Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. An Unholy Agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tragedy in the Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will send My own Son, the devil to defeat

II. How My Sermons are Prepared

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

&

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Bible Hub – the commentary of Adam Clarke.

5) Bible Hub – the commentary of John Lange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 18:15-22
A Prophet Like Moses

This is how sermons are prepared at the Superior Word.

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

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

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

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

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

Again, I implore you, call on the Lord

III. Other Technical Aspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Hallelujah and Amen…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. And He Brought Us out From There

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. That He Might Bring Us In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Not Just Part of the Way

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

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

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

And yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah and Amen…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(con’t) And they shall abide,

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

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

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

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

*And this One shall be peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. But Who Do You Say I Am?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Child of Glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah and Amen…

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)