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…

Isaiah 26:19 (Your Dead Shall Live)

Isaiah 26:19
Your Dead Shall Live

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

Isaiah 24-27 is referred to as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.” There is judgment, woe, and death recorded there, but there is also restoration and life. Scholars argue over the context and whether the words are referring to an actual resurrection, or whether they are being used figuratively when speaking of enemies in a conflict.

For example, the words, “Your dead shall live,” could be speaking of actual dead, or it could be speaking of the state of Israel – in a dead condition and sorely needing revival.

The next words, “Together with my dead body they shall arise,” are more complicated. The words “Together with” are inserted and immediately give an impression not necessarily intended. The Hebrew reads “my dead body they shall arise.” Thus, it may be two separate clauses – “My dead body” and “they shall arise.”

In other words, “My dead body” is a singular construct and thus it would refer collectively to the dead of the Lord. Then as individuals “they shall arise,” being third person plural, would refer to each individual of that body arising. But what does it mean?

Again, this could be figurative language speaking of Israel in a hopeless condition but being spiritually revived – as in the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Or it could be referring to the actual dead of the Lord being brought back to life.

At the end of Isaiah’s apocalypse, in Isaiah 27, it refers to the great trumpet being blown that will bring Israel’s outcasts back to the land. That is echoed by Jesus in Matthew 24:31. Both speak of a time of great trouble for Israel, a time of hiding for the Lord’s people, and then a time of regathering of the people.

Having said that, there is no reason to not take this in both a literal and a figurative sense. Israel, as a nation, is seen as a template of what God does in Christ for the individual believer. As elsewhere, the words then could have a twofold significance.

The point and purpose of the coming of the Messiah is that of restoration and life. There is a problem that needs fixing, we cannot fix it, and the Lord sent Christ Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Text Verse: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

The day before typing this Resurrection Day sermon, after a long day of church, video editing, and so on, I was sitting at the table having dinner when Sergio emailed me and asked about this particular verse from 2 Corinthians. He said, “I’m not sure what it means in context. I’ve heard pastors take it out of context.” At first, that seems contradictory.

But he knew what they were saying was out of context, even if he couldn’t put his finger on what the correct context was. As I had lamb chop all over my fingers, and as I was wiped out from the day’s work, I simply punted and sent him the link to my 2 Corinthians commentary.

Five minutes later, he excitedly emailed back citing my commentary, “Christ is the incarnate answer to the promises of God.” He then said, “Woooooooooowwewww. It makes ALL the sense in the world now!!!! I have tears understanding this verse now!!!” His use of accompanying emoticons was quite impressive.

He then said, “All the pastors (and recent famous worship songs) I’ve heard made this verse about ‘me’ and ‘us.’ But it’s all about Christ! Fulfilled in Him!!!!”

With that, I really wanted to know what someone else had said about the verse to get him so inquisitive at 1am Israel time. His answer was –

“He said (paraphrase): ‘what’s your purpose in life? What’s your motive? It’s important to establish one! Paul’s purpose was to share the gospel amongst the nations while being imprisoned… but we are free. So, our purpose is to have eternal life, get better life, and get God’s promises for us. The promises of Yes, and Amen, and the spirit.”

With that, I called the analysis “minty bubbles.” They taste good, but they have no substance. The sad part was that he said it was a discipleship video for young believers.

The next morning, Sergio said he was still thinking about the verse from the night before. My response was, “Me too. The minty bubbles are not completely wrong, but they have come at the idea in the wrong way. If they are treating the reception of the promises as being first directed to us, it is a self-centered doctrine. If we acknowledge that all promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, then it is Christ-centered. The secondary reception is us. Obviously, there would be no need to send Jesus if we didn’t exist. But the purpose is not for us to be exalted or blessed apart from Christ. Rather, it is for us to exalt God because He did this for us through Jesus. We are the recipients, but the purpose is the glory of God.”

Whether Isaiah’s words immediately speak of a spiritually dead condition of Israel or not, they convey a literal truth that God has done something in the world of which we are the recipients of that effort.

It is true that there would have been no need for it to have been done if we didn’t exist. But the purpose of the doing wasn’t so that we would have abundance and prosperity. Rather, the purpose of what He has done is first and foremost to bring glory to Himself. The good that we receive is not the purpose, it is the result.

Today is Resurrection Day 2021. But Resurrection Day is a day that comes after Good Friday. There would have been no resurrection without Christ’s death first. And there would have been no need for Christ’s death if we weren’t already separated from God.

Let us remember this. What God has done is because we are in a pit, God promised to get us out of that pit, and God sent Jesus to make that possible. To God be the glory. This is a truth that is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. Sadness at the Graveside

Regardless as to whether Isaiah’s words are to be taken figuratively, literally, or both, the fact that we could even debate them tells us that we have an understanding of what it means to die. And of that which results from death.

Taking the words and analyzing them from a negative perspective shows us this. In saying “Your dead shall live.” It means that something is dead. If we are talking about something that is dead, we are – by default – referring to something that was alive.

We don’t talk about rocks being dead. They were never alive, and so we don’t speak of them in that way. When someone says, “My car died,” it means that it has stopped running. It is not in the state it was intended to be. Such is the case with people. We are alive, and then we die.

To say “your dead” signifies a close and personal connection to the dead. If someone in Bolivia dies, there is nothing close and personal to us, unless we are from Bolivia. We wouldn’t say to a person from Czechoslovakia “your dead” when referring to the dead guy from Bolivia.

When the Lord, through Isaiah, says, “Your dead shall live,” it is confirming that there was a personal connection to the dead. If you take the Bible as the truth of man’s history on the earth, then you know that death was never the intent for people.

God created man for a particular purpose. In the Genesis narrative, when did He create the man? Was it on the first day? The second? The third? No. When God created man, it was on the sixth and final day of His creative effort. And not only did He do it on the sixth day, He did it at the end of the sixth day – after creating the land animals.

Man was the crowning aspect of the creation, the finishing touch. Everything was prepared for him first, and then the Lord God worked the dust, formed the man, and called him to life.

Chapter 2 of Genesis immediately began with –

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Genesis 2:1, 2

Only after stating that does it go back and fill in the information left out of Chapter 1. God created man on the sixth day, and then it says that He, the Lord, planted a garden in Eden and placed the man there.

The word used in Genesis 2:15 is yanakh. It means to lay down, set, and so on. It is from the same root as nuakh, or to rest. The verb, being causative, signifies that the Lord “rested” the man in the garden.

It then says that he was rested there for a purpose. Most translations say that the action was so that man could “tend and keep” the garden, but that is not the intent at all. Such a translation causes a gender discord between the verbs and the object of those verbs.

Also, if the man was rested in the garden, it would make no sense to have him tend the garden. This is especially so for two reasons.

The first is that man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day is a day of rest and that day, according to Hebrews 4:3, continues on forever. God worked and then rested. The second reason is that the man’s responsibility was not to the garden, but to God.

The man was not rested there to tend and keep the garden, but to worship and serve the Lord. This is the purpose of the Sabbath. The seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord. In Exodus, the Lord provided the manna for the people, and they were to rest, not work.

This was to recall to their minds the rest that man had lost. God created man at the end of His week of work. He rested the man in the garden after the work was complete. The relationship was to be one of worshiping and serving the Lord in intimate fellowship.

My friend Kyle picked up on this while watching the Genesis sermon and helped me to expand on it for this sermon. It is in this state of rest that man was to live. As it was in fellowship with God, the intent was that it was to be forever. But intent and result are not always the same. The Lord gave the man a choice, a garden of delight and life, or the knowledge of good and evil, and death.

The very fact that death was an option means that the other option was not just life, but life without death. One tree was law – “You shall not eat of its fruit,” while the other tree was grace. It was simply there in the garden with no prohibition attached to it.

Man chose life under the law by choosing the fruit forbidden by the law. But as Paul tells us, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). And the word confirms that. The Lord said to the man –

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

So, there is what Isaiah is referring to. The man was taken from the dust and he became a living being. The man would return to the dust, because he was no longer alive. In saying, “your dead,” he was noting that they were once alive. In saying they “shall live,” he is indicating that this state of death would end.

The Lord then says through Isaiah: nebelati yequmum – “my dead body; they shall arise.” The people of the Lord are “His dead body,” meaning His body of people who have died.

