Tag Archives: jealous

God uses all creation, because He made all creation. Isaiah 45: 1-7 First St Johns October 19, 2014

Please click on the above link to hear the audio sermon:

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him said … Amen!
“Thus says the LORD to his anointed Cyrus…” That’s rather odd, who is Cyrus?… Why is God telling Isaiah that Cyrus is His anointed? … Isn’t anointing reserved for those who are God’s? Cyrus is a pagan from Persia. Quoting from the Chronological Study Bible; “In 559 BC Cyrus the Great became the ruler and founder of [a dynasty] of Persia which expanded quickly in all directions to become a world empire. … Cyrus ultimately conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire …”1 The writer goes on to point out that those in the ancient world would ask “What God has empowered this Persian king, Cyrus?” Well ancient people had it right in the sense that God does empower us. They had it wrong in the sense of trying to figure out “what ‘god’”. Why … Ya, there’s only one God. Cyrus would have worshiped Marduk, Bel and/or Nebo. Did any of them give Cyrus what it took to conquer most of the known world? No! Why? It says right here in our reading in Isaiah; “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held – to subdue nations before him … For Jacob [when we see that, we know Yahweh is talking about … Israel] My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me… I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45: 1, 4-5, 7 NKJV) So for all those in the world who like to say; “Well my ‘god’”. Well that’s all it is, their ‘god’. Even in writing that’s twenty-five centuries old, I don’t hear any mumbling here, do you? Yahweh is clearly saying … I am the LORD, and there is no other and in the Hebrew I am, there is are all forms of the name that God told Moses what His Name is, what Jesus told the Jews who questioned Him, God’s Name is the great I AM and there is no other.
Sure we can make it up, we can live a life that is deluded and full of lies. We can make these little idols in our lives and call them “god”, rely on them, but as Yahweh speaks to Cyrus, He is telling us; “I am the LORD, and there is no other”. Scripture is God’s word to us and when He tells us who He is and what He does, that’s the way it is and we need to get over anything else we think or do about Him.
There is a cylinder, which is the form of writing that the people in the Middle East used at the time, dated 538 BC that announces that Marduk chose Cyrus to conquer the world.2 Well … NO! Have you seen that cylinder? I haven’t. It is one archaeological artifact that’s certainly interesting, but what writing from that period has survived from then until now that the entire world knows? The Bible, Holy Scripture, which says very clearly, “I am the LORD, and there is no other.” We know that from 2500 years ago until now, I’m pretty sure that what Marduk “says” today, doesn’t matter to anyone.
The Babylonians had originally conquered Israel and Judah. They deported the best and the brightest of Israel to Babylon and they abused the Israelites and had shown them no mercy. Israel may have been conquered by Babylon as a judgment on the Jewish people, but contrary to the thinking of the time, that did not give Babylon the right to abuse God’s chosen people, they were still God’s elect. It’s like with my little brother, I can pick on him, but no one else better try to pick on him. In Isaiah 47 God makes it very clear to the Babylonians what happens when they picked on Yahweh’s people: “I was angry with my people [Yahweh says in chap 47] I have profaned my inheritance, And given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy: For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ Therefore evil shall come upon you; You shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; You will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly,”…(Isaiah 47: 6, 10-11 NKJV) God is now going to use Cyrus to bring judgment on the Babylonians who have abused His people. Remember when God says: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19) He’s making it very clear to the Babylonians that is the case and His vengeance, through Cyrus on behalf of His people, Israel, will not be pretty.
God tells us He’s a jealous God, well this is partly what it means, He can take us out behind the woodshed and let us have what-for, but He’s not going to stand by while we are being abused by the world. We are His, and He expects us to trust in Him, to put our faith in Him, the faith that He give us. When we fail to do that, when we sin, when we make ourselves, our own idol, He is going to discipline us. That’s a good thing, do you really want God to just stand by and watch you sink into sin, to fall away from Him and be swallowed up by the world? Would a Holy, faithful, loving father do that? No! So He will resort to discipline to get our attention, to get our focus back on Him and away from a violent and cursed world. He may use people like Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus to impose that discipline, does that mean He loves us less? No, it means He loves us enough to do what it takes to keep us in His will and not lost in the world’s.
