Gospel Wednesday | A look at Law and Gospel in Zephaniah

GWI apologize for getting this post published a day late. Today we’ll be looking at one of the minor prophets, Zephaniah. Since the book is a short book, I thought it would be great for us to read through the whole book together. I’m going to assume that most of you have never read through Zephaniah, much less with your mind on birth of Jesus Christ. If your church follows a 3 year lectionary, you’ll probably be reading through the end of the book soon. Let’s work through this book of prophecy with Advent in mind. As with our look at Jeremiah last week, there is going to be an immediate context for this book of prophecy regarding the coming Babylonian exile and return to Jerusalem, which is itself a foreshadowing of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of Salvation from our own sin and the Wrath of God.

Zephaniah 1-3 (ESV)

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

An interesting introduction to who the author of this book of prophecy was. Zephaniah traces his lineage to King Hezekiah who ruled over Judah during the attack of the Assyrians under Sennacherib (2 Kings 18-20). Hezekiah ruled while Isaiah was the Prophet of the LORD. We are now 4 generations after Hezekiah and Isaiah. Notice also the phrase in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, which we saw last week in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:1-3 (ESV)

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

Now, Jeremiah spans several rulers into the captivity of Jerusalem, but Zephaniah’s prophecy coincides with the earlier prophecies of Jeremiah. We’ll see some similarity between Zephaniah’s prophecy and Jeremiah’s prophecy of coming judgement against Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel has been scattered by Assyria and Judah’s exile is coming. Now that we have our historic context, let us continue reading through Zephaniah.

Zephaniah 1:2-6 (ESV) | The Coming Judgment on Judah

“I will utterly sweep away everything
    from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will sweep away man and beast;
    I will sweep away the birds of the heavens
    and the fish of the sea,
and the rubble with the wicked.
    I will cut off mankind
    from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will stretch out my hand against Judah
    and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal
    and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests,
those who bow down on the roofs
    to the host of the heavens,
those who bow down and swear to the Lord
    and yet swear by Milcom,
those who have turned back from following the Lord,
    who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.”

The declaration of coming judgement is reminiscent of God’s anger with creation in the time of Noah. We know that God made a covenant with Noah that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood, but a full destruction is coming, the wicked will be judged. v2-3 points to the final judgement, while the details of 4-6 are a bit more specific to the sins of Judah (though as we see in Romans 1, these sins ARE the sin of all mankind).

Zephaniah 1:7-18 (ESV) | The Day of the Lord Is Near

Be silent before the Lord God!
    For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
    and consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the Lord‘s sacrifice—
“I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
    and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
On that day I will punish
    everyone who leaps over the threshold,
and those who fill their master’s house
    with violence and fraud.

10 “On that day,” declares the Lord,
    “a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
    a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar!
    For all the traders are no more;
    all who weigh out silver are cut off.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’
13 Their goods shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.”

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
    near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
    the mighty man cries aloud there.
15 A day of wrath is that day,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

17 I will bring distress on mankind,
    so that they shall walk like the blind,
    because they have sinned against the Lord;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    and their flesh like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
    shall be able to deliver them
    on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
In the fire of his jealousy,
    all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Again, the day of the LORD had an immediate fulfillment in the fall of Jerusalem, but it also points ahead to the return of the LORD Jesus Christ, the final day of Judgement on mankind. Notice what is in the hearts of the idolaters toward the end of v12, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ They have no faith in the LORD God to do anything. In their worship of false gods and man-made idols, they’ve forgotten that the One True God is a Living God with a strong and mighty hand. We live in a time now that is aptly described as “post-modern”, but it is also rightly described as “post-Christian”. The world used to give mental ascent to the idea of Christian morality, but those days are past… we are predominantly a secular, humanist people willfully bowing to false gods while boasting in the LORD Gods apparent inaction. May God have Mercy on us. 

Zephaniah 2 (ESV) | Judgment on Judah’s Enemies

Gather together, yes, gather,
    O shameless nation,
before the decree takes effect
    —before the day passes away like chaff—
before there comes upon you
    the burning anger of the Lord,
before there comes upon you
    the day of the anger of the Lord.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the anger of the Lord.
For Gaza shall be deserted,
    and Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon,
    and Ekron shall be uprooted.