That is a stated fact, but it doesn’t explain how they became His dead body. That is a completely separate part of the matter, and it also goes back to the Genesis narrative. The man failed to accept the grace, and instead he opted for the law, meaning disobeying it.

The serpent deceived the woman, calling into question the truth of the Lord’s word. But it was in the act of eating the fruit of the tree, the fruit forbidden by the Lord – meaning in violating the law – that death resulted. The law was given, violating the law was sin, and death was the inevitable consequence. As Paul says in Romans 3:20, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

If the Lord had put the tree in the garden and said nothing about eating its fruit, then they could have eaten it and not died. It isn’t the fruit, but the violation of the law, that brought the death. As this is so, then it cannot be by the law that life can come.

When Isaiah says “my dead body” while referring to the people of the Lord, it cannot be by the law that they became His dead body, only that they became dead by the law. So how did they become His, if not by law? The answer is introduced in the curse upon the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

The Lord promised that the Seed of the woman would come to correct the matter. Shortly after that was stated, and after the Lord told the man that he would toil the ground until he returned to the dust, the account says –

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20

The man was told that he would die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He then was told that he would toil all the days of his life until he returned to the dust. Obviously, and putting two and two together, he was able to grasp that he was already dead in one sense, and then he would also die in another sense because he was alive still.

Thus, “death” has more than one meaning. As this is so, then “life” has more than one meaning as well. In calling His wife Eve, he was acknowledging this.

Her name is Khavah, “Life.” Abraim, in analyzing the name, says, “The name Eve denotes the collectivity that is common to the behavior of living things.” In this, they translate her name Symbiosis. There is a commonality to the life that would come through her.

In other words, Adam had come to understand that the life that he had lost would be restored. He did this while standing there as a living, breathing man. And therefore, he could not have been thinking of physical life at all, but of the spiritual life that he had lost. This was his “death” that occurred on the day he ate of the fruit.

But he had believed what the Lord said concerning One who would crush the serpent. In his belief, it then says –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

The clear implication is that this action by the Lord was in response to the man’s naming of His wife. There they were, dead. And yet, he called her “Life.” Not because of the life they possessed, but because of the life that they would possess.

Adam believed, and the Lord covered the man’s nakedness. As these were garments of skin, it means the Lord took an animal and slayed it in order to cover him. A transfer was made. An innocent died, a guilty one was covered – all because of a simple act of faith.

The Lord was, at that time, showing what pleased Him. He was also showing in typology how He would come to cover all who pleased Him, meaning by their faith. However, there are consequences for our actions, even if our sins are covered. In His sentence upon the man, the Lord had said that he would toil for his food until he returned to the dust.

But the garden is a place of rest, not toil. And in the garden is the tree of life by which man can eat and live forever. Because of these things, the man was driven out from the garden to abad, or work, the ground. It is the same word that was used of his purpose in the garden, but with an entirely different context. He was to worship and serve the Lord, now he would serve the ground.

The rest, in the place of rest, was removed from him because he was removed from it. From this point on, everything in Scripture is, in one way or another, given to reveal how man would be returned to that lost rest in the place of rest.

Adam, though destined to die, had found the way to life. The narrative then immediately went from the account in the garden to the two sons of Adam and Eve. With very little in the narrative to explain why things turned out as they did, a contrast is set between the offerings the two made to the Lord.

The Lord accepted the offering of Abel, and he rejected the offering of Cain. However, there is enough said that the author of Hebrews explains what the difference between the two was. It wasn’t the type of offering, but the attitude behind the offering. Of this, he says –

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Hebrews 11:4

The offering of Abel was one of faith. This is what made the offering more excellent. It was a hope-filled offering anticipating the life that was promised to his parents. Cain’s offering lacked this, and it was rejected.

From there, Hebrews 11 lists one person after another from one biblical account after another. And each time he does, he introduces him or her with the words, “By faith.” The deed or act they did is placed secondary to the idea of it being a deed or act of faith.

It is this, then, that distinguishes the people of God from all others. And it is those who died in faith that are collectively called “my dead body” in Isaiah 26. It is of this group of whom it then says, “they shall arise.” They are alive because of faith, even if they are dead in the body.

Someday, their bodies will arise because the Life is in them, and that is because they have believed the word of the Lord, meaning the Seed of the woman will come to accomplish His work. It is this simple hope that gives life, even in a body of death.

We know this is the case, and that it is not by a particular genealogy, that the life is granted. It is true that a particular genealogy was selected in order to bring in the Messiah. But being a part of that genealogy or not has no bearing on whether one is truly of the Messiah.

We know this because the line through which the Messiah comes is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But from Jacob, it is only through Judah that He would come. And yet, all twelve sons of Israel possessed the same hope, even though they were not all in His direct genealogy.

And we also know it is so because at times in the narrative, people are brought in from outside of the twelve sons of Israel, and they also possessed that same hope. Some of them were even brought directly into the line of the Messiah through marriage.

And we also know it so because Job was not of this genealogy at all, and yet, his record of interaction with the Lord, and the faith he possessed, assures us that he too possessed the same life as those of faith in Israel. As he himself said –

“And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:26, 27

Only a person with a complete lack of understanding, or a personal bias against such a notion, would argue that Job is not included in the collective described as “my dead body.” Indeed, when they arise, Job will be among them. It is the hope in Messiah that makes it so. Job’s faith made him a son of God.

It is the amount of available revelation that sets the boundaries of this saving faith. One cannot have faith in a false Messiah. As the revelation of God concerning Him is increased, it is the responsibility of the individual to accept what has been presented and believe it.

This is why the Jew who has rejected Jesus will not be saved. God has provided the increased revelation, this has been rejected, and his trust is in something other than the Lord’s provision. On the other hand, Job’s understanding of the promise was far more limited. He had the word passed down from Adam until Noah, and then from Noah down to him.

As limited as his understanding was, it was enough. He sought after God, knowing that God had a plan and a purpose for him because of the promise. He had faith in that promise, and by faith the Bible calls him a son of the God, meaning the true God.

This is the pattern set forth for man to be saved, and faith in the promise is the expectation. There may be sadness at the graveside for those who mourn their dead, but for those who have lived in faith, they shall rise. For those who mourn and yet know this, it is a mourning of temporary loss, but also of hope-filled anticipation. Because of Messiah, there is a day coming when there will be a blessed reunion.

Your dead shall live; they shall rise to life again
My dead body will not be lost; they shall arise
To them, life I give, the faithful sons of men
The gift without money and without cost, even a glorious prize

Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust
You shall rise again when I make the call
Because in My Son, you placed your trust
No more shall you be covered by death’s terrible pall

For your dew is like the dew of lights, reinvigorating the soul
And the earth shall cast out the dead
You shall receive heavenly rights; you are entered on the scroll
The days of dust are gone, replaced with beauty instead

II. To the Glory of God

As we opened, I told you about Sergio’s inquiry concerning 2 Corinthians 1:20. He seemed almost dejected about what he had heard from others. The reason this was so is that they had made the plan of God me-centered.

That is fine if you want the Bible, and indeed your life, to be all about you. But if it is all about you, it is actually a sincerely vapid existence, and a truly miserable hope you have. Sergio caught onto this, and so it caused an internal conflict.

The promises of God are to us, but they are realized in Christ. He is the incarnate answer to the promises of God. When Sergio saw the clarity of what Paul is conveying, he was moved to tears.

One can see the contrast between Cain and Abel. Cain, like that pastor Sergio cited, would have been elated at the news that God’s promises are realized in him. Abel, on the other hand, like Sergio, would have been appalled. “Me? That’s why I’m bringing this offering to You! It’s not about me, but about my hope in what You have promised.”

Abel had a hope beyond his earthly life. It was a hope of rest in the place of rest that his parents had once known. Someday, his hope will be realized. As Isaiah says: haqitsu v’ranenu shokene aphar – “Awake and shout for joy, dwellers of dust.”

It takes the reader right back to Genesis 3 once again –

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

The man from the dust would return to the dust. Likewise, so would all who follow him. But for those who lived in faith, that state would not be final. In the curse upon the serpent, he was told that he would eat the dust. But despite this, he would not prevail over the faithful who had returned to the dust.