God uses many trials and enemies to focus on Him. In the movie God’s Not Dead there is a twenty-something young lady who is right on the top of her game. She has built a big-media following, she is on the go, interviewing the movers and shakers of entertainment, her boyfriend is a wealthy and powerful financier, the sky’s the limit and then one day she goes in for a medical exam. “You have cancer, the doctor tells her and you may not live.” Her response: “I don’t have time for cancer.” I’m not going to tell you how that plays out, you have to come and see the movie, but she was her own idol, it was all about her and how she had created her own world. God forces His way into that world and tells her, that it’s all about Him, not about her. She may have done all these things in her life, but at some point there will be a day of reckoning and she will have to surrender to the fact that it is all about God. We will all have that time of reckoning. For her that time was when she was told she had cancer. You can be in denial of these things, you can run your own game. But in the end God makes it very clear to all of us, that we will have to turn to Him. We may still resist, but it will be a done deal and God will have His way, just as He did with a king, Cyrus, who did not know Him and a people, Israel, who rejected Him.
Rev Dr Dale Meyer in his “Meyer Minute” for October 17 talks about how God can use the result of our sin to bless and benefit many generations. We certainly watch with concern the events surrounding the Ebola virus. We forget that there have been many serious diseases that have spread through our country. Only about 60 years ago, polio spread through the United States. Dr Meyer writes about a cholera epidemic that swept through St Louis in 1849. “The epidemic was devastating to Johann Friedrich Buenger, an immigrant and Lutheran pastor.” His first wife died in the epidemic and their three sons had died in infancy before the epidemic. He remarried and had four daughters with his second wife, two who died in infancy. He was led by God to establish the Lutheran Hospital in 1853, from which the Lutheran Foundation of St Louis, Lutheran Senior Services and Lutheran Family and Children’s services now serve thousands.3
Ebola is not of God, war and abuse are not of God, cholera is not of God and a king in the Middle East 2,500 years ago may not know God. All the evil in the world is the result of man’s sin, yours, mine, the whole world’s. We certainly don’t like it, we are certainly going to have fear about it, but as those who are saved in Christ, we trust that our fear is rapidly turned into faith. Not because of what we do, but because through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are saved, we know how the story ends, for the world, and for us individually. Remember our reading from a few weeks ago: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28 ESV) God will unleash evil on those, like the Babylonians, who were evil, we who are saved in Jesus, who are made holy in His sacrifice, we will also deal with evil, but out of that God will use it according to His purpose. As Dr Meyer notes: “the love of Christ motivates God’s people to meet human need and God multiplies the blessings.” How is that agape love that we have from Jesus motivating you? You trust that God is just and will repay those, like the Babylonians, who abuse His people. Since we are freed from the hate and bitterness of the world, we go on to the things of God. He guides His Israel, us, back to our promised land and by doing so enables us to serve Him and all of His creation. How can you trust that God is protecting you? You don’t have to fuss about the evil that’s going on around you, and because you are free from that, what do you do in order to serve those in the world to the glory of our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Those who are weeds/tares have chosen to be weeds/tares First St Johns, July 20, 2014

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are the good seed of Jesus said … AMEN! It has become trendy even in the circles of Christian evangelicalism to sort of pooh-pooh the idea of Hell. The “how could a “good/holy/loving God”, take your pick, send someone to Hell. Let’s look at today’s Gospel reading. It’s very simple. How someone can ignore the meaning is Bible “cherry-picking”, that is, “I believe and/or take out of Scripture what I “like”, that tired standard of the world, what I “like” is good, what I don’t like is “bad/wrong” and then I make up my own theology. Jesus straight forwardly answers the disciples question: “’The Son of Man’, i.e. Jesus, sows the good seed which is the sons, and daughters, of the Kingdom. Those who are saved, those who are pre-destined by God’s sovereignty to eternal life in the resurrection. The field is the world, that is Jesus has put those who are saved in the world, those who are baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who take the Body and Blood of Jesus, who hear the preached Word, those who are part of the church of Jesus. “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” Jesus goes on to say: “The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers and throw them into the fiery furnace.” Now we could construe from this phrase, that it is Jesus who is actually making the decision, I don’t know sort of a Santa Claus, who’s naughty and who’s nice kind of thing. He’s not! He has planted His world, He has decided in His sovereignty, and if you want to discuss that word further ask me after worship, but in His sovereignty He knows who is saved. He has given faith to those who have been chosen, they have faithfully acted according to His will, which does not mean perfectly but in our weakness, but they act faithfully to serve Him, to worship Him, to be baptized. They know that they are saved by virtue of His sacrifice, the propitiation/payment that He has made for them on the cross, His atoning death and they are those who are saved. They are the ones taken out of the world, who are judged before the throne to be saved, not by anything they have done, but entirely by what Jesus has done for us and they are placed into the New World, the New Jerusalem in the resurrection to eternal life in Him. Those who have rejected Him, have chosen to live life according to their will, made themselves their own “god” their own idol, have lived according to the standards of the world, they have made their decision and the angels that Jesus sends are only acting according to their will. The “weeds” of the world have chosen to be outside God’s will and therefore are separated into condemnation.
