Tag: faith

Hope In the Living God

Daniel 6:18-27

For anyone with a pulse, it comes as no surprise to say that we live in a world where conflict is everywhere; some would even say it is just the way of it. We experience it in the corporate world, on the battlefield, in the city square, in the halls of government, in the church (of all places), in school, even in the home. Conflict or hostility was a consequence of sin: Enmity will I put between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers – and has plagued the human race ever since the fall.

But not everyone handles conflict or difficulty the same way; some seem to have a knack for moving through life unfazed by turmoil around them while others have no fingernails and can’t sleep at night. Our text presents a classic contrast between the one who is at peace and another who cannot seem to find peace even though he decrees it.

A. Daniel

prime minister – over the 2 over the 120 vv. 1-3

excellent spirit

encouraged the king to consider him for vice-regent

palace plot vv. 4-9

jealousy and resentment

appealed to the king’s vanity

power had gone to his head – recent “acquisition” of the Babylonian empire

designed to not just neutralize Daniel but eliminate him altogether – basically a setup

the crisis vv. 10-13

aware of the decree, Daniel followed his usual routine v. 10

the trap is sprung on Daniel v. 11

and on King Darius vv. 12-13

B. Darius

finally understood the plot v. 14

Daniel – the target

Is this constitutional??? Is there precedent to pardon??? Is there any wiggle room???

the pressure increases v. 15

the law requires action

the law cannot be changed

the sentence must be carried out

the king commands vv. 16-17

Daniel is brought without any apparent struggle

consigned to the lion’s den

sealed in place – to guard against treachery on the part of either the king or his ministers

C. Difference

a sleepless and anxious night for Darius vv. 18-20a

no interest in

food

entertainment

no ability to sleep

at the first possible legal moment – off to the lion’s den

anguish, worry, sorrow in his voice

a peaceful night for Daniel vv. 20b-23

Morning, King!

God has taken care of me since I was faithful to him; oh, and by the way, I have been loyal to you, too.

no hint of anxiety in Daniel’s words or actions

no injury found on him

D. Decree

Peace be multiplied v. 25

saw Daniel had something he didn’t

something worth promoting in the kingdom

credited the difference to Daniel’s God

Prince of Peace Isa. 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

not only his name but his character to restore peace to those who live in a world in turmoil

gives us His peace John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

peace the world cannot give or comprehend – peace of heart

made peace Col. 1:19-20 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

made peace possible between God and men

makes us at peace Rom. 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

actually brings peace about; applied atonement reconciles sinful man to holy God, no longer enemies of God

If any man will make peace with God, he must take hold of his strength, accept and close with Christ who is the power of God, or he can never make peace. He must be made “nigh by the blood of Christ. But alas! both Christ and faith are strangers to many souls, who yet persuade themselves they are at peace with God: O fatal mistake!Flavel

is our peace Eph. 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

brought peace between people who were former enemies

What, at peace with the Father, and at war with the children? It cannot be. Do not some that hope they have made their peace with God, hate, revile, and persecute the children of God? Surely, in that day we are reconciled to the Lord, we are reconciled to all his people. We all then love a Christian as a Christian, and by this we may know that we are passed from death to life.Flavel

peace is on guard Phil. 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

regardless of circumstances the child of God can be at peace – turmoil in the world, in the neighborhood, in the family, cannot overcome peace of heart and mind when it is guarded by Christ

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee;” Isa 26:3

E. Duty

point people to

the eternal King of kings v. 26

the One who delivers and rescues v. 27

who has the power to deliver from the fiercest lion of all – the one who walks about seeking whom he may devour, our adversary the devil1 Peter 5:8

Be filled with tender affections toward the souls of men, with whom you treat for reconciliation: you had need be men of bowels [compassion], as well as men of brains: you see a multitude of poor souls upon the brink of eternal misery, and they know it not, but promise themselves peace, and fill themselves with vain hopes of heaven: and is there a more moving, melting spectacle in the world than this! O think with what bowels of commiseration Moses and Paul were filled, when the one desired rather to be blotted out of God’s book, and the other to be accursed from Christ, than that Israel should not be saved. Think how the bowels of Christ yearned over Jerusalem, and over the multitude.Flavel

Advertisements

The Hope of Israel

Jeremiah 14:1-9

God’s message by way of the angel as recorded in Luke 2 was designed to bring joy to its hearers. It was an

unlikely message

unto you is born… the Lord in an

unlikely location

lying in a manger proclaimed to

unlikely messengers

shepherds who then by an

unlikely act

made the message widely known that a Savior was born.

