fact that it was written by over 40 different authors over a period of 2,000 years. This book is so rich in detail, and yet has a simple message of salvation to all mankind; to you and me! wow!

——

Now, if you already knew this beautiful mystery of the cross in Ezekiel, that’s awesome. But I’m ready to put my bets that you don’t know the next one.

@

Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven”

Have you heard anyone quote that before?

These are very famous words. 

## But how many people have said ‘let me look at the pictographic meaning of the ancient Hebrew letters in this verse’? I know I haven’t.

But my better half, Rhoda, did. And what she found is absolutely marvelous!

@ The Hebrew word used for time in this verse and the rest of the verses of this chapter, like you have already guessed, is not a regular word. The regular word is ‘Zman’. Solomon, who wrote this book, used the common word ‘Zman’ in the previous chapters. But here he uses the word Et. @ Et is sometimes translated as a moment rather than time. So why was Et used instead of the regular word Zman?

What you see now on the screen is actually the modern Hebrew letters. Let’s take a look at the ancient Hebrew, the pictographs:

The last letter we already know. @ It’s Tav.

But the first letter is Ayin, and in ancient biblical Hebrew, it looks like this @

Look at these two pictographs combined together. Does anyone want to take a shot at deciphering this riddle?

@ Fix your eyes on the cross!

So when you read the rest of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, think of Jesus: @

A time to be born,

    And a time to die;

A time to plant,

    And a time to pluck what is planted;”

@ This is what Jesus had done!

## Isn’t that incredible?

Here’s another usage of this word:

@ Psalm 105:19:

He sent a man before them—

Joseph—who was sold as a slave,

They hurt his feet with fetters,

He was laid in irons,

Until the time that his word came to pass,

The commandments of the Lord tested him.

The king sent and released him,

The ruler of the people let him go free.”

This Psalm speaks about Joseph, being tested before he was redeemed.

And here, the word @ time in Hebrew appears as Et.

Let’s read the verse again, but this time consider the cross: @ “until the eye sees the cross, that his word came to pass, the commandments of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him… let him go free” – Reminds you of someone?

There are only 64 appearances of this word ET in the OT. If you go through each and one of them and consider the meaning of the letters, you will find marvelous things. ##

(btw… ordinal value of Alef and Tav (אלף ותו) sums up to 64…)

I’ve got one more hidden treasure to reveal to you today.

Does anyone remember John 14:6 by heart?

@ “Jesus answered, ‘I am the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

I bet you all remember these words. But there’s more to them than meets the eye.

##

Let’s reach out to our scholar’s toolbox one more time. Tool of choice? The Ancient Hebrew alphabet! But this time, let’s go to the drawing board.

——

I’d like to finish with a proverb 25:2 @

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; But it is the glory of kings to search it out.”

And in Hebrew this proverb is even more significant. It goes like this: @

כְּבֹ֣ד אֱ֭לֹהִים הַסְתֵּ֣ר דָּבָ֑ר וּכְבֹ֥ד מְ֝לָכִ֗ים חֲקֹ֣ר דָּבָֽר׃

A word-to-word translation would sound like this:

@ “It is the Glory of God to conceal the Word. And it is the Glory of Kings to investigate the Word.”

Today I’ve shared with you just a few treasures that can be found with just one tool – the Ancient Hebrew alphabet. But there are so many other tools too. Poetry. Symbolisms. Prophecies. Numbers. Acrostics. Chiasms. The Bible is full of treasures. We just need to search them out.

## If there’s any chance that you do not know Jesus yet, or have not accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. Today is the day. Do not wait for tomorrow, because it might never come.

The God who is in heaven, who spoke this perfect Word, He loves us so much. In fact, while we were still sinners, He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die instead of us. This Son is Jesus Christ. He was nailed to the cross, died and sealed in a grave. But death could not hold Him, because it was not His sin but ours, and so He rose from the dead on the third day. The Bible tells us that everyone who believes this in his heart and confesses with his mouth Jesus Christ as Lord will be saved. It’s that simple.

And what’s after that?

Pick up the Bible,

start reading,

and don’t stop.

Amen.

Sharper Than Katana

Sharper Than Katana
Sergio Voitenko
29 April 2018
 

83% of all American people claim to be Christian (270 million), but if they were to be asked “Do you have spiritual peace or well-being?”, one-third would say. “No”!

How is it that 60% of Christians are struggling with anxiety?

30% are struggling with loneliness.

10% with depression.

55% with overeating.

11% are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Two out of three Christians are consumed by pornography, and almost a third of them say they suffer from it; they are addicted; they cannot stop.

These are the sad statistics according to the latest surveys conducted by LifeWay, Pew Research Center, and the Cambridge University.

The research also showed that denomination does not affect the statistics, or even furthermore, these numbers prevail among non-believers alike. It appears as if all mankind is struggling with the same flesh.

There is a high chance that someone is watching this right now who is facing an ongoing struggle that they just can’t seem to overcome.

Did you ever ask yourself “Why do I do things which I do not wish to do?.”

Do you feel like you keep losing the battles?

Yet deep down you still want to be closer to God, you want to walk with Him as Moses did, As Elijah, as the disciples did.

I know you might be thinking “I’ve heard that before., every pastor says the same thing, “do this,” “don’t do that,” and you might say I’ve tried it all, it doesn’t work.” Well, I couldn’t agree with you more, and that is precisely why I am here. You see, I am not a pastor. I am a follower, just like you.

