Luke 12:1-12 Jesus is the Son of Man IN Christ Alone

Luke 12:1-12

Jesus is the Son of Man

IN Christ Alone

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 12. Right around the halfway point as we go through the Gospel of Luke.

Over the last few chapters, Jesus has been giving a lot of application to the knowledge of the two greatest laws; Love God and Love your Neighbor.  Jesus has been showing the disciples, the Pharisees and anyone else who ill listen that to Love God IS to Love you Neighbor. You can’t have one without the other.

Last week, the passage we looked at showed Jesus addressing and confronting the Pharisees and their wrong understanding resulting in their wrong attempts at Loving God. They were portraying outward holiness and moral righteousness but doing so without Loving their neighbors. They were attempting to obey the rules without any love, grace or mercy.

After that, we read of the Pharisees, in Luke 11:53 & 54:

As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

 

They were mad at Jesus and wanted to trap him and end his public teaching and ministry. That leads immediately into this morning’s passage that we are going to read and look. This morning we are looking at Luke chapter 12, verses 1-12. I will be reading out of my preferred translation, the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 12:1-12, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:

 

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Word.

 

So, many, many thousands of people are crowding around Jesus and wanting to hear what he has to say. The way this reads, this appears to be as and immediately after Jesus leaves the meal he was having with the Pharisees and lawyers at the end of Chapter 11. And the big crowds had been gathering and following and waiting.

As a result of what he witnessed and what he shared in the dinner, Jesus starts speaking to the disciples, purposely where the rest of the crowd can here as well. Sometimes Jesus would wait until he had just the 12 around him to share teachings and warning. Others, just the larger group of disciples. This time, he wanted as many people as possible to hear and to heed these warnings.

He tells them to Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees. Specifically, he is referring to the hypocrisy that Jesus just exposed in them. He pointed it out to them at the dinner and now he was warning the people in public. He is warning them about when our words and actions don’t match and when our words and hearts don’t match.

He uses this phrase, beware the leaven of the pharisees. He uses it specifically. A little bit of their influence can go a long way. Paul writes in numerous places, but especially Galatians 5:9, A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.” The negative influence, the hypocrisy of the pharisees can spread without us even seeing it. Sin generally and some sins specifically, like hypocrisy, spread like cancer. They start little by little; we don’t even notice they are there. But then it starts spreading, slowly and unnoticed. Eventually, if left unchecked, it grows and takes over and eventually it kills us.

The idea of leaven can be good too. We see coming up in Luke 13:21, that Jesus uses it to explain the spread of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here and now, but it is not fully realized yet. It is spreading through  this world, through history like leaven through dough.

As the pharisees negative influence spreads through, a little going a long way, so does a Christians positive influence, Christianity’s influence, a little can go a long way in the lives of people around us. It might seem to be just a little, it may be just a little, but it can go a long, long way and it is a part of something much, much bigger, the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus reassures and warns us that all will be revealed in the end. All of our sins will be exposed. Especially when the disciples would see the hypocrisy of the pharisees, when we see the sins of those around us seeming to go unnoticed and unpunished, we can be reassured that God sees and they will be exposed in the end.

But it is also a warning. All those moments, all those stray thoughts, all those things that we do and say and think and hide that nobody else knows about. All of it will be exposed and put on display at the end when we stand before the Great Throne in judgment.

Its important to note that it is not just non-Christians who will stand in judgment at the end. We all will. RC Sproul writes it well:

Many Christians have the misguided idea that Christians don’t have to worry about this disclosure on judgment day. They assume its only the pagan or the corrupt person or the Pharisee who has to fear. After all, we have passed from the judgment to life, and we know that one of the benefits of our justification is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to worry about being condemned by God on the last day. On the last day, your judge and your defense attorney will be Jesus Christ. However, even though our entrance to Heaven is not based in any way on our good works, and though our good works contribute nothing to our salvation, every one of us will be evaluated on that day according to our works. The truth about our obedience, our sanctification, and our profession of faith will be made manifest.

 

What we do and what we say and all of our actions and works do nothing to affect our eternal destination. However, our deeds and our actions will be made known and will be see both the good that we have done and the evil that we have done.

There is a purpose, I presume to us seeing all the evil we have done at the last judgment. When we see all the sins we have committed, all the evil we have been a part of, the cosmic treason that we have committed against God, we will see how great his grace and how undeserving we are of said grace.

 

Now, in the context of this passage, what Jesus is saying, he is speaking of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees being exposed. They will not be able to hide their sins and their hypocrisy from God. Our natural tendency is to try to hide our sins, even from God. This goes all the way back to Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and sinned, bringing sin and death into the world, they tried to hide form God. They recognized that they were standing before him naked and unashamed. They made coverings from fig leaves, and we have been trying to cover up our sins ever since.

 

Now, to be clear. Sin does not automatically equal hypocrisy. We all sin. We all fail. That is something that we will be struggling with and fighting against for the rest of our physical and natural lives. But pretending that we don’t sin, Not acknowledging our sins, acting like our sins aren’t as bad as anyone else’s sins, only pointing out other people’s sins, that’s hypocrisy.

 

The hypocrisy of the Pharisees stemmed from them fearing the opinions of men and their fellow Pharisees more than fearing God. They wanted the people to fear their opinions and judgments and to submit to them. Jesus says, don’t fear those who can kill the body only.

The Pharisees those days had the ability and some authority to kill the body. We see this through the book of Acts, Paul specifically was tasked with tracking down early Christians, and he watched over and approved of the killing and stoning of Stephen.  Certain sins were punished by stoning. The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was going to be stoned until Jesus said what he said.

Governments, which God says he puts in place, sometimes specifically with this purpose in mind according to Romans 13, have the ability to kill the body. OF course, criminals have that ability as well.

God doesn’t ever promise to spare our physical natural lives in every situation. History is full of martyrs who have given up their lives for their faith, to stand for Jesus. The Bible shows many of them, history shows that every one of the Apostles was martyred except John who survived attempts to martyr him. Read Fox’s Book of Martyrs for many more examples. The Reformation was chock full of examples. Many, many Christians around the world today are dying right now for the faith that many American Christians take for granted.

But as Jesus points out, if they do punish you or kill your body, that is the end of their ability to influence you or affect you. They can’t do anything more to you at that point. They have no authority over eternity. Instead of fearing men, fear the one who has authority over eternity.

There are different types of fear. The easiest way to describe this fear, the fear of the LORD that Jesus is calling us to, is the type of fear that involves awe and reverence. In certain contexts, this is all that is needed. But it involves more than this. And especially in what Jesus is saying, it also involves fear, being afraid. We should be afraid of a God who has the power and authority to determine our eternal destiny.

Proverbs says in multiple places that the Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 36 says that the wicked have no fear of God before their eyes. But there is a right kind of fear. This is the fear we see in Moses in Exodus 3 when he was afraid to look upon God. We see it in Isaiah 6, when he was set down before the LORD and professed that he was a man of unclean lips. This is the fear that we should have of Him.

He is the Judge who will welcome us to Heaven or the one who will damn us to Hell. One commentator reminds us that Hell is not Satan’s dominion but instead his prison. He is not the one who has authority in Hell, God is sovereign over all of His creation, and this includes Hell.

But there is a balance to that fear for those who are in Christ. We are to fear God instead of Man and we are to have this healthy fear of God. But we are also to remember that the place he has prepared for us is secured and he will not forget us or forsake us.

Sparrows are the cheapest animals that you could buy at that time. Almost literally a dime a dozen. And God remembers them all. We are infinitely more valuable than sparrows. God knows and never forgets the numbers of hairs on your head. Even as that number changes as we age, God still knows.

We fear him and all that it entails; awe, reverence, and fear itself. But we also remember that he loves us, he remembers us, and he cares for us. Paraphrasing RC Sproul, we fear Him on one hand, and on the other, we have no fear.

God does not send people to Hell because he forgets about them, or he forsakes them. He doesn’t send people to because he wants to or because it makes him happy.

So, what does determine whether we are welcomed into eternal glory in Heaven or if we are damned to Hell?

Jesus says, acknowledge me, trust in me, believe in me and you’re in. By Gods grace our hearts are changed and our eyes are opened. We see the truth and put our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

We can’t believe and then tell people we don’t believe. Romans 10:9, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Of course, words by themselves, just like actions or works by themselves are nothing, they are not enough to save us or to damn us. The issue is our heart. And what flows out of us is usually a pretty good indication of what’s in our heart.

Verse 9, if you reject or deny Christ, you will be denied heaven and you will be rejected from spending eternity with Christ. This is true no matter what our words say. Not everyone who prayers a prayer or makes a public confession of Christ has been legitimately changed by the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who is physically in the church is spiritually in the church. Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended form Israel belong to Israel and the meaning of that is a sermon or discussion for a different time, but it is the same with he churches today. Not all who are in the church belong to the church.

Not everyone who publicly identifies as a Christian is truly saved or has been truly changed by the Holy Spirit. If we reject Christ in our hearts, if we reject Christ and his works, he will reject us.

Now, he does say that we are able to have all our sins forgiven. We could blaspheme Jesus and that is able to be forgiven. Which is good because before Christ, we all speak against God, and we all blaspheme Christ. And if that was unforgiveable, we would all be out of luck.

 

Jesus says something that has been the source of controversy, of confusion and of despair for Christians for 2000 years. The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

There have been many different ideas, many different beliefs, many different interpretations on what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We are not going to argue over or let it divide us.

Before we look at this, I want to remind us all of the first two rules of understanding the Bible. First, we let the Bible interpret the Bible. Let scripture interpret scripture. IF we don’t know what something means, we look at what scripture says in other places on the same subject or in other places that can speak to the same thing. Second, we let the clear scripture interpret the unclear scripture. That’s the key to what we are looking at hear.

So, what do we know that the scriptures say clearly?

1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We know that Christ died on the cross or the forgiveness of sins. Verses 8 & 9 here in this passage in Luke show that even speaking against Jesus can be forgiven. John 3:36 says Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

According to one commentator, The Blood of Christ is sufficient for any sinner who truly repents- even a sinner who has on occasion denied the name of Christ.

We have seen in scriptures such a wide variety of sins, even and especially serious, crazy sins be forgiven. Adultery, lying, eating from the forbidden tree, murder, false teachings and prophecy. So much more.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

All those sins were forgiven. Peter says in Acts 2:38: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, Jesus died for the sins of the world. All sin can be forgiven except this, what can it mean? I think the key to understanding this is right here in the passage we are looking at this morning, all the information we need is right here.

Verse 8 & 9: And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God

 

How I read this, the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is dying while still rejecting Christ, denying Christ. It is dying without the Holy Spirit doing his regenerating work on us. IF you die without having placed your trust and faith in Christ, you are not able to be forgiven. There is no forgiveness outside of Christ Jesus. In context, to me, that’s the only thing this could mean.

The key to what we are reading this morning is the idea of fear of man vs the fear of God. And Jesus reiterates that as we finish up in verses 11 & 12. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We see immediate proof of this throughout the book of acts. In context, the takeaway, application is that if you are worried about denying Christ in the face of opposition, in the face of true persecution, trust in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can not be unafraid or unashamed in our own strength and in our own power. We can only do it through His power, through the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

 

I am going to leave you with a story about Martin Luther showing the fear of God overcoming the fear of Man. This is relayed from Kent Hughes in his commentary on Luke.

When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet of Worms, John Eck, the archbishop of Trier, asked him, “Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?…Do you defend them all or do you care to reject a part?” Luther gave the quiet answer, “This touches God and His word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this, Christ said, He who denies me before men, him I will deny before the Father. To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over.”

Luther asked for 24 hours to consider the situation. Eck and the whole assembly were amazed. How could the supreme intellectual leader of this movement ask for more time to think? Was he succumbing to fear?

Hughes continues:

That night, Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in now-celebrated prayers. With the rising of the sun another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. Eck, spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, “I ask you Martin- answer candidly and without horns- do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?”

Luther contra mundum spoke, and his voice rang. He spoke first in German and then in Latin:

“Since then your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason- I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other.  God help me. Amen.”

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 9:43-48 Jesus is the Son of Man The humble are lifted up.

Luke 9:43-48

Jesus is the Son of Man

The humble are lifted up.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you don’t have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Luke chapter 9, as we have seen shows the change in direction of Jesus and his ministry. He has been ministering to the region of Galilee and now, he turns his direction and his eyes to Jerusalem and more specifically, the cross, his death and resurrection.

IT started After Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. We saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration as Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses. Last week, we saw Jesus, along with Peter, James and John come down off the Mount and walk right into the spiritual warfare that was ramping up in order to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit and reunited and broken family. We left off with the first half of verse 43, All were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus now has some things he wants to say, some things he needs to teach the Apostles. He needs to focus on and focus them on THE Reason for his incarnation, which he is going to remind them of 1st thing here.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, second half of verse 43 through verse 48. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 9:43-48. The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record what we now read:

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus[d] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

 

Thus Says the Word of God.

 

 

So, first thing I want to touch on is the break in the middle of verse 43. I am assuming most Bibles, and at least all the ones I looked at this week have a break in the middle of verse 43, separating it how I did between this week and last week.

I didn’t bring it up last week, and sometimes I won’t, but I wanted to bring it up this week. When we read the Bible, every single word that is in here is inspired and inerrant. As we learned in our CDI class, even the past, present, and future tenses, the plurals and possessives, everything written down in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

However, the chapter numbers and breaks and the verse numbers and breaks are not inspired and inerrant. They were inserted later in history as a helpful means to memorize scripture and to find useful passages. Since they are not inspired, occasionally you find a spot where they don’t make as much sense, or where I would choose a different spot to put a break. Most Bible translators agree that this verse, verse 43, makes more sense broken in half.

 

So, onto the actual text. About a week and a half ago, in the text, Jesus told his disciples that, as the Messiah, he must suffer and die. This was back in Luke 9:21 & 22.

The Apostles didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying and Peter, so devoted and passionate and wanting to do the will of God, actually started doing the will of Satan, trying to get Jesus to not go to the cross.

Now, between now and then, the disciples saw the transfiguration, they saw Elijah and Moses. They saw Jesus cast out and unclean spirit and they saw the boy healed and reunited with his father.