For a news report to bring joy to someone, it must be relevant to the individual; it must meet a genuine need they have, and it must offer hope. It is virtually impossible to experience joy in the absence of hope. If we are to have joy, then, we must first have hope; if we are to have lasting joy, it must be based on a hope that transcends our circumstances.

Shop – deviated part – cause and corrective action. Goal:notsimply fix the defect (if possible) but to improve the overall quality of the product line. To achieve that – necessary to determine the root cause, then identify the correct action that would prevent a reoccurrence. The same is required when dealing with people issues – in the home, in the church, in the culture: find the root cause and address it, not just the symptoms.

A. The conditions

drought

empty cisterns – no waterv. 3

empty fields – no grassvv. 4-5

empty nurseries – no reservesv. 5

empty prospects – no scent of reliefv. 6

disappointment/shame

tried their own solutions and came up empty

empty jugs, empty fields

Let’s try an economic stimulus package – cash for clunkers – government takeover of banks, automakers – universal healthcare; it hasn’t worked yet, let’s extend it another 10 months

dismay/humiliation

out of ideasANDpowerless to fix what’s wrong

still not recognizing God’s hand in their circumstances – missing the connection between physical/temporal condition and spiritual health

[W]e know that whenever any adversity happens, the causes of it are sought in the world, so that hardly any one regards the hand of him who smites. But when there is a year of sterility, we consult astrology, and think that it is owing to the influence of the stars: thus God’s judgment is overlooked.Calvin

It was a time of “national” calamity – affected the entire economy, people of all strata of society: nobles, servants, small business owners – white collar, blue collar, no collar. Those who were “doing it right” experienced hardship along with everyone else. Indebtedness, unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure, hunger, high energy costs, uncertainty and discouragement the lot of every sort of people in every neighborhood.

B. The cause

The prophet sets the example for his people, identifying himself with them and taking their part in a public prayer to God for mercy. In so doing he identifies the cause of their present calamity:

we have sinned against you – guilty as chargedv. 7

iniquities

actual wrongdoing which has incurred real guilt – whatever we say, think or do that breaks God’s laws

Let’s keep it simple: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5)AND“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) were God’s instructions to his people.

idolatry, corruption, injustice, family in-fighting, partisan politics (Babylon or Egypt?)

backslidings – turning away

seeking other sources of protection, provision, pleasure, satisfaction

other gods

other governments

self-centered desires – what do I want, what will make me happy, how can I secure my own future

sins

failure to live up to God’s standard of righteousness

includes doing the right things but with the wrong motives or for wrong reasons

not doing what God requires of us

The situation is desperate, in fact, hopeless, if only the people and their circumstances are considered. Given their guilty standing, confession followed by repentance and throwing themselves on God’s mercy represented their only hope for relief, even though it felt like God had abandoned them.

C. The cure

act, O Lordv. 7

do something to relieve us so we don’t die

for your own name’s sake

look within Yourself, not us, for the reason to spare us

there is nothing within us worthy of sparing

we are totally dependent on your mercy

you are our hopev. 8

save us

don’t be a stranger

we are helpless to save ourselves

we need your abiding presence for our salvation and safety

You are Immanuelv. 9

in our midst – God with us

hidden from view but still present – transcendentANDimmanent

foreshadowing of the one who would be called Immanuel –Isa. 7:14

we are your children

do not leave us

It is only in the saving mercy to be found in Christ Jesus, God with us, that we have any hope. That saving mercy is to be found in Christ Jesus is an incredible message of good news bringing great joy to lost and dying people. The reason it is good news is that saving mercy is what lost and dying people need most. It is the only source of genuine hope that reaches eternity; the cross of Christ is the only place fallen man can find reconciliation with a holy God. Understanding that God not only saves sinners, he has savedMEis cause for great joy that cannot be concealed.

