AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH ...
Sermon February 1, 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
ON BIBLICAL LINES …
2700 Hundred Years Ago Foretold
2000 Year Ago Realised
TODAY … PART II
(for the First Part, use this link)
We are considering Luke 4:16-30,
with Isaiah 61:1-3
In the latter prophecy, we find the base from which
Jesus quoted, in identifying Himself as the Messiah of whom this spoke.
As seen last time, this led to some seeking in Nazareth to toss Him over a cliff, but they could not since He had yet things to do, to complete His appointed task. Indeed, Isaiah showed just as Christ confirmed, some of the components of Christ's commission in coming to this world. Consider then once more Isaiah 61 here, and what it manifests for His task.
· 1) The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
· 2) Because the Lord has anointed me
· 3) To preach the Gospel to the poor
· 4) Sent Me to heal the brokenhearted
· 5) To proclaim liberty to the captives
· 6) and the opening of the prison to those who are bound
· 7) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
· 8) and the day of vengeance of our God
· 9) To comfort all who mourn,
· 10) To console those who mourn in Zion
· 11) To give them: beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning ,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:
that they may be called trees of righteousness ,the planting of the LORD,
that He may be glorified.
So far we have covered the first three sectors of this Messianic pronouncement, from which Jesus Christ read in the synagogue, the script provided 700 years before from the prophet Isaiah as God foretold these things. In Isaiah 48:16 we have the intense drama of the Father and the Spirit sending the Son: God the Sender and God the Sent in that glorious love and fertile splendour of the Trinity.
This was as precisely paralleled in Matthew 3:16-17, II Corinthians 13:14, John 10:30, Matthew 12:28ff., 28:18-20. The sending of the Son, incarnated via the virgin as in Matthew 1, does not expatriate God, but it does deploy His word as Creator, His everlasting Word, into this new action as resident among mankind, in the form of a man, so that He might not only preach the Gospel but BE its centre, agent, focus, and not only its exponent but its expiator. All things cohere, are consistent as well as insistent, and persistent as well as revealed, and it is restoration which is in mind, before desolation to which this world trends like an outlaw steam-roller, enjoying the ride downhill, but terrorising itself at the same time. It fits like a tailor-made suit: the analysis the symptoms, the cure, the permanence of it, and the time for degradation allowed so far, but no further (cf. Isaiah 57:15-16 cf. Matthew 24:22).
Jesus Christ read in the synagogue, the script provided 700 years before from the prophet Isaiah as God foretold these things. In Isaiah 48:16 we have the intense drama of the Father and the Spirit sending the Son: God the Sender and God the Sent in that glorious love and fertile splendour of the Trinity.
Now we come to more of the charges given to, and functions of this Messiah, this Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7), whose scorning rejection, as forecast in Isaiah 49:7, 50-53, has made of this earth a thing of violence increasingly, as most clearly foretold in Revelation 6 no less than in Matthew 24. It is now not in the least surprising that horror mounts like a thousand eagles on this God-forsaking earth, each one of them bearing a lamb for laceration. If it is not Sudan, it is Hamas, or Hezbollah, or other obliterationists for Israel's demise, citing an alien God whom no evidence can ever attest (cf. More Marvels ... Ch. 4), nor verifications or power confirm.
Indeed for 60 years and more, powerless, this man-made god of Islam has been unable as the words of Matathir exhibit to the vast and populous Moslem world, to extinguish or subdue little Israel, not a few of whom, in families from 1948 and on, have come from the Holocaust, that gentle Gentile parallel to Islamic terror, which made not one but two chief extinction programs for Israel the land if necessary, or else for the Jew, depending on the case. Indeed what better is to be found empirically for all the other gods of this world, who have come to fill the gap left by God Almighty, the Creator and Redeemer, in the slaughter of Jesus Christ.
But it is not just that despite His bodily resurrection and all things moving on time and on target, from His life, death and arising to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, on to the restoration in 1948 amid spectacular victories for Israel, contrary even to all that statistics of arms would suggest, people still refuse Him, and so still inherit the whirlwind which comes to those who sow the wind as Hosea shows in 8:7. Man today is even inventing gods such as Israel so foolishly toyed with (Jeremiah 2:28-29), and they arise like smog in the cities, to choke the makers. It is man who should seek his Maker, who has already overwhelmingly shown both His hand and His love and mercy, not make imaginary substitutes in order to be left helpless as the tempers, tantrums and glory-seeking perversions of man come to lash him from his own hand! But consider all of mankind's doings, and the need for the service of this Messiah, who is STILL offering what He came to provide (II Corinthians 6:1ff.). .