Woe to you inhabitants of the seacoast,
    you nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
    O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
    and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
    with meadows for shepherds
    and folds for flocks.
The seacoast shall become the possession
    of the remnant of the house of Judah,
    on which they shall graze,
and in the houses of Ashkelon
    they shall lie down at evening.
For the Lord their God will be mindful of them
    and restore their fortunes.

“I have heard the taunts of Moab
    and the revilings of the Ammonites,
how they have taunted my people
    and made boasts against their territory.
Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts,
    the God of Israel,
“Moab shall become like Sodom,
    and the Ammonites like Gomorrah,
a land possessed by nettles and salt pits,
    and a waste forever.
The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
    and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.”
10 This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
    because they taunted and boasted
    against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be awesome against them;
    for he will famish all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the lands of the nations.

12 You also, O Cushites,
    shall be slain by my sword.

13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north
    and destroy Assyria,
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
14 Herds shall lie down in her midst,
    all kinds of beasts;
even the owl and the hedgehog
    shall lodge in her capitals;
a voice shall hoot in the window;
    devastation will be on the threshold;
    for her cedar work will be laid bare.
15 This is the exultant city
    that lived securely,
that said in her heart,
    “I am, and there is no one else.”
What a desolation she has become,
    a lair for wild beasts!
Everyone who passes by her
    hisses and shakes his fist.

Notice that God isn’t just proclaiming judgement on His rebellious people. He will judge the unbelieving nations as well, even the agents of destruction used by God to punish Judah… they, too, will be judged. God is Sovereign over His creation. But this is not connected with any kind of comfort to Judah. There is a promise of a remnant of Israel being preserved… but this is not glad tidings at this point. Notice the list of Woe to the nations, and we get a Woe to the rebellious and defiled here at the start of the next chapter. Remember when Jesus proclaimed His list of woes in Matthew 11 and again in Matthew 23?

Zephaniah 3:1-8 (ESV) | Judgment on Jerusalem and the Nations

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
    the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice;
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
    she does not draw near to her God.

Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;
her priests profane what is holy;
    they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
    each dawn he does not fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

“I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
    you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
    according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
    “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
    all the earth shall be consumed.

Note the charges against Jerusalem. Are they not the charges Jesus levied against the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem? That they do violence to the Law in preaching the commandments of men, the traditions of the elders? Notice that it is Jerusalem who will not listen, who will not submit, and will not accept correction. She is faithless and unbelieving.

Zephaniah 3:9-13 (ESV) | The Conversion of the Nations

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
    shall bring my offering.

11 “On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
    your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
    in my holy mountain.
12 But I will leave in your midst
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
    and none shall make them afraid.”

And now the Gospel: God will save, He will grant mercy, He will give His remnant saving faith… even from among the nations. The Gentiles will be saved. This is wonderful news for us. This next portion might be included in your Advent readings/lectionary.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (ESV) | Israel’s Joy and Restoration

14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
    he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
    let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
    so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
    with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
    at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
    before your eyes,” says the Lord.

Amen. As surely as Israel was restored from their Babylonian Exile, so will those who are of the Household of Faith in the LORD Jesus Christ be restored in the New Heaven and the New Earth after Jesus Christ has returned to judge the nations, indeed all of creation.

The LORD Our God is in our midst, by Faith in His Promise.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Jeremiah 33

GWLast week, we looked at the story of Joseph and his life foreshadows the first advent of Jesus Christ. We shared an hour-long audio teaching from Pr Chris Rosebrough via Fighting for the Faith, so if you haven’t yet listened to that I encourage you to set aside some time to listen (Link). The week prior, we looked at how the story of Noah also points forward to our salvation in Jesus Christ. This week, we find ourselves within the Advent season, 4 weeks to when the Church celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The local CCM radio channel is already playing a full set of Christmas music. We’ll discuss some concerns with that in tomorrow’s post. In this season of Advent, I think it is important that we not simply jump straight to the virgin birth and the gold, frankincense and myrrh without first understanding our need for a Savior. Throughout the year, we review a lot of music and internet memes that confuse Law and Gospel, or simply skip over the Law to present a different gospel than what is found in God’s Word.