The hope of Messiah is that the bonds of death would be broken. Those the earth had reclaimed would be brought forth once again to shout aloud in joy. If you think about it, it is right that man is born, lives, and dies in this hope. Generation after generation it is so, telling us that when our renewal comes, it is because of what He has done, not what we have done.

If it were because of our deeds, the ground could not hold us. But it does. Even for two thousand years it has. Death has continued to reign, and the dust continues to receive more. And yet, those who hope continue to hope.

If it were merely God’s promises fulfilled in us, they surely would have been fulfilled by now. But being God’s promises fulfilled in Christ, every soul that is added to those who will rise only increases the glory. Someday the call will be made, and those in the dust shall awaken.

Isaiah describes how this will happen, saying, ki tal oroth talekha – “for dew lights your dew.” It is a poetic way of saying that the dew that settles upon those dead is like the dew that comes in the morning. When the completeness of the light shines forth, everything is nourished by this morning dew, and it is brought to vigor.

In the same manner, a time is coming when life will be suddenly and completely reinvigorated into those who dwell in the dust. They will reanimate in a new form and come forth. Paul describes the two states as they were and as they will be –

“The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” 1 Corinthians 15:47-49

This change will be so sudden and so abrupt because of the reinvigorating power of Christ that Isaiah continues with the words, va’arets rephaim tapil – “and land ghosts will overthrow.” It is a poetic way of saying that the place where the dead are will be cast down and defeated. That is again reflective of Paul’s words –

“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
55 ‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’” 1 Corinthians 15:54

This is the promise, and this is the wonder that we anticipate each year as we celebrate Resurrection Day. But before we finish, we need to remember that in order for Christ to come forth from the grave, He first had to go to the grave.

Adam disobeyed God. Through this, sin entered the world. And death came through that sin. From there, the Bible reveals that death spread to all men, because – as Paul says – all sinned. In other words, because we were in Adam when he sinned, we bear the guilt of Adam.

This is true in several ways. It is true legally because Adam is our federal head. He is the first man from whom all other men come. Just as the leader of a nation represents his citizens, so Adam represents all who come from Adam.

It is true potentially. It says in Genesis 5 –

“And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” Genesis 5:3-5

We have no idea how many children Adam had. It could have been 10 or it could have been 150. All were potentially in him and all that were born actually came from him. In the same way, any normally functioning person could have any number of children, or they could have no children. Every person who comes after someone is potentially in that person, and any number of possible people could come from that same stream.

And it is true seminally. Acts 17:26 says, “…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”

Again, in Hebrews 7, Levi is said to be in the loins of Abraham, and that because he was, he paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham even though he wasn’t yet born, and even though he wouldn’t come for three more generations. He was seminally in his father before he ever existed.

Because of these things, all of us are in Adam in these three ways and thus we all bear his sin in these ways. We are born spiritually dead – as we saw from the account of Cain and Abel.

There is a disconnect between us and God, and there is a sentence of condemnation hanging over our heads from the moment of our conception. It is a sentence that is merely waiting to be executed. (John 3:18)

As this is so, something external needs to be introduced in order for the sentence to be changed from condemnation to restoration. The way that external correction came about was for God Himself to unite with human flesh in the Person of Jesus. He did this in the womb of Mary.

As His father is God, He did not receive Adam’s sin. He was born qualified to cover our sins, just as the innocent animal’s skin covered Adam and Eve of their nakedness.

Further, Christ Jesus was born under the Law of Moses – the covenant God made between Himself and the people of Israel. In that covenant, He stipulated that the man who did the things of the law would live by them. Christ already had life in Him, but being born under the law, He had to fulfill that law.

This is what the gospels then record. The Son of Man was born without sin, and He lived out the law without ever sinning, proving Himself not only qualified, but capable. He did what we could not do because the sin already existed in us.

And then, in fulfillment of the law, He died. In other words, as He had no sin, and as He committed no sin, the law found its completion in Him. In its completion, it ended, and a New Covenant replaced it. It is the Christ covenant.

It is the fulfillment of what was promised. It is what Adam anticipated when he named his wife “Life.” It is what Abel anticipated when he made his offering. It is what Job hoped for when he sat and spoke with those with him.

Christ Jesus gave up His life so that we could be granted what we could not otherwise possess. In His death, God provided an atonement – a covering – for sin. And that covering is offered in the exact same manner for us as it was for those in the past, meaning by faith. Adam had faith and was covered. That was only a type of what God would do in Christ.

Now, in Christ the final, full, and forever covering of sin is granted for those who simply believe. Though it has been two thousand years, God is still imputing to His people the same righteousness in the exact same way. And with each person who accepts the premise and is saved, the glory to God increases.

Sergio asked about Paul’s words concerning Christ, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” The answer is that God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. From there, and only from there, do those promises then belong to us.

Jesus Christ is the answer to the problem that plagues us. His death is the remedy for our condition. In His burial, He bore our sin into the grave. And His resurrection is the proof that it is so. The atonement is made, the sin is expiated, the life is granted, and eternity lies just ahead for those who will – by faith – accept the premise and receive what God has done through Him.

This is the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus, and this is the grace of God that says, “I have done the work so that you may enter My rest.” Please be wise and receive this wonderful gift of life and restoration. May it be so, and may it be today.

Closing Verse: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Next Week: Deuteronomy 15:12-23 So hard to imagine, and yet it is true… (The Lord Your God Redeemed You) (48th 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 is 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…

The Timing of the Rapture

These are the notes from the Prophecy Update entitled The Timing of the Rapture

1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the resurrection and it details the rapture, explaining what will happen to the body we have and what will come next and why. 20-23 (resurrection) / 35-49 (type of body) / 50-53 (how the event will occur).

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (order of the actual rapture events)

5:1-3 (Times and Seasons repeat from Jesus – Acts 1:6, 7 / Day of the Lord warning; thief in the night)

5:4, 5 (not in darkness; sons of the light – this is an obvious pretrib inference. If the Day of the Lord – the Tribulation period – is darkness, and we are sons of the light, then we are not to be found in darkness).

2 Thess 1:6-10 refers to the tribulation coming upon the world. After that, 2 Thessalonians 2 gives the timeline for what will occur as laid out next… 

2:1 – Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, This is an issue which he has already addressed in his first letter, especially in Chapter 4 of it. Therefore, his words are to be taken along with what he said there. Without getting too far ahead, it is evident from his coming words that people were making false claims about the events of 1 Thessalonians 4, and these statements were troubling the fellowship. Paul wants them (and thus us!) to know the proper sequence of events which will occur in and around the Lord’s coming “and our gathering together to Him.”

The word Paul uses, translated as “gathering,” is found only here and in Hebrews 10:25 in regards to Christians assembling together for worship and instruction. In this case, it must be referring to all who are in Christ, both the dead and the living. The words of 1 Thessalonians 4 are being further explained. Therefore, it is certainly referring to the time of the rapture at the Lord’s coming for His church.

2:2 – not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. First he says that those in Thessalonica are “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled.” This is based on what he said in verse 1 about the rapture. He is asking them to be sound in their doctrine, and thus they will not be led astray in their minds. Their hope will remain steadfast, and their faith will not be weakened.

He then says that this should be the case if presented with a false claim “either by spirit or by word or by letter.” The reason why it is false lies yet ahead in Paul’s words, but if a claim is made which contradicts the word of the Lord, then it is false.

Such a claim could be “by spirit.” This would be a supposed “prophetic utterance” by someone in a Christian setting. It would be a claim to divine revelation. Today we have the word of God. We do not need, nor will we receive, such a word of “prophetic utterance” concerning the rapture. Any claim of such a prophecy is to be rejected, and the supposed recipient is to be disregarded as a lunatic.

Next, Paul says, “by word or by letter.”  If a supposed letter or writing is received which contradicts what Paul will say, then it should be tossed into the garbage can, soaked with gas, and lit on fire. Be careful to not burn down your house in the process!