God tells Isaiah: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” What does that statement remind you of? … The Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and Omega”. What does He mean by that? He’s just reciting the Greek alphabet? No! Language has letters, everything is contained in the alphabet, and He is everything from beginning to end. Is there anything that exists that God did not have a hand in creating? No! Therefore He is everything. Jesus refers to Himself as Alpha and Omega in three separate passages of Revelation (1:8, 21:6 and 22:13) Jesus does this for emphasis, that is make no mistake, I am all things, I am the entirety of creation, I make the calls, not anyone else. The weeds of the world, however, have chosen to believe, mistakenly, that somehow they have added to that divine alphabet, that somehow they should be added to that all encompassing everything that God truly is. The wheat has been planted by the Son of Man, He knows His wheat. To use another parable He knows His sheep, He is sovereign, in His sovereignty He has chosen those who will be saved, they are right there planted in the world. The enemy, Satan, has sovereignty over those who have chosen to remain outside of God’s will. They have chosen to exclude themselves. Why? Because they think that they are sovereign, that they make the calls, that they should decide how they live, how that wheat field or that pasture of the world should be and they act accordingly. They don’t necessarily do it to undermine God, they frankly don’t care about God, it’s not about Him, it’s about them. Or they reject God, He didn’t play according to their rules, so for some bizarre reason, they think that they should have the right to have things play out according to their will and they make it clear that God is not welcome and they will decide how things should play out. Either way, they live as if God did not exist or did not matter and as if they matter most. Sound familiar? Yea, that’s part of our confession and absolution. Oh sure, we who are saved can act that way and often do. That is sin! What’s the difference between the wheat and the weeds or tares? The wheat knows that they’ve sinned, they know that they have violated God’s will and as we do at the beginning of every worship, lift up their confession to God, acknowledging that we have sinned against Him and we ask Him for forgiveness. The weeds/tares, they’re attitude is “ahhhh”, this is what I wanted, this is the way it should be and I am what is important and so it should be my way. Is that “good fruit” is that God’s will, is that the way it should be in God’s field, in His flock? No! In our salvation we follow God’s will, we turn to Him for guidance and when we don’t do His will, we lift it up to Him in repentance, ask forgiveness and in His graciousness He gives us forgiveness. We are fully forgiven, we are fully sanctified, fully justified, in summary we are fully saved. Why? Because we were all A-J squared away God-wise and we should be forgiven? No! Because in the crucifixion of Jesus who died for the sins of the entire world, we are forgiven in His sacrifice. We are put back into that relationship that the Father intends to have with us. Because we are not, perfect, sweet, little Sally Sunshines who just follow every rule on the playground? No! Believe me, I do not have people describing me as sweet, peaceful and perfect. But what I am is saved in Jesus. I do continue to grow and am guided according to His will, saved in His sacrifice. I do not try to make myself to be the judge of everything. I trust Him to do that. I’m not some naïve cupcake who decides that everything is beautiful, I know perfectly well that I am in the world and among weeds/tares. Jesus tells me in this passage that it’s not my job to rip the weeds out, I don’t even know who the weeds are. He tells me to be faithful to His will “go therefore and make disciples baptizing in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” No doubt, I will reach out to some who are weeds and they have chosen for themselves to make the world what they want it to be and ignore God’s will. I don’t want that, I would never wish anyone to be condemned, to be and I quote; “thrown into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We’ve talked about that, they are there because they have chosen to separate themselves from God and so they are separated. They are weeping and as I’ve said, really wailing in anger, gnashing their teeth in anger screaming at God. Why? Yes, because they are in pain, but also because the Father refused to let them be God. “I am a jealous God” God refers to Himself that way seven different times. God makes it clear, I AM God, no one else is and the Father will guard His position without compromise.
He is jealous for His people, that’s a good thing. We like to make that word a negative, it’s bad to be jealous, but I think it’s great. Because the Father is jealous of me, the wheat that He planted, He protects me, He saves me. He loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me, so that I can be His possession, a possession that He is jealous of and will not share with anyone or anything else. I’m not a weed, I know who God is and I am His ever lasting child. And so are all of you who know Christ as your Lord and Savior, He is jealous of you. He is God and there is no one besides Him.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.