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OUR TRIUMPHAL, AND NOT SO TRIUMPHAL, ENTRIES

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

12 APRIL 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 13:1-18
Matthew 7:13-14
Luke 19:36-40

As we began our service this morning, we heard an accounting of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Now Jerusalem had become quite a worldly place, much as our community has become; a place where most people did as they pleased.

Some of the people reached out to Jesus, as their Lord and Savior, by spreading their garments on the road before Him and by shouting His praises (Luke 19:36-38):

36. And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road.

37. And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen,

38. saying,
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

There were others there in the same crowd of people – even religious leaders – who would not accept Jesus for who He is, and they even tried to get Jesus to stop His entry and rebuked those who believed (Luke 19:39):

39. And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."

But instead, Jesus rebuked them by continuing, and saying,

"... if these [people] become silent, the stones will cry out!" (Luke 19:40)

If Jesus had given in to the hypocrites and irreligious people, for the sake of His acceptance by them, His entry would not have been triumphal. Instead, He would have been like the hypocrites.

But Jesus set us the proper example; that we, and all who saw and heard, should follow in His footsteps.

Do you remember what Jesus tells us about our entry into heaven, as recorded in Matthew 7:13-14?

13. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.

14. “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

When it comes to the matters of God, and our own salvation, we usually won't find them among the crowds or in the places where we find the bright colored lights and the glamour.

Our way to God will most often be found during the quiet times in our life, and where there are few people.

For our “triumphal entry” only begins when we are willing to give up everything else in our lives, and follow Him and serve Him.

As a society, we haven't learned this lesson very well, since the time when Jesus taught us nearly 2,000 years ago.

And the truth about entering in to the way of God was stated long before that time, too.

In Genesis 13, which records an event in Abram's and his nephew Lot's lifetime, 4,000 years ago, we have another example of our triumphal, and not so triumphal, entries.

Let's turn there in our Bibles, and see how what happened at that time still applies to our lives today.

1. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him; and Lot with him.

For a time, Abram had turned from the way that the Lord desired him to go, and had taken a side trip to Egypt; but now he is reentering the way of God.

2. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.

3. And he went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,

4. to the place of the altar, which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Abram, realizing the mistake he had made in going to Egypt, is now returning to the place where he had been close to God.

His entry into Egypt was not triumphal.

In his return to Bethel he is making a triumphal entry, or reentry; but it doesn't matter which.

The only important thing is that he is now in the presence of the Lord.

Every one of us has made mistakes in our life, just as Abram did.

In God's sight it doesn't matter what we did, but what we are going to do now, and from now on.

God wants us to turn away from our mistakes, and enter into his presence.

He wants us to triumph over our mistakes.

And what about Lot?

5. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.

Lot has returned with Abram, but is his attitude the same as Abram's? Let's see.

6. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.

7. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

True Godly love can overcome any problem.

The strife arose because one or the other wanted control.

If there was room enough for the natives of the land, who were for the most part ungodly, then surely in the presence of God, Abram and Lot should have been able to get along together.

Now we know that Abram has returned to seek the Lord, but so far we are not told about Lot's attitude.

Note what happens next:

8. Then Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.

9. "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left."

Abram has taken the narrow path that leads to life; and, as a result, he overflows with love.

His trust and his relationship with God take precedence over the land, and he knows that he no longer has to remain at Bethel, for his home is beyond Bethel: it is with the Lord Himself.

And since he loves Lot too much to have anything come between them, he is willing to leave, if Lot so desires.

In fact, he leaves the entire decision up to Lot.

And with Lot's answer, we can also come to know where he resides spiritually, and what road he has taken to get there.

10. And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere – this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.

11. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.

Lot enjoyed what was at the end of the broad way they took to Egypt, and he obviously didn't want to leave, especially by the narrow path that Abram had taken.

So now, when Lot is given the choice, he chooses another broad roadway – one that leads to an even greater "spiritual" hell than that of Egypt.

And instead of gaining more wealth, with the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot will lose everything he has.

Lot has made another un-triumphal entry.

12. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.

13. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.

Because of Abram's attitude, the Lord continues to bless him.

14. And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;

15. for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.

And remember, eastward is where Lot went.

The Lord is telling Abram that not only will his descendants possess the land where he is, but also the land that Lot desired to possess.

16. "And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.

17. "Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you."

18. Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Abram makes another triumphal entry.

The Lord is telling us this account of Lot and Abram in order that we would look at our own lives, and decide for ourselves what kinds of entries we have been making.

As Abram gave Lot the free will choice of which pathway to take, so the Lord gives each of us the same choice.

And the way we choose will determine whether or not we receive a blessing.

The way we choose of our own free will determines whether our entry will be triumphal or not so triumphal.

I truly pray that each of us has chosen the proper pathway from which to make our own entry.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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