I was among that 83 %. In fact, I was among the 11% of addicts. I struggled with this since I became a Christian.

And seven years ago I found a solution. This solution is actually what many pastors do, but not many teach. It is so because some pastors do not always realize that, this thing that they do, this solution, is the very thing that keeps them out of trouble. Well… most of them.

Just like Moses, Elijah, the disciples and so many more, walking daily with God is possible.

I’ve got nothing to gain from this testimony. If anything, it is to lose my reputation as I’m going to expose myself, in the hope that some might relate and find encouragement. If God could transform a sinner like me, then just imagine what he can do with you!]

BTW if the intro didn’t peak your interest, I brought some fun sermon props with me. A big picture, paper with a hole, a magnifying glass, two goats in the backroom, and a Katana sword. So you might want to stick around to see how this pans out.

I grew up in a Russian-Jewish family in Israel. My parents believed in Jesus when I was still a lad, so I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every Sabbath. That’s right, not Sunday, Sabbath, we lived in Israel after all.

I confessed my faith in Christ at the age of 13 and got baptized the same year. Interestingly enough, being baptized in the Jordan river, in the Holy Land, did not seem to have an extra spiritual advantage on me, and certainly not long-lasting, because by the age of 20 I backslid from faith as far as I possibly could.

I was struggling with pride, alcohol, pornography, and a host of other things that would not be even appropriate to mention in public. I heard so many sermons in my life, and had numerous Christian mentors, trying to help me and advise me what to do and what not to do. Every tip they gave seemed reasonable, and indeed it was helpful for them, but for some reason, it did not bring any lasting change in me. I kept on tripping over again and again. Every time I would fall into sin that stained my heart with guilt, I felt further separated from God. Feeling unworthy of His fellowship, unworthy to take communion, and at times it felt like God wouldn’t even hear me if I prayed. And to cope with this reality, I became ignorant and in denial. I would still go to Church but I had long forgotten what fellowship with God looked like. I only knew what fellowship with other believers was, it was all about me.

My dual faced life came to its peak as I was sitting by the right-hand of my pastor in Nazareth, translating sermons to Russian while getting wasted drunk later in the nights, and brag about it to my friends in the military. I became self-centered, prideful, a user of people, and abuser of rules. And it was only the start of it.

After being released from the Israeli Air Force, I was hired by an American company and worked as a consultant for Hewlett-Packard, traveling the United States of America, driving luxurious cars, staying in top of the line hotels; an American Dream come true, I tell you. I thought I was Mr. Big Shot. But in reality, I was a nobody. My outward image may have enriched itself, but my inward soul was destitute.

I no longer desired to address my struggles, I embraced them, I said: “It’s not that bad.”

I got married and my ignorance started to fade away slowly as I saw the damage I was causing to the woman that I fell head over heels for.

She is the most wonderful woman in the world. And I got a billion reasons to prove to you why that statement is true. But only one reason is enough, and it rests on my finger, right here. The Lord had appointed me to love her. How? Just as Christ loved me and gave himself up for me, so should I give my desires up for her needs. But I failed miserably, from the very first day. I had no idea what love is, I only knew what she made me feel.

August 2011, one year into our marriage, despite still going to Church now and then, I came to my lowest point. Marriage no longer satisfied me, the alcohol did not fill me, pornography became an addiction, and I was on route to pour our marriage down the drain.

And then came along Grace Baptist Church. One sunny Sunday, in Aug 2011, we randomly picked a Church to attend, where a certain pastor, who does not like to take credit so I won’t mention Charlie’s name, was preaching that day. On that day, he just happened to give his testimony. His life before Christ seemed like complete havoc. But on that stage, I saw a new man, who had no resemblance to his earlier life. How did he do it?

He kept saying it was Jesus, it was Jesus. Jesus. But I also have Jesus, what is different? So as I kept on listening, I was struck by his passion for the Bible. He mentioned that he reads it daily, never missed a day, and in the past few years, he read it over 70 times. Cover to cover.

And then, it dawned on me. What do pastors and all of our spiritual mentors have in common? They preach. And to preach, they study the Bible. Most likely, on a daily basis.

And out of good intention, they relay to us what they learn, telling us what to do and teaching us what to look out for, what guard rails to set.

When we lived in Atlanta, we went to see Andy Stanley. His sermon was about “Guard Rails for a Christian”. Have you ever seen it? He gives excellent advice. But even though, following the advice, the do’s and dont’s, can be very useful, they do not change our hearts nor do they transform our minds.

So what can transform our minds?

The book of Hebrews 4:12, says @:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God! The Bible. It is living and active.

[Katana sword]

You know what is interesting?

Proverbs 5 talks about lust, it says there, that it is as sharp as a two-edged sword.

[put sword down]

But Hebrews 4:12 says, [pick up the Bible], the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.

The Word of God, written by the hand of man, available for us today in almost every language, is sharper than any two-edged sword, even lust. It is living and powerful!

@ In Psalm 119, David asks a question: “How can a young man keep his way pure?”

And what is the answer? “by guarding it according to Your word.”

And then he adds, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Going back to the story. In Aug 2011, I took a few days off work, I opened the Bible and started reading. I did not stop. Literally. I did nothing else but read his word, day and night.

