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First in a series from Isaiah January 30, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Covenant, Forgiveness, Hope, Isaiah, Mercy, Promises of God, Prophecy, Righteousness.
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HOPE IN DISASTER
Isaiah 54

Introduction: One of the key principles in understanding the Bible is to recognize that it is not written to us but rather for us. Understanding that principle is why we don’t build a tent for animal sacrifices after reading the book of Leviticus. Most people want instant understanding of the Bible and don’t work to understand to whom and for what purpose it was written.

That does not mean that God’s Word was not given with future people in mind. The last half of the book of Isaiah is an excellent example of a book written with a future people in mind. Isaiah predicted that Babylon would take the Jews into captivity. Jerusalem along with the Temple would be destroyed and the people would be taken captive to a land with no hope of ever seeing their homeland again. They would have questions that Isaiah addresses. “Has God failed? Is He really as great as the law and the psalms and the prophets had proclaimed? Were His promises to Abraham and Moses and David in vain? Had their sin been too much even for God?”

Over the past few years we have seen serious economic problems. Although America has been a promised land to many for hundreds of years, many are fearful today, predicting the demise of America. What should we as Christians do as we look down the barrel of the gun of possible economic, moral, and political disaster? How can we prepare ourselves and how should we live when that disaster strikes?

A. When disaster strikes, turn to God’s promises (verses 9-10). David Jeremiah tells of some words written on the wall of a cave where a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto of Poland was hiding from the Nazis.
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

Job put it this way, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” When disaster strikes, we turn to God’s promises.

1. His covenant is as dependable as a rainbow (vs. 9). We think of the rainbow as being a promise that God will not destroy the world with water again. Verse 9 points out that every promise of God is dependable. As a kid there was a song we used to sing that ended like this, “When it looks like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the cloud.” The skeptic looks at the laws of nature and declares there is no God but we look at nature and understand there must be a God who holds this all together, who holds His children in His hand.

2. His kindness is everlasting (vs. 10). In Isaiah 43:2-4 the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you… I am the LORD your God…and I have loved you.” Jeremiah in Lamentations describes the death and destruction, the hunger and nakedness that these people endured when Jerusalem was taken. They recognized that God had allowed this judgment. In chapter 3:21-23, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Those are not the words of someone for whom it is going well but rather for those who are in deep despair. His kindness is everlasting.

B. When disaster strikes, hope in abundance from God (verses 1-3). “But we are in captivity! Our homes are destroyed! Our children are dead! We have no where to turn!” Isaiah reminds them that God will bless them abundantly. Paul in prison in Philippi put it this way, “My God will supply all my need through His riches in Christ Jesus.” What disaster do you see ahead? It is not forever. There is abundant blessing to be found in Jesus Christ. Hope in Him and in His riches.

Our problem comes when we try to dictate to God how His blessings should appear. We expect financial security, a healthy body, freedom from tragedy. Those are all wonderful things but none of them indicate God’s abundant blessings. His blessings are found in an eternal abundance. “Lay not treasures up for yourself on this earth where moth and rust corrupts but lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.”

C. When disaster strikes, depend on a restored relationship (verses 4-8). The picture here is of a woman who is forsaken because of her wickedness and is then received again to a loving husband (Read verses 7-8).

John Oswalt in his commentary on this chapter relates the story of an old man in a hospital, on his deathbed, wondering if the next life will be as bitter as the one he has just lived. In comes his daughter. Her life has also been hard but “out of her eyes shine eagerness, humor, hope, and love.” He says to her, “I know what you want to say to me, and you might as well save your breath. It’s too late.”
“But Dad, it’s never too late! Look what Christ has done for me! I was in the gutter, drinking myself to death…But he saw something in me to love! Everybody else said I was no good, and he told them to ‘shut up.’”
The old man replies, “…you don’t know what I’ve done. I was a preacher! … If your God is so good and loving, he wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I’m too far gone.”
His daughter demands, “Daddy, you look at me! Nobody is too far gone for Jesus Christ! … He died for Hitler! Do you think you’re worse than Hitler? No, you’re just like Hitler, too proud to get down on your face and ask God to forgive you. He will forgive you, Daddy! He will!”
“The old man turned his head to look at his grown daughter…he saw what was undeniably true-she was being transformed from the inside out…hesitantly, he reached his hand out from under the sheet and took hers. In the next moments … [he] confessed his sins… and disgrace became the welcoming embrace of the world’s Maker…”

D. When disaster strikes, trust in His deliverance from your enemies (verses 11-17). What danger is it that you fear? Turn in trust to the hand of God through Christ.

1. This is the heritage God will protect (verses 13, 17). What do you have that will last? People have been discussing this week what Joe Paterno’s legacy will be. In a hundred years few will remember him. Accumulate wealth. Those to whom you leave it may waste it. A heritage that will last is only to be found in Christ.

2. This is the righteousness we have in Christ (verses 14-17). Hebrews calls this the Sabbath rest we have in Christ. The angels proclaimed it as peace on earth, good will to men. When disaster comes, when the bankbook is empty, when cancer grips your body, when tragedy rains on your family, remember in Jesus Christ there is rest and peace. All is right in Him.

“There is nothing more God needs to do for his ‘covenant of peace’ to be ours forever” (Oswalt). Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us that Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. Will you enter this new covenant that Jesus made for you on the cross? Will you turn to Him? Saved and unsaved alike, believer and unbeliever alike, turn to Him today!

Next week: An Invitation in Disastrous Times – Isaiah 55

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How God Reveals Himself in the Old Testament Through Jesus Christ August 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Character, False Teachers, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons, Special Revelation.
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JESUS AND OLD TESTAMENT ERRORS

Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament?

Matthew 5:17-20

Last Sunday I was asked about an apparent contradiction between the Old Testament command to stone false prophets and the command that Jesus gave in John 8:1-11 that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. This is such an important question that Jesus Himself in His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, addressed this issue of His relationship to the Old Testament.

One of the earliest accusations against Jesus was that He opposed the Law of Moses. Now if this was true then He should have been stoned according to the Law. In fact, in John 10:30-39 when Jesus told them that He was one with the Father, making Himself to be God, they tried to stone Him but Jesus escaped from them.

So today, we are going to see what Jesus has to say in his defense to the accusation that He tried to correct the Old Testament law.

JUDGE ME BY MY WORDS AND ACTIONS.

Jesus says, “Listen to me and be convinced” (verse 17). The gospel of Matthew is the only one of the gospels written specifically with Jews in mind. The Jews of that day were divided about the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Many believed and followed him, many others did not, but there was a number of Jews who wanted to believe but needed more evidence. Just as there are questions of doubt in these days, there were questions of doubt in those days.

Jesus said to the doubters, “Think outside of the box! Do not jump to conclusions based on the normal way of thinking. Listen to me and see if I am telling you the truth. Do not suppose you know the answer. Listen and think!”

SO WHAT ABOUT THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN? 

We have an excellent example of this in the story of the woman who was to be stoned. John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Him to ask what they should do. Now there were Jewish courts for such a trial but they had decided to see if they could trap Jesus into contradicting Moses. Also, although apparently the woman was guilty, the man with whom she had been caught was not brought before Jesus. These men were obviously not interested in keeping the Law but rather in entrapping Jesus. Jesus could have easily said, “Stone her!” He would have been within His rights. In fact, He did say stone her but He did it in a way that was definitely outside of the box. He said to the men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

These fellows knew each other. They knew what kind of men they were. Suddenly they lost interest in the case. Beginning from the oldest to the youngest they walked away. They had been exposed. After they left, Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Where are the witnesses against you?” She said, “I have no accusers!” At that, Jesus wiped the dust off His hands and said, “I cannot condemn you unless you have accusers. You may go but do not sin anymore.”

This is a good example of how Jesus thought outside the box and He wants us to do so as we examine Him. He wants us to think, of course, but He does not want us to think the way the world does but with spiritual thinking, thinking which is outside of the box of our humanity.

THE ANALOGY OF THE HOUSE

Jesus then said, “I did not come to take the house of God down.” That is what that word “destroy” means. “I did not come disassemble God’s Word.”

Jesus then said, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” I came to move in new furniture. Look at my life, look at my teaching! There is not one thing that I do or teach that takes away from the Law (the first five books of Moses) or the Prophets (which is the rest of the Old Testament). I did come though to add meaning and clarity.

IF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS TRUTH, THEN JESUS  IS TRUTH.

Jesus says, “Listen to the Old Testament and be assured (verses 18). The Old Testament is an established standard by which to measure Jesus.

Almost every Easter and Christmas we hear expressions of doubt about the truth. We have heard about the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the gravestone which supposedly has Jesus’ name on it. Although we may not appreciate these expressions of doubt, they are crucial. They are “…crucial… because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. They have great leaders… and so do we. They have written Scriptures . . . and so do we. They have miracle stories . . . and so do we. They have high ethical standards . . . and so do we. They have a long and rich history . . . and so do we.

One might ask, ‘How can I know which religion is the right one?’ That’s a fair question. The average person today faces a… supermarket of religions from which to choose. He sees the well-stocked shelves and wonders, ‘Which one should I choose?’ There is only one problem. All the bottles have been poisoned except one. How can he find that one right, pure and safe bottle?” (RAY PRITCHARD)

The Old Testament is our answer. If Jesus can knowingly attempt to fulfill every letter of every page of every book of every section of the Old Testament, then we have a way to judge if He is really who He said He is.

The Old Testament points to the coming of a specific person. That is one of the key messages of the Old Testament. Jesus reveals Himself to be that person. Jesus fulfilled completely the book written about Him, the Old Testament. This book was completed four hundred years before His birth. Others before and after Him claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament but only Jesus has fulfilled the holy book written about him.

No other man can make such a claim.