With this thought of the importance of what he will now say out of the way, he finishes the verse with, “as though the day of Christ had come.” The focus here is on the day of Christ. This is the main thought of Paul’s words of this section. The “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering to Him” is being set in relation to “the day of Christ, not the other way around. If one does not properly follow this thought, then there will be confusion in end-times theology. When is the rapture? When is the anti-Christ revealed? These things have to be taken in connection with what is now said by Paul. Otherwise, an incorrect analysis of the timing of these events is inevitable. This is why Paul has specifically started with the rapture, and then set it in relation to “the day of Christ.”

What is “the day of Christ’ then? It needs to be understood that various manuscripts say “day of the Lord” and “day of Christ.” They both have the same meaning. Christ is the Lord. This is speaking of the 7 years of tribulation which are coming upon the world. It is not merely the last 3 ½ years of this period. These seven years are what are spoken of in Daniel 9:24-27. The details of these seven years are given in numerous places in the Old Testament, and they are described in greater detail in Revelation 4:2 – 19:10. This is what Paul is referring to.

2:3 –  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, The opening clause of this verse, “Let no one deceive you by any means,” is based on what was said in the previous verse. They were “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us.”

At that early day in church history, there were deceivers who were making crazy stuff up out of their own heads, and passing it off as prophecies from the Lord. Paul is showing those at Thessalonica (and thus us!) that only the instructions of true apostles were to be regarded as authoritative. Now that the apostolic age is over, our only source for divine revelation is the word of God. Any supposed word from the Lord, or any supposed divine instruction apart from the Bible, is to be wholly rejected.

Paul’s next words have a thought inserted in them by the translators, “for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” The Greek simply reads, “because if not shall have come the apostasy.” However, the words which were inserted by the translators are rightly supplied. It is speaking not of the rapture of verse 1, but of the “day of Christ” (or day of the Lord) of verse 2. The day of Christ (meaning the tribulation period) will not come “unless the falling away comes first.”

It has become common to teach that this word, apostasia, or “falling away,” is actually speaking about the rapture because the word signifies “leave” or “depart.” However, this is an unnecessary stretch of the intent of his words. The word is only used elsewhere in Acts 21:21 when speaking of forsaking Moses, meaning the Law of Moses. The departure is one of purposeful turning away from set doctrine.

There will be a falling away from the true faith of Christ before the day of Christ comes upon the world. What is implied here is that the true church will be gone by then, but that will be explained in verse 7. It is not explained by the word apostasia of this verse. Along with this thought, Paul finishes the verse with, “and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”

Here he speaks of “the man of sin.” The term is unique in the NT. It is applied to a specific person who will be a man of lawlessness, as the word anomia implies. The word signifies “the utter disregard for God’s law (His written and living Word). Paul further describes him as “the son of perdition.” This is a term used only one other time in the Bible, in John 17:12, when speaking of Judas who betrayed Jesus.

Judas, in essence, “fell away” from the truth of the apostolic office which otherwise could have been his. He chose the evil path, and he was essentially born to be destroyed. Like Judas, this person will be set on a course which can only lead to ruin. The word Paul uses which is translated as “revealed” is apokaluptó. It will be as if a covering is pulled away and this person, bent on disregarding God’s law, will be unveiled. He then is a counterfeit to Christ, and thus he is known to us as the Antichrist. What we have so far is the understanding that the day of Christ (the day of the Lord), will not actually commence until the Antichrist is revealed. However, he will not be revealed until after the rapture, as is implied in this verse, but which will be made explicit in verse 7. And so thus far, we see the sequence of events – 1) Rapture of the church; 2) The falling away and the revealing of the Antichrist; 3) Day of Christ (Day of the Lord)

2:4 –  who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  The words which begin this verse are actually in the present tense. Rightly translated, it says, “…the [one] opposing and exalting himself.” If taken substantially, it would read “…the opposer, and exalter of himself.” It clearly references the Antichrist. The words are reflective of Satan himself, but are being applied to a man; and so it is one who is wholly in league with the goals and intents of Satan. It is this man of lawlessness who places himself “above all that is called God or is worshiped.”

In this phrase, it is understood that the Antichrist will place himself above the true God as well as all other false gods. Total allegiance to him will be required. In essence, he will be believed to be the fulfillment of whatever hope is laid out in any religion. For those who say they are Christians, he will appear to be their Christ. For the Jews, he will appear to be their Messiah. For the Muslims, he will appear to be their Mahdi, etc. But he will even exalt himself above the God or gods that he claims he is from, demanding worship of himself only.

There are things that are not “gods” which receive worship or adoration, but he will exalt himself above any such thing. This self-exaltation will be seen in a demand for total allegiance above power, money, or even life itself. This will be fully seen and realized on the day that “he sits as God in the temple of God.” These words, for countless years of the church age, have been taken to mean something other than a Jewish temple.

That temple was destroyed, and there seemed no chance of one ever being rebuilt. Some have taken this to mean “the Vatican” where the pope sits. Others argue it is referring to the Christian church in general. Charles Ellicott took it to mean “a poetical or prophetical description of usurping divine prerogatives generally.” These and other analyses were based on a misunderstanding that the church had somehow replaced Israel, or that there would never be a “temple of God” in Jerusalem again.

However, it is understood from the dispensational model that the Jews do have another temple coming (Daniel 9:24-27), and that is now possible with Israel back in their land. The temple implements are ready, and the temple itself will be built. This is actually in accord with Revelation 11:1 where John was told to “measure the temple of God.” One doesn’t measure a universal church or a “poetical or prophetical description,” and the Vatican doesn’t sit in Jerusalem. Paul’s words, combined with those of Daniel and John, clearly indicate a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It is in this temple that the Antichrist will sit “as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

To sit in the temple, where only God is allowed to reside, is to claim the authority and personage of God. No priest is said to sit in the temple. There are duties to be conducted and then they are to depart. No such furniture exists for the priests to sit down. Only in the Holy of Holies of the temple was there a place of rest. This is where God dwelt above the cherubim on the mercy seat above the ark. The high priest would enter behind that veil once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people, but other than that, there was no sitting of any kind involved in temple duties. (See Hebrews 10:12 & 12:2!)

Antichrist sitting in the temple will be his claim that he is entitled to sit there because he is the one who “is God.” As it is known that Jesus is God incarnate and the Christ, this then is the “Antichrist.” He will make a false claim against the true God who has revealed Himself in the Person of Jesus.

2:5 – Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? here Paul takes time to upbraid the church at Thessalonica, and he does it in the form of a question. Further, in a change unique to this verse alone, he switches from the third person to the first person. Whereas he has been saying “we” to include those with him, he now departs from that in his zeal to correct his audience and says, “I.”

He begins with, “Do you not remember.” It is a way of saying, “You obviously didn’t pay attention.” Jesus used this same type of questioning in order to rebuke the disciples. Paul has done it elsewhere as well, such as in his letters to the Romans and those at Corinth. Now, having chided them for not having remembered, and for instead having become shaken by someone’s introduction of false doctrine (see verse 2), he goes on to say, “that when I was still with you.”

As noted, he speaks here in the first person – “I personally was there, and I personally instructed you on this matter.” Paul’s frustration is obvious. He wanted soundness of mind for his beloved brethren, but they had instead been disturbed in their thinking because of the introduction of incorrect information.

To finish the verse, he says, “I told you these things.” The word translated as “told” in the Greek is in the imperfect tense. In other words, “I repeatedly told you these things.” The use of the imperfect, when read by the church, would be an embarrassing moment for them. Paul had spoken of the end times as a core part of his doctrine, and one of the things he told them was that it would probably be a long time before the Lord returned. Further, before “the day of Christ” came, certain things would precede it.

If they had paid attention, they would not now be unsettled. The same imperfect tense is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:4 when reminding them that they would face tribulation. Paul and those with him didn’t just tell them this, they told them it often. The same is true with his words of end-times events. The entire thought of this verse is reminiscent of that of Hebrews 5:12 –

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12

There are things which people hear, and of which they should pay close attention, but they instead take brain-naps while the instructor is imparting his wisdom to them. In this, they are only harming themselves. HEY YOU…WAKE UP !

2:6 – And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. Paul continues with his thoughts on the revealing of the Antichrist. He said that the Antichrist would not be revealed until after the rapture of the church. This is implied in the previous verses, and it will be implied again in the coming verses. Only then will Antichrist be revealed, and the world enter the day of Christ (the Lord). But something is restraining that from occurring, something they have already been told about. This is reminded to them with the words, “And now you know what is restraining.”