D. The charge

If you are a sinner saved by the limitless grace of God, you have a charge:

Go tell the good news of great joy as the shepherds did

If we have great joy, it should be evident in word and deed.

joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive

joy that we are sinners saved by grace can be evident in how we deal with sorrow and loss

We have opportunities now to share the Gospel

the economy, the season, increased circle of social activities, times of personal loss – people are more receptive and we are in contact with more of them

Pray God will give us eyes to discern hopelessness in others

those who are truly hopeless, conscious of their own helplessness, are prime candidates for the gospel

they are the ones most in need of genuine hope

Faith in Something Better

Bethlehem/Preparation

Hebrews 11:39-12:3

For nearly 4 months we have considered the examples of faith given to us in the lives of saints spanning more than 3 millennia of human history. From the second child of the first parents to the prophets, patriarch and matriarch, Jew and Gentile, prominent and obscure, each of these remind us that:

“We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.”

Before you get too sentimental for the “good old days”, remember the great struggles these saints endured for the sake of the Gospel. Remember, also, just how faint and obscure at times was the picture of Christ they possessed. Yet they had faith in something better, something God was preparing and for which he was preparing them throughout the centuries. In fact,the preparations continue even now – remember what Jesus told his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you.”

Verse 2 of Chapter 11 tells us it was by faith the saints of old received a good testimony; verse 39 repeats the same theme, indicating that all of the saints highlighted in the intervening verses actually did obtain a good testimony even though they did not have opportunity during their lifetime to experience the fulfillment of what God had promised. That was kept in store for future generations.

We have a much clearer picture of the Promised One than Old Testament saints held; however it is still obscure in many respects. The best is truly yet to come, “when he appears [and] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”1 John 3:2But we still live in the here and now, works in progress like Abraham and Noah and Rahab and the prophets. God is preparing each of us to be fit residents in the place he is preparing for us.

In God’s dealing with us, his saints on this side of the Incarnation, he has provided us with something better. God has issued a challenge to us and along with it given us the perfect encouragement.

A. Something better11:39-40

God in the flesh

not just a vague promise, a specific individual

God who became one of us

God’s ultimate revelation of himself to us –Heb. 1:1-3; also Col. 1:15,2:9

Promise fulfilled

the reality exactly matching the promises

encouragement to faith: God keeps his promises

Redemption accomplished

animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood no longer necessary

OT ceremonies fulfilled in Christ, the only one whose sacrifice could deal with sin once for all

Access provided (Heb. 4:16;10:19-22)

Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished what previous sacrifices could not

gave him legitimate and permanent entrance into Most Holy Place

the believer’s union with Christ

gives entrance to the holy of holies

B. Our challenge12:1

Since we are:

“Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.”

We must, then, if we are to leave behind a heritage of faithfulness, live lives characterized by personal holiness. We cannot be content simply to rely on a profession of faith made long ago to enable us to coast into heaven. It’s a race, a marathon that requires endurance and perseverance, for which God gives us the encouragement of this cloud of witnesses who challenge us to run the race in a particular way:

run from

anything that slows down growth in holiness

whatever consumes time or resources that should be devoted to becoming more Christ-like

only 24 hours in the day – how will be be good athletes, using all the time to run toward the goal

shortest distance between two points – a straight line

anything that contributes to or represents sinful choices

whatever encourages us to become more like the world

decreases our resistance to temptation

run with

endurance

constant progress in a given direction

patiently maintaining focus

resisting opposition and distraction

run to

the goal – the end of the race; see Phil. 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

so we can say with Paul: 2 Tim. 4:6-8 “the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…”

C. Perfect encouragement12:2-3

who he is

Savior

the front-runner, Christ Heb. 6:19-20

the only true source of assistance, strength, guidance

the source of faith

once begun, he will bring it to completion Phil. 1:6

what he’s done

endured the cross

endured verbal opposition, contradiction

false accusations resulting in his conviction as a common criminal

rejection as the Son of God

where he is

seated at the right hand of the Father

the place of honor, influence, and authority

the source of protection and provision

what he expects

consider him – ponder, meditate, consider well

be encouraged – considering Christ is the antidote to weariness and discouragement

If the saints of old, possessing only shadows of the full truth, persevered in their faith, we should far outstrip them given the amount of “light” we have.

If they on whom the light of grace had not as yet so brightly shone displayed so great a constancy in enduring evils, what ought the full brightness of the Gospel to produce in us? A small spark of light led them to heaven; when the sun of righteousness shines over us, with what pretense can we excuse ourselves if we still cleave to the earth? Calvin

Our prayer should be like that of the hymn-writer who, although content with his lot in this life, still couldn’t wait for the day when faith would be sight, when he would see his Savior face-to-face.