If it is not the Middle Eastern bombardment of the tiny sliver of land Israel has dared to hold, or complaints it is defending itself, then it is Pakistan vying with India, or China exterminating free worship (though recently it has been estimated that there are many more Protestants in China than members of the Communist Party - this by a number of millions, and some play is beginning about these two cadres), or Moslem lands assailing Christians.
Indeed, this is not at all all. Even in the USA or even Australia, the impounding of school children and youth in universities and colleges is a high-level pathology and pandemic, ensuring that they imbibe the irrationalist follies of naturalism, founded on nothing, their source and resource, though they do not always like to admit the necessities of the case.
Despite all this, the Gospel to the Poor, whether in this or any other clime and period is the work for the Messiah. They may be in Australia, immersed in the Secular Society, feeding bodies and oppressing souls, or India where since August 24, 2008, it is found that according to one report cited from the All India Christian Council, 57 people have been killed, over 18,000 injured, over 4300 houses destroyed and 13 educational institutions destroyed. The Council named has issued a progress report which is informative
More is to be found.
Meanwhile, there is report (Reuters, July 16, 2008, with further detailed news item available) that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has played host to a host of religious bodies, Muslim, World Council of Churches, Jewish, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians, declaring that "We all believe in one God who sent messengers for the good of humanity in this world and the hereafter." So the diffusion of confusion like poisonous gases in World War I continues.
Thus have met for consultation, the powers of oil and the scimitar, with their book, and others with their writings and non-god or god or whatever form or fashion they invent. These, they are to be carted together, those who have no ACTUAL God, but rather a roaring silence (as one of them puts it), together with those who have one who uses force exceedingly much and almost subdued Europe in the 8th century AD. These with others, all are combined to consider their wholly different messages, gods or pseudo-gods, though they resemble each other as light and darkness, truth and fiction, harmony and friction.
Ignoring the fact that there is ONLY ONE TESTABLE religion and VERIFIED word of God, they proceed as if in ignorance of that only ONE SAVIOUR who has shed His blood in ONLY ONE PLACE, and date as predicted in Daniel, and this for any and all who are the poor, poor enough in spirit to LISTEN, and to come and repenting find the God of free salvation.
TO HEAL THE BROKEN-HEARTED
The poor need no funds and the weak no macho. It is a gift. As to Him whose Gospel we hear, it is He who was so to act, and has acted on time, in place and by grace, precisely as He said. He is unique. For no charge, but with all facility He operates to this day. The broken bodies and lacerated hearts, the bruised spirits and the saddened squalor of the human psyche is HIS operating subject, and He as God ALONE KNOWS the realities, the hidings or the duplicity, the sincerity or the sense of need, and gives to each according to the case. He does not feed those vomiting with their own fulness; it is those who hunger and thirst after righteousness who are filled (Matthew 5).
It takes a HUNGRY heart to eat the meat of salvation (John 6:50), to accept His death in the flesh as the price of sin and to receive His pardon as the One who has borne this; and it takes a THIRSTY SPIRIT to drink of the waters of salvation. Yet for those who do, the heart itself is healed, with a new purpose in the personal salvation of God, who provides, the Almighty, the First and the Last. Peace becomes like a river, and joy like a spring. If sorrow challenges, power provides; if calumny offends, then grace intervenes. We forgive as those who have been forgiven. But let us see further the mission and commission Christ. /
LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES
and the OPENING of PRISON to those who are BOUND
The first and chief captivity is what lies in the human heart, when the chains of some philosophy, or psychic compulsion, some hardness or unforgiveness (which excludes from heaven - Matthew 6:14), some vengefulness or godlike but graceless desire to rule others, puts its free nature into a prison. It is one of folly and weakness, masquerading as strength.
Physical bodies in prisons are far less troubled, since at least they do not HAVE to have an INVASION inside them, making them cripples without nobility, filthy though apparently washed and foolish though aspiring to be wise. Finding the Lord brings the power to overcome, and this by faith in HIM! THIS is the faith which overcomes the world says I John 4, your FAITH; and THIS is the object of that faith: it is HE who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless (because of His blood cover) before the face of His father (Jude).