The words, “And now” are not speaking of anything he has said in this letter. Instead of being in a temporal sense, the word “now” is being used in an introductory sense. They are being asked to call to memory what had already been told them. The reason for explaining it this way is because the church had been fooled; they had been misdirected by false information claiming that “the day of Christ” had come. The reminder now is that the revealing of the Antichrist is actually purposefully hindered, and it would continue to be so until the right time arrived.

The words, “what is restraining” are insufficient here. There is a definite article in front of  “restraining” in the Greek. This is not a mere doctrine that they are aware of, but rather of a specific and familiar object. It should say, “that which is restraining.” A known entity is restraining the coming of Antichrist, and the time for that entity to cease restraining will come as planned by God. And so there was absolutely no reason for those in Thessalonica (and thus us!) to speculate about having already entered into the tribulation period.

The truth holds for us even until this day. And yet, how many have claimed that the day of Christ (the day of the Lord) has arrived? How many speculations about the tribulation period have been laid out in chart upon chart! But there is one restraining, and that will continue to be the case so “that he may be revealed in his own time.” The “he” is speaking of Antichrist.

What is restraining the revealing of the Antichrist is not specifically mentioned, but it can be readily inferred based on several things in the verses to come. But suffice it to say that 1) the Antichrist is one who stands in opposition to Jesus. If this must be restrained for even 2000 years now, it shows that even though Antichrist is a person, there is more involved. He is a person who will be specifically filled by Satan. And 2) if this could be at any given time, then there is a set time – known even 2000 years ago – when this would come about. What could could restrain Satan from so filling whatever person he chose for that long? Stay tuned.

The words, “that he might be revealed in his own time,” have the meaning of “with a view to.” What this means is that God’s purposes will come about because the power of Antichrist will stop being restrained when He sees fit. Just as God ordained Israel to be exiled to Babylon for 70 years, and then that exile ended as prophesied, and then just as the same is true with the ending of their second exile at a pre-prophesied moment to effect His purposes, the ending of the restraint of the power which will be given to the Antichrist is intended to meet God’s purposes for judgment on the unrepentant world.

The word translated as “time” indicates a set and purposeful time. It is a particular season. Just as Christ Jesus was said to have come in the fullness of the time set by God, so Antichrist will come at a particular season to fulfill God’s purposes.

2:7 – For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.  The word “For” is given based on the words of the previous verse. Paul said something was restraining the Antichrist. This was “that he may be revealed in his own time.” From this, Paul continues with “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” A mystery is something not revealed. There is a lawlessness which is working (and it has been working for 2000 years or more) which is not yet fully revealed. It has been slowly working out a plan. In the Greek, there is an article in front of both “mystery” and “lawlessness.” It reads, “For the mystery of the lawlessness.”

The state of lawlessness which is still not fully revealed is “already at work.” The idea of the work is that of an inward action, as if yeast causing bread to swell. It is an infection, not a personal thing. It is a state of lawlessness which is working, and which will eventually be revealed. This mystery is then sharply contrasted to the word “revealed” which is found in verses 6 & 8. There is a time when the lawlessness will come forth to effect its purposes on earth. It will be when the Antichrist is revealed, because he will then embody this lawlessness. This working of lawlessness, however, is kept in check until the appropriate time.

At some point, the restraining force of verse 6 will no longer restrain. As it says, “only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” Here, the words “will do so” are supplied by the translators for clarity. The use of the masculine word “He” is based upon the masculine, singular article in the Greek. In verse 6, the restraining force was described with a neuter article, “that which restrains.” That is converted now to a masculine noun. The question is, “Who is He?”

The NKJV capitalizes the word. This is a presupposition that it is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Others continue to translate this as “the one,” “he” (not capitalized), “that which,” “the person,” etc. Each translation is based on a best guess of the nature of this “restrainer.” But Paul uses the masculine here for a reason, and so it is not appropriate to continue to translate it in the neuter. Further, this cannot be a “person” in the regular sense. The restraining has gone on for millennia. It is also not something belonging to the lawlessness. To be restrained is an external force, not an internal one.

Therefore, the NKJV is correct. God is restraining. However, and more specifically, it is the restraining power of the third member of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit. One analysis is that the restrainer is the church itself, but as the word is masculine, it is more appropriately the One who is intimately identified with the true church. The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe in Christ (Ephesians 1:13, 14). As this is so, the church is involved in the restraining process, but it is the Holy Spirit who is the one who actively restrains the lawlessness. And He will do so “until He is taken out of the way.”

What this means is that there is a time when the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence will no longer be effected. A releasing of the restraint will come about, and then only will the lawless one be revealed. What is certain then is that if the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, the church too must be taken out of the way. If the effect of the Holy Spirit is to end, and the church were to remain, then the “guarantee” of the sealing of the Spirit which Paul notes in Ephesians 1:14 would not be a sound “guarantee” at all. We would be left abandoned. This is completely contrary to the nature of God and His word. Thus, this taking “out of the way” of the Holy Spirit is simultaneous with the taking away of the church at the rapture. Both occur, and only then will the mystery of lawlessness (and thus the Antichrist) be revealed. This is explicitly stated next…

2:8 – And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.   “And then.” In Greek it is kai tote. It is correctly translated… “And then.” So here we have a clear sequence of events –

1) The Restrainer (meaning the Holy Spirit, and thus the body of believers whom the Holy Spirit has sealed) will be “taken out of the way.” 2) And then the lawless one will be revealed, which will be in conjunction with… 3) The tribulation period (the day of Christ/the Lord)

The timeline is set. There is no reason at all to debate who the Antichrist is, and there is no need to wonder if Christians will have to endure some (mid-trib) or all (post-trib) of the tribulation period. Paul is the one to define these things. Going to the words of Jesus in the synoptic gospels to determine the timing of these events is inappropriate, because Jesus is not speaking to the church about these things. He is speaking to Israel about things which will affect them, including the tribulation period.

In using the words of the gospels to form a prophetic timeline for the church, one mixes dispensations. In doing so, a convoluted theology will always result. We are to stick to the epistles of Paul for proper church-age doctrine. It is only after the removal of the Restrainer that “the lawless one will be revealed.” It is this Satan-filled person “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth.” This is alluded to by John in the book of Revelation – “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.” Revelation 19:15

Isaiah 11:4, which Paul is actually loosely citing, is another reference to this –

“But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”

One can see that this doesn’t merely mean that Christ will exhale and the Antichrist will evaporate. Rather, the symbolism of the sword and the rod reveals a destroying weapon which will come against the forces of Antichrist and destroy them all. They will be destroyed so easily that it will be as if He simply breathes out and they are vanquished. The details are explained in Revelation 19:19 & 21. It also is further defined by Paul with the words, “and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” The supposed power and majesty of the Antichrist will pale in comparison to the glory of Christ Jesus. After defeating the armies gathered together to make war against Him, it then says in Revelation 19:20 –

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

Bad times lay ahead for this sick dood. Instead of ruling the world, he should have been reading his Bible. Jesus said as much to us in Matthew 16:26. There he asked an obvious question, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” The answer is, “None.” This vile person will have gained the whole world, and yet his soul will be eternally condemned. Not a very bright choice in the end.

2:9-12 will give details about the time after the rapture and what it will be like for those left behind.

3:6-12 sums up Paul’s thoughts concerning rapture date setters who spend their time in that insanity instead of remaining productive people of God. Verse 10 is how they should be treated.  For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

Revelation 1-3 are addressed to the church. Revelation 4:1 is the rapture. The church is not mentioned at all from 4:2 until 19:10. In 19:11 is the return of Christ. Rev 19:14 notes that we are there with Him in this return.

NOTE: Not a single word of the three synoptic gospels are spoken to the church, and Matt 24:36 is spoken to Israel, while under the law and has nothing to do with the rapture. The rapture was a “mystery” only revealed by Paul in 1 Cor 15:51. This was the first time it is ever directly and explicitly addressed in human history and to the redeemed. That was 20-25 years after Christ’s ascension.

Pictures of a pretribulation rapture are carefully recorded in the Old Testament. If you want to see them, email me for the sermon link.