While still marveling at all that had been seen, at the majesty of God, Jesus shares somethings with his Apostles. He is telling them; this is the reason I am here. Not all these other miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, the power over nature itself. None of that is why he came down from heaven. As Marks Gospel explain, He came down to be a ransom for many. He came down to gives his life for ours. TO pay the penalty for sin that we couldn’t pay.

He tells the Apostles the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. Marks Gospel makes it even clearer, saying The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him.”   He says, “I’m going to be put to death. Remember this.”

There is a direct contrast between the majesty of God, the Glory of God that was just recently seen and the horror and shock and shame of a death on the cross.

The Disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying, no matter how clear he was being. But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

 

          That’s a quadruple negative there by the way. Any time there is repetition in the scriptures, you know that it is important. When its quadrupaly repeated, you know its massively important. As one theologian puts it, the disciples, and all of Israel, were waiting for the royal pomp of the Son of David. They were not prepared or willing to see the Truth about what Jesus needed to do.

God opens and closes the eyes. He is absolutely sovereign, and he is the one who calls us and saves us. But we are also responsible for our actions and decisions. The Apostles here were not willing to look the cross. They were also not willing to ask the questions needed to stretch them and grow them.

God told them clearly, and he also hid it from them, blinded them for the time being. Scriptures often say that Jesus told the disciples things that they would not remember till after the resurrection. They just couldn’t and wouldn’t tie the suffering servant from Isaiah to the coming Messiah until after the cross when their eyes were opened.

 

The Disciples were scared to ask. It should be clear that they didn’t misunderstand what Jesus said, meaning they didn’t think they understood and understood wrong. They knew they didn’t understand, and they were unwilling to ask.

Maybe they were scared of looking foolish. Maybe they held to the old lawyer’s adage, Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to. Maybe their pride was just too much for them to realize they were wrong on things.

The Pride aspect makes sense because that’s what we see Jesus’ address next. While the previous few sections were very specific in their timing, verse 46 shows us in nonspecific timing. Luke pairs them together, not because they occurred one after the other, which they may have, but it seems Luke pairs them together because it reiterates a point.

While the Apostles didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, it may have gotten them thinking about down the road, when Jesus would be reigning as the Christ.

They were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. In that day status was all about who you were associated with and who you were attached to. If you were attached to someone great and important then it means you too must be great and important.

Now, some ambition is good. We all rightly want our life to matter. We all rightly want to make a difference, to do good for the kingdom of God. We all want our lives to not be wasted. But in doing so, we so often focus on the wrong reasons, the wrong methods, and so on.

And in doing so, our pride starts to grow. We are important. God can’t do it without us. He needs our permission to work. He needs our permission to save. We become like Cats. Let me explain, or better yet, Ill let Kent Hughes explain. He writes:

Consider the difference between dogs and cats. The master pets a dog, and the dog wags its tail and thinks, “He must be God.” The master pets his cat and the cat purrs, shuts its eyes and thinks to itself, “I must be God.” After God has graciously reached down to us, there is a perverse human tendency to think like the cat!

 

He continues later:

We may not think, “I must be God,” but we do silently imagine, “I must be pretty good.” We become proud of our apparent sanctification, our knowledge of the Bible, our evangelical routines. After all, we understand the mysteries of grace, while the unregenerate dolts around us have no clue. We become proud of our spirituality.

 

Hughes has a point. We start to become proud of ourselves and the spiritual growth that takes place in our lives. The very things that allowed us to come to Christ and put our faith and trust in Him, the humility and humbleness that allows ourselves to see our sins and our true identity, that all falls away. We are saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. As Jonathon Edwards says, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sins the made it necessary. We have nothing to do with our salvation. And yet, we often take too much pride in our salvation as if it was something we accomplished.

Jesus sees this pride growing in his disciples and he brings a child to his side as an illustration. Children in that day were considered unimportant. They were not useful to one’s status.

And yet, what Jesus is showing as, as one commentator points out, there is glory in receiving, in caring for, in holding, in teaching and in nurturing children. We can see Christ in children, and we are to be concerned with them and to take their lowly positions for ourselves. Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve.

We are called in scripture to have a child like faith, but never a childish faith. This means that we are to trust in God the Father just as our kids implicitly trust us as his parents. And that reminds us that there is a huge difference between believing in God and believing God.

RC Sproul writes: That’s what Jesus is saying: “Trust me! You can’t believe in me and then not trust Me.” That’s what faith is. Its trust. And so he says, “He who is least among you all,”—by which he means he who is most trusting— “is the one who is great.”

I think its interesting that Jesus doesn’t say the greatest, but great. Even when telling us how to be great, by being the least, he makes it clear that this is not a competition. He makes sure to remove any obstacles to allow us to get our heart in the wrong position.

 

 

Service, humility, humbleness, not thinking too highly of ourselves. These are the characteristics that Christ is calling us to.  JC Ryle writes, “Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man, and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian.

         

Jesus here is showing us what is called the upside-down Kingdom. To be first, you must be last. To be first, you must be a servant to all. You are to serve each other. You are to serve others with humility and humbleness. You are to be a servant. Jesus came as a Servant Savior.

We are called to serve, to think of others as better than ourselves. Jesus here is not talking about how to become a Christian. You do not become a Christian by serving, by doing good works, by being a good person, by anything that you do. Instead, he is talking about how you live after you are a Christian. You serve.

Are you serving? Some of you are. Some of your service is absolutely vital to this church’s door staying open. But this is a question for each of us to ask ourselves deep in our heart. Are you serving? This involves so many different aspects of our life.

Are you serving your wife? Loving your wife as Christ loves the church. Are you serving you husband? Are you serving your children? Your parents? Are you serving your community? Are you serving your neighbors? Are you serving your church? Jesus’ church?

You were created to worship, and part of worship is serving. You are called to serve. Are you filling your calling?

This Upside-down Kingdom goes against everything this world holds in high esteem. Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of LORDS. He is the Son of God, God himself. He is a Warrior King. He is the first born of all creation. He is the fulfillment of all the scriptures. And he was born a lowly baby and died a shameful death on the cross. He touched and healed lepers. He ate with outcasts. He had in his group repentant sinners. He calls sinners to repent and fought against the injustice of the powerful. But he rose again and defeated death, ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the father, ready to come again, where every single knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that he is LORD.

The Kingdom is in place, but it is upside down from what we expect.

One theologian writes:

One of the most challenging concepts of the Kingdom of God is that what we celebrate as people on earth is often of little value in the Kingdom, and vice-versa. Jesus’ teaching, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, is at odds with much of human wisdom. Jesus’ establishment of his Kingdom through death rather that human strength is a foolish stumbling block to our world. The elevation of the week and foolish as well as celebrating personal weakness and God’s power makes no sense to a world that celebrates power and wisdom.

The nature of the Kingdom of God is radically different than any human kingdom. All the human attributes that are valued in our world are of little account in the Kingdom. And the attributes valued in the Kingdom are typically discounted in our world. We will never, on our own, know or enter the Kingdom. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we can be a part of his kingdom.

 

 

WE are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Not through anything we have done, not through anything we can or could do, so that none of us can brag or boast. But through and in Christ alone.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 9:37-43 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Does what He does

Luke 9:37-43

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Does what He does

 

All right, please turn with me to Luke chapter 9. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We are in the middle of this chapter of Luke’s Gospel and Jesus is the midst of changing his direction and focus from ministering to the region of Galilee to heading down towards Jerusalem. But in that change, Jesus doesn’t take his eyes off of what he has been focusing on, which is the people. Individuals. The negative affects that sin has had in this world.

Jesus and the inner three disciples, James, John and Peter, went up on the mount and they saw the transfiguration, the majesty of God reflect from and out of Jesus, the Son of God. They saw Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, the embodiments of the Law and the Prophets, THE most import people (aside from Maybe Abraham) in the Jewish culture and religion. And they saw Jesus as greater than and the fulfillment of both.

So, we are going to pick up right where we left off as we always do. This morning we are going to read Luke chapter 9, verses 37 through 43. Ill be reading, as always, from the English Standard Version, though the important thing is for you to read for yourself in your Bible, whichever translation you prefer.

Luke 9:37-43, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, the very next day. Luke will sometimes be very specific with the timeline in his Gospels. Sometimes he will be very nonspecific as to the timeline as well. This is one of those very specific times. The very next day from James, Peter and John seeing the glory of God, the very next day, the descend down the mount.

I want you to think of a major happy moment in your life. More specifically, a moment in your spiritual life where you felt closest to God, where you witness an event or a moment of clarity where God was as real as he has ever been, where Jesus is as real as he has ever been to you.

That’s where Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ 3 closest friend, were after the passage we looked at last week. They were up on a mountain alone with Jesus, they saw an amazing preview of Gods glory peeking out of Jesus during his transfiguration. They heard God the Father speak audibly, confirming the Jesus was God the Son, and that they needed to listen to him. They had some private teaching with Jesus, and they started down the mountain. They were on top of the spiritual world, confused about some things to be sure, but on top of the spiritual world.

And as they descend, there is a great crowd awaiting them. More accurately, there is a great crowd awaiting Jesus. Mark tells us that there was an argument going on, but that doesn’t concern Luke.

Instead, we see that Luke records that a man, a dad, calls out to Jesus. Please, look at my boy. My only Son. Please see him. Don’t let him go unseen, uncared for, unhealed.

He tells Jesus what’s wrong with his son and it’s a heart-breaking scene for a father to see, especially over and over. One commentator describes the boys’ issues thusly:

When we piece the Gospel descriptions together, we get a heartbreaking picture. When the demon seizes the boy (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39), the child screams (Luke 9:39). The spirit throws him to the ground in convulsions so that he foams at the mouth (Luke 9:39). He grinds his teeth and becomes stiff as a board (Mark 9:18). Many times, he had been cast into fire and or water by the evil spirit (Mathew 17:15), and he is covered with scars. Even worse, the spirit has made him deaf and dumb (Mark 9:25). The poor boy lives an aquarium like existence. He can see what is going on around his pathetic body, but he cannot hear or speak. His father concludes here in Luke, “It…shatters him, and will hardly leave him.” (v. 39) – literally, “it is crushing him.”

 

As a father, especially to think about that on Father’s Day, it had to tear this dad up. HE tells Jesus, I asked your disciples to heal him, but they couldn’t. This would appear to be the other 9 Apostles while the inner three were up with Jesus. Some things we know and some things we don’t. The Apostles were given authority to cast out unclean spirits back at the beginning of Luke chapter 9. So why couldn’t they help this dad and his boy? It appears, as most commentators agree, that the Apostles were forgetting that it was Jesus who was casting out the unclean spirits through them. They were trying to do it by there own power, through there own methods. They were trusting the methods and the process as opposed to trusting Jesus. That’s what appears to have happened here. Scripture doesn’t spell it our for us, BUT scripture is clear that the Apostles were not able to do this because they lacked faith.

Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Jesus shows us all what appears to be frustration. If so, we know its righteous frustration of course. Jesus is without sin, so we know that anything he did and anything he said was righteous and sinless. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’m going to use frustration even though it doesn’t feel quite right. But who was he frustrated with? Again, it appears that it is the Apostles specifically and the generation around him generally. He knows that once he is gone, which is what he and Elijah and Moses were discussing by the way, that some of these healing’s won’t happen. He knows that his Apostles are very imperfect people and all his followers, us included will have moments where we lack the faith that Jesus is referring to here.

The faithless and twisted generation that Jesus references here goes all the way back to Moses and the Israelites. And it fits all the way to today as well. There will be no faithful generations until the LORD comes back.

Each generation fulfills and upholds beliefs and values that go against what God has clearly told us he desires. RC Sproul writes:

The culture into which Jesus came was twisted. It was distorted. The values they held dear were things that were noxious to the LORD God, and what was precious in the sight of God was despised in their culture. Theirs was a twisted culture because it was a faithless culture.

When human beings fail to trust God, they twist their lives into all kinds of crazy shapes.

Sound familiar? It sounds quite a bit like today. IT is the same with every single generation that has come about since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is no perfect generation. There is no “Christian” culture or nation.

Sproul continues:

Consider our own age. The sanctity of life has been twisted; the sanctity of marriage has been distorted. We are twisted. We’re distorted and therefore faithless.

The world we are living in is in terrible shape. I know it seems as if it’s worse than it’s ever been. But it’s been in terrible shape since the time of Jesus, and thousands of years before. During the first century we see atrocities such as King Herod killing all the boys aged two years or younger. We see an occupied people try to come up at revolt for their freedom and end up crucified, lined up along the road for miles upon miles as a deterrent to others who might thing that silly word, “Freedom.” We see Jesus, according to the ruling authorities at the time, a crazy man claiming to be God, be crucified. We see the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Compare that to today, and roll the White House, the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell, The Statue of Liberty, and whatever else you want to throw in there. Roll them all into one and let some other country take over and destroy it. Completely destroy it, Leaving not even one stone on top of another. We see the Jews organized almost a genocidal search for “heretical” Christians, stoning them to death if they would not renounce Jesus as LORD.

The world was terrible then and its terrible now.  World Wars 1 and 2, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Japanese Internment camps here in America. Vietnam, 9/11, Taliban, Isis. Turn on the news. People were looking for a savior then and they are looking for a savior now. Even after we know Jesus is our Savior, we look for saviors within the world as well. Even as the First Century Jews were looking for a Warrior King to free them from Roman Occupation, we look to flesh and blood people to save us.

I have bad news. They can’t. Donald trump can’t save us. Joe Biden can’t save us. Barrack Obama can’t save us. George W Bush couldn’t save us. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, FDR, Lincoln and Washington couldn’t save us. And yet we keep expecting them too. Sometimes we do so consciously and sometimes we do so practically.

 

 

But Jesus is not going to let the lack of faith around him prevent him from pouring out grace and mercy on those who need it. He tells the dad to bring the boy to him.

Dr Luke describes what we see as the boy is brought to Jesus. The unclean spirit, the demon messes with the boy one last time. He knew the boy was going to Jesus. He knew he was going to be healed and the spirit was going to be cast out. So, he gave the boy another episode. TO me, this story reads as if the boy had legitimate medical conditions that the unclean spirit was triggering, as opposed to the boy being possessed or the symptoms being caused purely by the spirit, but that is just conjecture.