If the SON will make you free, you will be really free! said Jesus the Christ (John 8:34-36). It is sin which captures and grace which pardons and strength which enables you to overcome as your whole soul waits ONLY UPON HIM! (cf. Psalm 143). Even if you must suffer as did John the Baptist, your spirit is free; and even if you be stoned, as was Stephen, your spirit soars and your companion, your Friend, the Lord has better things for you than mere polytheistic, atheistic or invented gods can give (John 5:24, Ephesians 1:11). Can THEY save ? Of course not! as Jeremiah 10:11 points out.
Indeed the gods that man makes to satisfy tribal ferocity or intellectual pride or dominion or whatever other folly and filth of man, these can do NOTHING when power is needed; but as David declares, Power belongs to God! He knew because he had seen it over and again through faith and the covenant provided (Psalm 62:11, compare Matthew 28:18-20). In freely worshipping and following the Lord, liberty is in love consummated. But there is even more in the gift of Christ, in His mission and commission as seen in Isaiah.
TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD
Every 50 years, all debts had to be cancelled, land returned: it was called the jubilee year as seen in Leviticus 25. In essence, this Year had three special features. Firstly, any Israelite who had become a slave to another, had to be freely released. Secondly, any ancestral land sold because of poverty, had to be restored. Thirdly, the land itself had to be given a rest, and lie fallow that year.
What that meant SOCIALLY and INDIVIDUALLY to the slaves and to the landless, yes and to the land enabled to rest after so much labour for so long, was here applied to things SPIRITUAL. Thus, however long sinners had been sheltering under excuses, or penetrated by unwelcome sin, yet here was the sudden new horizon. The distant and hopeless deliverance was now at ONCE, as when Christ healed the woman who merely touched BY FAITH the hem of His garment . WHO TOUCHED ME! He asked. Many had pressed against Him, but only ONE did this action by FAITH with such a purpose, and this one was instantly healed. While God does not accept dictation, He does know faith, as distinct from presumption, and the heart that being arrested first itself, seeks Him with passion, finds He hears and answers with that wisdom which is not ours to create, but which solves mysteries and meets need.
We cannot deliver all men, but only through faith can we ensure that OUR part in any divine outreach is wisely given in answer to faith, supported by divine power and wrought in spiritual grace. Storming at God is useless; but importunity on due issues is recommended. Love must be the mandate, faith the bearer of our message and trust the cornerstone, for trusting in one's own power to get from God or anyone else is mere self-vaunting; whereas trusting in Him who knows His own mind and answers faith with meaning, even if he SLAYS us, this is the criterion for those who have learned to take up their cross, rather than their spiritual mobile phone, to seek rather than direct the Lord.
Freed from fidgets, we are then ready to be instructed; for this team has but one Head. It is He who rose from the dead, and knows the end from the beginning. It is He who gives the heart's desire to those who trust Him, wait upon Him, and delight themselves in Him (Psalm 37:2ff.). Few come in contrition and without inhibition, by faith. It is no less necessary. To JERUSALEM, before it was destroyed in AD 70, Jesus addressed His divine lament:
"If you had known, even you, especially in this your day,
the things that make for your peace!
But now they are hidden from your eyes.
For days will come upon you
when your enemies will ... level you, and your children within you ..."
When our shallow preoccupations are denied us, it is easy to chide and chafe and expect God to try to measure up to our democratic chastisements; but it is merely the moaning of the flesh which is sent on ... It is necessary to open the eyes and find whether you are contributing to His work, close in His prayer groups, incendiary in flaming for Him in uncompromising devotion, to see what is the timely action and ACT, not complain. He makes His servants a flame of fire, not a guttering candle. But if any come to that, then repentance, not complaint is the need. THEN sight can come and NOT knowing the day of His opportunity, which destroyed sightless Jerusalem, this will be replaced by acute hearing and understanding and passionate obedience to His word with all the heart.
God is a Spirit; it is not the articulation (important as this is), but the love of spirit which embraces Him and His words, which is crucial (John 14:21ff.). Speak of it afterwards, when it is done (Romans 10:9); but first let it be so!
Faith trusts, trust obeys and considers that to be only normal! Let this now be YOUR jubilee year of utter relief and complete dependence in faith on the God of free salvation, the Lord of absolute power and the sender of servants to follow His word and apply it, both Gospel and commands, in a fallen world. This is awaiting the pit (Matthew 24:35), as was a warned Jerusalem in its day: and that in merely one generation. NOW is the time. Let Israel teach you by its error, and Christ reach and confirm you by His life (cf. I Peter 5:10).