AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 28, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
A THEME FOR THANKSGIVING : JEREMIAH TO JESUS:
REST IN THE REALITY OF THE REDEEMER
THE AWFUL RUIN
We are at Matthew 2:16-18. There is grief. Mass baby murder, with anti-male discrimination was afoot. The fact was one more of those seemingly engulfing if not fatal happenings to the Jew. Was it not enough that Pharaoh had sought the nearest approach to the current epidemic of child slaughter, under the guise of abortion (that is, when there is no crime involved in the conception, such as assault, or potential death of a parent!). Did they now have to endure a fresh slaughter of male children! Yes, indeed, commanded was the death of the newborn Jewish males, to 2 years old. Purpose: to delete the Messiah, just found to be born. Eliminate that, and what wickedness could grandly continue, what cruelty not drool from regal lips! So get Him!
It did not work. He missed, though he slaughtered, this King Herod, many in the effort. Christ had been taken to Egypt by a divine warning to Joseph and Mary, and did not return until the time was ripe, when as signified in the Bible, it was to Nazareth He had to go; and so He went. Avoiding another Herod in Judea, the family went to the more northern region and settled in Nazareth, or sprout city, with overtones of Isaiah 11:1, where the Messiah is to be called ‘SPROUT’, as most seem to render it, the root nzr, a word found in Nazareth’s name. Here in a city that was a 'shoot' or 'sprout', new and growing, came the shoot, the tender root, also called the sprig (as in Isaiah 53 and Ezekiel 17 respectively). He COULD not die as an infant, since the plan of God was for Him to die FREELY and WILLINGLY on the cross as in Psalm 22's prediction, as a man as an offering, and to be bodily resurrected as in Psalm 16.
Just so: precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15). Nothing MUST happen except what God ordains. There is no need for anxiety; but there IS need to keep an open communication with the Lord, since remember, the Holy Family WERE warned to go to Egypt, AND they went. One does not want to collect a prize for being the deafest of all of the children of God! There is, and can be, no substitute for staying in close communion continually with the Lord, as in Proverbs 3, trust in Him with ALL the heart, do NOT lean to your understanding, acknowledge Him in ALL your ways, and He will DIRECT your paths.
When therefore there was a weeping and wailing in the land of Judah, at this unruly royal command of King Herod, this multiplied infanticide, reminding of the racial extermination under Hitler and the genocide warning once more to Israel, this time from Iran of late, there was no small cause for concern. Yet it was neither the end of the world, nor of tyranny.
The two roads, the Shepherd and the false shepherd, God and the devil, this world and its Maker, salvation and silly little gods who strut and rule and kill: these lie open to this day. The closure of the blessed road, however, is forecast when this same Christ has returned, He whom Herod could not kill, and whom the authorities of Israel could not contain, not even in death, through which He strode as the ultimate innocent, and the sublime Saviour, bodily erupting like a beneficent volcano. Back to life, resurrected from the dead, He came, immovable as any of the mountains, and more so, for they will go and He will not. GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: THEREFORE we will not fear. The most important thing is not to cling on to mortal life, but to be faithful to the immortal source of eternal life, to the Saviour sent, and not blench at the worst hell can fling.
THE CAREFUL FORECAST
This vast national mourning in Israel at Herod's ultra-Mafia folly, multiple-kid-murder, was precisely forecast by God, and when you consider what Israel had been doing with its religion, selling the High Priesthood and engaging in the ancient equivalent of modern Liberalism, disbelieving this and that, such as resurrection in a dominant Sadducaic Party, while others, Pharisees, were slaving at details while ignoring the chief items of justice and mercy (as exposed in Matthew 24 by Christ): the result was not without a cause. It was not God who put it into the head of Herod to be evil and to do so; but it was He who suffered this madness to grow in a compromised kingdom.
Increasingly as in II Chronicles 36, the nation had become fastidious about itself, with this or that god or godlet, custom or way, imported like luxury goods from abroad, and had become decreasingly thankful for what had made it great, and given it great deliverance, which had amazed the world.
It might indeed parallel the case in Australia, should the madness of same-gender marriage become law, in that it would mock God, the Bible, the design and the destiny of our race, in biblical terms, and be like like slapping God's face, AND grinning. For the word of God on this topic, from the Bible, we need but ponder Hosea 9:7, Romans 1:25-27 - 'leaving the natural use', I Timothy 1:10, 'any other thing which is contrary to sound doctrine', I Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-10, Leviticus 18:22-23, where in unnaturalness, so forbidden, it is paralleled to mating with an animal, Leviticus 20:13, where the death penalty is noted.