 The Prophet Jeremiah

Jeremiah was a great Prophet of the LORD who lived through a truly dark time in the history of Israel. Let’s look at the introduction to his book:

Jeremiah 1:1-12 (ESV)

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

The Call of Jeremiah

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.

11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

Wow. This is quite the calling. It is no wonder that today’s false-prophets and false anointed ones (false christs) make reading themselves into Jeremiah such a common practice. We’re not going to do that here. God is speaking to His Prophet, whom He formed, consecrated, and appointed before he was born. Notice that Jeremiah is appointed Prophet to the Nations, not just to Israel. This is important to hold onto, because as he prophesies of the coming Messiah, the prophetic word is not just for Israel, but for the Nations.

A Blessing to the Nations

We see this in the Promise given to Abraham.

Genesis 17:1-8 (ESV) | Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Abraham and the nation of Israel would then serve as God’s chosen people, or primary agent of the Promise of God, but the Promise would be to the nations (plural). Shortly after this covenant, we see a conversation within the Godhead regarding this Promise to Abraham just before He tells Abraham of the judgement that is coming to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 18:17-19 (ESV)

17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

God’s Wrath and Grace

Through all of Israel’s unbelief and transgressions, God preserved her, rescued her, time and time again. Fast-forward to Jeremiah’s time, the northern kingdom of Israel had been scattered by the Assyrians. God sends Jeremiah to prophecy against the remaining kingdom of Judah for her sins and transgressions, but she does not repent. God then uses the king of Babylon to punish Judah, destroying the city of Jerusalem and taking most of its inhabitants (except the very poor) into Babylonian exile for 70 years. Jeremiah isn’t taken to Babylon, but Daniel and Ezekiel were. Jeremiah is imprisoned by the king of Judah for prophesying of the coming judgement against Judah at the hands of Babylon. That’s a high-altitude flyover of Jeremiah, but let us look at the word of the LORD to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32 that will set up our main text.

Jeremiah 32:26-35 (ESV)

26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it.29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it,with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the Lord. 31 This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Notice the language here of total sin, total depravity, from their youth, from the day the city was built. They have done nothing but evil. God isn’t only speaking of Judah, but of all of mankind. Romans 1 and 2 follow after this pattern of declaring everyone unrighteous for having forsaken the Creator, and refusing to worship Him as God. Worse, they’ve taken to worshiping false gods and doing what is evil. Similarly, we are born dead in our sins and trespasses, and God’s grace delays the judgement so that we might listen and receive instruction and turn our faces toward Him…. but we don’t… and we can’t on our own. Judgement is coming, but we serve a God who Saves. But God doesn’t save by making the Law go away or by refusing to judge; rather, He carries His remnant through the judgment, as God carried Noah and his family through the global flood in the Ark, and how God placed Joseph in a position to save all of Israel… a position that began with being sold into slavery and wrongful imprisonment.

Jeremiah 32:36-44 (ESV) | They Shall Be My People; I Will Be Their God

36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety.38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”

Amen. Judgment is coming, for it is due. His wrath must be satisfied, for He is a Just and Holy God. But He will also preserve His people, for He is Gracious and Merciful. He will gather them, He will give them one Way, and will make an Everlasting Covenant. God isn’t just talking about the end of the Babylonian exile… He’s talking about the New Covenant of the Blood of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

Jeremiah 33:1-16 (ESV) | The Lord Promises Peace

33 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: They are coming into fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

10 “Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:

“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
    for the Lord is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!’

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.

12 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. 13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.

The Lord‘s Eternal Covenant with David

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

Again, while the promise of the LORD here to Israel and Judah had an immediate (well, after the exile) fulfillment, God’s Wording is goes beyond the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple… God is pointing to His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Branch of David. The Way the Truth and the Life who will take away the sin of the world. The chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day were looking for a temporal fulfillment of this prophecy. Their messiah was going to turn Israel into a once great nation where none, not Rome or any other nation would dare come against them. But that is not the Promise we’ve received… for we are looking for the consolation of all of Creation, that which has been subjected to futility as a direct result of the sin of Adam. When God talks about healing the land, we should see healing in a salvific sense… a redemption of the good creation that was in the beginning, before sin entered creation. The New Heaven, the New Earth, with a New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:22-23 (ESV)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Until Next Week