Overcoming and Enduring Faith

Hebrews 11:32-38

It’s easy when reading through Hebrews 11 to see the individuals portrayed there as larger-than-life, heroes and heroines of truly Biblical proportions who accomplished amazing things of which we can only dream or read about. After all, which of us will ever lead a 300-man strong special forces unit against an occupying army numbering in the tens of thousands? Or head the charge of poorly armed men against a force of 900 tanks, er, chariots? Or capture 300 foxes, tie their tails together in pairs with lit torches, and send them through a corn field? Pretty tough acts to follow, aren’t they?

Even the current day experience of Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh will likely not be ours to endure –VOMarticle.

Yet we must recognize some things about these and the other individuals identified in our text this morning. The Holy Spirit did not provide Hebrews 11 to intimidate or discourage us; rather, quite the opposite. Chapter 12 of Hebrews begins with an exhortation to persevere – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”ESV

So what are some of the things God would have us learn from the example of these faithful saints of another time?

Ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things by faith

Gideon – born to an obscure idol-worshipping family of farmers; threshed his wheat in a winepress so the Midianites wouldn’t take it away from himJudges 6:11,25

Samson and Samuel – both given by God in response to the prayers of barren women and devoted to God’s service from before birthJudges 13:2;1 Samuel 1:9-11

Jephthah – unknown until he appears on the scene as the son of a prostitute, driven from the family home by his half-brothers, then called upon by residents of Gilead to to deliver them from the AmmonitesJudges 11:1-6

David – the youngest son of Jesse, a shepherd by occupation; not of the apparent royal line1 Samuel 16:11-13

Similarly, little is known about a number of the prophets apart from their ministry and the barest minimum of details included in their written record.

Joel, the son of PethuelJoel 1:1
Amos, one of the sheepbreeders of Tekoa
Amos 1:1
Jonah, the son of AmittaiJonah 1:1
Micah of Moresheth
Micah 1:1
Nahum the Elkoshite
Nahum 1:1

Obscure men from obscure backgrounds who appeared on the world stage with an enduring message from God as their only legacy

Like every other man or woman, boy or girl born since the beginning, each of these men of faith had their sin issues for which they needed God’s forgiveness.

Gideon’s making of the ephod out of the spoils of the Midianites cannot be excused, and is condemned by the Holy Ghost,Judges 8:27. Jephthah’s rash vow, and (as is supposed) more rash accomplishment of it, enrols him among sinners,Judges 11. Samson’s taking a wife of the PhilistinesJudges 14:2, then keeping company with a harlotJudges 16:1, were sins of a high provocation, not to mention the killing of himself at the close of allJudges 16:29-30, for which he seems to have had a divine warrant. And it is known what great sins David himself fell into.Owenbesides Samuel’s great lack of good judgment regarding his sons1 Samuel 8:1-5and the necessity of Deborah to prod Barak into actionJudges 4:8-9.

Yet each of these individualsby faithaccomplished great things in the service of the King of kings. They were God’s instruments for the deliverance and guidance of his people and they serve the church still by their example recorded in Holy Writ. The message of God through his prophets preserved for centuries and given to us in our own language inspires generation after generation to wait in confident hope for God to bring about the next great action in his plan.

Faith that overcomes and endures is nourished by a gracious God

God does not expect his people to maintain a strong faith in a vacuum. He provides resources to strengthen and nourish their faith, to provide hope when it all seems hopeless. Each message given added more light, more information and more encouragement about what God had purposed to do. As the initial recipients of the word from God the prophets themselves were the first ones strengthened in their faith by a gracious God.

Then by virtue of their office, those faithful men of God in turn encouraged the faith of others, a ministry that continues even in our day. Men like Isaiah not only saw God, they recorded spine-tingling details about the Promised One whom God would send, the one who would bring hope to a world in darkness. Even more remarkable is the fact that the hope offered to those who would believe transcends this present world – hope of deliverance not only from oppression and injustice but more importantly from slavery to sin and death.