When I got to the part where Jesus says “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” I started weeping uncontrollably. The damage I’ve done to my marriage dawned on me. I can’t imagine how I must have hurt God with my actions. But I didn’t stop reading. When I got to the book of Romans, chapter 6, I started crying uncontrollably again, but this time from joy.

@ Romans 6:1

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

How did I not see the past tense before? Died to sin. Not dying. Not will die.

For the first time in my life, I understood that my salvation does not depend on my action. I was bought with a price, and my righteousness is in Christ! There’s nothing I can do to add to what Christ has done for me on the cross. I can only accept His precious gift of life.

But having been saved by grace does not help explain why do I keep doing things which I do not wish to do.

By the time I got to Ephesians chapter 2, I was swept away in His loving arms. Listen to what it says: @

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Notice the terminology, it says we were dead in “trespasses and sins”. Aren’t those two synonyms? Or is there a difference?

Believe it or not, in the Old Testament, there is a distinction between the two.

For example, [pick up two goats] when a sin was committed, the Israelites were instructed to make two offerings. A sin offering and a trespass offering. Why two?

Let’s take a look at the original Hebrew words.

@ A trespass is מעל (Maal). It has the same root as the word Above. Ma’al is sometimes translated as “act”. And if you combine it with its root, it almost sounds like ‘acting above’, an act above the law.

@ While the word “sin” in Hebrew is חטאChetta”. It means to wander away from something, to miss. To be in sin is to be separated from God. Like Proverbs 8:36 says חטאי חמם נפשוHe who wanders from me, injures his own soul”.

A trespass is an act against the law set by God. Sin is the state of the soul.

And that’s why we can be in a state of sin from our very birth, without ever committing a trespass. Just like one who is born in slavery is already a slave from birth, so were we born in slavery to sin. We were slaves to sin, but having believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have died to sin and can no longer live in it. This is because the state of our soul is marked with the stamp of God, the Holy Spirit; the guarantee of our salvation. So no matter how much we keep on trespassing, our soul is free from sin.

So let me try to put this into our modern day perspective.

Area 51 is a military zone with a fence around it and a sign that says @ “No Trespassing. Up to one year imprisonment and $5,000 fine”. If one day I am led by my desire to meet up with E.T., put myself above the law, and trespass that territory, I would then commit a crime, and thus be a criminal. The trespass would be the act, and the result would be my criminal title. A title, I would never be able to clear. It’s a title that stays for life. Oh, If only there was anyone who could take the charges in my stead.

After the book of Ephesians, as I progressed reading the Bible for the first time, the book of Colossians put the nail in the coffin. You gotta hear what Colossians, chapter 2, says in verses 13 and 14: @

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The trespasses that I committed were like a written record of debt that separated me from God. Just like a man in prison, separated from His family. But with Christ and in Christ, I am a free man. My trespasses are not counted against me, my record is clean. I can still trespass, but it is not counted against me.

So then I continue reading and get to 1 John. He takes that coffin with its nail and burns it up so that there is left zero doubt, and full confidence in Christ. Listen to 1 John 3:9, @

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Wait wait wait.. I’ve heard that before.. 1 Corinthians 5:19 @

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…

My trespasses are not imputed to me! I am free from sin! Dead to sin! Alive in Christ!

So, the question remains then. Why am I still trespassing and doing stupid things, and how do I stop?

@ 1 Peter 2

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Desire the pure milk of the Word”

Side-note: Isn’t it interesting that the organ that has the taste buds is the same organ that can emit words that are bitter or words that are sweet. Praise the Lord, for His Word, is sweeter than honey. And the people in this Church have tasted it. You are consuming it like hungry lions.

Since the day I opened this book, I have not stopped reading it. I have not skipped a single day. And I have never gone back to my old habits, addictions or trespasses. It all went away overnight. I used to think that Job’s covenant not to look at another woman lustfully was a myth, but I tell you it’s a wonderful reality. If your mind is filled with the everlasting and ever fulfilling perfect Word of God, everything else in this world would not even look attractive. Since the very first days of reading the Word, my relationship with Rhoda had taken a drastic change to the good. My love for her had been increasing daily, it only gets better and better, with every day, even though I do not deserve even a millionth of it.

I am not saying all of this to boast in pride, but quite the opposite. I’m saying this as a testimony of my weak flesh. I can assure you, If I didn’t set the highest priority on His Word today, then tomorrow you would find me in indulged in trespasses, avalanching down from the peak of the mountain of grace, into the abyss of addiction and malice. I am a weak man, and there’s no strength in me other than Jesus Christ, who Is the Word that took on flesh and died for me! So I have no reason to boast, but in Christ Jesus, who saved me from eternal separation from God and left with me two things while I’m still breathing on this Earth – the Bible and the Holy Spirit to understand it. He gave them to each and one of us, so we can live a life worthy of the calling we have received.

I’d like to finish with these thoughts.

More than 80% of all churchgoers in America do not read the Bible on a daily basis. They might be saved, but they are missing out on an opportunity of a life filled with the richness of faith, in which words like loneliness, depression, and addiction are never to be heard.

If you are amongst the 80%, I do not judge you or condemn you. I’m hurting for you because I know what it’s like to be in that place. And I want to tell you that there’s a way for you to fellowship with God. The kind of fellowship Abraham had with God, the personal daily relationship like Moses had with God, face to face. I want you to have the heart of King David, the faith of Prophet Elijah, Apostle Peter, Apostle Paul, Beloved John, Rhoda Voitenko, Christian Postel, Aaron Goodwin, Chuck Wenger, Jim Dwyer, Charlie Garret and countless more. Such life is possible and it’s beautiful.

