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Blessed are the Peacemakers

A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassionate Internet Church
 
15 July 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Genesis 1:26-31
Psalm 24
Matthew 5:9
Mark 6:14-29
2 Corinthians 6:16
Ephesians 6:12
1 John 2:15-17

Preparation Verse: (Matthew 5:9)

9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God.

One of the primary reasons that we have so much corruption and violence in the world today is because most people believe that we have a “right” to exploit this earth for their own gain and pleasure.
 
And nothing is further from the truth.
 
Note what we are told in Psalm 24…

1. The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
 
2. For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.

The earth and everything it contains belongs to God.
 
This means that every human being, every other animal, every plant, and the rest of creation all belong to God, and not to us.
 
Most people will agree that this is true, but then they argue that God gave Adam and us dominion over the world to do as we please.
 
Is that true?
 
Let’s take a Biblical side journey and look at Genesis 1:26-31…

26. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
 
27. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
 
28. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

David wrote Psalm 24 thousands of years after what we are told here; so, if everything still belongs to God and not us, then what God is saying here is that we are to rule over the animals of the earth in such a loving way that God would be pleased with the way we are taking care of them for Him.
 
In addition, we are to subdue or prevent any evil from harming the animals and our fellow human beings.
 
We are to be the peacemaking children of God that Jesus called us to be.
 
And there is even more proof:

29. Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
 
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
 
31. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

If God commanded all animals, human or otherwise, to eat only plant foods, there could have been no death, which is one of the reasons God saw all of this as being very good.
 
This is God’s creation intent, and since there is no death in heaven, either, it is also God’s heavenly intent.
 
With this in mind, let’s return to Psalm 24…

3. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy place?
 
4. He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.

We cannot have clean hands and a pure heart if our hands are covered with blood from our own actions or because we had others do the dirty work for us.
 
Such people have falsehood in their souls because they are filled with deceit, because they betrayed the very animals they were charged with protecting; thus making themselves unworthy of being in God’s presence.
 
But if we act as the peacemaking children of God, we shall be blessed.

5. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
 
6. This is the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face—even Jacob.

Selah.
 
As we pause for a moment and contemplate what we have just read, which is the meaning of  “Selah”, the use of the term “even Jacob” refers to deceiving sinners who later repented as did Jacob when the Lord changed his name to Israel.
 
Therefore all such people can praise God and enter into His presence.

7. Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
 
8. Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.

This is not referring to a killing battle, for that would bring about death.
 
This is referring to a spiritual battle, just as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12…

12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Returning to our praise psalm…

9. Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
 
10. Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.

Just in case you think this is only referring to a physical temple, remember what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:16…

16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

These are the peacemaking children of God!
 
Let’s now take a look at how the evil people in this world follow the whims of the devil instead of living as the peacemaking children of God, as recorded in Mark 6:14-29…

14. And King Herod heard of it [how Jesus and the disciples were calling people to repentance and healing many], for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.”
 
15. But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”
 
16. But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

I hope we all see the hypocrisy in Herod’s comments, for while he recognized the truth, he still proceeded to kill John the Baptist for reasons of pride as we shall see in the following verses.

17. For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.
 
18. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
 
19. Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so;
 
20. for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.

In these few verses we see an example of a lot of the corruption in this world that exists to this very day:
 
How most people in authority really know the truth, but for reasons of pride quite often ignore it;
 
And, how corrupt leaders believe that they are above the law, and can get away with anything.

21. A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee;
 
22. and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.”
 
23. And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.”

This is a very foolish thing to say to anyone, for it opens the doors to all kinds of evil.

24. And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”
 
25. Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
 
26. And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her.
 
27. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison,
 
28. and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.

This is one evil family!

29. When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

Even though Herod had John the Baptist beheaded, he could never silence his Godly message, for it still rings out just as clear today as it did when he was preaching in the wilderness.
 
Do you remember what the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17?

15. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
 
16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
 
17. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

John is telling us very plainly that we have a choice.
 
We can live as the lustful and prideful people of this world and die in our sins, or we can live as the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, and live forever, even if we die in this corrupt and sinful world.
 
I hope our choice is to live in the will of our heavenly Father, and be blessed forever and ever.
 
Amen.

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