As Christmas approaches, please resist the urge to skip over the Truth of our desperate need for a savior, and our complicity in tempting the Wrath of God. We deserve judgement, we have since the fall. We are born into it, and we perpetuate it in sinful flesh. But Praise be to our God and Father for sending us His Only Begotten Son, Jesus. Repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | How the Story of Joseph Points to Jesus Christ

GWToday, will be our last post for this week. We’ll be taking a break for Thanksgiving through the weekend. Last week we took a look at the story of Noah and how it points us to Jesus Christ. This week we’ll be fast-forwarding through Genesis to the story of Joseph, to see how God used the life of Joseph to foreshadow Jesus Christ. For this teaching, we’ll be listening to an episode of Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough.

For The Students Of Liberty University

PROGRAM SEGMENTS:
00:00:00 – A Look at How the Story of Joseph Points to Jesus Christ
01:26:14 – Sermon Review: Dare to Dream by Brian Houston at Liberty University

Email your questions or comments to: talkback@fightingforthefaith.com

We recommend following along in your bibles, beginning in Genesis 37.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Noah, a Preacher of Righteousness

GWWe wrapped up our tour of the Gospel According to Matthew last week. With the Advent season coming up quickly, I’m reluctant to dive straight into the Gospel According to Mark just yet. So, for the next several weeks, we are going to be looking at the Gospel displayed throughout the Bible. I think a great place to start this week’s lesson is with Noah. We discussed the wickedness in the earth in the time of Noah in our CTT post this past Monday, so let’s do some review and round out some of the Gospel edges here today.

For starters, let us address the common error of treating the Old Testament as a history book and the New Testament as the Christian book. The Early Church was established on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but the text that was preached was the Old Testament. We see this in the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 17:1-3 (ESV) | Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Therefore, we must rightly consider the whole of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) the Christian Scriptures. The hermeneutic we employ, is to seek to identify Law (which identifies our sin) and Gospel (Jesus Christ)  in the Scriptures. As a layman, I rely heavily on my pastor’s teaching and on the New Testament’s revelation of what is found in the Old Testament. We are going to look into the Noah account, but first let us begin in the New Testament for some insight.

Noah, a herald of righteousness

We’ll begin our study in 2 Peter 2.

2 Peter 2:1-11 (ESV) | False Prophets and Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.

Here, we begin with the Law. We see in this passage a strong rebuke against false prophets and teachers who blaspheme the Way of Truth. Their condemnation and destruction is imminent. The wages of sin is death. The follow up to declaring the judgement due the false teachers is pointing the readers to the fall of creation, first the angels, and then the rest of the earth, save Noah. Noah is highlighted here as a herald of righteousness. The Greek word being translated herald here is κῆρυξ (Strong’s Number G2783). This same word is also translated “preacher” in the following text:

2 Timothy 1:8-12 (ESV) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a [κῆρυξpreacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

A preacher is a herald of Law and Gospel… if he’s doing his job. I love that the counter to false teachers/preachers is Noah, a preacher who by modern-day standards was ineffective since only his family “got saved”. A solid reason to reject our modern-day standards for “effective ministry”, don’t you think?

So, let us turn now to Genesis 6 for our main text.

Genesis 6 (ESV)

Genesis 6:1-8 (ESV) | Increasing Corruption on Earth

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

The language of verse 2 is very similar to that of Genesis 3:6, when Eve saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that it was good for food and a delight to her eye. The temptation was external, but the sin is internal… the desire for that which looks good but is indeed forbidden.

There are those who teach that the Nephilim were half-human and half-angel beings. There are some major problems with that understanding, first is that angels and humans are completely different kinds of created beings (thus they cannot produce offspring) and Jesus made it clear that angels are not married nor are they given in marriage (Matthew 22:29-31). Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, and nowhere in the Bible do we see angels granted sonship. When we consider the Bible to be first and foremost a revelation of Jesus Christ, we can look for a better understanding of what is being explained in this passage regarding the Nephilim, the sons of God and the daughters of man. As Christians, we understand that by Faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. As I pointed out earlier, too often we treat the Old Testament as mere history, almost as if what takes place before Christ was pre-faith. That’s an error. When God created man and placed him in the Garden, God also gave a command that required faith to obey:

Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam had no concept of evil or death; therefore, faith was required to obey this command. After being tempted, they doubted and lacked faith, and fell into sin, thus death entered creation through man’s sin. Now, as soon as man sinned God then pronounced His judgement against the serpent and mankind, He also included in that judgement a Promise of redemption by the seed of woman, that salvation would indeed come, the Messiah, the Christ, that is Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God. They had no idea when, but those who were of faith in the Promise of God were credited with righteousness (Hebrews 11). When we see mankind bearing children, we first see Cain and Abel. Cain was older than Abel, but Abel had faith while Cain did not, and Cain killed Abel. Cain is exiled, a son of man, but not of God for he lacked faith. The descendants of Cain were the sons of men, for they lacked faith. God grants Adam and Eve another son, Seth, a son of the Promise. The descendants of Seth were of faith and thus were the sons of God by faith. This is what we see played out in the Genealogies found in Genesis 5, leading up to Noah, a son of God by faith, for we know that he was a preacher of righteousness.

However, at this time we see that many of the sons of God had taken as wives the daughters of men… Sethites were marrying unbelieving Cainites… and their children were described as Nephilim. The Hebrew word here is a plural word that is sometimes translated as “giants”. They could have been giants (these men had centuries-long lifespans), but that’s not the only possible understanding of the word. Another possibility is looking at the verb naphal used by God to describe Cain’s fallen countenance (Gen 4:6) upon seeing that Abel’s offering was accepted where his was not. Nephilim could also be “fallen ones”, a worthy description of the fruit of believers being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Still conjecture on my part, but I think it holds better to the picture of unbelief versus faith, sin versus grace, Law versus Gospel. Let us continue in our text.

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) | Noah and the Flood

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 1But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

And so God destroyed the earth and all that was on it. God saved Noah and 7 with him, along with enough of the clean and unclean animals for repopulating what remained of the corrupted earth. Judgement came to the earth, but Grace prevailed for He had promised a Son. The ark points to our Savior, Jesus Christ, as we saw in 1 Peter 3.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

The ark bore the brunt of the destructive waters, keeping and preserving those inside safely through to their Salvation. We who are in Christ Jesus by faith are also being kept and preserved through the waters of baptism, death to sin, and will be with Him in the Resurrection.

God made His covenant to Noah, whom He saved by His Grace. God Promised not to destroy the whole earth again by water, and placed His bow in the clouds as a reminder of His promise to us… the descendants of Noah. Noah is now the keeper of the Promise of the Messiah who was to come. In all of its awesomeness, this is but a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, who came, lived, was crucified and died for our sins, and was Resurrected as the first fruits of the Kingdom, Creation that is to come. We still walk in the corrupted flesh of the cursed Earth… but by faith, we’ve been sealed with the Promise of Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Heaven and the New Earth, in New Bodies borne of the Spirit by the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Next Week…

Next week is a very busy week for our household, so I may be sharing a F4F episode of Rosebrough’s Ramblings through Genesis rather than put together a full write-up of my own. We’ll see, but I think we will be skipping ahead for a look at the life of Joseph and how he points us ahead to Jesus Christ. Until then, be blessed and spend time in God’s Word with your family and friends.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (ESV) | Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies,21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Laws for Proper Worship by Dr. James White

AOMToday’s “Friday Sermon” comes from Dr. James White.

Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

Today’s sermon isn’t from Alpha & Omega Ministry; rather, it comes from the sermon he preached at Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church on Sunday, August 30, 2015.

Morning Sermon Audio

Morning Sermon Text

Deuteronomy 12 (ESV) | The Lord‘s Chosen Place of Worship

12 “These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place.You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the Lord. 12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. 13 Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, 14 but at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

15 “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18 but you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place that the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you undertake.19 Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.

20 “When the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire. 21 If the place that the Lord your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire. 22 Just as the gazelle or the deer is eaten, so you may eat of it. The unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.23 Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. 25 You shall not eat it, that all may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.26 But the holy things that are due from you, and your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place that the Lord will choose, 27 and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, but the flesh you may eat. 28 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.

Warning Against Idolatry

29 “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

32  “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

Have a Blessed Weekend

I pray each of you attends church this week that faithfully preaches the Word of God, both Law and Gospel. Pray for your elders.  Pray for our leaders. Pray for repentance and forgiveness daily.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)  24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge