Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Promised King

The Promised King
The Climax of the Minor Prophets

Clip from Nativity

This type of oppression is something that the Israelite people faced for much of their history. The people in this day held much in common with the people in the days of the minor prophets. As we look at teach of these minor prophets we see that they too were looking for a King to come rescue them. They each addressed a different situation but all of them hold one thing in common—they are looking to the future for rescue.

Hosea: In Hosea we saw how a loving husband pursues his harlot wife. We see that he bought her and redeemed her, even though she had became a prostitute. We are left wondering as we go through Hosea how can a man love a harlot wife; more so, how can a holy God go after His harlot wife? We are left looking for one like David; but this time a king who will be worthy of worship—one who will bind us up, one who will revive us, one who will restore us.

Joel: In Joel we are confronted with a locust invasion. In this locust invasion Joel sees something even more significant—the coming day of the Lord. We see that if locusts are aiming at destruction barely anyone could stand; but Joel drives this point deeper. If the Almighty is aiming at destruction who can stand? In Joel we see that the “day of the Lord is great and very awesome” and we are left with the prophet to ask the question, “Who can endure it”? We are left looking for one who will be our refuge, our stronghold, on that great and glorious day.

Amos: In Amos we ask with the Israelites, “Does God care”? We wonder if God will ever bring those who oppress us to justice. We wonder if God remembers the evil and atrocity that has been committed. But then we, along with the Israelites, are brought into God’s courtroom. We find that we too are guilty before God. We find that we too have forgotten about justice. We are left in the book of Amos longing for justice to be poured out. But we are also left with a hope that God might not forget His people in the midst of judgment. Who will be the one to execute judgment?

Obadiah: In Obadiah we are confronted with the horrific destruction of Edom. We see that God does indeed have enemies and that He is going to come in judgment against them. But it also causes us to wonder if we ourselves are not God’s enemy. We can strangely see ourselves in the Edomites, for we too are prideful, we too have opposed God. Therefore, we are forced to wonder what will become of those of us who have set ourselves as God’s enemy. When God comes in power against those, like me, who are prideful; I am forced to ask, what will become of me? We know that there will be those in Mt. Zion who escape—but we are left to ask how? Who will redeem us? Who will mediate between us and an angry God?

Jonah: In Jonah we see a reluctant prophet. We see a man who should be obedient to the Lord and yet he runs away from Him. Jonah opens up for us the big vision of God’s love and redemptive purpose. We see that God desires not only to save Israel but to redeem people out of the nations as well. Yet we are confronted with a reluctant prophet. We see that Jonah, and the other Israelites, were to be a light to the nations. Yet, we also see, that Jonah and the Israelites covered up this light. We are left asking in Jonah who will be our messenger? If God’s prophet is not sharing the light, then who will be the light to the nations?

Micah: In Micah we explored what happens whenever we as Christians stumble. We saw from the book of Micah what the Lord requires of us. Yet in doing so we were confronted with the reality that we cannot do these things. We came to the humbling conclusion that our sin is great. Micah leaves us with a hope that as we are bearing the indignation of the Lord to wait upon Him. We are told to wait, “until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.” Micah leaves us longing for someone to come and left us up after we have fallen. We are left asking, “Who will lift us up”? Who will save us from our great sin?

Nahum: Nahum was a scary book. We learn some things about our God that are often overlooked. We saw that God was a jealous God. He is passionate about preserving and protecting His honor. And because of this passion we see that God is also an avenging God. He will come against all those who seek to take the throne and remove from Him glory. We learn that God will not give his glory to another. And because of these two things, coupled with the desire of mankind to dethrone God, we are confronted with a wrathful God. Thankfully for us Nahum does not stop there. We learn that part of God’s character is that he is slow to anger. Not only his he slow to anger but he is also powerful to save and He is good. Nahum leaves us with a problem. We know that we have made ourselves his adversary. Yet we also know that He is slow to anger. Therefore, we are left to wonder, “Who will save us from this powerful God of wrath?” How will God redeem and be a refuge for those whom He loves? We are left in Nahum wondering how can a God that is passionate about preserving his own honor be slow to anger towards those who have betrayed Him. What will save us from the wrath of God?