Lord Jesus has made us His pledge / By rapture surround us with hedge / We don’t know the date

He’ll never be late / But the world is surely on edge. // It is fact and not theory, pre-trib / To say anything else is a fib / If you think it’s absurd / To be truth of the Word / You best don a big diaper and bib

Such is the world in which we live… From Sarasota, Florida to UB Mongolia (),  I’m Charlie Garrett, this is the Superior Word, and that’s your PU for the Week

 

Luke 1:1 (Those Things Which Have Been Fulfilled Among Us)

Luke 1:1
Those Things Which Have Been Fulfilled Among Us

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The world is filled with fanciful stories about events which may or may not have actually occurred at all. Or, if they did happen, how much embellishment has been added on to what really happened? It’s almost impossible to look back on the Iliad and not question what is recorded there by Homer.

The date of the events of the Iliad goes back to the 9th century BC. However, the earliest existing manuscript is from around 400-415 BC. That is a gap of about 450 years. And more, there are only 1900 known ancient copies. And yet, it is taught in colleges around the world as an authoritative narrative of historical events.

When we hear of the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar, we assume we are hearing exacting history of events which were minutely recorded and detailed for us. But the events that occurred were in the years 58-44 BC. And yet, the earliest manuscripts that we possess are from the 9th – yes the 9th – century AD. That is a gap of 900 years. From this period, there are about 250 copies.

Despite this extremely limited number of documents, which are close to a thousand years after the events occurred, we teach what is contained in them as if it is reliable history.

But from the same scholarly sources that teach these events as literal history, come cries of “unreliable” when they speak of the events of Scripture. And yet, of the Greek New Testament manuscripts concerning events which took place from the turn of the millennium until about AD70, the earliest known manuscript – the John Rylands fragment – dates to early or middle second century AD. That is within a few short years after the death of the Apostle John.

Further, it was found outside of Israel, meaning what it says had to be taken there at an earlier date. That first known document is then followed by almost 6000 Greek manuscripts. Also, there are over 18000 non-Greek manuscripts dating as far back as 30 to 300 years after the events they record.

Thirty years is within one lifetime of the events that are recorded. If one is to accept Homer’s Iliad or the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar as authoritative, how much more should the writings of Scripture be held as accurate and reliable! Additionally, because of the immense body of available manuscripts, errors between manuscripts can be easily identified.

What we possess in the New Testament is reliable, it is sure, and it is trustworthy. But what we possess in the New, speaks in the same sure manner concerning the Old…

Text Verse: “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:1-4

Luke is a historical figure. We don’t just possess his writings which make a claim that somewhat parallels the other synoptic gospels. Rather, he is referred to by Paul in the book of Colossians as his companion. He is also written about outside of Scripture as well.

As far as Luke’s writings, the events he mentions, the places they occur, and the details that he includes in his writings are so accurately recorded, that what he says can be used today to identify specific locations by their surrounding characteristics. His writings are meticulous in the extreme because he was a meticulous man.

When Luke refers to those things which have been fulfilled among us, it is because they were written about, in advance, and then what occurred was seen to have come to pass. This is what Zechariah was speaking of when he spoke of the holy prophets who have been since the world began.

Luke obtained the eyewitness testimony of the people that saw these things, and then he lines up what they saw with what Scripture prophesied about. Thus, we have an unbroken succession of events which seamlessly tie the two testaments into one grand story of an Individual who was prophesied would come to save the world.

Such marvelous things encompass what we now call “the Christmas story” and they are to be found in God’s superior word. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again. And may God speak to us through His word, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Problem to be Resolved

To understand the Christmas story, and why it is important for each of us, we must be schooled on why the coming of Christ was needed in the first place. Without that, we have just another story of a conquering hero. We find them in the movies all the time:

A nation is in subjection to another nation, the people long to be freed from their overlords, a champion rises up from among them and casts off the shackles of oppression, and the hero’s life is recorded as an example of bravery and courage. William Wallace, or Braveheart, immediately comes to mind.

Unlike William Wallace, however, the Hero of Scripture didn’t just arise out of the stream of time and suddenly break onto the scene without any foreknowledge of His coming. Rather, His coming was eagerly anticipated since the very beginning of man’s time on earth. And not only was He anticipated, He was promised. And not only was He promised, His coming was prophesied – in detail.

The first time this was so was right at the beginning. There is God, there is His creation, and in that creation is the central focus of what is created – man. Everything else is centered on this one being which is set apart from all the other beings in Scripture.

We know about angels, but they aren’t the focus of the narrative. They are mentioned in relation to the narrative about man, not the other way around.

We know about the stars, but the location of the stars is mentioned in reference to the earth, not the other way around. And on the earth, the life which is created is spoken of in general terms, with the exception of man. All other life is prepared in advance of man, showing that man is the purpose for that other life to exist – meaning in relation to man, not the other way around.

When the man was created, it was as if he was an expected guest. The preparations were ready, the home was fit for his coming, and then he was brought into his home. But being brought into a home means that there is a home to be brought into. And a home doesn’t prepare itself. Likewise, man didn’t create himself. Rather, there is an Authority over these things who determined how they should be.

Because there is One in authority, it is His call as to how things should be. With all of the attentioned-focus on man, there should have been a great attention directed to the One who created the man, and there should have been an obedience to Him – if for no other reason than that He did the creating, much less that He did it with such care.

But it is hard to know what abundance, beauty, and delight are without knowing what lack, ugliness, and unhappiness is. Without knowing the latter, we cannot really appreciate the former. For those of us who feel well today, it’s just a state that we accept. But for those of us who have just gotten over feeling really crummy, feeling well is pretty great.

We appreciate God’s gift of feeling well much more when we have the knowledge of the opposite fresh on our minds. The man lacked this, and so when he heard the first recorded words that were ever spoken to him, he couldn’t appreciate them –

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

First, he couldn’t appreciate what it meant to be commanded. Law was given, but what is law anyway? Without knowing the purpose or the consequences of law, there is no reference by which to appreciate the command. And simply being told what the consequences are, without knowing what they mean, doesn’t give us any more understanding of them than before we heard them.

The man was alive, but that was a state he became without ever having been dead or having seen the state of death in another. Therefore, the words “you shall surely die” had no understood meaning because there was no reference to understand them. “I wasn’t alive before, but I have no idea what that was like.”

It is said in Hebrews that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” The man hadn’t heard this, but even if he had – “Oh, okay.” With a shrug, he would simply go on without any idea at all of what that meant.

And more, the Lord could have heaped up a thousand commands and said, “You are to do these things,” and it would have made no difference than the giving of that one command. Without an understanding of right and wrong, or the resulting punishment, lack which resulted from it, and so on, a right determination about obedience could not be made.

But, despite this being true, it does not excuse his disobedience. The man didn’t create himself, and he did not place himself into the home that was prepared for him. He was under an obligation which should have been understood, if he just took the time to contemplate the matter.

Chapter 2 of Genesis sees the man given implicit authority over the animals because it was granted to him to name them. But it also reveals, through that fact, that he had intelligence. To give a name implies that he was able to form a name in order to give it.

After that was done, the Lord God – the Creator – then gave the man a woman to be his own. In the naming of her ishah, or “woman,” there is an understanding that he is an ish, or a man. And this implies that there was language instilled in him to form these names, and the other names that he had given to the animals. He didn’t form the language. Rather it existed before he did.

Because this is so, he was both given the rational ability to think concepts through, and to develop new ideas which form what is logical and what is illogical. In other words, he was without excuse if he was to disobey the command of the Lord, even if he didn’t understand the consequences of the command.

However, thinking logically is hard work, and understanding theology, if it is proper theology, is as well. The man lived in a land of delight, his needs were cared for, and he apparently didn’t need to think on such things.

The chapter ends with the words, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” They had no idea of what it meant to be ashamed, and so they were not ashamed. It was a sinless world; a world without death.

Of course, the world where we now live is not a sinless world, and it is not a world free from death. Quite the opposite is true. Things changed, and that was because of a single incident of deception. The man did the one – the only – thing that he was told to not do. He ate of the fruit.

The very next words of the record show us that a great change immediately took place –

‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7

A knowledge they previously lacked now belonged to them. They were unashamed, and suddenly they were ashamed. To correct the matter, they covered themselves. But the record is specific. They didn’t just use leaves to do so. They used teenah, or fig leaves.