What we do see is the demon trying to do as much damage as possible while he can. As one commentator notes and many of us can attest, especially those of us who came to Christ later in life than childhood:

The demon made one last desperate attempt to keep him away from Jesus. Stan never gives up any of his victims without a fight, and often it is right before someone comes to Christ (whether literally or spiritually) that he makes his most violent assault.

 

That’s what we see happen here. But when Christ calls someone to Him, he will never be denied. When Christ calls someone to Himself, that person is already secured, in the long-term perspective. It’s called the Effectual Call of God, or Irresistible Grace. In short, the effectual call is understood as God’s sovereign drawing of a sinner to salvation. The effectual call to a sinner so overwhelms his natural inclination to rebel that he willingly places faith in Jesus Christ. 

(https://www.gotquestions.org/effectual-calling-call.html)

 

          Jesus sees what is happening to the boy and rebukes the unclean spirit. He sends him away and then heals the boy, fully and completely. No more convulsions. No more foaming at the mouth. No more deafness and dumbness.

 

And Jesus reunites father and son. Now, I don’t know if this was intended to be THE point, but it fits. Jesus unites and reunites his true spiritual family. The Father, God and his sons and daughters, the children of God will be united through THE Son, Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This unity is despite our differences. This unity is not uniformity. He has purposely made us different, as scripture points out, different parts of the body, different spiritual gifts, different callings. This unity is also, and maybe most especially, despite whether we like each other or get along.

This unity occurs when we eliminate gossip, slander, anger, unforgiveness from our church body, from within each other. This unity only occurs when we make the conscious decision to act loving towards each other regardless of anything else, because this is what Christ calls us to.

At conference, one of the speakers gave this illustration that has struck me and stuck with me. We know that the church, which is all believing individuals, is the bride of Christ. How would you feel if someone was talking to you, telling you how much they loved you, liked you, respected you, wanted to be your friend, but, they said, I just can’t stand your spouse?

That’s what it is like when we complain about a fellow Christian, even if its just in private with God. I love you but hate your spouse. That’s what its like when we fight with each other and refuse to love and respect each other. How long would you let that go on, if someone was saying how much they didn’t like your spouse? How long can we expect Jesus to let us continue to talk bad about his spouse?

 

Spiritual warfare is all over this story. And its all around us today. Just as it is shown trying to separate father and son, it is working hard today to divide the body of Christ. It is not solely a battle between unbelievers and believers either, unfortunately. Even we, as family, as followers of Christ, even we can act in the enemy’s interest. Even we can do things that go against the same Jesus that we claim to and attempt to follow.

We remember just a few weeks ago, we saw that Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. In Matthews recording of that story, when Peter heard Jesus say that He, as the Messiah, must go to Jerusalem and die on the cross, Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go, that he didn’t have to go and die. Jesus’ response, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter was doing the work of the enemy in trying to support and save Jesus.

When we fight, when we argue, when we complain about fellow Christians, we are doing the work of the enemy, creating division and disunity within the body of Christ.

 

Now, Luke ends this section beautifully and with a bow on the top of both of the last two sections we have looked at. Verse 43, And all were astonished at the majesty of God. God revealed his majesty up on the mount at the transfiguration to the inner three Apostles. Here, he shows his majesty through Christ to the rest of the Apostles and the crowds and especially the father and son in this story.

It is revealed to all who will see it. His majesty shines on the mountain top and it shines down in the valley. God won’t let us not see his majesty. In our lives, it will be easy to see God’s glory and majesty, his grace and his mercy when we are spiritually up on the mountain tops. But it is harder to see when we are down in the valleys of life. But its still there. All we have to do is see it.

We will see when God shows it to us. And we will see it easier and more often the more that we have seen it in the past. The more we see God’s majesty, the closer we will grow to him, being conformed to the image of his Son. And the closer we grow to him, the more we will see God’s majesty. I’ll end with 2 Corinthians 3:17-19:

Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

 

                            

Luke 9:18-27 Jesus is the Son of Man: Who Do you Say He Is?  

Luke 9:18-27

Jesus is the Son of Man

Who Do you Say He Is?

 

 

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Earlier in the chapter, in verse 9, Herod, the puppet ruler of Galilee heard about many of the miracles and much of the teachings of this Jesus fellow. And he asks, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?”

Jesus was becoming well known. The stories of him have been spreading far and wide. He was becoming bona fide famous. Luke has been sharing these stories because, as he said in chapter 1, verse 4, “That you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

So, Luke has been recording & teaching the signs and wonders that Jesus is preforming. He is recording and sharing the teachings that Jesus is speaking. And these signs and wonders and these teachings were causing people to pay attention and they were asking just what Herod asked, “Who is this?”

SO, with that question on our mind, we will go ahead and read our passage for this morning, Luke chapter 9, verses 18 through 27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow and read along in your preferred translation. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records the following words of Jesus. Luke 9:18-27, he writes:

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Thus says the Word of God.

So, as we have mention previously, including last week, The Apostles are not always the brightest bunch of light bulbs. They are very much like you and me. They miss the points that Jesus is trying to tell them. They miss what Jesus is able to do and who he is.

Jesus finally just asks them, and he starts with “Who do people say I am?” And we see some of the same answers, the same thoughts and suggestions we saw when Herod was wondering who Jesus was.

Some say John the Baptist. Not everyone saw John and saw Jesus and especially not everyone saw them at the same time. They both had ministries around the same time and they both called people to repentance and taught on and spoke of the Kingdom of God. But Some also knew that Herod had John the Baptist put to death. So, it couldn’t be him, unless he came back from the dead, which, of course, Jesus would end up doing but John didn’t.

Some thought Jesus was Elijah come back. God prophesied in Malachi 4:5, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. Many thought that Jesus, because of him appearing to be a prophet to many of them, must be Elijah coming back, paving the way for the great and awesome day of the LORD. Jesus says elsewhere in the scriptures that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy, that John came in the spirit of Elijah. So, Jesus was not he.

So, who was Jesus? I think the Apostles got to the point where, to quote Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

We see the Apostles start to finally get it. Then Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Peter could see enough to now know that Jesus was the Christ, but he wouldn’t have a full grasp, a full view of what that actually meant, until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Peter was beginning to see. Peter was where we all start in our Christian walk.  Before we come to Christ, before he opens our eyes to who he is, we are all blinded. Sin invaded this world, and invaded humanity way back in Genesis 3, when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve. His lies and deceit blinded them to the reality around them. It blinded them to the fact that they were wandering around a perfect garden, naked and unashamed, with unprecedented access to the God who created them, created the garden they were walking around in, created the world and the entire universe. They had access to God that we can only hope for.

The enemy’s lies and sin invaded this world, and we are all blinded by it. What are we blinded to? Everything. Truth. We are blinded to who God is. We are blinded to the fact that there is but one God and only one pathway, Jesus Christ, to God. We are blinded to the fact that we are sinners. We are blinded to the affect that our sin has on us.

We are blinded to who Jesus Christ truly is, despite all the powers, works and miracles he did and still does. Despite the evidence in our lives, in the world around us. We are blinded to who he is and what he can do for us. He came to save us from our sins.

As we see with Adam and Eve, sin separates us from God and blinds us to the truth. Jesus came to reunite us to God and to open our eyes, heal our blindness. Just as he did with Peter and the disciples.

In Marks Gospel, Jesus preforms a healing right before the records Jesus question to Peter. This healing was different. It was not the instant healing that Jesus normally did. He healed a blind man, but at first, the man could see, but could not see clearly. He saw men walking around but he saw them as trees walking around. Jesus then finished the healing, completely and totally fixing the man’s eyes and allowing him to finally see clearly.

 

Now, it’s important to see that the healing of the blind man is not just another healing. It’s not even just a healing that parallels physical blindness with spiritual blindness. We see that, although Jesus could have instantly and completely healed the blind man, he chose not to. I believe he chose not to heal the physical blindness instantly because he wanted show us a Truth. I believe he wanted to make clear that our spiritual blindness does not get lifted instantly, but gradually, in stages.

We start by seeing some of the evidence of God around us. We start by seeing parts, bits and pieces. We see that we are sinners. We see that we cannot do anything to open our own eyes. And we cannot do anything to reconcile ourselves with God.

The single biggest moment of our eyes being opened is when we, just like Peter did here, recognize that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Messiah. That he is our savior and the only way to reconciliation with God.  When our eyes are opened to this point, we have a choice.

We all have a choice to make. You have a choice to make. When your eyes are open to the fat that Jesus is who he says he is, will you choose to acknowledge the truth that you now see? Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Or you could ignore the truth and go on with your life. See, even when our eyes start to be opened, sin still has a powerful grip on us. It sits deep within us. It is us and it allows ourselves to be blissfully unaware, we can see the Truth, and ignore it, stamp it down and not allow ourselves to be confronted with it. The problem with that, is that if we never acknowledge the truth, if we never take the step and make the choice to confess Jesus as LORD, then we never get reconciled to God. If we never get reconciled to God, while that may lead to superficial, worldly fun, it means eternity separated from God. In layman’s terms, that means Hell.

But once we are confronted with the truth, once our eyes are opened to that point and we have a choice to make. A choice to open our eyes. A choice to make the confession of Jesus as LORD, to know that after we physically die, we will spend eternity with him in heave, Eternity with the kind of access to God that Adam and Eve had before the fall.

I say we have at that point a choice to open our eyes, because Jesus makes it clear that it is our responsibility to continue to have our eyes opened more and more.

Peter didn’t stop at this point. He didn’t see that Jesus was the Christ and sit back and wait for eternity in Heaven to begin. He continued to press forward. He continued to have his eyes opened more and more. He continued to grow spiritually. He screwed up. We will see an instance next week. We will see many more instances after that. But he went on to be the leader of the roman church. He went on to right two of the books of the Bible. He went on to preach at Pentecost and bring thousands upon thousands to Christ in the book of Acts.

We are not called to make a decision for Christ and go on living our lives the same. But our eyes are to continue to open, little bit by little bit. Jesus heals our spiritual blindness, and it will be healed completely when we get up to heaven, but our time on earth, it is a partial healing that heals more and more over time.

Paul talks in 1 Corinthians about our spiritual growth. The church in Corinth were believers, Jesus opened their eyes to who he was, but that was it. They didn’t do anything with their faith. In Ch 3, verses 1 & 2, he writes to them: But I, brothers,[a] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,

Hebrews 6:1 says “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

          We are to continue to grow in and mature in our walk with Jesus. The more we run after him, the more we walk beside him, abide in him, in biblical language, the more we study his word, what he has for us, the more he will open our eyes to new and better things.

I know many of you here have been Christians for a long while. You have been reading your Bibles for many, many years. Some of you have a lot of it memorized. But if you are reading it still consistently, back me up on this, how often are you reading some passage you have read, no exaggeration, hundreds, if not thousands of times before and God shows you something completely new in that passage. Something that you have never noticed before in there. Jesus opening your eyes again, just a bit more. It never stops in our life.

We also need to remember the bit by bit that we start with. Paul talks about starting as spiritual infants, being fed with milk. Just like a growing child, after a long period of being fed milk, then we can move on to solid spiritual food. Remember that baby steps are still steps. And baby steps grow into big kid steps which grow into grown up steps.

Out of our growth, our walk and our maturing in Jesus comes works, comes fruit of the Spirit.

          We will give an account to God when we see him face to face. Paul assures us that if we get to the point where our eyes are opened by Jesus enough to make a decision to confess him as LORD, we will be saved from Hell. Period. But what we do after those matters and we will have to give an account of it. And yet, we will get to spend eternity in perfect heaven with him in perfect relationship.

I want to share two points of application I got from one of the resources I read for this passage.
First, we should never assume that, because we can see some truth, we know all truth. We need to be humble enough to realize that “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The time will come when we will see Jesus as He is, and then we will be like Him (1 John 3:1-3). Until then, let’s be humble enough to recognize there are things we do not yet see and understand.

 

And second, If we – and even apostles – do not fully understand the implications of what we see in the Scriptures or in Jesus, we need to be patient with others who do not understand what we think we understand. Sincere believers in Jesus who are seeking to follow Him as closely as possible will sometimes understand various things differently. We need to be patient with one another, always seeking better understanding ourselves and seeking to learn even from those who disagree with us. If we love only those who love us, what do we do more than others? If we are willing to learn only from those who agree with us, how will we ever correct our misunderstandings? Further, if we refuse actually to listen to them, why should we expect them to listen to us as well?

So, peter sees, his eyes are opened to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. But Peter still doesn’t understand what the Messiah would be. Jesus starts to teach them some of the things that they don’t understand. He knows that Israel does not have a full understanding of what the Messiah will look like, what some of the roles he would fulfill.

The rabbis, the religious leaders, would look at what we have as the Old Testament, and they saw the promise of the Messiah that God would send. The saw this conglomerate of what God was promising. They saw that the Messiah would be a King. And he is. They saw that the messiah would be a warrior. And he is. What they did not see was that he would suffer. And he would.

Now it’s very easy for us to look at the scriptures today and say, “How could they not see it?” We look at Isaiah, chapters 52 & 53, we see Psalm 22. I highly recommend you go and look at these passages if you haven’t recently. We look at them and we see such a clear view of who God told the Jews that the Messiah would be. He told the world hundreds of years before Jesus was born, how he would be born, how he would live and how he would die, and how he would not stay dead.

How did the Jewish Rabbis not see this? Well, in my research, it seems that instead of attributing these passages to the Messiah to come, the attributed them to Israel as a whole, symbolically, as them suffering in their wait for the coming Messiah.

So, Jesus starts to teach them. He starts to teach them as their eyes are now partially open. He teaches them that the Messiah MUST suffer. The Messiah MUST be rejected by the scribes, elders and the chief priests. The Messiah MUST be killed. The Messiah MUST rise again after three days.

These aren’t just things that Jesus was going to do, but these were things that the Messiah MUST do in order to be the Messiah, our savior. The study note in my Bible says about the word “must”: Behind this small word is all the weight of scriptural prophecy and divinely ordained necessity (9:31, Luke 22:37, 24:7, 26, 44) Jesus’ predictions concerning his death and resurrection come out of his understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.”

          And Jesus spoke this clearly. He did not speak in riddles, he did not speak in allusions or veiled references, he did not speak in parables. Here, talking to his disciples, who are now seeing him as the Messiah, he is teaching the things clearly, that the rest of the people around him, those who do not recognize him as the messiah, those who are challenging him, those who are hanging around because he is famous, teaching clearly to his disciples what others are not ready to hear.