I’m sure you have questions for God, and you might be praying to Him on a regular basis, but give Him the chance to speak back to you. His Word is not in the past, it is living and it is active. It will never pass. It will shape you and it will mold you. It will transform your mind and your entire life if you read it daily and do what it says.

So often I see Christians read a daily devotional as a substitute for Bible reading. Or just open the Bible, pick a few verses, and that’s it.

And I don’t blame them, because the chances are, there is just no one around to show them how powerful and effective the Word of God is.

You know I used to do that too. Pick verses here and there. Not even know the context.

(Optional Section)

Let me show you something. [Picture and a dot illustration].

I have a picture here. I’m going to cover it up with a piece of paper with a hole in the middle of it.

What do you see?

Can you tell me what this photo is about?

Do you ever look at photos in this way?

I didn’t think so. You first look at the entire picture, and then you examine the details.

So why did I read the Bible verse by verse, pixel by pixel, before I looked at the entire picture?

That was me before, but then Aug 2011, I read the entire Bible for the first time, I saw the big picture. And it is marvelous!

Open the Bible, start reading, and don’t stop. If you say “well, but I’ve got work.. kids.. wife… school… God gave them to me so I must take care of them first…”

I know it seems like you don’t have the time, but the reality is that you just did not set the priorities right. You do your duties at your work and school, and you might be rewarded with money or some years of relationships, which is good for this life, but it’s all going to be burnt up one day. Would you not rather seek the heavenly rewards first? What if God’s Word was your first priority in your day, how would your life look like then?

One of my mentors was Chuck Wenger. He worked under Billy Graham and produced the Jesus Film that was translated to over 1400 languages. His daily schedule looked like this: He would wake up 4 AM, study the Bible for 4 hours, afterward make breakfast for his wife and children, and then head to the office. By the time he was done with his business, ministries, and spending time with family in the evenings, it would be midnight. He slept 4 hours a day. He did that for twenty years. And for what advantage? By setting God as his first priority, he made himself available for God to use him in incredible ways to change the world.

@ A Civil War chaplain, E.M. Bounds once said,

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.

Open the Bible, read it, memorize it, taste it and do what it says. Yes, doing is difficult, especially when we are struggling with habits developed over many years. But it is only difficult in the beginning. I promise you it gets easier with every right decision you take, with every taste of this wonderful Bread of life, the eternal Word of God.

I’ll leave you with the Words that God told Joshua in chapter 1 verse 8: @

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

If you have accepted Jesus but have not found the spiritual peace yet, if you want to be free from problems that separate your heart from God, then make the Bible your first priority, always keep God’s Word on your lips, think about it day and night, and do what it says.

Amen.

  • Next week Sermon (Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew)

Job 19:23-27 (In My Flesh I Shall See God)

Job 19:23-27
In My Flesh, I Shall See God

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:23-27

Right at the beginning of the book of Job, Job is described as a man who was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. In the same chapter, the Lord acknowledges that “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.”

From there, Satan, with the permission of the Lord, did his best to cause Job to trip up and to sin against God. He failed. But there is, in the character of Job, a flaw nonetheless. Job, wanted to do right, and he did right, but it becomes evident that he felt that he somehow merited to know why evil occurred to him when he had been a man of justice and integrity.

In other words, Job thought fearing God, was actually working his way to heaven. One can fear God without really having faith in God. I can know He is there, and that I need to be good, but if He says that being good isn’t enough, and that I need to trust in Him alone to be considered good, then is my doing good really good if I am not trusting in Him in the process? Or is my doing good only good when it is done in faith of His provision and not mine.

That may sound like double-speak, but it isn’t. To God, a good deed, not done in faith, is not really a good deed. This is what James tells us. But people misunderstand what he is saying. They assume that he means that we merely need to do good things after having faith. That is not at all what he is saying. He is saying that our good deeds must be deeds in faith. Job misunderstood this as well. He assumed that his righteousness allowed Him to question God when things went bad.

But God owes us nothing. Job was given a lesson in this, and in the end, he discovered what so many people, even people of Israel today, and even people in the church today, have failed to understand. The only truly good deed is a deed of and in faith. Otherwise, it is self, and not God, who is the recipient of the satisfaction for what is done. Paul explains this in many ways in his writings, but it becomes as clear as crystal to us when he cites David, a man under the law, who intuitively understood this…

Text Verse: But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” Romans 4:5-8

David said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” But David was under the law. If he sinned, under the law, how can sin not be imputed? It is because sin could be atoned for through a substitute. But substitution in this way, by its very nature, involves faith. The deed isn’t undone, but one has faith that it is forgiven. With no faith in the sacrifice, then God does not forgive.

This is what Paul then uses to explain the work of Jesus for us. Jesus died for all people. All sins are potentially forgiven in His sacrifice, but not all sins are actually forgiven. Only when faith in what He has done is brought into the equation are those sins potentially-forgiven then actually forgiven. Job was not wrong in doing good things, but he thought that what he did gave him a special relationship with God that exempted him from trouble, or at least that it allowed him to question God as to why the things happened. God showed him otherwise. His story, like all of Scripture, points us to our need for Jesus Christ. Either looking ahead to Him, or looking back on Him, all people need Christ Jesus. It’s all to be found 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. The Record of our Lives

23 “Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!