Habakkuk: Habakkuk asks one of the most common questions; “why”. As we journeyed through Habakkuk we followed the prophet’s argument. He is wondering why God is not bringing sinners to justice. How can a good God allow good things to happen to bad people? It appears that his law is paralyzed. God’s answer is not one that Habakkuk likes. He says that he is going to deal with the sin of Habakkuk’s people by using the sinful Babylonians. Habakkuk wonders how God could use such atrocity to accomplish his holy purposes. God’s answer might seem a little unsatisfying, but if anyone has the right to give this answer it is God. He simply says trust me. Have faith in me. I am going to do something really great. Just trust me. He is going to judge the Babylonians. He is going to deal with sin. We see a great response in Habakkuk. We are left seeing a prophet that trusts God. Yet, we are left wondering how did God come through? How did God deal with sin? How did he deal with injustice? Habakkuk says, “I will take joy in the God of my salvation”. Yet we are forced to wonder—how does God come through for Habakkuk? How does he answer the question of why? How will he make all things right?

Zephaniah: Zephaniah starts out kind of scary and then ends up pretty happy. We looked first at the judgment of the Lord. We told the story of a little girl getting her appendix taken out. We told it without telling of her disease first and it sounded like a really bad thing was happening to her. But once we revealed that her father was rushing her to the hospital, we saw that his act was not cruel but actually extremely loving. As we traveled through Zephaniah we saw that the Lord was exposing their sin, dealing with their sin, and ultimately cleansing them of their sin. Even though God says he is going to do this in Zephaniah we are left wondering how. How is God going to purge our land of sin? Will it be through another exile? How will the Lord make us holy? How is it that God will dance over us poor, vile, sinners? Who will make us holy?

Haggai: In Haggai’s messages we are confronted with really messed up priorities. It cause us to check our priorities. We noticed that the “big” sin that Haggai is addressing is not pornography. It is not gossip. It is not anger. It is not even pride. It is complacency. And we are confronted with the sad tragic fact that people in Haggai’s day wasted their lives and missed out on what God was doing. We are left with a hope that this temple will be more glorious than the first. In fact we are told that in the temple they are building that God will grant peace; but how? What will be the means God uses to bring peace? The people in Haggai’s day are wondering, “is it worth it”. The Lord encourages them by promising to fill it with his glory, more so even than before. But what will be so glorious? We are left wondering in Haggai, how will God’s glory dwell greatly on the earth? How will God bring peace in the temple?

Zechariah: Zechariah is one of the most future-looking prophets of all the Minor Prophets. We are given various visions. Zechariah really leaves us with a taste of something great that is coming. How will God return? How will God strike down the enemies? How will God restore the fortunes to Jerusalem? Yet all of these are not the central question that is the concern of Zechariah. Zechariah is most concerned with how they will be made clean. We see a vision of Joshua being cleansed by the Lord. And we see that on a single day the Lord will remove the iniquity of the land. Is he talking about the Day of Atonement? Can we expect something greater? Not only will the priesthood be restored but also the King. Yet we are left wondering, is Zechariah pointing us to a greater priest? Will there be someone who is such a priest that he can take away all the sin in a single day? Will there be such a King that is led by the Spirit and rebuilds the Lords kingdom? As we leave Zechariah we are awaiting a King.

Malachi: As the Old Testament closes we come to the book of Malachi. In Malachi we see a dispute between God and his people. There are several grounds on which he is against them. It appears that the people have grown indifferent as they are awaiting the promises of the Lord. When we close the book of Malachi, and the last prophetic word in the Old Testament, we receive these words: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” A promise and a curse; then silence for some 400 years.

But then after 400 years of silence there are rumblings throughout Jerusalem. As a very devout man named Simeon is holding a baby in his arms he utters prophetic words. Read Luke 3:22-38. Could he be? Could this baby be the Promised King? Could he really be the one who would rescue His people?

