EVEN WHEN THE TRUTH IS RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES...
EVEN WHEN THE TRUTH IS RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES...
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
17 JULY 1994
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16-17
Luke 1:31-33, 38
When we are a people of faith, we can so much more easily see the truth before us.
But when the truth is right before our eyes, there are many people who still won't believe.
I really don’t know all the reasons why this happens---God knows!
What I have come to understand, though, is that this is a condition commonly expressed as “hardness of heart.”
Sometimes God Himself brings about this hardness of heart, because those who have been shown the truth over and over again still fail to believe in Him and repent of their evil ways.
This happened to Pharaoh in Egypt, as we are told in Exodus 14:5-8.
5. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"
Notice that this change of heart, this hardening of heart, first began in the hearts of the Egyptians.
6. So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him;
7. and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.
8. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly.
The Lord does this only when all signs of love and compassion have gone from the person.
Moses reminded the people that the same thing happened to Sihon king of Heshbon, as recorded in Deuteronomy 2:26-30.
26. "So I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
27. 'Let me pass through your land, I will travel only on the highway; I will not turn aside to the right or to the left.
28. 'You will sell me food for money so that I may eat, and give me water for money so that I may drink, only let me pass through on foot,
29. just as the sons of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I cross over the Jordan into the land which the Lord our God is giving to us.'
30. "But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today.
God had given these nations over 400 years to change their way, all the time that the sons of Israel were in the land of Egypt, and yet they would not repent.
And Isaiah (6:9-11) prophesied the same thing about the Israelites who would not accept the plan of salvation that God was offering them.
9. And He [God] said [to Isaiah], "Go, and tell this people:
'Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.'
10. "Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Lest they see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed."
11. Then I said, "Lord, how long?"
And He answered,
"Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people,
And the land is utterly desolate,
Do you remember what Jesus told the people about why divorce was allowed in the Hebrew (Old) Testament? (Matthew 19:8)
8. He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
Could this be the reason for the many problems that we have in the world today?
Could it be that most people want to live only by the concessions God has granted us, or by what they can get away with, and not by the true desires and intent of God?
For many people know who Jesus is, but very few have taken Him into their hearts.
Let's take a look at an example. In 2 Samuel 7:12-13 and 16-17, there is a reminder about Jesus having come from the line of David.
12. "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13. "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
16. "And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever." ’ "
17. In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Psalm 89 was written as a further reminder of God’s covenant with David, that future generations would recognize Messiah when He came.
Note verses 30-37:
30. "If his sons forsake My law,
And do not walk in My judgments,
31. If they violate My statutes,
And do not keep My commandments,
32. Then I will visit their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
33. "But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him,
Nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.
34. "My covenant I will not violate,
Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
35. "Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36. "His descendants shall endure forever,
And his throne as the sun before Me.
37. "It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful." Selah.
God does not go back on His word.
Once He has promised something, He will fulfill it.
We may violate our portion of such a covenant, and thus lose the promise for ourselves; or we may fulfill our portion of the covenant and receive the promise.
Jesus is the promised Messiah of God.
And as the genealogies tell us, He is also of the line of David, and His kingdom will reign forever.
It's also as the angel of the Lord told Mary about the child that He desired to be born to her (Luke 1:31-33).
31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary believed what the angel was telling her, and she accepted the call of God for her life, as we are told in verse 38:
38. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Now, in those days, it was no easy thing to be unmarried and become pregnant.
For the custom was to bring such a person out and to stone her to death for her promiscuity.
God's intent is that we remain virgins until we are married.
But Mary, knowing the risk, trusted in the Lord; for she understood that if the Lord promised her something, He would also be faithful to accomplish it.
From our position today, we can look back and see that Jesus came into the world as promised; but we are also told that the very people He came for, turned Him over to be crucified.
Yet during His ministry, there were even blind people who had eyes to see the truth, as we are told in Matthew 9:27.
27. And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, and saying, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"
Note the heart condition of the people and the religious leaders at another time, after He had performed a miracle (Matthew 12:22-24).
22. Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.
23. And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?"
24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
The same truth, the same evidence, was before them, yet some rejected what they saw.
It wasn't just the educated that understood the signs of the coming Messiah; the common people knew it, too.
In fact, as we read here, it was the common people who recognized the signs, and the temple leaders who rejected them.
But these religious leaders did something even worse; they attributed these signs to the devil, and thus blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
If we look around our own society today, we should be able to see the same heart conditions.
Even when the truth is right before our eyes...
As I've said before, even we who are gathered here this morning, even we who are true believers and followers of Jesus Christ, even we are still hypocrites in some aspect or other of our lives.
We know and believe the truth, but we don't always practice it, even though we know we should.
We may be the only Bibles that many people ever hear, and the only peacemaking children of God that many people will get to see.
Do they see Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God, in us, or do they see the devil in us at times and remember only him?
Or is it that they don't want to accept the truth, and are only looking for excuses not to really commit their lives to following Jesus?
We had a really interesting discussion on Monday night, at our Bible study, concerning people who are going forth as disciples of Christ.
We may really want to do our best, and really be seen as the loving Christians the Lord wants us to be, but at the same time, we must recognize when we fall short.
Sometimes, we are to recognize the hardness of heart in others, and move on to someone else; and at other times we must seriously question ourselves, and ask ourselves, "Am I really doing everything I can?"
Perhaps, the best answer is to do both.
We can make this a more loving, compassionate, and peaceful world.
And this must be part of our continual prayer life before God, every minute of every day, as long as we live on this earth.
Let us pray!
Your Comments are welcome
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