Job was not only a tested man, but he was – at the point of this verse – a frustrated man. He had gone through the most difficult of trials, the greatest of loss, and the sadness of his situation was immeasurable. But despite this, his three friends who had come to comfort him instead spent their time correcting him. They questioned his righteousness, and they insinuated that his troubles stemmed from the conduct of his life and actions. The voice of these three was consistent as he received the same accusing words from each. In the chapter preceding his words here, certainly one of the shortest people in the Bible, Bildad the Shuhite (he being only height of a shoe!), pierced him with more words of condemnation –

He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased out of the world.
19 He has neither son nor posterity among his people,
Nor any remaining in his dwellings.
20 Those in the west are astonished at his day,
As those in the east are frightened.
21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this 
is the place of him who does not know God.” Job 18:18-21

Words such as this must have broken Job’s heart. He defended his righteousness, stating he had done nothing deserving of the misery inflicted upon him. And yet, the barbs of his friends kept coming. Immediately following these words of Bildad, Job resumed his defense. By verse 21, he is almost beside himself with the misery of his treatment, and he cried out –

Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
22 Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?” Job 19:21, 22

It is at this low and miserable state that he moans forth the first words of our sermon text today.

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!

In his hopes for a defense, he lamented, wishing that his words, meaning the conduct of his life, had been written down. If only they had been meticulously noted and compiled, even into a book, then it could be referred to. It could be opened. It could stand as a witness to the care he had put into his walk in the presence of God. Surely that would stand as a testimony to his friends of the error of their accusations! And even better than a book which could burn up or corrupt away by mold, or be eaten by a goat or bugs, if only they were engraved on a rock! The permanence of his deeds would be noted, and stand forever as a witness to his actions. Instead of a short note on a gravestone, Job desired that his entire life would be carved deeply into rock to shout out to these unfaithful friends that he was righteous.

Understanding that even rock will wear out though, he adds in words of permanence, “With an iron pen and lead, forever!” The iron would cut deeply. Even the erosion of weather could not wear out that which had been so deeply cut, and which was then filled with lead to seal what had been etched, and to highlight the letters of his life for all to see. It is this; this which Job desired. As he sat in the mire of misery, he held fast to his righteousness, desiring that all could see it and approve of his life and actions.

Job sat in the land of Uz at a time in history believed to be around that of Abraham. At this place, and at this point, he only had a minimal knowledge of the Holy One. But he did have a knowledge of Him, and so he lived his life in a pursuit of righteousness. But his life wasn’t recorded, and so what profit was that righteousness except to God who knows all things? This much he understood. “I have a life, and it is known to God.” Later the Bible will confirm this. The very birthplace of each person is, in fact, recorded –

And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah Psalm 87:5, 6

Those born in Zion would be recorded as such, by the Lord Himself, when He registered the peoples. If this is true of those born in Zion, then the Lord is aware of those not born in Zion. If He is aware of the place of their birth, and thus records it, then He – by default – must also be aware of the time of their birth. And if so, then He must know to whom a person is born. As He is aware of all births in this manner, then the entire genealogical record of humanity is known to Him and recorded by Him. One simple statement about the record of those born in Zion logically follows through to the birth record of all humanity. The Lord knows, and His knowledge is recorded.

At least Job could access this from the library of infinite record. But that would not be enough to place in front of his unfriendly friends. He would need more to defend himself before them, and before the accuser, Satan, who had done him so wrong. And he could then question the Lord satisfactorily as to why He allowed His poor faithful servant Job to come to such disaster. But there is more on record than just genealogies. Job didn’t know the words of the 56th Psalm. If he did, he would have had more comfort for his broken heart…

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8

In fact, Job’s wanderings – where he had gone and what he had done – these were recorded as well. The all-seeing eye of his Creator had watched his steps and recorded them. And each woeful tear of Job’s streaming eyes had been captured and safely secured away in a book of remembrance.

His wealth was gone, his children were destroyed, and his nagging wife was left behind to increase his misery. The tears flushed forth like a torrent streaming through the dry wadis of the desert, but the Lord had marked them all down. Such actions were, in fact, recorded in the book of his life. Though the words may be lacking, he could present this evidence to the miserable physicians who had come not to heal, but to open already infected wounds, and to allow them to fester even more. The movie of his life may be a silent one, but the care of his daily walk, and the emotion of his desolation, would surely bring them to repentance of their misdiagnosis and mistreatment of this admission into the hospital of sackcloth and ashes. Oh! If only the words accompanied the scene! Then, surely then, they would know – with all certainty – that he was righteous, and that his petition to God for his ill treatment was just and justifiable.

But Job, sitting on his heap of mourning, lacked the words of the Redeemer whom he was sure was out there. It would be many generations until He came, but when He did, we are told by Him that what Job desired with such longing was already true. It wasn’t just genealogies, wanderings, and tears that were recorded. The knowledge of the Holy One didn’t go to a certain point and … stop. No, His knowledge is infinite, and His record is complete. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and all the ways of man are known to Him. And the ways of man, including the inclination of the heart, and the very words he speaks are known. What Job longed for, was, in fact, to be waiting and available…

 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

Job longed for his words to be recorded. He wanted them recorded permanently, and he wanted them highlighted for all to see. His accusers could shut up as he presented them openly and with delight. And the God who had wronged him would surely feel remorse and apologize to him for his ill treatment. Job would be vindicated in all ways. Or so he thought would be the case.