Listen again to the incredible description of the Promised One given by the prophet Isaiah:

a Child is born – a virgin shall conceive

a Son is given – and shall call his name Immanuel

the government will be upon his shoulder – the Son of David, rightful heir to the throne

His name (character) shall be called:

Wonderful Counselor– one who in his very being and person is a Wonder, a worker of miracles

Mighty God– a Child who is God over all gods – the mystery of the incarnation

Everlasting Father– one who is eternally a Father to his people – in relationship with them in this lifeandthe next, guarding and nourishing and providing for the needs of those who are his

Prince of Peace– the one who will restore peace to the world and rule in peace; requires overcoming the enemy at the root of all conflict (between God and men, between man and man) – sin and its embodiment Satan

a government universal in its extent and prosperity

characterized by perfect justice and righteousness

Desperate times whether under the government of an ungodly king or president requires a supernatural Deliverer. The prophets were looking strictly forward to their hope represented in two advents. We understand that our Deliverer has already come and is yet to come again; we live in that time of tension between his comings, experiencing a partial fulfillment of the Promise and awaiting its consummation on the last day.

Overcoming enduring faith is grounded on the zeal of an omnipotent God

Jealous and exclusive love of an all-powerful God who will permit no opposing force to thwart his purpose

For our faith to enable us to endure whatever the world throws our way without caving in and losing hope requires the right object for that faith – one that has the ability to prevail and overcome all obstacles. One that is able to overcome the greatest enemies of all – sin and death.

Only the Sovereign God of the universe is not limited by means or circumstances and has already triumphed over sin at the cross and death at the empty tomb. For God to accomplish that on man’s behalf required that he be born of a virgin, assume a human nature and form, and live a life of perfect obedience in full view of his heavenly Father. Then he must offer himself as the only acceptable substitute, the God-man who sacrificed himself on behalf of his people.

It’s during time of greatest darkness that individual faith shines brightest

Consider what they suffered: mocking, flogging, chains, imprisonment, stoning, sawing in two, death by the sword, destitution, affliction, mistreatment. Despicable treatment to be sure.

But consider what all this means about those who were inflicting such treatment on God’s prophets. The sort of culture, society, in which this kind of thing could occur. When those who should be held in the highest regard because they are the emissaries of the Most High God are despised.

It was because of the proliferation of evil and disobedience that God sent prophets with his message of repentance and hope. Those who were wallowing in rebellion needed to hear the truth that they were headed for certain disaster unless they repented of their sin and turned to God in faith. At the same time the faithful needed reassurance that God had not forgotten them, that he was surely moving toward his determined goal of providing a Saviour to the world.

It is against this backdrop of pervasive evil that the heroes of faith are especially noteworthy, those in the minority who publicly stand virtually alone against overwhelming wickedness. Much of the time it’s the ones who appear most unlikely who shine the brightest, those who are “made strong out of weakness”:

CNN reports that a Pakistani school is revering their Christian janitor as a hero after he died preventing a suicide bomber into the girls’ school cafeteria. On Oct. 20, two suicide bomber’s tried to enter Islamabad’s International Islamic University, but the one targeting the women’s side of campus met Pervaiz Masih, the school’s new janitor. Masih stopped the bomber after he shot the guard on duty, arguing with the bomber when he tried to proceed. The bomber then self-detonated, killing himself, Masih, and three girls – far fewer than intended. “Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there,” said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. “Despite being a Christian, [Pervez Masih] sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.” Masih’s family, who depended on his $60 a month job, had to borrow money to bury him.Religion Today Summaries, 11/24/09

According to estimates by the Network for Strategic Missions and the US Center for World Mission, the percentage of Christians in the world has remained relatively constant over the last 100 years at about 30%. But we must remember two additional details – the total world population has more than tripled (from 1.7 bil. to over 6.1 bil.) in that same period.Andit is estimated that only one-third of those who claim to be Christian, that amounts to about 10% of the world’s population, are “[t]rue Christians, available as a work force, through discipleship and equipping”.

If we are to have this sort of faith, it begins with a recognition of our need, our utter helplessness and unworthiness before a holy God. We must acknowledge our need for a Savior, this Promised One, the hope of Israel, who took on the form of a man that he might go to the Cross on our behalf. It is only by faith in Jesus that we can have victory over sin, that we can like the saints of old overcome obstacles and endure the trials of this life, and share with our Savior the ultimate victory over death. This is the message we must bring to 90% of the world who live outside the walls of this sanctuary, that they, too, can have victory in Jesus because He has gained the victory over sin on their behalf.

Faith Outside the Family

Hebrews 11:31 Joshua 2:1-21

A bit of context is in order: God had an attitude toward the residents of Canaan. In his own mind, God had written them off, consigning them to utter destruction at the hands of the Israelites. How harsh and unloving; that’s not fair, God couldn’t be like that. But wait – seeDeut. 7:1-5In fact, God had put up with their idolatry and rebellion against him for more than 4 centuries. They had the witness and example of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all of which they had thoroughly rejected. Instead they made altars and places of worship with carved images to try to take the place of the true God. The one holy and righteous God was justified in being provoked with them for their arrogant rebellion, wasn’t he!