Let’s look back and ask these questions of that baby. More so we will ask these questions of who that baby would be—Jesus. We will look at his life, death, and resurrection and see if he truly is the Promised King.

In Hosea we ask, how will God buy back His harlot wife? Will anyone be able to pay the price to buy her back? Who will pay the ransom?

Read Matthew 20:28

In Joel we ask, how will the Lord be a refuge for His people? How will we be able to stand on the day of the Lord? Will someone save us from the wrath of God?

Read Romans 5:9

In Amos we ask, who will be the one to execute judgment, yet at the same time be the booth of David that restores our fortunes? Will our King judge unrighteousness? Will he bring our oppressors to justice? Will he restore to us our fortunes? Will he sit as Judge?

Read Romans 8:34; Acts 10:42

In Obadiah we ask; who will mediate between God and those of us who oppose Him? Will our king be our mediator as well? We have certainly opposed Him. Will our King mediate for us?

Read 1 Timothy 2:5

In Jonah we ask; who will be the light to the nations? We have failed numerous times to be that light. We ourselves have distorted God’s Word. We are not accurate representations of His glory. Who then will be our messenger? Who will spread the glory of God to the nations?

Read Luke 2:29-32

In Micah we ask; who will lift us up when we have fallen? We have come to realize that our sin is great? Is it possible that we can have a Savior that is greater? Is our King somehow going to be also be our Savior? Is he great enough to save us from our sin?

Read John 1:29; Romans 5:20

In Nahum we ask; how can a God that is passionate to preserve His honor save an unrighteous people, while not trampling His own glory? We know that we have trampled His glory. We know that we are not passionate about seeking His glory. We also know that God is slow to anger. We also know that God has a heart that is abounding with love and mercy and that He longs to redeem. But how can a holy God redeem an unholy people?

Read Romans 3:25-26

In Habakkuk we ask; how will God deal with sin? Not only our sin but also the sin of the nations, how will God deal with it? Sin must be paid for if God is going to be just. Who will pay for sin?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:21

In Zephaniah we ask, how will God make us so holy that we cause Him to dance? What will bring about such a change? We know that our King will be might to save but is He also so powerful that He will change our hearts? Can He also make us holy? Will he be able to sanctify us?

Read Hebrews 10:10

In Haggai we ask, how will God’s glory dwell on the earth and by it make peace? God’s glory has always been inapproachable? How will an outpouring of His glory not utterly destroy us? How will we have peace through this glory being made known?

Read John 1:14, Romans 5:1

In Zechariah we ask, who will be the King that is led by the Spirit and rebuilds the Lord’s Kingdom and takes away our sin? Is there such a King that can do all of this?

Read John 12:15; Revelation 17:14

In Malachi we ask, who will be the messenger of the new covenant?

Hebrews 9:15

Now these are only a tiny bit of all that Jesus Christ has fulfilled. He is more than just a baby in the manger. He is the King that would come and rescue His people. He will rescue His people from the dominion of darkness. He will rescue His people from their own hearts. He will rescue us from our sin. He will rescue us from God’s wrath. He is that Promised King.

I want to close with Zechariah 13:1. This is pointing to Jesus Christ, the Promised King. He is that fountain of life. He is the fountain by which we will be cleansed from sin and unrighteousness. I have no idea what burdens you are carrying in here tonight. I know that each one of us carries the burden of sin. Perhaps, God has not yet given you the grace to see that burden but it makes you no less guilty. It makes you no less responsible for your sin. Or maybe you do realize that heavy burden of sin.

The baby in the manger is more than that we have seen. He is the Promised King. And this King is setting up His Kingdom. You will either be a subject of this great loving King that has given his life for you or you will be cast out of His kingdom. Tonight you are not as much given an invitation by this King but a command. He has issued to us an edict. A loving edict. A gracious edict. But an edict none the less. He is urging us to come and drink at the fountain. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”. And let the one who hears say, “Come”. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Is He your King?

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