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock so smitten
With an iron pen and lead, forever to gaze upon and look

All that I have said and done
That it could be there to vindicate me
I am the man pleasing to God! Yes that one!
If only my words were written, He could see

Wouldn’t He then say that I was right?
That I was righteous in and of myself
The trial would be a marvelous sight
As my record was taken down from the shelf

Is this how it shall be?
Will God truly in this manner favor me?
Time will tell, and we shall see

II. The Plan Already in Motion

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;

Words of confidence! Words of surety! Job knew that his Redeemer lived. What this actually meant, in all its finer detail, was not his concern. He was aware of the ancient promise, and he knew that God was faithful and true to keep it. After the fall of man, a Redeemer was assured. He would come and restore that which was lost. He would crush the accuser, that vile serpent, that brought all of this misery and woe into his life.

Before it came, Job lived faithfully and righteously. He was blameless and upright, he feared God, and he shunned evil. As the priest of his household, he sacrificed for the sins of his family. He didn’t allow his great wealth or position to interfere with his walk before God. Instead, he maintained his integrity, and he held fast to righteousness. But in this, he also thought that he deserved a trial when things went bad. God must have had erred in allowing his life to be destroyed, and he wanted a trial to bring about his vindication.

His Redeemer would do so, and He was alive and waiting eagerly to do so. Job was certain, “My Redeemer lives.” He certainly wasn’t thinking of the human Jesus. He was thinking of God who redeems. His theology was lacking, but only because of his time and place, not because of his desire to know.

And so with a voice of confidence, he exclaims, “And He shall stand at last on the earth!” Job is thinking of God, but God doesn’t have parts. God is Spirit. However, in his prophecy, he uttered true words nonetheless. His lack concerning the knowledge of God was not allowed to interfere with the prophecy from God. Somehow, His living Redeemer would stand upon the earth.

Then! Then he would receive his vindication. It might not be now, and it might not be soon enough to restore the pains of his heart during his earthly walk, but he knew that it was coming. At that time, he could present his case, have the errors corrected, and stand vindicated for his life of integrity. The wrongs would be admitted, and the Lord would… Oh certainly He would!, admit that Job had been mistreated and wronged unjustly.

The record of his life, from birth through tears, and even to death itself – it was all recorded. He didn’t know that, but he was certain that his life proved that what happened to him was in error. Several times in the psalms, David specifically asked for vindication as well. In the 26th Psalm, he asked for vindication because of the life of integrity he had lived. His words there are similar to Job’s cries.

In the 35th Psalm, David cried out, “Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness.” David understood that the Lord is righteous, and that the trials he faced were known to the Lord. Surely He would vindicate him. Again, the words are similar to the pleas of Job. In the 43rd Psalm, David pleas for vindication, asking the Lord to plead his cause against an ungodly nation. Job’s plea was similar. The words of his accusers were ungodly and incorrect. He had been just and righteous, and they accused him of having received his just desserts for unrighteousness. In the 54th Psalm, David again appeals for vindication, claiming that God was his helper. Job on the other hand felt that God had somehow wronged him. He cried out for vindication from the error which had been made. It is the flaw in Job’s theology which most needed correction. We can misunderstand things about God because we lack the full revelation of who He is, but we can never impute wrongdoing to Him. This is especially so when we compare His righteousness to our own, and His workings to ours.

I know that my Redeemer lives!
And that He at last shall stand upon the earth
I will receive every blessing He gives
Eternity will be filled with joy and mirth

But will it be that He is pleased with me?
Is my redemption secured because of the things I’ve done?
Or is there something else I need to see
In order to have my victory won?

What does the Lord have in store?
Is my life pleasing now in His sight
Is anything lacking? Is there anything more?
That will ensure things come out right?

What is Your plan for me, O God?
Reveal it to Your servant, as in this life I trod

III. The Resurrection

26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

Job knew that a day of reckoning for all men lay ahead. Life is lived, man makes his decisions with the information available, he conducts his life in whatever way suits him, and for whatever most motivates him, and then he expires and returns to the earth. In this passing, corruption sets in, the body breaks down, and the elements return to dust. Eventually, even that is picked up and swept away by the winds or rains. Not even a pile is left as a testament to the man who once existed and lived out his life under the sun.

Nobody remembers, no name is left upon the wind for ear to hear, no reflection of him remains in a mirror. It is as if he never existed at all. It is the eventual end for everyone. Though we build monuments to our existence, even they fall into rubble and disappear. The vanity of this futile existence is repeated in the vanity of obscurity. None of it mattered apparently. Such is the state of man as far as time and remembrance are concerned.

Except of course, for those who have not lived only under the sun, but under the heavens. They have the knowledge that God is there, that He is a Rewarder of those who seek Him, and that this life is not all there is to existence. Job knew this, and he, with absolute certainty, proclaimed –

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God.

There would be a renewing of the man. From what was once dust itself, he would be gathered again into a physical suit. The flesh destroyed by corruption, time, and natural force would be reclaimed, and a body would be created for the soul which had departed it. The two would be reunited, and in this body, God would be beheld. Job knew this, because he believed that the Lord is true to His word. What little he knew about the record of man was enough to convince him that he had to act justly, walking in integrity, and conduct his affairs in righteousness. He knew that sacrifices were needed to cover wrongdoing, and that he would be held accountable for the life he lived. Someday, the elements would regather to support this truth.