God was so concerned not only with his own holiness but also that of the Israelites that he forbade them to have any kind of relationship with the Canaanites. He reminded them that they were objects of his attention and special care simply because he loved them and kept his promises – seeDeut. 7:6-8God had given his special people a deliverer in the man Moses; he gave them explicit instructions how he should be obeyed and worshiped. After Moses, he raised up Joshua to lead them in conquest over the land he promised to them.

Yet even in this black and white picture of two families – the family of idol-worshippers and the family who followed Yahweh – we see God’s wonderful grace and mercy extended to underserving sinners right alongside those who wilfully hardened themselves against him. There in the midst of determined enemies of God was one whom he had singled out as his own – one from outside his family who he determined to make one of his own.

A. Rahab’s

Life

Gentile – Amorite – prostitute – poor choice even for a pagan

nothing to commend her as one who deserved God’s special favor

Action

that she had faith we see first by her actions

risked life with no guarantees (they came later) v. 4a, 6

deceptive diversion vv. 4b-5, 7

Confession

God has given you the land, has done miracles on your behalf vv. 9-10

your God is the only God v. 11

total rejection of Canaanite idols

Conviction

convinced her future and that of her family depended on God alone and his covenant faithfulness vv. 12-13

B. God’s

Providence

“they came into the house of a prostitute” v. 1b

it was the one combination that would bring about God’s determined purpose

no other place of safety for the spies

only God-fearer in the entire town

all the rest were in abject terror of the Israelites, would have done anything to hinder their progress

required a place with access to the wall for the spies to escape

no other source of deliverance for Rahab

no one inside the city could guarantee her safety

there was no assurance of safety should she and her family try to escape through the wall

they would have been “shot” as traitors by the militia in Jericho or as spies by guards around the Israelite encampment

no one outside the city could know of her faith unless God orchestrated a meeting

Forgiveness

lifestyle

all sin is an offense against God, but…

immorality is in a class of a different significance:

1 Cor. 6:18Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

lying

all but the first statement Rahab made was false

God nowhere justifies her use of falsehood to protect his servants; in fact, Calvin says that those who would hold lying to be excusable “do not sufficiently consider how precious truth is in the sight of God.”

Grace

same reports converted Rahab, hardened the rest of Jericho

remember Rahab’s lifestyle choices – all that distinguished her from her neighbors was God’s grace

crosses boundaries – God in heaven above and in earth below, God over all

a God who loves all the world, not just the Jewish people

Colossians 3:11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

identified as ancestor of Jesus – both sides (legal and maternal)Matt. 1:5;Luke 3:32

Our Savior by his very heritage shows his salvation graciously overcomes all obstacles

C. Our

Recognition

there but for the grace of God…

our sinfulness may have/had a different label

it’s no less offensive to God

God’s grace extends to people from all stations and walks of life

1 John 2:2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Rev. 7:9-10After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Remembering

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) – he loves sinners and delivers them from slavery to sin.

Also – those outside our “family” can be genuine converts. The question: do they demonstrate the evidence of genuine saving faith? If so, we must accept them as brothers and sisters.

even if they worship differently from us

even if they express their faith differently from us

Finally, not a single one of us is a natural-born member of the family of God.

we’ve all been graciously adopted

we had no right, no access to the privileges granted to a child of God

we were made a member of the family by God himself, a gift of grace not reward for works

From God’s view we don’t look like family members until he begins the process of making us to resemble Jesus.

Response = Risk

take the Gospel to the outcasts (from society, family, church)

funny-colored hair; metal in strange places; a sign “help me, I’m homeless”

different-colored skin; strange clothing and customs

language different from ours – odd-sounding; sign language

lifestyle choices we find repulsive

demonstrate the love of Christ

a cup of cold water – hospitality

a word of encouragement

a helping hand

welcome brothers and sisters into the family

it’s a safe place, a good place

For us to be able to welcome them as brothers and sisters they first need to hear and respond to the Gospel message. We must bring Christ to the world so that we can bring the world to Christ.