So, Peter hears what Jesus is saying. He hears Jesus say that he is going to need to die. So, Peter, being a good Jew, and not fathoming that the Messiah would suffer such indignities, pulls Jesus aside.

Mark records in Chapter 8, verse 32 & 33:

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Mark says that Peter starts to rebuke Jesus. I don’t think I can adequately explain how strong the language is here.

The term rebuke here is usually saved for instances in the scripture of Jesus rebuking demons or unclean spirits…This was not as simple as Peter telling Jesus that he was wrong. Peter evidently was talking to Jesus, how Jesus spoke to demons. Peter still had a wrong image of who the Messiah would be. He expected a Political King. He expected a Military Warrior. He did not expect a Suffering Servant.

See, Peters eyes were open to Jesus being the Messiah, but his eyes, because of sin, were still subject to some blindness. Peter believed. Even when we believe, when we have the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to who Jesus is, we can still have some blindness. We can still be deceived. We can still get things wrong. The enemy can and will still trick us.

Peter was deceived, he was blinded to the truth of the situation. What Jesus said he MUST do, as the Messiah, Peter thought he knew better. He couldn’t conceive of it. He knew better. This conversation is recounted in Matthew 16 as well. In the NIV, it reads, ““Never, Lord!””This shall never happen to you!”

Peter would do whatever it took to stop Jesus from dying on the cross. He knew better than God what should or should not happen. Jesus recognized what this was and where it came from. He recognized that Peter was deceived by Satan, still blind in this area. See, Peter was tempting Jesus. He was saying, “You don’t really have to suffer, to be humiliated and scorned, You’re the Messiah, you should reign in Power instead…”

He was tempting Jesus the same way that Satan tempted him in the desert after his fasting. The temptation that Jesus could be the all-powerful, king of this world, if he just doesn’t submit to Gods will. If he would bow down to Satan. If he would refuse to be crucified and die for our sins. If he would refuse to follow the will of God, things would go so much better and be so much easier on him…That’s what Peter was tempting him with, and Jesus recognize it.

So, Jesus rebukes Peter. Again, this word is used very specifically in the Gospels. It has the connotation of control and having power over the person you are rebuking. That’s why it was such an issue that Peter was trying to rebuke Jesus. That’s why the demons that Jesus rebuked listened to him. And that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter here. And he rebukes Peter by rebuking Satan, who was the one driving the temptation.

Jesus showed Peter that he had his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God. In other words, he was looking at what made sense from man’s perspective, using mans, or the worlds wisdom, instead of trusting in the wisdom of God.

At this point, Jesus changes who he is addressing. He doesn’t turn away from his disciples or stop addressing them. But he had been addressing them privately. Now he turns to the crowds and starts to teach all who would think themselves followers of him.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are thinking about being a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are not at all interested in following Jesus Christ, pay attention, this passage is directly talking to you.

Reread what Luke records:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

 

There are only two teams. There is Gods team and there is Satan’s team. There is no in between. So first, you have to make a choice. Which team are you on?

Now, if you choose Gods team, you win, and Satan loses. But Satan is not a good loser, he is a sore loser, and he will do whatever it takes to negate your part on the winning team. And the thing is, he doesn’t have to do much. Jesus is telling Peter to set his eyes on the things of God instead of the things of man.

If you are focused on yourself and your life. If you are focused on having your best life now, you will not have your best life then. When your mind is on the things of man, your mind is not on the things of God. You live a life based on what the world tells you is the best life. You live a life based on the wisdom of man, the wisdom of the world. You live a life that bears the wrong kind of fruit.

We are not told to take up anyone else’s cross except our own. God has given us each different gift. He has given us each different passions and different ministries and missions to focus on. He has given us all a different cross.

And we can lie to ourselves and tell ourselves things like, “I’m focusing on being the best me I can be for God.” or “God loves me, so he is OK with what I’m doing,” or “I’m just following my dream.” As Todd Akin says, God never said ‘follow your dreams’ He simply said ‘Follow Me.’”

In order for us to be focused 100 % on God, we have to trust him Jesus has promised, not that this life here and now will be wonderful and perfect and easy and without trouble. Jesus has promised us that if we believe in him, if we trust in him, if we confess his as LORD and savior and believe it in our heart, that we will have eternal life with him in perfect heaven.

Jesus continues and contrasts the two choices by asking, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life. What he is asking us is this. If we have a good life now, a great life now, our best life now, according to man’s thinking, according to the worlds thinking, but we give up eternity with Jesus in heaven, what have we gained?

Nothing. Everything we have here on this earth is perishable, but eternity is imperishable. Man, us, you and I, we think in the here and now. As much as we might fight against, and often we don’t, we cannot help but be drawn to instant gratification. CS Lewis says, ““You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

          The way of the world, the fun that the world is having, the draw of everything we are being tempted with, it sucks us in. Jesus is that strongest spell that CS Lewis mentions. He will open our eyes to the blindness we have. and he will be the spell that allows us to wake from the evil enchantment of worldliness. Jesus finishes his teaching in this passage with a warning and a promise. He warns us that whoever is ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of in front of the Father on that day we come face to face with him.

But his promise is this. That the Son of Man will come in the glory of his father and with the Holy Angels. He starts his teachings in private with the disciples, warning & promising that the Son of Man must suffer. He ends it by publicly announcing and promising that the Son of Man will come in Glory.

Revelation 1:7, part of this morning’s scripture reading and part of the verse that was put on the reader board this week:

 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[b] on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Luke 8:22-25 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Calms the Storm

Luke 8:22-25

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Calms the Storm

 

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. Luke Chapter 8, as we have seen and we will continue to see, has some of the most famous moments in Luke’s Gospel and in Jesus’ ministry overall. Today’s passage will be one of those as well.

 

Jesus has been going around, mostly in the region of Galilee, bringing the word of God, introducing the kingdom of God, and giving proofs that he is who he says he is. He is the Messiah that was promised throughout the Old Testament.

We just finished up, looking at some of Jesus parables. These parables lay the foundation for how to become a part of the Kingdom of God and what that should look like in our life. Jesus is going to return, over the next couple of passages to showing, once again, his authority over all of creation. Showing it in as many different manifestations as we could think of. We have seen and will continue to see that Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, does some teaching, then some practical, physical examples of his power and his authority. We just spent a few weeks looking at some teaching, some parables and whatnot and now we will spend a few weeks on some of his deeds and miracles.

So, let’s go ahead and read our passage for the week, Luke chapter 8, verses 22 through 25. As always, Ill be reading from the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation, whether that’s King James, NIV, NASB, New Living or any others. Ok, Luke chapter 8 verses 22-25, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they set out, 23 and as they sailed, he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Jesus just finished up a long day of teaching and preaching. We know this from Marks Gospel, where, in Chapter 4, Mark records some of the same events as Luke chapter 8. Jesu told the parable of the soils and talked about not putting.

our light under a bushel. HE then says, At the end of that day, Jesus got into the boat…

 

So, he was tired. I can tell you from experience that preaching drains the energy from you. Jesus was tired. It was the end of the day, into the evening. Now instead of stopping, looking and finding a place to sleep and hunkering down for the night, he said, let’s go across to the other side of the lake.

On the other side of the lake from them, being in Galilee, was Garasenes in Decapolis, the Ten Cities. These cities were Gentile Roman instead of Jewish.

So, Jesus and the disciples were on their way over to Gerasenes and all of a sudden, a great storm came up. It came seemingly out of nowhere and the boat started to fill with water. This would not be a completely unexpected event in the Sea of Galilee. My Study bible notes: “The Sea of Galilee is 700 feet below sea level, thirteen miles long and eight miles wide. At its southern end is a deep, cliff lined valley. The wind tunneling through the surrounding hills and through this valley can whip the lake into sudden storms.”

          So, this would not have been completely unexpected on the disciple’s end. Storms came up and came through often. But we see from the disciple’s reaction, this storm was stronger, more violent than the normal storm. The waves were breaking the boat and the boat was filling with water. These men thought they were going to die.

Have you ever been in a near death experience? It can be terrifying. Now, again, some of you men have been soldiers, sailors, you have served in the military. Some of you have been in combat. That’s a near death situation. What happens? Your training kicks in and it helps get yourself out of that situation or survive it. For many of us, we have not gone through training like that for whatever our experience is. What happens for us? Any training we may have had, any faith in getting through it safely flies right out the window.

When we think we are about to die, without enough training, we freak out, we do illogical things, and we may do or say things we don’t really believe. What little training we do have abandons us. That’s what we see happen to the disciples here. They are freaking out and afraid they are going to die.

 

 

 

Where is Jesus during all this? He is sound asleep in the stern, snoring away. He is not worried about the storm. The disciples see this, and they lash out at Jesus, crying out, trying to wake him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Marks Gospel shows them angry and frustrated with Jesus, saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

 

We can really see a lot of ourselves in the disciples if we are just willing to look. And not just the good things we want to see. Something happens to us. We lose our job, we get bad news from the doctor, we lose someone close to us, whatever it is. We look around and we see people living it up, people who are not following God succeeding and we are struggling, and we ask Do you not care?

This did not start with the disciples either. We see the prophet Habakkuk crying out the same sentiment. In Habakkuk 1:2-4, he looks around and cries out to God:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.

 

Habakkuk looks around and to his human eyes, it looks like God is just letting stuff happen, that he doesn’t care about those whom he loves, those who are living for him, in Habakkuk s Old Testament context, his chosen people.

The “storms of our life” cause us to wonder, to doubt, to forget. Now this story is partly about the storms in our life and how God will calm those storms, and get us through them, I’ll talk about that in a bit. Much more than that, this story is about a literal physical storm that threatened to kill the disciples. They woke Jesus up and he responded quite differently than the disciples. And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 

We saw earlier that these storms could be whipped up out of nowhere, and I’m sure they could disappear quickly. But the wind doesn’t just cease. The waves don’t just stop rocking. They settle down, they wind down. That’s not what happens here. It says the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Jesus calmed this violent storm INSTANTLY. This is a bonafide, powerful, doesn’t happen in nature miracle.

So far, up to this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has shown he has authority to forgive sins. He has authority over the Sabbath. He has shown he has authority in his teaching in. He has shown his authority over demons. And now, Jesus shows his authority over nature itself. As one commentary stated, this was an example of Jesus binding the strong man and reclaiming his physical creation with his power.

Mark 4:39 says that Jesus said to the storm “Peace! Be still!” That translation helps show the calm and control that Jesus had in this situation. But a more accurate translation of those word in the original language would come out “Be Muzzled.” I like this translation a little bit better because it better shows the power and control over nature that Jesus exhibits here in this story.

Jesus turns and looks at the disciples and asks Why are you afraid, have you no faith? I picture Jesus here lying back down and going back to sleep, but it doesn’t tell us here. I don’t agree, but I like that one commentator said of this part, “Sometimes Jesus gets grumpy.” Sometimes people are grumpy when they are woken up from a nap.

Now most of the time, when this story gets told, we stop there, and we then apply it to our lives. We say things like, if we have enough faith, God will you get you through the storms of life.

While that is true, if we trust in God, he will bring us through our trials, our struggles and we will spend eternity at peace with him.

 

But that’s not what this story is showing.

The disciples did not have faith here. Looking at the text, they did not even ask Jesus to save them.

From their angle, they were trying to keep the boat from sinking and them drowning and Jesus is still asleep in the boat. They not only didn’t have faith in him saving them, but They also forgot how much he loved them, how much he cared for them. Their response was, don’t you care that we are going to die? The disciples forgot their faith and the forgot Jesus’ love for them. Maybe more accurately, they didn’t feel Jesus love at that moment.

That’s makes it a little more real, doesn’t it? A little more personal? Because we all go through these times. At times, Gods feels so close to us we can almost touch him. He speaks to us with crystal clear clarity. And other times we don’t feel that.  Sometimes, he has never felt further away. We are blinded and we see no evidence of his love for us, his mercy and his grace. We don’t feel him when we read his Word, we don’t feel him when we pray.

They key here is “feel”. We will have times when we don’t feel something that we know is true. Then, we can go back to God’s word and trust in that, what we know is true, as opposed to what we feel.

I did not have a moment of salvation where I fell on my knees and angles started singing and a light shone down on me. I didn’t have that one powerful moment. Because of that, as a new Christian, I often doubted my salvation. In fact, it didn’t end with just being a new Christian, this doubt followed through much of my growth and maturation as a believer. I FELT that because I didn’t have that Saul on the road to Damascus moment, that My salvation was not clear cut, or strong or as assured, or legit, or whatever. You name it and I felt it.

My Pastor and numerous other mature Christians counseled me on this and took me to the Bible. Did I believe that Jesus Christ was my LORD and my savior? Did I believe that he was God, and he was Man? Did I believe that he was born, died for my sins and rose again three days later?
One of the places they kept bringing me back to in the Bible was Romans 10 verses 9 & 10:

 

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Since I believed that and I confessed that, my assurance was not in whether I felt saved, but rather the truth of the scriptures.

That is what we need to remember during the storms when it feels like Jesus is nowhere to be found. Scripture tells us differently. One of the scriptures I always go back to is Joshua 1:9. God is telling Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

          We see in the New Testament as well, in Matthew 28, the last words that Matthew records Jesus saying: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

          Even when we don’t feel him close, he is there. One of the most comforting attributes of God is that he is omnipresent. He is in all places, in all times, all at once. That means he can be with me right now; he can be with you right now. He can be with the underground church in China, right this very moment. He can be with Martin Luther while he is walking up to post his 95 theses on the door to strike the most blow in the reformation. He can be with Jesus and he is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he is in all those places and all those times at the same time.

He will never leave us; he will never be away from us. He will never not love us or not care what we are going through. In fact, Jesus knows what we are going through on a very real level. We saw earlier in Luke that Jesus was tempted by Satan out in the desert and that he was able to overcome that temptation. Hebrews 2 also tells us that Jesus was tempted and tells us why that was important. Hebrews 2:18 tells us:

 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing I want to show is that the Disciples didn’t respond to this miracle the way we tend to think they should have. Jesus calms the storm in an amazing miracle, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief and celebrates and maybe even worships him, right? Not quite…

V 25 says, and they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

They are still afraid, although now their fear has shifted. This man that they have been spending day and night with, for possibly up to two years, just stood up and yelled at the wind and the waves, and the wind and waves slinked away like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs.