Isaiah prophesied about this as well. From time to time, you might hear a preacher or teacher say that the ancients had no idea about a resurrection. It is as if they have had their heads held under water a bit too long. The deprivation of oxygen kept them from either reading, or actually taking in, the words of the Old Testament. Even a cursory reading of it, including the words of Job, show that this has always been known to man. Isaiah, simply confirms what was already commonly accepted –

Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19

The dwellers of the dust would be aroused to walk upon it once again. The spot of their interment would become the place of the soles of their feet. The earth will cast forth the dead, and the dead shall live. The daisies which feed the mule would no longer be nourished by the sons of Adam. Instead, revitalization of the inanimate would occur, and those who dreaded death while alive, will live again.

But for every such action, there is a reason. This gathering of humanity from the dust of the earth serves a purpose that goes beyond eternal life. It divides that eternal life into two separate avenues. Job knew it would come, Isaiah confirmed that it is coming, but Daniel explains why it will be so –

And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3

There is to be a dividing line as to what will happen to the reanimated seed of Adam. A judgment lies ahead, and it will be based upon what is written down. The very thing that Job longed for, is exactly what is already prepared. Every birth, every step, every tear, and every word… all of it has been compiled for a day of reckoning, evaluation, and judgment.

The ancients knew this to be true, and the Lord slowly continued to reveal the truth throughout the ages. Eventually, it became so well known, that even the women of the land, who were never held by those in the east of being the scholarly sort, were fully aware of what had been revealed. Jesus, before His crucifixion, and resurrection, meaning during Old Covenant times, had an encounter with Martha at the tomb of her brother Lazarus. We have the privilege to sit in on what happened, and what was said…

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:17-27

Martha already knew that there would be a resurrection. It was so well known among the people by this time, that a girl from an obscure little village was fully aware of what lie ahead in the resurrection at the last day. What she didn’t know was that the Resurrection stood before her. The Life of man itself had been revealed; the One who had breathed the breath of life into man four thousand years earlier; stood right there ready to comfort her misery, calm the mournful soul, and confirm the power which rested in His hands. The Redeemer had not yet redeemed, but He would show that He was capable of doing so. The time was not far away when it would come about. It is this One, known to Job, and yet unknown by Job, about whom he called out his words of hope –

Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Job prophesied that he would see God. But God cannot be seen except in the manner in which He reveals Himself in creation. Job may not have known this, and yet his prophecy was not incorrect. He would see God as far as God can reveal Himself to His creatures. He revealed Himself in a burning bush to Moses. He came in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to the children of Israel. Later He revealed His back while Moses was secreted away in the cleft of the rock.

He came in awesome splendor to others, such as Ezekiel. What Ezekiel saw was so dramatic that the word “like” is used time and time again. Something that is “like” something is not what is described. Rather, it is the pitiful prophet’s poor pronouncement that what he sees is “like” something else. He tried to use something understood to describe that which is not understood.

But apart from all of the stunning representations of the Lord to prophets like Isaiah, and Daniel, and others, there is one presentation of the Lord which is found interspersed throughout the Old Testament – that of a Man. He walked up to Abraham with two others. He stood before Joshua with a sword drawn. He appeared to Gideon. He came to the mother of Samson first, and then to both her and her husband.

To these, and others, the Lord appeared as a Man. If this is so, then it should not be so impossible for Job to assume that he would stand before God as well. The Lord is God, and the Lord has appeared as a Man. It was for this appearance before the God/Man – whether or not he recognized that this is how He would appear – that he cried out with his words of surety, anticipation, and hoped for vindication… “How my heart yearns within me!”

The heart of Job yearned to stand before his Creator, but Job’s hope was one of somewhat misdirected anticipation. He hoped for a chance to be vindicated in his righteousness and have the error of his calamity explained and exposed. His friends were wrong; Job did not deserve what happened to him, as if it was divine recompense for wickedness. But Job was also wrong in assuming that the God owed him an answer for what had happened to him.

And so to correct his faulty arrogance, the Lord came to Job. He had expected to hear from God at some distant point in the future, but his ears were tuned into the words of the Divine earlier than anticipated. And rather than being comforted, apologized to, and given an explanation for his misery, we read something entirely different…

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” Job 38:1-3

After this, the Lord filled the ears of Job with question after question of matters far too weighty for Job to furnish with an answer – “Where were you when…?” “Who accomplished this…?” “Have you commanded…?” “Have you seen…?” “Can you do…?” Again and again, the Lord reveals to Job that there are mysteries far greater than he could ever imagine. If this is so, then the course of his unfolding life is also a part of the mysteries of God, known to Him, but kept from Job.

As if the questioning was through, the Lord stopped and abruptly charged Job to respond. And immediately Job did, but no longer was there an air of arrogance in his voice. He was humbled and laid low by the piercing interrogation of the all-wise Divine voice he heard…

 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said:

“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:1-5

Job was done and he was O so glad that the interrogation was over. But the Lord wasn’t done. Just as He controls the creation, so He controls the counseling. And thus, the questioning resumed once again…

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:” Job 40:6, 7

The Lord’s words and questions, like arrows swiftly fired by the finest archer, kept coming until the target lay vanquished. When His words ended, there was nothing left of the pride of Job. He may have possessed more integrity that any other man who ever lived, but even that could not bear up to the scrutiny of the Almighty. And so he uttered his awestruck words for the ears of the Lord to hear…

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

The dust and ashes in which he already sat were a sign of mourning for his poor, pitiful state – for the loss of those he loved, and for the life which was taken from him. But that same bed of dust and ashes became an altar of repentance for the arrogant assumption that he had a right to know what was reserved for God alone to know.

Job knew still that he would be resurrected. He knew still that he would stand before God. He knew still also that His Redeemer lived and would in fact redeem. And at this point, his heart within him certainly yearned for that to come to pass. But the yearning now was a yearning converted and renewed. What he sought was not his own vindication, but God’s glory. And with that as his hope and treasure, he could rightly yearn for that awesome and terrible Day when men’s souls will be judged before the One who holds the power of eternity itself in His hand.

Job had his conversion before the Lord. Just as Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness, Job too believed in the Lord. The righteousness that Job possessed as a man, was elevated to a righteousness that was the gift of God. He had moved from the earthly to the heavenly. It is the Lord alone who can grant such a hope to man, and as Job discovered, it is entirely external.

It is the same Lord today who provides the same redemption to man. But it is now received in a more specific manner. As the Lord reveals, His requirement for harmony, fellowship, and reconciliation with Him elevates to that new level of revelation. A person can no longer look to the Lord as Abraham, Moses, or Job did and find the same declaration of righteousness as they found. Their hope was in One to come. Our hope must be in the One who has come.

Yes, it is the same Lord, but His self-revelation has been elevated, and so our acknowledgment of Him must meet that heightened level as well. What does this mean? It means that we must come to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith in order to be saved. When He spoke to the Jews at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, He told them that He and the Father are one.

The apostles missed the importance of those words, and so again with them on the night before His crucifixion, He said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” How can this be? Is Jesus the eternal Father? No. Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father. He is the One who reveals the infinite Father to us in a manner in which we can comprehend. Just as the Lord appeared to Abraham in a manner in which he could understand, so the Lord appeared to the world.

This is the message of love which the Father has sent unto us. That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. There, in Christ Jesus, the eternal and Divine united with His creation in order to redeem that which had been lost. But that redemption could only occur if there was death involved in the process.

The sin exists, the law of God exists, and the standard of that law is published. God cannot arbitrarily forgive sin as if it was of no consequence. One sin, by one man, disrupted the workings of the entire created universe. That one sin of man has also been continuously transferred from father to child since. Each human being has received his father’s error, and all are separated from God because of it. The deal is done, and the fate is sealed. There is nothing we can do to undo it, because we are moving ahead in time. It cannot be undone. It exists in us, and it condemns us.

What we need is a new birth; one apart from sin. Jesus said that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. But in order to be born again, we must first die; die to sin. This is what Jesus came to do. He, born of a woman, but not of a man, was born without sin. His Father, being God, transferred no sin to Him.

He was then qualified to redeem man. But was He also capable? This is what we have come here today to find out, to accept, and to adore. God’s law was written, and He was born under that law, being of Israel. Whereas Adam had one law, and that in the negative, to obey; Christ had as we are told 613 to obey. Some were negative, “You shall not.” Others were positive, “You shall.” And this vast law, so heavy and burdensome, carried with it a promise; if a man does the things of the law, he shall live by them.

This is the purpose of the gospels. They tell us of Christ Jesus’ birth without sin, and His life without sin. He was qualified, and He is capable. But… was He willing? In order to redeem man, He also had to die. The new birth was as far from us as the east is from the west without the death of the Lamb of God.

Job’s heart yearned within Him to see his Redeemer. Anyone who wants to see God should long to see Him as well. But to gaze upon the Redeemer means to gaze upon the crucified Christ. The sin that we bore demanded His death before He could give life. The answer is, “Yes, He was willing.”

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17

He had the power to lay it down, and He used that power, of His own accord, to grant new life to those He came to save. The sinless Christ was nailed to the cross of Calvary, bearing all the sin of the world. Every evil deed – from Adam’s pride, to David’s adultery, to our theft, hatred, disobedience, and failure to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – all of it, was cast upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The wrath of God was completely and sufficiently poured out on His own Son in order to remove the guilt we bear.

And to prove that Christ’s qualified, capable, and willing sacrifice was complete and sufficient, He raised Him from the dead. Without sin of His own, death could not hold Him, and with our sin removed through death, the new birth is now available. In Christ, there is now a choice for all men to make. Will we receive the sufficiency and completeness of God’s wrath poured out on Him for our sins, or will we test God and stand on our own before Him in our own supposed righteousness.

Job repented in dust and ashes for his arrogance. Each of us must be willing to put self aside and trust… simply trust that God has done it all, and that it is all done. We are here today as a group of believers to worship the risen Christ. But we are also here to remember the crucified Christ. My Creator… our Creator, was willing to accept the torturous punishment of Roman crucifixion on the tree of Calvary to make all things new. The question I have to ask, and I ask it often is, “What manner of love is this?” Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord.

Closing Verse: So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where 
is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Next Week: Leviticus 26:40-46 In times ahead, this will become completely evident… (I Will Remember the Covenant) (50th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and a purpose for You. Though Paradise was lost, He offers access to it once again through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So call on Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

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 street’s 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’s 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…