From this point on, the fig takes on a particular meaning in Scripture based on what is seen here. The fig signifies a spiritual connection to God, or the lack of it. This is seen, for example, in the words of Jesus in Mark 11 –

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’” Mark 11:12-14

Jesus was making a theological point concerning the place where He had left the day before, and where He immediately returned to the next day – the temple. Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was a parable of the ending of the temple rites and the law as God’s means of restoration with Him. The spiritual connection of the law was to be severed.

He was taking us back to Eden. The man and the woman had tried to make a spiritual reconnection through the leaves of the fig to what they had lost, but it was too late. God rejected that, He cursed the serpent, the woman, and the man. Death entered the world through the act, and then came the judgment.

The spiritual reconnection could not come through their efforts. The fig leaves were insufficient to restore what had been lost. But while standing there, covered in their own unsuitable works, the Lord spoke out words of promise via His curse upon the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

The new master of the realm, the serpent, would be defeated through the Seed of the woman. It is absolutely certain that this is a promise of the coming Messiah. The man and his woman stood there, dead in their sin and destined to die in their bodies. The Lord had just said to the man that he would return to the dust from which he had been taken, but the promise of life, even from their state of death, was made.

We know this because immediately after the pronounced curse upon the man, the very next words say, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).

The man, though now spiritually dead, and destined to die – meaning he lived in a body of death, now named the woman he had been given – Khavah, or “Life.” Though they stood before the Lord dead, he had believed the promise that the bringer of death would be destroyed. If death was destroyed, life would come.

The naming of the woman “Life” was an act of faith, and in that act, a covering was given –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Something died in order to cover their shame. Blood was shed, and it was not done so by the man. Rather, it was the Lord who did it, and thus it was an act of grace. Further, it was the Lord who clothed them with this substitutionary animal. There was no active participation on their part. They simply received what the Lord had provided. This is what the text indicates.

In this one chapter, and actually in very few verses of that chapter, and many of them following one directly after the next, the entire basis for the redemption of mankind is given. The theology of what is presented in the Genesis 3 narrative will never be diverted from.

Man fell, man is fallen, man cannot correct the matter, the Lord will intervene, the Lord – through His grace – will accomplish the necessary sacrifice, the Lord will provide the necessary covering for the restoration with that sacrifice, and it will be based on a simple act of faith by the man. Everything in Scripture concerning salvation after this point will be based on that notion, and it will support that typology.

I shall put enmity between you and the woman
An on-going battle through lengths of ages
Your seed, the unregenerate human
Who against me reviles and rages 

But there shall come One, a Promised Seed
Who will crush your head for what you have done
Your days are numbered so take you heed
In my mind the battle is already won 

Jesus is coming to make all things new
This word is faithful and it is true

In the cross, a victory you will assume
A victory – yes – but not for you
After His cross and after His tomb
He will arise and make all things new 

Man’s redemption will have been wrought
By the Seed of the woman, My own Son
With His blood He will have bought
The right to man’s soul, the victory won

II. Promises, Covenants, and Dispensations

Despite the pattern of redemption being set in the manner in which we just saw, there are innumerable things which will seem to deviate from it as the story of Scripture unfolds. But such is not the case. Quite often, those things which seem like deviations – such as the Law of Moses – are detailed lessons and learning tools to more fully understand and/or appreciate this simple message of hope.

A Messiah is coming, and He will make all things right again. Eve knew this and the joy of having her first child is highlighted by an implicit belief that she through he – this child named Cain – would be returned to paradise because she believed that he was the promised Messiah.

That proved to be a wrong assumption, and she went into a state of miserable acceptance of that fact with the coming of her second son, Abel. His name, Havel, means “Breath.” It is the vaporous breath that disappears as it is exhaled. Eve was despondent and the name reflects her state.

And, so sad was the plight of this family, so ingrained in them was the death which infected Adam, that these first two recorded births into the stream of human existence turned into a point of not simply waiting for death to come, but actively bringing it about. Cain killed his brother and the miserable state of man apart from God was highlighted by the act.

However, and despite this, a careful recording of the names of certain men born after Adam is made. Due to the length of man’s lifespan, and the years between Adam and one of those named men – Noah – there could have been millions, or possibly hundreds of millions (or more) people on the earth by the 1656th year of the world. And yet very few names are recorded during all those years and among all of those humans.

In this, we can see that this limited line, and this particular record, is very important. And it becomes especially so when we read in Genesis 6 that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

This is a world which had gone from its first short dispensation into its second. Man had gone from innocence to conscience. There is no specific direction given to man. There were no divine laws recorded. It was simply a time in which man was given to live as he saw fit, but with the understanding that he was in a very short line of humans from their first father, Adam.

And more to the point, the lifespans of man at that time meant that many alive by the time of the flood were born while Adam was still alive. If anyone wanted to know if the story was true, all they need to do was go ask him or one of his direct sons. They had the information they needed.

Would man use that knowledge wisely? No. By the time of Noah, there was no hope and no remedy except to destroy that which had made itself worthless through wickedness. But the careful detailing of that one particular line of Adam is a note of hope in an otherwise dreadful world.

From the tenth in that line, Noah, would come a new world of men with divine commands and a covenant – the Lord would never again destroy the world by flood. But there were expectations levied upon man, and the Lord promised that He would hold man accountable for his actions. Thus, came the dispensation of government.

It is a dispensation which continues to this day in the world at large. God established the nations and the peoples of the world. He gave them their languages and they are to live within those confines.

But during this long-running dispensation, the Lord was still working towards the coming of Messiah. For the nations to have hope, there must be a Hope of the nations. Even if man has forgotten that the promise was made, somewhere – instilled deep within him – is the knowledge that it must be so.

However, to continue the plan without distraction and without manipulation by the nations of the world, the Lord called only one man to continue carrying on this hope. Why would He do this? He has done it because of Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin – and because of innumerable others like them. Man looks to man for his hope, and nations look to their leaders for their salvation.

But salvation is of the Lord. That pattern has already been set. And it is not by the works of man but by faith in the Lord. And so, while the nations continued with their own conquests, raising up their own leaders and false messiahs, the Lord called Abraham out of Ur and to a land that He would set before him.

In his calling, he was given a promise, with him was made a covenant, and through him came another dispensation based on the promise. In the Lord’s dealings with Abraham, he was given a sign – that of circumcision. But the circumcision came after the promise, not before. The circumcision was only a sign of the covenant. The covenant is one based on Abraham’s faith in the promise.

To understand the life of Abraham, and to grasp why the selected stories of his life which are recorded in Scripture are there, is to look into the mind of God. It is to see and understand in picture and typology the continued unfolding of the plan of redemption and the hope of Messiah – meaning the Child of Christmas – that goes back to the fall itself.

The dispensation of promise is a dispensation of looking forward to the Promise. When Abraham was told to take his only son and sacrifice him, it was to make a picture of what God would do. When the wood for the offering was laid upon his son Isaac to carry, it was to make a picture of what Christ would do – carrying the cross ordained by His Father. When a ram was provided by the Lord in place of Isaac, it was given to show us what would come about in our salvation – substitutionary atonement. And, the spot where these things took place was to let us know where Christ would die.

These are only a few details of one short story out of many chapters of stories of the life of Abraham, and each of them – names of people he interacted with, names of places he went to, and on and on – all of his life was used to provide us hints and clues of the Promise that would come from this dispensation of promise.

But the types and pictures didn’t stop there. When Abraham was gone, the promises, the covenants, and the dispensation continued with Isaac and with Jacob. Every story, every act, every harvest, and every conflict that is recorded is given to show us what God was doing and how He would do it.

In the life of Jacob is an entire panorama of the story – from Adam to Messiah, and throughout the all of time’s set dispensations. And they are all given to show us that it is centered on the Promise – the coming Messiah, the seed of the woman, the Child of Christmas.

This included the family matters of Jacob – the acquisition of his wives, the births and naming of his twelve sons and one named daughter, the ordeals that those children went through and the conflicts they faced, and so on. When Joseph was sold off to slavery in Egypt, it wasn’t merely a story of loss for Jacob, but a story of what God would do in Christ.