And they ask, who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him! They have seen him, as we saw earlier, show his authority over all different areas and now, showing his authority over nature. The word for fear here is the one that is used often in the New Testament when Jesus is telling people around him to not be afraid. This is not the word we see talking about the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. That one is more of an awe-inspiring reverence. In this case, in the original language, fear means fear, or afraid.

But in that fear, the disciples ask a question. They ask Who is he? This is the question. If we take one think out of this story and this passage, it is for us to ask the question Who is this? Who is Jesus? Jesus himself would ask this question a few chapters down the line, asking the disciples, who do you say I am?

I don’t think it’s an over statement to say that this is the most important question we will ever ask. The most important question we will seek an answer too. A question that has eternal consequences.

See, if we look at the evidence, if we see who the bible says Jesus is. If we see the historical, the archeological, and the secular evidence of the reliability of scriptures, if we look at all that, we see a man who claimed to be God. We see a man who performed many, many miracles during his ministry. We see a man who was nailed to a cross and died. We see the Bible then tell us that this same man, a human being, rose from the dead three days later, proving that he was who he said he was: God.

We also see that the bible says that we have no ability or way to be in a right relationship with God, except through this Godman. If you accept the evidence, that Jesus Christ is fully man and that he is also fully God, then we are reconciled to Him and we get to spend eternity with him.

However, if our answer to that question, who is he? Is any other answer than that…? then we get to spend eternity separated from him, in what Matthew calls eternal punishment.

That is why this question, who is this? Who is Jesus Christ? That’s why this is the most important question you will answer in your life. It determines or fate for the rest of time.

Please, if you have not answered this question already, or if you have answered that he is not fully man and fully God, there is still time. Time to look at the evidence. Time to look at the world and what God has revealed to us. Time to believe and to say, Yes, Jesus Christ is the Messiah, is who the bible says he is and is who he says he is. Don’t dismiss the question. Seek an answer. Who is this? Who do you say he is?

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Luke 7:18-35 Jesus is the Son of Man: John the Baptist Doubts

Luke 7:18-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist Doubts

 

 

          All right. Please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. IF you do not have a Bible, if you need one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Now, you might notice that we are going just a bit out of order today and for the next few weeks. Normally, our next passage would be Luke 7:11-17. However, we are going to skip over that passage temporarily and come back to that section on Easter Sunday.

So, we are looking at this next passage here this morning. Luke has been recording a number of signs, teachings, and evidence of Jesus’ power and authority. The Jewish nation had been waiting for this Messiah, this Christ, for thousands of years.

God the Father sent him, in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, second member of the trinity. But Jesus was not like what they expected. And this caused even his most ardent followers to wonder at times, Is this really the one?

So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 18 through 35. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[e] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus[f] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,[g] having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

 

 

John was imprisoned at this point because he was publicly critiquing and calling out the King Herod  and his abhorrent morality. Even in prison, he and his disciples heard all about Jesus and his teachings, his miracles, his signs and wonders. His disciples came back and reported them to John.

John knew the message preached in the Sermon in the Plain. He had heard of the various healings that Jesus performed. He knew of Jesus raising the bot from the dead, which is what he temporarily skipped over this week.

John knew what he said when Jesus came to be baptized, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World.” He knew what he saw after Jesus he was baptized; The Holy Spirit descending like a dove, the Father’s words spoken loud and clear, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

John knew all this and had seen some of this with his own eyes… And yet…

And yet, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask the question, Are you the One? Or should we keep waiting?

John had some expectations regarding Jesus that he did not see being fulfilled. John knew has was the forerunner to the Messiah. And John was called to be a very specific person. He preached hell fire and brimstone, calling the Jewish leaders of the day a brood of vipers, calling them to baptism and repentance. We looked at why it would have been insulting to the Jewish leaders to be told they had to get baptized when we look at Johns ministry earlier in Luke’s Gospel. Only Gentiles who were converting to Judaism were supposed to be baptized, to wash, essentially, the gentile off of them. But John told them they had to do it too. John lived alone in the desert, ate locusts and honey, was one strange looking dude. And he was imprisoned. It would be safe to assume that John would have expected the Messiah to carry on his ministry, since he was the forerunner.

But Jesus ministry was vastly different than Johns. Jesus preached holiness and repentance and he preached on Hell, but he did so while preaching mercy, grace and compassion.

So, John was confused. It seems Hes thinking to himself, Did I get this wrong? Is he really the one? Or is he another forerunner like me? So, he sent the messengers to Jesus to ask him directly.

Now, part of our human nature is that we like to think the best of the people we like. We don’t like to acknowledge their faults or their weaknesses. This is a trap we can fall into with people characters as well. There are some who think that John didn’t actually have any doubts about Jesus. Instead, it was the disciples who passed the stories of Jesus along to John who were having doubts and that John sent them to ask in order to confirm their faith instead of his.

The problem is that this is nowhere in the text. When we prop people up, and ignore the fact that they are not perfect, when we put people up on a pedestal, especially Bible people, then we have to read into the text what isn’t there in order to justify our beliefs.

John was having doubts, he was confused and wondering. And he sends this question to Jesus. Jesus, when he receives this question, we see how he responds. He responds first with signs and wonders. He heals disease. He restores sight. He casts out demons and unclean spirits.

Jesus tells Johns to Disciples, “Go tell that to John.” Then he quotes scripture to them, Old Testament prophets who describe the ministry of the long-awaited Christ. Isaiah specifically, as Jesus quotes Isaiah 35:5 & 6, and Isaiah 61:1, which he also read during his first sermon in Nazareth, opening his public ministry. I think it’s important to notice how Jesus responds to John, he does so with dignity and patience. And he sends the disciples of John back to John with this affirmation of who He is, encouraging John in his faith, encouraging him through his doubts.

Notice what and when Jesus does next. It would be easy to dump on John for doubting. TO get frustrated at him for not understanding and for questioning. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead, he praises John.

John rejected luxury and riches. He didn’t tell people what they wanted to hear. He was indeed a genuine prophet. In fact, he was more than a prophet, he was also prophesied about. Verse 28, Jesus famously says that, “Among those born of a woman, none is greater than John.”

Luke writes parenthetically that God saves sinners, no matter who they are. No matter the outer appearance, those who trust in God, have faith in His son, will be justified. Those who, no matter what their appearance is, no matter who moral they act, no matter how conservatively they vote, if you reject God and his purposes, then you will be rejected as well.

Jesus then speaks to this generation. Its important to note that generation is not a limited generation. Often in the Bible, and the New Testament especially, generation is often used for the time between Jesus 1st coming and his upcoming 2nd coming. This is absolutely important when it comes to accurately understanding the context of the words of Jesus.

So, he is talking to those around him then and he is talking to us now, all a part of the same generation. And he says that this generation is like petty children. Each one trying to come up with a game for them to play, but nobody agreeing on anything. RC Sprouls describes it as children playing and some rejecting every suggestion or every game that another one suggests. It’s a no-win situation in which some are never satisfied, no matter what.

Jesus points out to the religious leaders, John came, didn’t drink, didn’t eat, and they rejected him and criticized him for it. And then Jesus comes along, eating and drinking, and they criticize him, saying, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

          The religious leaders were not willing to hear anyone that God actually sent to speak to them. Because even if Jesus and John had different styles and focuses, they were both speaking the Words of God, and that challenged people. It challenged their view of self. It challenged their view that they were good enough, that they earned their good standing with God. Sure, they were looking forward to the promised Messiah, but they didn’t really feel like they needed him. We see this often today. A lot of people are looking forward to Jesus coming back, but they don’t really believe, live or act like it matters.

IF we don’t feel a need for Jesus and his saving grace, his saving work on the cross, then we won’t listen to anything that God has to say. We won’t feel the need to read his Word and to obey his commands. We won’t feel the need to confess our sins and to repent. We won’t realize that the right way is to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. And we wont trust in Christ alone for our salvation, thinking consciously or not that we can earn good and right standing before God.

But, as we know, Jonathon Edwards said, you don’t contribute anything to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul’s writes, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” If we reject that mediator, we reject God.

John the Baptist was the greatest born of women, but as Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3, that’s not enough. We need to be born of the Spirit. John obviously was this as well. It is simply through the grace of God alone that allows us to be born of the spirit. Ephesians 2 tells us that our faith is a gift from God, that’s through his grace. That faith, is the vehicle through which he pours out his salvation and through which the Holy Spirit changes our hearts from a dead heart of stone to a heart of flesh, born in the spirit. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

And that faith that he gives, we see this morning, through this example of John, this faith is big enough for the occasional doubts. Mark 9 tells the story of a man whose son is having trouble with an unclean spirit. He asks Jesus to heal the boy, Jesus responds that, “All things are possible to one who believes.” The father blurts out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

I think if we are all honest, we all have those times in our walk. John knew, probably stronger and more true than any of us could know, that Jesus was the one. That he was the Christ, the Messiah. I don’t know if anyone could have been as sure as John was. Leaping in the womb, seeing him as the Lamb of God, seeing the trinity after the Baptism. And then, through the circumstances of life in this fallen, broken world, he questioned, he doubted, he wondered. Then he knew again, Jesus walked through that time with him.

Our walk, our growth, our sanctification is not linear. Its is not a straight line up. IT is much more of a jumbled mess. Ups downs, lefts, rights, all over the place. The bigger the picture, the more we will see our walk improve, but if we narrow it in too much, we will see moments in our life that show up as dips or doubts or struggles.

Jesus ends this section saying that Yet wisdom is justified by all her children. Essentially this is another way of saying that we will know a tree by its fruit. Words mean nothing if not accompanied by actions. IF you have wisdom, that wisdom will bear many children. The effects of that wisdom will show up in a number of different ways. The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

If you are going through one of these times. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Jesus is still right there walking with you, bringing you through this season. HE uses his works his grace poured out on this world, and he uses his Word to testify to who he is. I don’t have all the answers, but I can point you to them. God is clear that the answers are contained in him and his Word.

Jesus is the Word incarnate. When you feel furthest from him, when you are having questions or doubts, that is the time to cling to Jesus the tightest. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. Cling to him, to that old Rugged Cross and he will bring you through the other side.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Luke 2:21-38 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus is Dedicated

 

When I get them uploaded, this will be updated to included a video of the baptism that occurred after this sermon!

 

Luke 2:21-38

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus is Dedicated

 

 

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 2. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can give you one as our gift to you.

Last week we saw God become man. God clothed in flesh. Jesus the Christ was born a human baby boy. And as a human baby boy, he did all the things that a baby does. He cried, despite what some Christmas songs tell you. He nursed and ate. He dirtied his diaper. He was a human baby boy and all that that entailed. ZI saw those things not to sound crass our irreverent. Instead, to remind us all that he was indeed a baby and a human being. He was also God, but He was fully both, not part one, part the other, or fully one instead of the other.

As a human baby boy, we read earlier this morning that Jesus was born under the law, meaning that he was required to keep the law that God handed down. Failure to keep the law would mean that Jesus sinned, fell short of the glory of God and would not be able to be our salvation.

And what we are going to see today is Mary & Joseph doing the things that they are supposed to do under the law after having a baby, and especially a son. And we will see two affirmations of Jesus being not just a baby boy, but also God himself.

Let’s go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 2, verses 21 through 38. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. The important thing is not which translation you read, but that you read the Word of God for yourself, so please read along as I read the passage. Luke 2:21-28, Luke, inspired by the third part of the trinity, himself fully God, the Holy Spirit, records:

 

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[e] depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[f] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we start off with some more parallels that Luke makes between Jesus the Christ and John the Baptist. On the eighth day, his parents took him and had him circumcised according to the law of Moses. As was custom of the day, they also officially named him that day. Both Mary, back in Luke 1:31 and Joseph in Matthew 1:21 were told by angels to name the son Jesus. And that’s exactly what they did.

Sometime after that, likely 40 days after his birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to have him dedicated. For the timing of the dedication and the required sacrifice, we go all the way back to Leviticus 12. It reads:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.

“And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,[a] one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

 

Mary and Joseph were observant, obedient and righteous. They went to the temple. They brough their sacrificial offering with them. From this we do see that Mary and Joseph were not well off. They were poor and working class and we know this because she brought a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Once again, this early in Luke, we see who Luke sees is important to God. God shows up and appears to and pursues those who are poor and lowly, especially, and specifically the poor in spirit. Kent Hughes notes: “Here we again see that Christianity began and always begins with a spirit of need- spiritual destitution.”

He continues later: “God did not and does not come to the self-sufficient. This is a truth we need to remind ourselves of again and again. Christianity wrongly understood gives some an illusive sense of personal spiritual adequacy. Even the born again can wrongly turn spiritual advances into prideful self-sufficiency- a sense that one has arrived. We must continually guard against this within ourselves. Our only adequacy is in Christ.”

 

Mary and Joseph were not the established. They were not rich and powerful. They were righteous, but they were nobody. They were not known by anybody outside their family and immediate neighbors. They were poor materially; they were poor in spirit. And they God sends an angel to tell them that they are going to miraculously give birth to the savior, the Messiah, the Christ. They do this, and yet she gives birth in a manger, the poorest of situations. Then the shepherds show up and tell them what they have seen! Now, they go to the temple and dedicate Jesus and we see two more examples of God affirming and confirming who Jesus really, truly is.

Luke likes his pairs and parallels. We saw that with Mary and Elizabeth. We see this with John and Jesus. We will see that often further on in Luke’s Gospel and we see this today with Simeon and Anna, two prophets, waiting at the temple, praying, and serving the LORD.

Simeon was waiting for the Messiah. It is presumed he is a very old man at this point, though that is inference. He was waiting for God to redeem his people and was filled with the Holy Spirit. God revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the LORDs Christ, the Messiah, the promised one from God.

What we pull from this is not that we won’t die before God does this or that we wont die before God does that, but as one commentator writes: Once he (Simeon) had this promise, Simeon patiently waited for its fulfillment. This is what it means to be a believer: it means waiting in faith for God to do what he has promised. How often Simeon must have walked the streets of the city, waiting for the salvation that God had promised to give.

 

And on this day, Simeon “just happened” to be at the temple, in the right place at the right time. We know of course that it was not coincidence, but that God directed this.