A COMPARISON 

Mohammed wrote the Koran to correct the Bible not to fulfill it. He claimed inspiration but he could not claim to fulfill the written prophecies of the Old or New Testaments.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible but he was not the fulfillment of one word of Holy Scripture.

Buddha wrote many words and like Jesus challenged others to evaluate his words but he never fulfilled the written prophecies of others.

Confucius wrote but like the others could never point to other holy writings and legitimately claim that he fulfilled them.

Jesus Christ said in John 5:39-47, “Search the Scriptures! They speak of me. If you believe Moses, you will believe Me because he wrote of Me. There is no other case in all of history where you can take a book and then take a person hundreds of years in the future and say, “This is about Him,” but in the Old Testament you can.

THE OPPONENTS OF JESUS

Jesus says, “Look at the False Teachers and be instructed (verse 19). “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…” – Every person is responsible before God because of the truth of the Old Testament. If Jesus had not yet come, or if He had come but God had chosen not to give us the New Testament, we would still be responsible to God based on the Old Testament. It is the inspired Word of God.

BUT JESUS OPPONENTS BELIEVED THE OLD TESTAMENT, DIDN’T THEY? 

Verse 19 – “…and teaches them so…but whoever does and teaches them…” Jesus is saying that you cannot separate doctrine and deed. If in your teaching you cause someone to break “one of the least of these commandments…” you will find yourself on the bottom of the spiritual pecking order, last in the kingdom of God.

THE WARNING FOR TODAY 

Finally, Jesus says, “Look to Yourselves and be warned” (verse 20). The authority for the warning comes from the phrase, “For I say to you…” How did Jesus get this authority? – Look back at verse 17. By fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. From whom did He get this authority? – Look at Matthew 7:21. He got His authority from God. Continually in the Sermon on the Mount He repeats the phrase, “I say unto you…” After awhile one might ask Himself the question, “Who does this Jesus think He is?” In Matthew 7:21 He tells us. He is Lord, and whoever obeys Him is doing the will of the Father.

The Purpose of the Warning (…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…) Their lives were to reflect true righteousness which can only be found in following Jesus Christ. He goes on to teach them what to do. There is a huge difference between teaching righteousness and being righteous. Jesus was demanding that they become righteous by following Him, by becoming His disciple. Becoming a disciple speaks of a personal relationship to the teacher. This is what these fellows had. Of course, obedience is the natural result of being a disciple but you still have to learn what obedience means and that was what Jesus was teaching the disciples. First of all, that they might obey and secondly that they might be different from those who only taught righteousness but did not practice it themselves.

When God presents us with truth, He expects us to do something with that truth. Jesus presented in this sermon the truth of His Messiahship. He expected them to live accordingly. He expects the same from you.

THE HORRIBLE EXAMPLE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT 

He, however, will have nothing to do with you…unless…unless you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior of your eternal soul. This message is eternal but useless without trusting Christ as your Savior. Judas heard the same message as the rest of the disciples but he lived for earthly things. Yes, it was a temptation for the other disciples also but Judas was the only one that stepped over that line and said, “I’m driving my stakes down right here. I am living for this world. This kingdom that Jesus keeps promising, never comes. I’m going to get while the getting is good.” That’s why he could so easily betray Jesus.

You have the opportunity to become a disciple. Look at the claims Jesus makes for Himself and decide to follow Him and live or turn and go your own way. Whether you trust Him or not, He holds your future and you can enter His kingdom but you must trust Him and Him alone. He died for you according to the Old Testament Scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and He ascended on high to the Father’s throne (according to Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1:3-6) but you must turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.

PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. 

Believer, are you living for Christ or are you just talking. Do you mouth the right words or do you live as you know Jesus wants you to. You may not know everything you are supposed to do to honor God but are you doing what you do know?

Some of you are struggling with doubts. You wonder if you are saved, if God really loves you, if you are good enough to please God. Are you going to live in the assurance established by the Old Testament Scriptures? They will never pass away. They will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will do that. If you are in Him, in Jesus Christ, then you are just as assured of heaven as God’s Word is settled for all eternity.

Are you going to live, conscience of Christ’s commands everywhere you go? If you do, are you going to obey those commands. If you look in these chapters you will find the command to love your enemy, to forgive, to have confidence in God, the command to be pure, the command to be honest, the command to pray, the command not to judge, the command not to be proud, the command to live a mature and godly life. Will you live like your king or will you live like Judas for this world?

Links to Sermons on Matthew 5:17-20 August 10, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons.
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Three Sermons from Arthur Pink.  I’m going to try to cover this passage in one 🙂

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_06.htm

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_07.htm

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_08.htm

Not a well-known name but this is an excellent sermon on this text:

http://pastorsteveweaver.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/the-righteousness-which-the-king-requires-exposition-of-matthew-517-20/

And from Ligon Duncan

http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/matthew/mat%20vol%201%20&%202/matthew%201%20&%202/08amatt.htm