Faith to Conquer

Hebrews 11:30 Joshua 6:1-21

People of God were given a commission – go and possess the land owned by God and given to them (Deut. 1:19ff). Sent 12 scouts to reconnoiter, bring back information from which to develop a strategy.

Two came back – “God is giving us a good thing; let’s do it!”

Ten said – “You don’t understand; this is impossible.

there are more of them than us;

they’re bigger than we are;

their cities are too large and well defended;

we even saw GIANTS there.”

The people listened to the ten who focused on circumstances and obstacles, not the two plus Moses who emphasized God’s promise.

God’s consequence for unbelief: only the two will enter that land ( Deut. 1:35-36); not even Moses could more than see the land. Forty years, a year for each day they spied out the land ( Num 14:34) they would wander in the wilderness.

A full generation later – mantle of leadership passed from Moses to Joshua. New leader, same God,same commission, same promise.

Get up, cross the river, possess the land; everywhere you step I (God) have given you. Josh. 1:1-5

Same obstacles: people, walls, giants. Different response to the commission.

With the river behind them, the land before them, Joshua reminded he is under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief ( Josh 5:13-15). God then reminds Joshua of his appointed task, the means God intends to use, and the result He has promised.

A. God’s Appointed

task v. 2

conquer Jericho, its king and its warriors

not make an alliance or peace treaty or non-aggression pact

not attempt to marginalize or go around it

compromise is never God’s appointed task

man is the one who changed at the Fall

God and his standard are unchanging

as Sovereign Ruler, God subdues his enemies, makes peace on his own terms with his children

means vv. 3-5a

marching, trumpeting, shouting in the appointed sequence

warriors

priests with trumpets

ark of the covenant

rear guard (unarmed Israelites) behind

no weapons or tactics of war in use – siege engines, trebuchets, battering rams, ramps

only trumpets and voices

inseparably connected to both task and result

God-given task often has God-appointed means associated with it

result is conditional – dependent on use of means

designed to make it obvious who really gained the victory

remember the “odd” response to Joshua’s question – “are you on our side or theirs?”

God’s intent in giving the land to the Israelites – also bring glory to himself

same with our salvation – given heavenly Promised Land by grace so we cannot boast in ourselves but only in Christ ( 2 Cor 10:17“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”)

result v. 5b

obstacles and opposition eliminated

wall will collapse (fall in its place)

man’s best efforts at defense cannot frustrate God’s purpose

God will bring about his appointed result at the appointed time

B. Israel’s

obedience to the task vv. 6-11

Joshua communicated God’s command to the people

verse 8: just as Joshua commanded, or when Joshua had spoken, …they advanced

didn’t argue, second guess, develop plan B just in case

maintained faith in God’s promise to use appointed means

faithfulness to the means vv. 12-19

marched once around daily for 6 days

7 times around on the 7th day

priests blowing trumpets, people silent, until…

victory the result vv. 20-21

the wall fell flat

no obstacle to hinder direct advance into the city

complete lockdown ineffective

C. Our Appointed

taskMatt. 28:18-20

conquer the world

meansMatt. 16:15-19 & 1 Cor. 1:18-21

on the foundational Rock of this exclusive message: salvation is found in Christ and only in Christ

foolish message spread through the foolishness of public proclamation

resultRev. 15:1-4Psa 72:8-11, 17-19

even the gates of hell cannot withstand the power of the Gospel

all people of all nations will worship the true God

Satan’s lockdown of the world and man’s contribution to that effort will be just as ineffective as that of Jericho

responsibility

corporate

obedience to the command of Christ to proclaim a true Gospel that gives genuine hope to lost sinners

faithfulness to use the means God has appointed

and not get innovative

not falling into the trap that a good end justifies means of our own making

remembering that God’s blessing accompanies the use of his means

individual

obedience to the command of Christ to live out the Gospel

using every means at our disposal to bring others to hear the Gospel, to sit under the means of grace

faith He will bring about the promised result

Christ through his church will have dominion over all things – all authority has been given him and he will exercise it

if we have faith Christ will keep his promise and are faithful to fulfill our responsibilities, we will experience God’s blessing on our lives individually and as a church family

Faith in the Right Object

Hebrews 11:29 Exodus 14:10-31

Thinking of the ocean, many images come to mind: varying colors that depend on weather and location; breakers on the rocks at the base of a lighthouse; children playing on a sandy beach; cruise ships ferrying a small town’s worth of people from place to place. But there are less pleasant images also: The Perfect Storm (10/31/1991), Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, the Great Tsunami (12/24/2004) and smaller ones in September on American Samoa, speculation about rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

Now consider your emotional response to these contrasting sets of images: everything is fine when we are on the sea while it is “behaving” or beside the sea at a safe distance. When we are in it, especially if it is turbulent or angry, our response is much different. We immediately recognize its incredible power, its immensity and our tiny frailness, our utter helplessness in the face of its overwhelming force.