And you can just imagine Simeon, as he lays his eyes upon this baby being dedicated. He would have seen, probably hundreds or thousands of babies as he was waiting for this one.  But he saw Jesus and he just knew. He grabbed him, held him and let out praises to God.

He was so excited that God kept his word. He got to see the Messiah! He could go home now. He had been blessed by God and now got to see the blessing of God, for the rest of the World.

And what Simeon said here would have been either confusing or nearly blasphemous if many had overheard him in the temple. The first part would have been just confusing, as we have looked at in recent weeks. Simeon looks down at baby Jesus, born to these two poor people and declares him the LORDs salvation.

This was not how the savior was supposed to come. He was supposed to be a mighty warrior, coming down and freeing Israel from the captivity of what nation was oppressing them, which at this point in time was Rome. He was supposed to militarily defeat and drive them out, then physically take the seat of the throne of David in Jerusalem. That was what was expected, not this baby born to a couple of paupers.

And yet, Simeon says my eyes have seen your salvation. And he is not just a part od our salvation or a means to our salvation, but he is our whole salvation. Kent Hughes writes on this statement by Simeon: The Baby Jesus was and is God’s salvation. Moreover, he did not say, “My eyes have seen part of your salvation!” Christ is totally sufficient. He is all we need! True Peace comes only when we, like Simeon understand that salvation is Jesus Christ plus nothing- and rest our souls in him alone.

 

This baby Jesus would bring salvation to all Gods People. And this is where it would become controversial to those in the temple. Its controversial to some today. Simeon says:

for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

 

Wait? What did Simeon just say? He said salvation for your people Israel, I got that… But did he say just say something about the gentiles too? He must be getting a little bit too old, too much frankincense this morning or something.

Simeon shared the good news of the Gospel, that ALL people are able to receive salvation. This is a light for revelation to the Gentiles. And glory for Israel. God opened this up to the gentiles! This was unheard of. But God makes it clear in the scriptures that all who believe will be called Israel. Both believing Jews and believing Gentiles are what make up Gods people. And God sent his son to save all of his people.

Now, it seems likely that it may have only been Mary and Joseph who heard Simeons words. But they heard these things and as they were want to do, they marveled at them. We don’t see anything of Joseph after the childhood of Jesus, whether because he wasn’t part of the story or because he died or whatever. But Mary and Joseph struggled with who and what exactly Jesus was. They heard and believe the angels. The heard and pondered in their hearts what the shepherds said. They marveled here at what Simeon said. They believe this but they didn’t fully understand it. And there’s no indication that they ever really did. At least not until after his resurrection.

Simeon then turned his attention from God himself over to Mary. And he says two things of note here. First, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, Now, most people look at this and read it one of two ways.

RC Sproul sums them: If the “fall and rising” applies to one group, then it means that they must be humbled in repentance before they can rise into salvation. If it describes two groups, then it indicates that those who reject Jesus will fall eternally, but those who accept him will rise to be with God.

Now, the good news is that both of those statements are 100% biblically accurate, so it doesn’t matter which side you fall in in regard to which Simeon meant. But next we see him say to Mary that a sword will pierce through her soul.

This was going to cost Mary. She was going to see her son look crazy, teach things that most did not understand, be reject by nearly everyone and then, finally killed and crucified. This was not going to be easy for her. She did not have any of those indications yet of course. But we can clearly see that this is what Simeon was referring to.

Next, we meet Anna. Now, her, her we know that she is older and who she is and where she is from. We see she was married for 7 years before her husband passed. The next tidbit is hard to translate. Mine says that she lived as a widow until she was 84 years old. Some may say that she was widowed for 84 years, putting her age at over 100. It changes nothing either way. She was old and had been widow for the vast majority of her life. She used that time to be dedicated to serving the LORD. She went to the temple every day and worshipped and prayed and fasted.

Interestingly, she is a perfect model for what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:5, saying: She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, Part of Paul’s context is that we are devote ourselves to the work of the LORD instead of opening up ourselves to idleness which allows the devils temptations to creep in.

Anna came up and saw who was in the temple that morning and she began to give thanks to God and speak of him to everyone.

Oh, that we would all continue to be that excited for Jesus and the work of God, even at possibly over 100 years old! What an example and what a testimony!

Anna responded as all those who truly encounter the living God will be called to respond. She gave thanks for Christ and the works he has done for us. And then she went out and told everyone about him.

 

Now, we have seen here this morning that Luke shows us two ways that we can see Jesus Christ as truly man. We see him circumcised as a baby, on the eighth day, as prescribed by law. We saw him brought to the temple and dedicated, with Mary and Joseph providing animal sacrifices for the cleansing of sins.

We also saw two witnesses testifying to the fact that Jesus is not just any baby, but is in fact, truly God. Simeon and Anna testified to this. And its funny to me that Mary and Joseph, taking part of the sacrificial system of the blood of animals temporarily atoning for ones sins, brought with them  a baby boy who would grow up, live the life and finish the sacrificial system once and for all, shedding his perfect blood and atoning for the sins of all who, through the grace of God giving us faith in Jesus Christ our LORD, respond to Christ in faith and repent of our sins.

 

 

Lets PRay

Daniel 11 & 12 pt 1 God of All Nations: Daniels last vision

Daniel 11 & 12

God of All Nations

Daniels last vision

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel chapter 11. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.

We are in the stretch run of our series through Daniel that we have titled, God of All Nations. Chapters 10, 11 and 12 are on last episode in Daniels life. One last vision that God is sharing with Daniel, and through Daniel, sharing with us.

As we come into chapter 11 and look at the vision that God is presenting to Daniel, we remember that the context of this vision includes what we looked at last week in chapter 10.

In chapter 10, we saw Daniel upset and discouraged at the vents that were getting in the way of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He was praying and fasting over the situation and he had a vision, an appearance by one who had an appearance like a man. That messenger who appeared, pulled back the curtain and gave Daniel a glimpse at the unseen spiritual warfare going on between Gods Angels and Satan’s Fallen Angels, or Demons. We saw how prayer affects those battles and how those battles affect the things of this world.

And today we will see some of the things of this world that will be affected by this spiritual warfare. We will see history predicted and prophesied from the other end. We will see quite a bit about Antiochus IV, otherwise known as Antiochus Epiphanes, who we also saw and talked about in Chapter 8. In short, we are going to look at 400 years of history before it happens.

Before we read our first section of this morning, what we are going to see is a long list of kings and rulers and conflicts and history being prophesied. And if we just read through it, it can easily be read in the same way as the genealogies throughout scriptures or the lists of kings in the Old Testament, where we just read, or skim through it until we get into the narrative further along.

We want to avoid that because it is scripture and it is included in this vision for a reason. So, lets go ahead and read Daniel chapter 11. We will start with verses 1-20. As always, I will read out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to read along in your preferred translation, whichever that may be.

Daniel continues to record, as the messenger continues to speak from chapter 10:

And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.

“And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.

“Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority. After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported[a] her in those times.

“And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail. He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north. Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land.

10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress. 11 Then the king of the south, moved with rage, shall come out and fight against the king of the north. And he shall raise a great multitude, but it shall be given into his hand. 12 And when the multitude is taken away, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail. 13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the first. And after some years[b] he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies.

14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand. 16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand. 17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom,[c] but it shall not stand or be to his advantage. 18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed,[d] he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, all of that was entirely crystal-clear right? No questions?

 

In all seriousness, all of what we just read, can be and is verified and confirmed by the historical records we have. We have the names, the years these events happened, and we have the details about what these prophecy’s mean. WE are not going to get into all the minute details this morning. One of example of doing so in a commentary, John Calvin filled over 40 pages going through this section. If you are interested in point by point breakdowns, I can recommend a number of commentaries or, once we are done in Daniel, I can lend some out.

That being said, there are some things we will point out and some things we should know. It starts off with telling Daniel that there will be three more Persian kings and then one will come along with great wealth and then great power. This fourth king would be who we know as Xerxes from the book of Esther.

With his wealth and his power, around 480 BC, he would start a military campaign against Greece that would start the ball rolling to the Greeks conquering Persia after we skip ahead in v3 and see, once again, Alexander the Great. Remember Alex reigned and conquered from 336 to 323 BC.

We see and we know from previous visions that Alexander only ruled a short time, he conquered everything there was to conquer and then he died. His Kingdom was not given to his children, they were murdered. Instead it was divided amongst four of his generals.  One of the things we see is that the world sees this man as “great” and he was incredibly powerful in this world. And yet, the scriptures see him and describe him as a broken horn, like we saw in Daniel 8:22.

What you achieve in this world is nothing compared to what God can do. Alexander found out, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will find out, each and every one of us will find out what Isaiah says in chapter 40, verses 22 & 23:

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

 

 

Alexander was a great military leader, but once he died, as we all do, his kingdom was not what it was supposed to be or what he wanted it to be. IT was divided into four pieces and for the purposes of this vision, we are going to see the North Kingdom, the Seleucids, and the South, the Ptolemies.

It is through their families and through the leaders of these two kingdoms that go down through the major events in the region, in the known world at the time, of the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. We see all sorts of political intrigue, family drama and all sorts of betrayal and conflict.

God knew all these things ahead of time.  He knew how all the conflicts and drama would play out.  Throughout history, in the bog and in the little, God knows who will win and who will lose. He knows who will betray who and who will cross who. He shows that he knows by showing us hundreds of years before it happens. Major moments in history and minor moments in history, none is out of the control and the sight of God.

Long story short, this is the history of the rulers of the North and the south Greek empires. They are the North and South because they are north and south of Jerusalem. The geography here is why it was included in the scriptures, why it matters to the vision. We start to see in this section, but we will really see with Antiochus Epiphanes the affect this has on Jerusalem and Gods people.

But what about us? If its in the scriptures, if its part of Gods Word, it has to have some meaning for us as well. I will give you the words of Iain Duguid as he expounds on the application of this passage. He writes:

This is an important lesson for us to learn from this history. The kingdoms of this world often seem overwhelming in their power to accomplish great things, a power that can easily either cow Christians into a state of depressed submission or, alternatively, seduce them into trying to use the worlds power to do Gods work. Some Christians seem to believe that they can hasten the coming of Gods kingdom by achieving certain political goals. Yet at the end of the story, and for all their vaunted power, the kingdoms of this world can neither destroy Gods work, nor establish it. They are merely tools in the hand of a sovereign God who is able to declare the end from the beginning because he alone ultimately controls the affairs in men and nations.

This truth is of great practical value to each of our lives. We all experience times when our existence seems caught up in a larger conflict that is completely out of our control. Perhaps our job is threatened when a manufacturing plant is closed by corporate authorities located thousands of miles away. Perhaps political decisions or terrorist acts that are beyond our power to influence threaten our freedoms and lifestyle. Our health, or the health of someone we love, may be threatened by a disease against which we have no ability to guard. We live in a great big world and we are ever so small.

 

Next, we see the rule of the northern Kingdom delivered into the hands of a familiar face, one that we spent some time looking at in Daniel 8: 9-14. Let’s read Daniel 11:21-35:

In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. 23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts[e] of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time. 25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him. 26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed. 28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.

29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.

 

 

Antiochus IV, also referred to as Antiochus Epiphanes (a name given to himself, which means The Illustrious God) would rise up and become king. He was not the legitimate heir, but ascended to the throne through cunning, plotting and intrigue. And Scripture tells us that he was contemptable. He was cunning, he was ruthless, he was evil. He was, as we saw in Daniel 8 and we see here in Daniel 11, a foreshadowing, a type looking towards the end antichrist.

Antiochus would kill the high priest in Jerusalem and replace him with someone more politically pliant. He continued the battle between the Northern and Southern Greek kingdoms, sometimes doing well, but ended up having Rome start siding with the Southern kingdom, out manning his northern kingdom. He made deals and then broke them. He plundered the temple and was determined to exterminate the Jewish religion. When he was on one of his military campaigns in the south, there was a rumor that went around in Jerusalem that he had died. There was great rejoicing and a revolt and when he got back, he went ballistic on the Jews.

Antiochus is a great example of history repeating itself. Again, he is a type, a foreshadow of the antichrist. He has the heart of the antichrist. Very specifically and fully historically, this passage is talking about Antiochus IV. But we see rulers throughout history that could easily fit into this imagery.

In verses 31-35, we see again, some of what Antoichus did in Jerusalem and in the temple. He ordered all ceremonial observances of Yahweh forbidden. He murdered and butchered untold thousands of Jewish men, women and children, many mighty men and saints.

In December of 167 BC, he performed what we would come to know as the Abomination of Desolation. He erected an altar to Zeus on the sacrificial altar in the Temple of God and sacrificed a pig on top of it.

He was God in his own eyes. But when you go against God, there is only one outcome. You will lose. 3 years after desecrating the temple, Antiochus would die. He was not killed by man. He did not die in battle. He died, tradition tells us, from some sort of combination of a physical malady and mental issues.

More detailed, but non inspired by God, non-scriptural, accounts of Antiochus’ reign can be found in 1 & 2 Maccabees. This is the time and the events that led to the creation of Hanukah. As the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee fought back against the persecution from Antiochus, they were able to reclaim the temple and 3 years to the day after the desecration, the temple was rededicated with a new altar for burnt offerings.   At the rededication, as they lit the menorah, there was only enough oil to keep the candles burning for 1 day. Through God’s grace and miraculous intervention, it burned for 8 days while they found a new supply of oil.

The Maccabees where those who, in verse 32, were “those who knew God,” and they were to stand firm and take action. We looked at 1 Corinthians 15 this week during prayer meeting and the last verse of that chapter reads Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We are called both to stand firm and to take action. WE also see in verse 33, a mention of those who are wise. The wisdom is how we determine when and how to stand firm and when and how to take action. By being wise, we are to be prudent and understanding.

We use wisdom to know what to say. We use wisdom to know what not to say. We use wisdom to know how loud to say what we say. WE use wisdom to make sure that we share truth and not false. We share our wisdom with others.

Be wise. Stand Firm. Take Action.

 

Let’s finish up this chapter of Daniel, reading verses 36 through 45:

“And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done. 37 He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these. A god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.[f]

40 “At the time of the end, the king of the south shall attack[g] him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. And he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through. 41 He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Cushites shall follow in his train. 44 But news from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to destroy and devote many to destruction. 45 And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.

