Advent – December 10th, 2018

Psalm 2

These poems do something amazing. Some scholars attempt to discredit this poem as borrowed from Egyptian coronation rituals – where the king becomes the “god.” The poets of the Bible would have nothing to do with that, but something else is scratched at here. What ancient Mesopotamians yearned for, we seek today – hope for something better and greater. That’s what happens in this poem. These promises are too big to even apply to an earthly king. They transcend everything.  How can we fill them up? Only if we’re yielded. Like Mary and Joseph were not describing a passive sort of giving up. No, this is imperative! “Kiss the Son,” the poet says. There’s a chance in grace, an opportunity in every promise of Advent, that we can get that close and ask for peace. He is ready for the kiss of peace all of the time. This is us actively seeking Jesus and His Presence. Meditate on the poem; it is grand and severe and beautiful. It is your Savior come. Amen.

Psalm 2
versification by C. Robins

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves
The rulers take counsel together
Against I Am,
Against His Anointed, saying
“Let us burst Their bonds apart and
Cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs
The Lord holds them in derision
He will speak to them then in His wrath
He will terrify them in His fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree
I AM said to me,
“You are My Son; today I have begotten You
Ask of Me
I will make the nations Your inheritance
The ends of the earth Your possession
You shall break them with a rod of iron
You will dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings
Be wise
Be warned
O rulers of the earth
Serve I AM with fear
Rejoice with trembling
Kiss the Son
Lest He be angry and you perish along the way

His wrath is kindled in a flash!
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Advent – December 7th, 2018

I remember seeing in old movies how folks would bite a coin to check if it was the real thing. Gold is soft enough that you can feel it when you bite down, and if someone had drilled out the center of the coin to fill it with something else – the bite test would collapse the coin and reveal the counterfeit attempt. Telling the real thing from the fake thing is so tricky nowadays, and it makes you want to give up. We think it’s a modern problem, but it’s an ancient one too, and God’s solution is elegant and simple. God has folks called prophets. A prophet is someone who speaks for God, and you’ll know it’s God if the prophet accurately predicts the future – and these predictions are the stunners in the Bible. Much modern scholarship that studies the Bible says this: a book in the Bible with a prediction that comes true must have been written after the fact. In other words, it’s a lie. The most famous of these is when Christ describes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Christ finished His earthly ministry in AD 33, and the temple was destroyed in AD 70. Modern scholars scoff at prediction being possible, and so the gospels were written after AD 70. Case closed. (So much for them, we know we’re reading fantastical non-fiction – where real supernatural wonders happen to ordinary people.) By rejecting Christ’s prophetic prediction, they reject the one criteria the Bible gives us to evaluate Him. As you read these verses, it’s obvious Moses is predicting the prophets that are coming. In fact, Moses repeats himself in verse 15 and 18, but in verse 18 he describes a prophet who sounds like a direct mouthpiece of God. He’s predicting Jesus! So if you say, with the sophisticated modern scholars, that no predictions are possible – then you undercut the power of the Bible to prove it is the word of God! So what are we supposed to do? Trust God’s word. The Bible gives us it’s own “Bible” test right here in Deuteronomy 18. Look at the predictions about Jesus all across the Bible. It’s a tapestry of prophecy and fulfillment at a level that astounds the mind and imagination. The only other explanation is that people made the entire Bible up as a colossal fraud. Sounds possible at first until you look at the 66 books, written across thousands of years by many different writers in different cultures. And remember, if it’s a fake, it shouldn’t have original moral teaching. Con artists and liars don’t write with much moral insight. Nobody doubts the scripture is full of moral teaching, so how can we trust the Bible? Moses tells us because he accurately predicted Jesus. God spoke and predicted an accurate description of advent. Therefore, the Bible is God’s word and can be trusted and should be obeyed. Praise Him! Bite Him this week in communion! He is the genuine article.

Advent – December 6th, 2018

Luke 1:13-17
“In the Spirit and power of Elijah.” That’s how Gabe predicts John’s ministry. It’s quite a comparison, but what does it mean? First, we should take it historically. This Spirit and power are how all the prophets predicted and anticipated the coming of God – His advent to us in Jesus Christ. It has all been prep work up to this point in Luke, getting things ready for this universe shaking event – the coming of a God into the physical world. Remember, this is fantastical non-fiction, historical events of miraculous proportion described in the lives of everyday men and women. It’s been a long set up period. You could say it’s been steadily in preparation since the first moment of creation when the stars were spun out by the incredible energies of the big bang. How do I know that? God never asked angels to lead out the stars. Their fiery glory, first known in the first nanoseconds of the universe, was merely a shadow of the glory that shines in the face of our Savior Jesus! It’s all been prep. The eons of time and amazing creation of every animal that has ever walked, swum, or crawled across our planet – all prep for His coming. The laws, the histories of Israel, the prophets and their sermons, the poetry of the ancient temple worship are all preparation for Him. Culminating here, in John the Baptist, the last herald before the great King. However, it’s more than prep. That reference to Elijah is a bit double-edged. It promises power and wisdom at the highest supernatural level, but it also predicts suffering. Elijah was on the wrong side of the power structures of his day. King Ahab, a twisted and evil little man, hated Elijah for confronting his worship of demons and child sacrifice. Ahab called Elijah the “troubler of Israel” for speaking truth, and Elijah found himself hunted and hated most of his life. John also found himself on the bad side of powerful politicians, but he didn’t escape them as Elijah did. Herod put him in prison, and out of pressure at a dinner party had his head cut off. The coming of our Father’s kingdom always has these two sides. One in triumph, and one in suffering. It does come with joy and wonder to the people of God, and the men and women who have the Spirit and power of Elijah today are still excited about advent! We see our Savior’s coming now into people’s hearts, and we see it their new birth. We see people “turning to God” the way John did. Baptisms are are a part of His coming! They are the “advent” events today. We are still the culmination of all the prep work of God, but we also have to struggle with the downside. There will be resistance, persecution, and rejection as well. We will find an unnatural response at times to the gospel that can be puzzling and surprising – sometimes from inside the church and sometimes from outside. But, we aren’t supposed to be surprised. In any case, we need that same Spirit and power now. With Him, we can be a part of God’s prep, and in Him, we can suffer the rejection and hatred we fear. Praise Him. Seek Him. And, turn to Him today.