When Jacob’s eldest, Judah, through many various life events finally ended up sleeping with his own daughter in law – without even knowing it was her – it was to give us a typological picture of what God would do through Jesus Christ in the redemption of the world, and the assurance that we possess because of it.

None of these stories is without a reason, and the reason for every one of them is to show us details of what God would do in the sending of Messiah. When Zechariah prophesied concerning God’s holy prophets who have been since the world began, it was because men of God had been prophesying both through their writings and through their actions, as directed by God, that there were things which would be fulfilled in this coming Child of Christmas.

In the movement of Jacob and his family to Egypt, pictures are made. In the death and burial of Jacob, pictures are made. In the years of captivity, pictures are made. Time, and the lives of these people, were marching towards an inevitable meeting with Messiah, and each recorded detail is especially given for that one reason.

And then, after many long years in Egypt, the bondage of the people was great. They were under a harsh taskmaster, and they yearned for freedom. When the time was right, He sent them a deliverer.

The next major figure of the plan was Moses, but though He anticipates Christ, he does so in a different way – not in the promise, but in how the promise is obtained. And it is not in how it is obtained by man, but how it is so obtained for man.

The Lord, through Moses, delivered Israel out of Egypt, but He brought them to Sinai, not to Canaan. In bringing the people to Sinai, a new dispensation came into focus – that of Law. Everything about their time there was given for this purpose. There was the lawgiver, there were the implements, rites, rituals, and commandments which came through the law. And surely, without understanding the reason for the law, the words bog down in tedium, and the mind is overwhelmed with detail.

The laws are restrictive, and they bind the people with a heavy load. If one law in Eden brought such disaster upon the world, what would come of those who were cast under the long oppressive shadow of this law? And how could life come from such a body of death? The Lord said it was possible, but only through an impossible allowance.

In the middle of the seemingly unending laws of the book of Leviticus, and in a chapter that deals heavily with sexual morality, the Lord said –

“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

It is a promise, but it is a promise based on law. Thus, it is a promise based on obedience. And because it is based on obedience to law, if an infraction arises, then the promise is nullified.

A person will live in the performance of the Lord’s statutes and judgments. Therefore, logically, one will not live in his failure to do them. But this is where the words of Zechariah, which he prophesied at the time of John’s birth, become relevant again. He said –

“And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:” Luke 1:72, 73

Zechariah does not appeal to the Covenant at Sinai and the Law of Moses. Rather, he appealed to “His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.” It is what is explained by Paul in Galatians 3 –

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Galatians 3:13-18

What is it that Messiah would do? He would come to fulfill the promise and to keep the covenant to Abraham which was confirmed by God in Christ. In other words, the covenant to Abraham was a covenant of the understanding that Messiah was coming and that He was coming through Abraham.

And so why then did God give the law to Israel? It was to keep Israel as Israel. It was to confirm them as the Lord’s people until the coming of Messiah. And how would they know that He had come? First, He would fulfill the many types and pictures which anticipated Him.

Secondly, He would fulfill the prophesies which foretold of Him and of His coming. And thirdly, in Him would be life. The law said so –

“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

When One did the things of the law, He would live. The promise stands. But before He would come, the law would work out its purpose fully. The time of the law was the time of the conquest. It was the time of the judges. It was the time of the kings. And it was the time of the prophets continuing their call.

They proclaimed the word of the Lord to the people of Israel, progressively telling them a bit more with each new revelation about the promise of Christmas to come.

He is coming. Messiah is coming. He will be from the tribe of Judah. He will be from the house of David. He will be born in Bethlehem. He would come before the destruction of the second temple, and so – in fact – before that even took place, He would have to be born.

The timing is so precise that it’s hard to believe anyone could miss it. He would begin His ministry four hundred and eighty-three years after the decree of Atarxerxes to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. If that is when He began His ministry, then He would obviously be born at some point before that.

With all of this information available, it was simply a matter of waiting and watching as history slowly unfolded until that right moment. It came as prophesied. Luke 2 bears witness that Simeon was told he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Likewise, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, an aged woman who stayed constantly at the temple knew He had come, and she announced it to “all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” The matter was not secret outside of the temple, nor was it secret outside of Jerusalem.

Nor was it a secret outside of Israel. Matthew records that wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, having known He had come by the sign of “His star in the East.” Those who were outside of the law and still living under the dispensation of government were aware of His coming.

When they came seeking Him, they went to Herod the king. Herod, in turn, gathered together the chief priests and the scribes and asked them about it. Their answer was that He would be born in Bethlehem. It was written, and they knew – in advance – that it would be so. If they knew this, then they knew what Daniel said as well.

It was Micah, a minor prophet, who had prophesied concerning the birthplace. It was Daniel, a major prophet, who had prophesied of the time of His coming. The timing could not be missed. The end of the four hundred and eighty-three years was not far off at that point.

The Hope of Israel, and – indeed – the hope of the nations had come. Nobody disputed that He was coming, even the Samaritan woman in John 4 anticipated Him. When He passed through her area and stopped to talk to her, she said –

“I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” John 4:25

It wasn’t as if one woman in one town of Samaria happened to know this. Rather, the implication from her words is that it was such common knowledge that even one woman in one town of Samaria would know it. In other words, everyone anticipated it.

The Christmas story that we read every year is the story of God’s entrance into the stream of humanity. It is the anticipation of all people to some extent. Some actively hide it. Some purposefully deny it. But all people are aware of the fact that something is wrong, and somehow it will be made right, and that God has told us that it would happen.

Some cultures still have a sense of God’s plan, but it is marred and obscured through years, additions, changes, and twistings. But the underlying concepts are there. The only properly transmitted and maintained revelation of it, however, was through Israel.

And the law of Israel was given to keep Israel together. It was a bind which protected them so that His coming would be unmistakable. But that law was not a means to an end for the people of Israel. It was a guard for them, and it was to be a tutor to them so that when He came they would realize it and receive Him.

In the coming of the Christmas Child was the coming of One who could, in fact, keep that law – that IMPOSSIBLE body of law. “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” The Man, the Messiah, did the things of the law. He kept His Father’s words and commandments, and He prevailed over them.

Because He never sinned under the law, He embodied what the law represented. And because He embodied that, when He died, the law – in Him – ended. It died with Him. Paul says as much –

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:13-15

In that state, meaning as the One to fulfill the law, thus embodying it, God now offers peace to those who come to Him through Christ. The precepts of the law included substitutionary atonement. In other words, the sacrificial system of Israel included the precept that an innocent animal could die in place of a human. The sin of that person was transferred to the animal, the animal was slain, and the sin was forgiven.

However, this was both only a picture of what God would do in Christ, and it was a temporary measure until the coming of Christ. This is certain, because if a person committed the same sin ten minutes later, another animal would be required, demonstrating that the atonement was temporary and ineffective.

Even the annual offering of Israel on the Day of Atonement was temporary. This is because it had to be repeated year after year. This was, then, only a lesson that was intended to lead the people to Christ. His fulfillment of these types and shadows of the law means that His death – which they only anticipated – is the full, final, and forever means of restoration with God.

Apart from Him, no sacrifice, offering, or deed will do. But in Him, every requirement of God is met. The Babe in the manger was sent to perform a mission and to, as Zechariah says, “give the knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.”

The nakedness and shame of Adam is covered over by the Person and work of Christ under the law. The death which man has experienced because of sin is swallowed up in life because of the coming of the Christmas Child. One might say we are saved through the law, but that is only because of Christ’s perfect obedience to it which is then imputed to us.

For those in Christ, we now live in the dispensation of grace. And the reality of the hope of Messiah is extended to all. Those who are under the law are given freedom from the law in Messiah. Those who are under government are given a new hope in Christ. Those who awaited the promise to Abraham now have the Promise of God in Jesus.

The simplicity of the gospel message is found wrapped up in a little Child, born to a virgin in a small town in the land of Judah known as Bethlehem – the House of Bread. “I will accomplish the work; I will bring forth salvation; I will send my Son to bring you back to Me. Trust in Him – the Bread of Life – and receive the life which is truly life. Here is My Gift and My Present to the people of the world. His name is JESUS.”

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

Next Week – Deuteronomy 10:1-11 Moses is in the sweet zone, the Lord’s anger is reversed… (Two Tablets of Stone Like the First) (34th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

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…