 

Now, all previous events, all of chapter 11 til this point, are able to be historically verified and, as I said, we know who all the people and what all the events are. Starting with v 36, we don’t have historical verification of who this applies to and we know from other things we know about Antiochus that these verses cannot fully apply to him. Some will argue that v 36-39 still applies to Antiochus. But most will read into this that there is a major time gap between verse 35 & verse 36.

For those who see the time gap in these verses, the rest of this chapter is looked as talking about the end time Antichrist. One of the things I appreciate is in verse 36 when we see “what is decreed shall be done.”

We see throughout this chapter that bad things only happen until its time is over, until the time is determined, that what is decreed shall be done. It helps us see that even the immense persecution of Gods people is subject to Gods timing, to Gods control, to Gods allowance, and Gods sovereignty.

Verses 37-39 we see that all deception regarding false gods will melt away. There will be no more pretenses. We will be face to face with two clear and disparate choices. Either we will believe in, trust and choose the God of the Bible, the one true God. Or we will decide that we will reject God and side with Satan, with the antichrist, with the god of self and whatever else we think we might gain from this choice.

Verses 40-45 finish up the chapter and we see that it is bracketed with the terms time of the end and he shall come to his end. And the battles that are described here are hard to fit into history. I think that, if we look at them in context, especially in the context of Chapter 11 being inextricably tied to chapter 10, that we see that this battles are a part of the spiritual battles that we caught a glimpse of last week, with the Gabriel, Michael and who knows who else battling the Princes of Persia, the prince of Greece, and who knows how many other fallen angels or demons.

And then, he shall come to his end, referring to the antichrist. And we see that to remember that no matter how bad things get here. God will end it. No matter how elections play out, no matter what our governors and our presidents say. No matter what, God is in control. And those who go against God and his work, those who make the wrong choice mentioned a few moments ago, their time will be brought to an end.

And so, I am going to finish up, I read a passage from Iain Duguid earlier and I want to leave us with the very next paragraph following that passage.

In such times of personal uncertainty, we need to cling firmly onto the knowledge that all the worlds events , from the greatest to the least, are not only known ahead of time to God, but are under his sovereign power to control. Even those actions that are initiated by godless men and women in pursuit of their own wicked purposes will ultimately achieve the LORD’s holy purposes (Acts 4:27-28). He is the first and the last; apart from him there is no God. He alone can foretell what the future holds because He holds it in his sovereign hand.

 

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Daniel 8 God of All Nations: Knowing the Future in Advance

Daniel 8
God of All Nations
Knowing the Future in Advance

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel Chapter 8. As usual, if you do not own a bible or do not have a bible, please grab one from our table in the back as our gift to you.
This morning we are looking at Daniels second vision as recorded in his book. This vision is going to be different from the first in that this is going to much more historical, more specific and have a more speck and given interpretation.
Because this is going to be more focused on what, for us, is contained in the past, and it may seem to have less practical application. But it was all taking place in the future for Daniel and so we will see two major points that we can take from today. These two points are two major points that we have been looking at over the past number of weeks. There is not anything new in these two points that we haven’t been seeing.
First, God knows the future. He reveals the future in many instances in the Bible, one of the reasons He reveals the future is to show that He is indeed God. And God knows the future because he determines the future. And that leads to our second point. God is in control of all Nations. This is why we have named this sermon series “God of All Nations.” God is not just the God of Israel. He is not the God of only those who believe in Him. He is the God of everyone, everything and every nation. He is behind the rise and the fall of all nations. He orchestrates the rise and fall of all nations until, His Kingdom will be the only Kingdom left and will reign forever.
But back to the first point for a moment. God often in the scriptures “predicts” or prophecies the future, or he unveils specific details of the future that will come to pass in history hundreds or sometimes thousands of years in the advance.
He does this with the Israelite Exile that Daniel is in the midst of here in the book of Daniel. He does this with the birth of Christ. He does this with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. And what we will see this morning, he does it with the Greek empire and Alexander the great and another ruler, a type, or foreshadowing of the antichrist.
This vision is going to take a look at this morning in chapter 8 will fill in some of the gaps that were left in the 2 and 3 kingdoms of last chapters vision.

So, let’s go ahead and read the first part of Daniel chapter 8, we will look at the vison first, verses 1-14. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation. Daniel 8:1-14, Daniel records:

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some[a] of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression,[b] and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me,[c] “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy and inspired Word.

So, we are moving around in time again, as we pick up 2 years after the vision in chapter 7, before the events of chapter 5 take place. Remember that unless it is specified otherwise, rarely do the events of the Bible take place chronologically. We can get ourselves into trouble when we read through certain sections and try to take them chronologically. The other keynote is that Chapter 8, starting with this vision, is where Daniel switches back to Hebrew from Aramaic. There are some ideas as to why, though no consensus, but on surface level investigation, it seems to have to do with whether Daniel is addressing Israel or the nations as a whole.

Now, onto to the vision itself. Daniel saw himself, not aside some general sea, as he did before, but in a very specific location. This helps show that the vision is not in general about the future, but about specific events to come.
Daniel saw two animals. The first was a ram with two horns, the second horn being bigger than the other. This, we will find out, represents the Meado-Persian empire that was conquered Babylon and that Daniel was serving at the end of the historical section of the book. This was the empire symbolized by the bear in the vision in chapter 7.
One of the things we see with the two horns is that the horn that came second was bigger and stronger. Historically, this is quite accurate for the Meads and the Persians. The Persians came along second but were much bigger and much stronger than the other part of the alliance. This is also possibly alluded to in the bear where it says that he was raised up on one side.
The Meads and the Persians would come from the east and they would be all powerful. None, not even the all-powerful Babylon could end up standing against the powerful Ram with two horns.
Then, we see a goat coming from the west. He is not touching the ground, a reference to his great speed and striking power. Out of the goat was a great horn, representing a great leader. And they demolished the Ram with two horns.
In reality, this big horn would become Alexander the Great, whom he mentioned briefly last week. He became exceedingly great and he conquered the know world at the time. He only ruled for 10 years, dying young. And it only took him 4 years to crush the great and mighty Persian empire. But His empire did not last long. The Great horn was broken, to be replaced by four little horns. Out of one of those 4 horns, a little horn grew that is what much of our focus will be on this morning.
This horn, out of the four horns that had come up would be an evil and powerful, a cunning and ungodly ruler. He would wag ware on God and terrorize the Jews. WE will get into more specifics in a little bit, but he would deface and make unclean the Temple and he would put an end to the sacrifices for 2300 days.
Now, there is a lot of unknows about this number, including whether its literal or symbolic. There are no exact matchups in terms of time frames and dates matching, that we know of. Iain Duguid suggests that is a significant but limited period of suffering. I concluded that it is either symbolic or God has not revealed to us the exact fulfillment.
We see in verse 12 that it will be because of transgression that this ruler will be able to do the things that he does. Some see this as the ruler himself is transgressing by doing what he is doing. More likely this is the transgressions of Gods people that cause him to raise up this ruler and allow him to do his evil, for a time.
So, a lot of what we see here, a lot of the details that Daniel sees we will touch on after we read the next section, the interpretation of this vision, verses 15-27. Daniel continues:
When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat[d] is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his[e] nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.

All right, so we see again that Daniel doesn’t understand what he just saw! Now, yes, he understands some of it, and he will understand the big points. But this should be a big neon sign reminder that most often, WE WON’T UNDERSTAND PROPHECY AHEAD OF TIME! Please, let’s all remember that.

But the arch angel Gabriel comes along. Gabriel, who is only named here in Daniel and in Luke chapter 1, is going to interpret this vison for Daniel.
First, when is this vision for? Verse 17 tells us this is for the time of the end. This means the end of a time. This does not mean the end of time or the “end times.” This is the end of the time that is prophesied about in this chapter.
The Bible has a lot to say about the end times and the end of time. But just because it says a lot about that doesn’t mean that we should think that everything is about then. What happens is that Christians often end up looking like kids on a long car ride, continually asking God, “Are we there yet?” We will get there, there is no question about that, but we are not there yet, and only God knows when we will be.
This vision is not looking a few thousand years into the future. It is looking a few hundred years into the future. This vision is looking to the end of the Greek empire and the reign of Antiochus IV and there should be no less amazement at that just because the timing is different.
Gabriel identifies the ram with two horns as the Meads and Persians as we already looked at a few moments ago. Then he identifies the Goat as Greece. It has the great horn, which breaks. Then four horns grow out of it. Four kingdoms come out of the Greek kingdom.
The Greek kingdom is divided between 4 of Alexanders generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy. It is out of the Seleucid line that this other little horn will grow. None of these will be as powerful as the first, as Alexanders rule.
But at the end of the time of the Greek empire a King arises who would become a type, a foreshadowing of the antichrist. Antiochus IV, also referred to as Antiochus Epiphanes (given to himself, which means The Illustrious God) would rise up and become king. His power and his authority would not be his own we see in scripture.
Sam Storms comments on this, saying, “is an allusion either to God’s providential role in putting him in place or a reference to Satan’s energizing presence in his oppressive rule.”
It could also be both. Either way, he gets a glimpse of the spiritual warfare going throughout history. Satan was using this ruler to wage war on the people of God, and through them God himself. God ultimately is on control of all these things and allowed it to happen for a season and for a purpose.
The Jewish people have faced a lot of persecution over the years. When the persecution under Antiochus took place, it was by far the worst they had seen yet. I mentioned earlier that he ended the sacrifices in the temple for 2300 days. HE replaced the high priest with one of his own and then later had the real one assassinated. He ordered all ceremonial observances of Yahweh forbidden. He murdered and butchered untold thousands of Jewish men, women and children, many mighty men and saints.
In December of 167 BC, he performed what we would come to know as the Abomination of Desolation. He erected an altar to Zeus on the sacrificial altar in the Temple of God and sacrificed a pig on top of it.
He was God in his own eyes. But when you go against God, there is only one outcome. You will lose. 3 years after desecrating the temple, Antiochus would die. He was not killed by man. He did not die in battle. He died, tradition tells us, from some sort of combination of a physical malady and mental issues.
More detailed, but non inspired by God, non-scriptural, accounts of Antiochus’ reign can be found in 1 & 2 Maccabees. This is the time and the events that led to the creation of Hanukah. As the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee fought back against the persecution from Antiochus, they were able to reclaim the temple and 3 years to the day after the desecration, the temple was rededicated with a new altar for burnt offerings. At the rededication, as they lit the menorah, there was only enough oil to keep the candles burning for 1 day. Through Gods grace and miraculous intervention, it burned for 8 days while they found a new supply of oil.

As Gabriel finished up the interpretation of the vision, he told Daniel to seal it up, for it refers to many days from now. Duguid points out that to sela up is not to keep it a secret, but instead Daniel is to keep it safe during turbulent and troublesome times.
And this vision does take place many days from then. The time that Daniel received this vision was somewhere in the 550 BC range. Alexander the Great reigned and conquered from 333-323 BC. Antiochus IV ruled from roughly 171 BC till his death in 163.
Daniel obviously would not live to see the fulfillment of these visions and prophecies. Daniel, as we all are, are in time. We are a part of time. We go along in our lives in a chronological time flow and we can’t do anything in regard to that. God however is outside of time.
He created time. He is in the future, he is with us here today and he is with Adam in the Garden of Eden, and everywhere and every time in between, all at the same time. Time is more like a movie film, the actual film itself, spread out in front of him where he can see all the scenes all at once. So, these prophecies and visions where he “predicts” events hundreds and thousands of years in advance should not surprise us. It isn’t surprising him after all.

In the last verse if the chapter, we see that Daniel was sick over what he saw in these visions and that he didn’t fully understand it. Remember this is the guy who understood and interpreted two dreams by Nebuchadnezzar and the Handwriting on the wall (though that event would not have happened yet when Daniel got this vision). My point is that if anyone would understand this vision, we would expect Daniel to. Again, we are not going to understand all of or even much of the prophecies that we are looking at in Gods Word.

But Daniel wasn’t going to harp on and get down on himself based on what he saw. He had work to do. He had his life to live. He had to get up and continue on about the Kings business. I love the dual meaning here. First, Daniel was working in service of the King of Babylon, who was Belshazzar. That was his job and he had served three kings up till this point with at least one more to come. But this also alludes to out going about Gods business. He is our King and we serve him above all and any others.
God has put us here and now for a reason. For such a time as this, as Esther is told. One commentator says that to go about the business of our king is to “serve the culture with all the Ability that God gave us.”
And this is my big takeaway from Daniel chapter 8. We learn and we read, and we see these things going on around us and going to happen in the future and much of it is terrible and terrifying. And the end result will be glorious and will be worth it all. As Paul says in Romans 8:18, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. And those are super important things because they will help answer the big question. What does that mean for us here and today?

Sinclair Ferguson says this: Daniels attitude illustrates an important biblical principle: In view of what the future holds, we must live holy lives now. He caught a glimpse of realities that would take place centuries later. These events were shadows of the last conflict between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdoms of this world.
He continues: How then shall we live? Passage after passage gives the same answer: Do the Kings business, walk in obedience, live in holiness, purify yourselves as He is pure.