This would then become a heavily compromised land, a leader in folly with fiasco. Hurting those who speak biblical truth would only make the case worse, though doubtless it might occur to those who like to criticise their critics, but not be criticised.
Why sow the wind if you don't want the whirlwind ? (Hosea 8:7). Why flaunt your weary wares of rebellion for all the world to see, and God to consider! God knows His own mind AND ours! (Hebrews 4:13): "All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." The 'slaughter of the innocents' was known to God as a folly of man, and foretold in Jeremiah 31:15, a prediction noted in Matthew 2:18.
Thus we look for the setting for this, in Jeremiah 30-31. In Jeremiah 29, we hear of the unhappy end of tricky and devious King Zedekiah, flitting and flirting with God, but never settling. You are to trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, not fling emotions hither and thither when opportune. Next, in Jeremiah 30, God advises that after the coming exile (Jeremiah 25), HE WILL bring Israel back; but there is IMMINENT disaster, Jeremiah 30:5-6. From this, God will yet deliver them (30:8), and in fact the Messiah Himself in God's time, is to come (30:9), so nothing is going to get out of the hand of God, whatever the disciplines and the corrections necessary.
Indeed (Jeremiah 30:12ff.), God will terminate some nations, but not Israel (as history confirms of Assyria and Babylon, captors of Israel, and of Israel itself by contrast still today, very much alive!). Yet, in Jeremiah's day, there was no cure but correction (30:15ff.). For all that, there was to be no question, in due time, of the ruin of the oppressing nations: "all who devour you will be devoured." This is no less applicable now than then, and note Germany's long division into two lands, after the rape of Berlin, following its slaughter of Jews (cf. Genesis 12:3, 17:7-8).
Just prior to Jeremiah 31 (30:21ff.), God again notes the coming of the Messiah after much suffering for Israel (Jeremiah 30:21ff., as in 23:5), though this would be in "the latter days", to be some 600 years later, as specified precisely by Daniel 9 (cf. Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2). In fact, His first coming would be for testimony to truth and for death for doing so and eternal life erupting despite it all (Isaiah 9, 52-55). Jeremiah then covers in prophetic review, the early return in 31:1-14, in that coming restoration as in Ezra and Nehemiah, the fulfilment.
Then at once we find Rachel (symbol for Israel, with stress on motherhood), whose is "lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." Though Israel is still "a backsliding daughter, " (31:22), there is a moving scene of a deep inner repentance (31:16-21), following the reference to Rachel and the weeping, and then in confirmation it tells of the sign of a woman encompassing a man, as in Isaiah 9:1-7, Micah 5:1-3, the Messiah thus vulnerable as a babe, a thing notable and remarkable, child of a woman but no man. Then comes the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31ff., associated with these events.
Alas the end of all this MOST understandable weeping of Rachel, of mothers in Israel, did not soon come, for many more massacres and assaults, came for Israel, to cease only with their saying of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who died around the year A.D. 30, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! This will come instead of holding Him up for crucifixion or removal from the heart, as God! This, Christ made clear in Matthew 23:39. HE is their PEACE, and in seeing Him no more till then, they see peace no more either (Ephesians 2:14, Psalm 116:18ff., Isaiah 32:1,16ff., 48:16ff.). HE who is sent is the only vent for rebuke, dying the just for the unjust (II Peter 3:18); and He who bore it for our sakes (Psalm 69:20ff.), is not providing another one. ONCE smitten for the sin of others is enough!
There is no other vicarious smiting, no other atonement for sin. It is then merely referred back to the sinner, when the vicarious vent, Christ crucified, is not by faith taken for release and remission. That you see in John 3:36, for where this pardon is avoided, ALL is voided, for there is nothing else, nowhere else to go, and the wrath of God abides on those who so place themselves, oblivious of peril, or fretful against the God of all mercy.
There is NO PEACE outside the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7), the child born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3), who is eternal in life, coming to cost sin and meet it! What would you think of a nation in the EU who is bailed out with cost to the rest, and yet refuses this! How much less of those who having this provided by the Eternal and Living God, yet pout or depart!