God is the one who asked Job the rhetorical question:

“who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” Job 38:8-11

Yet to a few hundred thousand people traveling on foot, the sea shut them in effectively, closing an impenetrable door to their progress, setting them up for utter destruction by the Egyptian army. Or so they each thought. But something happened to change their minds – God worked through the leader he had appointed to guide his people. In fact, he worked through the faith of Moses to encourage faith in the Israelites and cause the faith of the Egyptians to end in disaster. The remarkable thing is that God received the glory in this entire scenario, showing his sovereign power and authority over the sea, the Israelites and the Egyptians.

A. faith of Israelites

Moses

convinced God would indeed save His people – see vv. 13-14

faith confirmed by God’s summary description of what he was about to do – vv. 16-18

instructions indicating Moses’ part in the means of God’s provision

as required to do before when God was poised to do something miraculous, “lift up your rod, stretch out your hand”

knew his rod, his hand could never accomplish what was needed

had faith that the result of his obedience would be what God promised

as before, his faith encouraged the faith of the Israelites

demonstrated his faith to his brothers

first by holding up his rod as directed

then by leading the Israelites across the path of deliverance

the people

severely faltering faith

sufficient to take them away from home on a field trip

not adequate to enable them to persevere through conflict – see vv. 11-12

still walking more by sight than by faith

could not yet trust God “sight unseen” to provide for their deliverance

they could trust some when the path was plain

they would follow God’s appointed leader

trusted they wouldn’t:

sink out of sight into the mud

be overwhelmed by the walls of water on each side

Don’t be too hard on them! Remember what they actually did – see verse 22

walked out into the Red Sea, walls of water on each side (same word to refer to Jericho)

did so in an orderly fashion – no pushing, shoving, trampling

risked EVERYTHING to follow Moses who was following God

B. faith of Egyptians

like the Israelites they had faith, but in different objects

numbers

skill – trained army

equipment – horses, chariots, weapons

gods

If they didn’t trust in their own gods, what then? Trust in the one God who had humiliated their gods, the God who persisted in blessing the people they despised and were intent on destroying? They just couldn’t bring themselves to do that.

was a strong faith, one that impelled to action

just like Israelites, they risked EVERYTHING to follow their leader into the sea between the same walls of water where God’s people had passed safely.

C. God over all

So what was the difference? One group of people walked into the sea and came out the other side unscathed. The other group of people walked into the same sea and were destroyed in it.

Remember what God told Moses? “The people of Israel shall go through the sea on dry ground.” “I will get glory over Pharaoh…”

Despite how it may have appeared to the people involved in this event God was in complete and sovereign control over it all. He had determined the course of action – his people would be delivered, the Egyptian army would be destroyed. Only faith in the right object, the God who was sovereignly ruling the affairs of men, would result in deliverance. The Israelites placed their confidence in the right object and God saved them; the Egyptians trusted in false gods and were destroyed.

D. Application

Israelites and Egyptians both had faith, both moving forward. Church and world both have faith, both moving forward. Different object of faith resulted in different outcome – deliverance or destruction. In both outcomes God will be glorified – his grace and mercy in the deliverance of his people, his justice in the destruction of his enemies.

What is the object of your faith?

yourself?

I’m a pretty good person. I’ve never ….

a god of your own making?

My god is a god of love. My god would never send anyone to hell. My god ….

the belief (or hope) that this life is all there is?

He who dies with the most toys wins. Life stinks and then you die.

Remember the words of Paul the apostle in Acts 17:30-31 :

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Is the object of your faith leading you to deliverance or destruction?

Only one object of faith has the power to deliver from sin and the wrath to come ( 1 Thess. 1:9-10 ) – the Lord Jesus Himself.

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

I trust you can sing our closing hymn today with honesty and confidence, that your faith truly has found its resting place in the Everliving One who died for you. If Jesus is not the object of your faith today, turn from your idols to the true God, to serve him and wait for his Son from heaven.