God has called us for here and now and he has promised that he is coming, and he has won. But he has warned us that our focus should be on Him and today.
The other question I ask as I read this chapter is What was the purpose and reason for God sharing this vision he had given to Daniel?
Sone, I believe is to show the true nature of good vs evil. We see this vision, including some of the behind the scenes parts so that we would take spiritual warfare seriously. We remember that Paul writes that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but powers and principalities. Sinclair Ferguson says that this vision gives insight to the nature and causes of the conflict. We see the true nature of evil and how far it will go to try to win. As one theologian says, evil Finds attractive what is offensive to God precisely because it is offensive to God.
The other thing I think we see here is the consistent pattern of opposition that comes against the work of God. We see Antiochus trying to eliminate the sacrifices made to God. And he did for a stretch. We see that Satan was doing everything he could to eliminate the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
We see the desecration of the Temple of God by Antiochus. Today, we look around and what do we see, desecration of the temple in every sense of the word. Our bodies, giving in to every lust, ever temptation, every desire. Houses of God slandering the character of God, dismissing his word, deceiving and preaching as true what is false and evil. And Jesus Christ himself, dismissed as a fairy tale, as a good moral teacher instead of God, instead of the Messiah and the savior that he is.
We see lastly, the weakness of even the greatest and strongest of men. None can do anything, none can rule anything, none can live, without God. We have seen throughout this book that Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius all ruled their kingdoms because God allowed them too and set them up to rule. We see today the rule and reign of Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes are allowed, determined and set up by God, well ahead of time.
This isn’t just our physical lives either. Spiritually we are born dead into sin. Spiritually we are born dead and will remain dead unless and until God intervenes. And our God is a good and loving God who of course knew this ahead of time and God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit put into effect their rescue plan. The Messiah coming and redeeming us. Saving us by Gods grace, from the wrath of God. His blood shed, the penalty of sin, paid. Death defeated. We are then saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
And that salvation is what allows us to live the life that God has called us to live as we wait on the coming of Christ. We focus on and find our fulfillment, not in waiting, but in doing what God has called us to do, serve him and his kingdom. To use our gifts for his glory and the glory if the kingdom. To love our neighbors as our selves and to spread the good news of the Gospel.
Todd Friel has a Christian radio program called Wretched Radio and I’m going to steal his sign off call this morning before praying. Every day at the end of his show, without fail, you hear him say, Now, Go Serve Your King!
Let’s Pray

Daniel 6 God of All Nations: Daniel Ends Well

Daniel 6

God of All Nations

Daniel Ends Well

 

          Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel, chapter 6. So, During the whole shutdown thing, we started a series through the book of Daniel that we are calling God of All Nations. This was the overall theme of the book, that God is the God of all nations. He is sovereign over everything single thing in this universe. He is King over all people and nations even if they don’t believe so.

The first half of the book of Daniel, which we finish up today, is key parts of the life of Daniel and three of his friends, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego. Even more than that, we are seeing parts of their lives in exile, away from their home in Jerusalem, captured and put into service in the kingdom of Babylon, and now, as of the last verse of chapter 5, the Medo-Persian Empire.

Babylon defeated Jerusalem and brought Daniel and his friends over to Babylon when he was roughly 15 years old or so. He served and gained the confidence of Nebuchadnezzar, probably his son, and then Belshazzar briefly, again, as we saw in Chapter 5. He is in his eighties at the point where the events of chapter 6 are going to take place.

We have seen over those almost 70 years, God work some amazing miracles to the rulers of these empires, and we have seen him prove that he is the Most High God. These unbelieving rulers have even declared that the God of Israel, the God of Daniel is a god above the other gods. You can obviously see there that there is not necessarily a saving faith, that God is not the exclusive God, but one of many gods. But it is saying something that they would see him as the greatest of the gods.

So, in Chapter 5, we saw the Babylonian empire fall and be taken over by the Medo-Persian empire and Darius the Mead was installed as ruler of Babylon.

I think that is all the pertinent information we need to jump back into the book of Daniel, and we will read and look at chapter 6 this morning. We are going to start with Daniel 6, verses 1-9. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation as we read Gods Holy Word.

Daniel 6:1-9:

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

 

May God Bless the reading of His Word.

 

So, Darius becomes the ruler of Babylon and he starts to set up his government. He sets up different regional leaders called Satraps and he installs 3 vice presidents, or governors, three supervisors above the regional leaders, under only Darius himself. Daniel was one of those three supervisors.

Daniel’s reputation preceded him, and he continued to live up to that reputation of working hard, being completely honest and incorruptible. HE quickly rose above even the other two of the supervisors and made quite the name for himself. The text shows exactly what we have already seen Daniel do time and time again, and that is that the credit for all the Daniel was able to do was all because of God. The text gives credit to an “excellent spirit” in Daniel.

Daniel was doing such an impeccable job that Darius was going to set him up over the entire kingdom. All signs point to this being very similar to Joseph in Egypt, where he was technically not the King, but he was in charge of everything, answerable only to the King himself.

Now, of course, the other supervisors were totally jealous of Daniel. They wanted to get rid of Daniel. They didn’t do as good of work. They were typical of most politicians, both then and today. They didn’t want to put in the work. They wanted to get more out of the job, with the perks and the benefits, than they put in. Daniel wasn’t like that and it made them look bad.

So, they attempted a smear campaign against Daniel. Only there wasn’t anything about him to smear. They couldn’t find any transgressions. They couldn’t find any legal reasons to get rid of him. He was, in the words of 1 Timothy 3, above reproach.

And so, because they weren’t able to find any reasons to get rid of him, they had to make them up. They knew that the only thing that would cause Daniel to break a law of the kingdom is if it meant breaking a law of God. His loyalty to the King was under only his loyalty to God.

SO, they concocted this idea. Hey king, we all agreed. Let’s make it so that, for thirty days, no one may pray to or make petitions of the gods from anyone but you.

What they were doing was sinister. They were implying that Daniel was aware of and approved of the plan. They were appealing to the Kings pride and King and politician’s natural nervousness about their power base. This was not a religious law being passed, not in intent anyway. This was a way for King Darius to solidify his standing as the new King over Babylon. It was a way for him to consolidate his power. He would be the sole mediator between the people and the Gods. Of course we know what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5,  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, But the satraps were tempting Darius with the very thing the serpent said to Eve in Genesis 3:15, saying, you too will be able to be like God.

 

          And of course, the punishment for anyone who betrays the King and doesn’t recognize his power and authority will be thrown to the lions. As was common in those days, in many of the cultures, once the king made a law, it was nearly impossible for that law to be changed or revoked. And so, Darius signed the decree and made the law into effect.

I want you to notice something about these satraps that plotted against Daniel. These were men who portrayed outward holiness and godliness. They acted as if they were serving the King and being public servants. But inside they were bitter, grumpy, their hearts were cold. The King didn’t see through it right away. When we encounter people like this, we can often not see through the outer façade right away. But eventually we do. When we look to see who people truly are, we can eventually see through the mask that people put on. These men, and so many today, even inside our churches are wearing a mask of godliness and yet they are mean spirited, they are deceitful, they are passive aggressive, and they take offense very easily.

We also must be careful not to be this ourselves. Things that are obviously easier said than done but start with not taking offense when others say something or do something that hurts or goes against you. We were discussing part of this Wednesday morning, but we are all human beings and none of us is perfect. Over the course of our lives, everyone in here will do something to everyone else in this room that will hurt, or will say something they shouldn’t have, or in whatever way sin against them. Our ability, through Christ and our duty is to forgive and move on. If someone sins against us, guess what, its entirely likely we also just accidently (or even more rarely, on purpose) sinned against Someone else.

Guard your hearts, not against others in this room, but against growing cold, bitter and distrustful. Guard your heart against taking easy offense and against shutting itself off from those around us.

 

 

Let’s continue with verses 10-18:

 

 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared[b] to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him

 

So, of course Daniel is put into a tough situation here. And what we are seeing is wave after wave of spiritual attacks coming against Daniel. Attacks from the enemy on his faithfulness and his perseverance. This is spiritual warfare, against powers and principalities. And Daniel has been putting on his armor of God. In Ephesians 6, where Paul lists out the Armor, he ends it in verse 18, saying praying always in the Spirit.

Daniel has been fighting these battles for almost 70 years now. We see another battle here. But one battle does not the war make. One thing we see often in scripture is that the temptations that the enemy slings at us grow stronger over the course of our life walking with Christ.

We see for example Jesus, who was tempted in the dessert right after his baptism. He was able to refute those temptations with scripture and go on. He faced a more ultimate temptation when he was faced with his impeding death. He prayed the night before, Father, if there is any other way, please take this cup from me.

The stronger our faith grows as we walk with Christ longer, the stronger the temptations need to be. The same temptation you get right after you respond in faith to Christ is nothing after you grow. The temptations grow and change as well. One commentator wrote: past faithfulness was not meant to be compensation for present unfaithfulness, it was preparation for more faithfulness.

When Daniel found out about the Kings decree, there was likely to be a temptation. We see Daniels normal routine. He went up to his open-air room, where he faced Jerusalem and he prayed to God three times a day. It likely was tempting to at least pray inside, where no one could see. It may have been tempting to adhere to the temporary law so as not to cause any trouble.

Daniel knew that the exiled Jews in Babylon time was coming near to an end. Jeremiah prophesied that the exile would last 70 years. Daniel knew that time was coming, and he clearly would love to go back and see his earthly home once again. But he clearly also had the same heart and attitude as Paul, who wrote in Philippians, to live is Christ, to die is gain.

Daniel did what Daniel does. He went straight home and started praying and he prayed just as he always prayed. Now, we all know how easy it is to get distracted when getting ready to pray. It could have been quite all day, but suddenly, the phone starts ringing off the hook. You could have been bored all afternoon, but you start praying and your To-do list starts flowing through your head. There’s a knock at the door. All the kids decide to jump off furniture and kill themselves all at the same time. Whatever it is, it always happens.

Daniel is showing us that we should focus on and surround ourselves with the things that drown out those distractions and help us to focus on God. One of those things in his case was his home city of Jerusalem. There is no way to think that this is a mandate or that his prayers were better or better received because he was facing this city, but he was able to focus on God and to focus his prayers better by doing so. Find those things that work for you.

Now Daniel wasn’t trying to hide, but neither was he trying to virtue signal. He was doing exactly what he had always done. And he started by praying thanksgivings to God. Its easy to pray our requests to God. Its easy to pray our questions. But especially in our tough situations, it can be hard to pray thanksgivings. And yet, that’s exactly what we should be doing.

I saw this JC Ryle quote this week. He said: Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension. How a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Again, Daniel was nothing if not predictable. He went and prayed just like he always did. The satraps knew he would and made sure they witnessed him praying. They went straight to the King and again, in their holy language, straight ratted Daniel out to Darius.

The king was greatly distressed at this. He did not want to throw Daniel in with the lions. He knew Daniel. He could trust Daniel. And know he realized that he had been tricked. He saw that the true purpose of this decree was to get rid of Daniel, not to honor or serve him. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to not throw Daniel in with the lions. But ultimately, he had no choice.

Daniel was thrown in with the lions. One of the things we see throughout the book of Daniel is that God does not save us from trials, but instead he saves us through our trials.

Darius regretfully sentenced Daniel AS he put him in, he prayed that Daniels God would save him from this death. Darius genuinely hoped God could do it, and I think genuinely thought God could do it. Its hard to see if he thought God would save Daniel. But that is at least a kernel of what might develop into faith.

Darius went right to his room and spent the night pacing, worrying, waiting. Let’s read the rest of the chapter, verses 19-28:

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So, Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

As soon as the day broke, Darius ran down, moved the rock from the cave and yelled, Daniel? Has your God saved you? And He had! Daniel was just chilling down there; I picture him lying against one the lions.

Now, notice this. Darius was the King. He had every possible earthly luxury. Anything he wanted was at his disposal. But he was going against God and he had a miserable night. He was uncomfortable, irritable and had no peace. Daniel on the other hand was operating in Gods Will. He was thrown in a cold, dark, damp cave with a bunch of meat-eating lions, likely kept hungry for times just as this. But Daniel spent the night in Peace. He was much more comfortable and had a much better night than Darius Did. This is the power of the Hoy Spirit.

Daniel responded to Darius that he was indeed alive, and that God had sent an angel down to close the mouths of the lions. Hebrews 11 also says that is was the faith of Daniel that closed the mouths of the lions. Daniel was declared righteous in front of God and he had not done anything bad against the king.

The King was exceedingly glad and brought Daniel up out of the pit. The King was not glad about the satraps and those who conspired against Daniel, however. He threw them and their families down in the pit and the lions reacted quite differently, pouncing on them before they even hit the ground. Justice was swift and severe. And of course, we know that Darius was not able to control the lions. He didn’t decide that they would eat the officials and not eat Daniel. God decides what happens, not us here on earth. God is in control. He is supreme and sovereign overall things, even whether the lions do what lions do.

Darius then follows in the footsteps of Ol Nebby where he decrees that all his people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel and he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

 

And isn’t that what we have been hearing all book long? Especially and specifically that his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall. Darius and the Medo-Persians had just risen above and watched and caused the fall of the Babylonian kingdom. But the Kingdom of God will last forever.

We don’t see here a clear profession of saving faith by Darius here, we see that he acknowledges God as, in the words of Nebby, the Most High God, but not as the exclusive and only God. But we also don’t see the hedging that was apparent in Nebbys praises. So, we are left to wonder about the eternal destination of King Darius.

Daniel however finished well. He stayed faithful until the end. He was faithful in his work, his service, his living in his life regardless of the administration that was in charge and regardless of what was going on around him.

Daniel was the epitome of Matthew 5:16, where we are called to let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. We are to be salt and light to our world around us.

We don’t know anything about Daniels life after this. Did he make it back to Jerusalem? It seems unlikely. But the early church recognized the same truth we know today that Daniel himself and the book of Daniel are all types and foreshadowing the coming Christ. Just as Daniel was an exile, looking back to his true home, and Hebrews 13:14 tells us, for here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

In all this, in all scripture, it is to be used to look forward towards Jesus. HE is the fulfillment of all things Bible. There are so many things that we see clearly are types and prophecies of Jesus, but there are so many more that we don’t realize. Iain Duguid writes on this regarding Daniel 6, saying:

Like Daniel, Jesus was falsely accused by his enemies and brought before a ruler, Pontius Pilate, who sought unsuccessfully to deliver him from his fate, before handing him over to a violent death. Like Daniel, Jesus was condemned to die, and his body was placed in a sealed pit so that his situation could not be changed by human intervention. Jesus trial went even deeper than Daniels, however. He did not merely suffer the threat of death. He went down into death itself. Although Jesus was innocent, he suffered the fate of the guilty ones. There was no angel to comfort him in the presence of God in his pit. On the contrary, he was left in the blackness, utterly alone and abandoned by God, suffering the fate that we, the guilty ones, deserved.

 

In the end, our ultimate verdict, whether ourselves or Daniel, is not based on our actions, our goodness or our obedience. Our verdict is based solely on the grace of God, given through our faith in Jesus Christ, all to Gods glory, above and everything else. Amen. If you have not repented and believed the Gospel, if you have not trusted and turned to Jesus Christ as your salvation, now is the time. IF you have, you, like Daniel are a citizen of an eternal kingdom that is to come as we live and serve as exiles in this kingdom today. May our lives, actions and faithfulness be salt and light to the lost world around us.

 

Let’s Pray.