But God did all things well, preserving the babe from Herod that He might instead die in the city of Jerusalem, at the hand of ecclesiastical assassins (Matthew 27:20), perfectionists in malice, paupers in pity! So great is His own pity, in contrast, that even a criminal on an adjoining cross was given in answer to request to be remembered WHEN Christ came into His kingdom, the time answer to the time question: THIS DAY! No scrutineers, no questions: Christ had said, and He who would be dead, but alive forever would banish forever all cause of wailing (Philippians 2 and 4).
THE WONDERFUL LESSONS
What do we all have to learn from these things ?
Firstly, TRUST the word of God. HE is in control of events, and the worst is in His knowledge.
Secondly, see things in their historical setting, with the Bible as your tour guide of truth. In this way, you can align and direct your steps with wisdom and wit, using your time on this earth without mere acquiescence, but with flair and enterprise, knowing what HE is doing and what you need to do, constantly waiting upon the Lord, who loves the meek, who tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2).
Thirdly, never allow even the deepest tragedy to de-rail you. There is a momentum of testimony if you are a Christian, which is moving with you. Do not forsake the wisdom of His way, and look ever to Him when emergencies, opportunities or rebuffs appear. He may have correction or reinforcement; but always look to the Lord (as in Psalm 107:13,19,28,43). As Jeremiah 13:16 declares of the failure here, like that of a kid confronting a robber, when Dad is near and looking elsewhere, without calling out to him:
"Give glory to the LORD your God, before He cause darkness,
and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and,
while you look for light,
He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness."
But to look to and cry to the Lord in trouble, knowing Him infinitely greater than any trouble or challenge is or can be, this has a result:
"Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven" (Psalm 107:28-30).
Fourthly, we must not fail to learn from the next verse,
"Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"
The response of a child to the Father in this predicament and rescue is crucial to personal interchange and happiness. Why pretend ? Unless you become as a little child you CANNOT even ENTER the kingdom of heaven! If you talk of knowing God, how do so, if you do not treat Him as God, as Father and as Lord in His grace and goodness, constantly maintaining the filial relationship, as the Spirit also moves in us who are His, attesting that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). What we are, let us be!
Fifthly, never allow predicted and glorious, divine interventions to stagger you, or fail to expect them, or act as if they were not coming. Thus the SECOND COMING of the Lord, you recall after the SECOND BECOMING, is the next epochal step, which is certainly going to arrest the profane vomits which this world is currently pouring increasingly on itself and seeking to convey to the children of God, as it insists on preaching myths in science classes, or political ones disguised as history. Do not allow your spirit to be lulled, as if by a quiet sea, into submission. COMMIT your ways to the Lord, wait on Him, and HE will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5).
"Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart," Psalm 37:3-4.
Sixthly, keep your eyes on the track, but look both backwards (in His word and history) and forward (in His word), but especially, look above! Remember Psalm 18:16:
"He sent from, above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters."
Look where your help comes! Again,
"The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath!" Proverbs 15:24.
Seventhly, note that the New Covenant, prepared to rest on the prophet to come, One greater than Moses, the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:18-19), firmly expounded in Isaiah 50-55, 66, foretold in Jeremiah 31:31ff., in conjunction with the coming of the Messiah (as in Jeremiah 23:5), both for Jew and Gentile nation (as in Jeremiah 16:18ff.): this was no sudden after-thought. Known from the first (Rev. 14:6, 13:8, Ephesians 1:4), it was outlined in increasing depth for over a millenium. Cling to it, it is God's own provision for you personally, never to be violated, always operative. Have your skin shaved if need be; but never shave off any part of His glorious covenant of peace, wisdom, redemption, assurance, goodness and mercy. If you are His as in I John 3:1ff., this should not even occur to you, for HIS SPIRITUAL SEED remains in you! just as your DNA genes do physically!
Eighthly, therefore do not act hastily (Isaiah 28:16), for you are on a sure foundation who is also forever ALIVE, and never compromise that fact (Rev. 1:18), glorious as we have recently seen.
Ninthly, prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. DO NOT make yippee, go on sprees, loosen the hair and open the mouth to draughts; for you have a draft on Him always valid (Matthew 24:36-51). Be faithful though all fail you (Habakkuk 3:17ff., Zechariah 11:12-13); keep your head in His way, though bombs fall. HE is your peace, though the world boil, and the peoples roil. Rejoice in Him! and act that He might rejoice in you. You pass this way only once. Delight in Him, whose reward is from Himself!