Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
JESUS CHRIST’S BIRTH IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE END TIMES
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
23 DECEMBER 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Samuel 7:1-17
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-29
Preparation Verse: (Isaiah 7:14)
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Our God is a covenant God.
What He promises will come to pass.
God always remembers what He tells us, and is faithful to perform it.
But sometimes we forget what He tells us, and we go off and do our own thing and don't wait for the Lord.
Sometimes, when we remember, we also become impetuous, as did King David when he decided to build the Temple.
Let's read this account in 2 Samuel 7:1-17:
1. Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies,
2. that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains."
3. And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you."
Yes, the Lord most definitely was with David; and when things quieted down, David built himself a very stately home of cedar.
His own pride came before the covenant of God, part of which was written on the stone tablets contained in the ark; but when he moved into his home, he realized what he had done and tried to correct it.
Nathan, recognizing the same thing, agreed with David without first going to the Lord to see what the Lord really wanted.
In his desire to please the Lord, he was just as impetuous as David.
All that God wants from any of us is our obedience, and to make Him first in our lives.
He doesn't want or need any physical gifts from us. He is the giver, and enjoys supplying all our needs. He doesn't want anything physical in return.
If we have something we desire to give, then we are to give it to someone in need, and for the work of the church.
Or, we can work as peacemaking children of God to help end the corruption and suffering that is being inflicted upon millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals.
That night after Nathan left, the Lord reminded him of this:
4. But it came about in the same night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying,
5. "Go and say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord, "Are you the one who should build me a house to dwell in?
6. "For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.
7. "Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?' '' '
Do you see the way God responds?
All He really wants is for the leaders of Israel to be as shepherds to the sons and daughters of Israel: to protect them, and care for them, and to keep them from wandering away from the Lord their God.
And we can safely say that this is all the Lord really desires of us and our leaders, today.
The Lord sends this message to remind David of his true responsibility as king:
8. "Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, "I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel.
9. "And I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.
10. "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,
11. even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.
God reminds David, and all leaders everywhere, that just as David shepherded the sheep of his father and cared for them so that they would not fall into harm’s way; so are we to shepherd those in our care so that they would not stray away from the Lord our God.
If we do this, then the Lord Himself will elevate us and make our name known. We don't have to try to elevate ourselves by doing some spectacular deed.
And sometimes the Lord will give us something even beyond our wildest dreams, if we will continue to obey Him.
The Lord Himself will build a house for us:
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.
The line of David's kingdom leads to Jesus Christ, twenty-eight generations later.
And each generation will be responsible for preserving the name of the Lord within the temple built for Him, just as we are today.
The Lord reminds David and us of this fact:
14. "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15. but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
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.
Part of the sin of our human nature is that far too many of us in our society want all of the accolades without also being responsible for the things we do and say.
When we do something counter to the word of God, and we are reminded of it, we all too often get angry and leave the church.
Likewise, church leaders leave the church because the people won't listen to them.
This problem is also compounded when the church leaders to things against the
will of God, and distort His word to try to justify it, as is most commonly done
when it comes to the suffering of animals.
What a horrible state we would be in if Jesus gave up on us, just because most of the people in His days upon the earth rejected Him and His words.
His birth and His life upon this earth was just the beginning of these end
times, when we wait anxiously for His return.
And now we have a world full of lost sheep who make up all kinds of reasons and excuses why they can't come to church and why they can't serve the Lord their God as He desires to be served.
We also have churches that deliberately make compassionate people feel uncomfortable by flaunting they indifference to the suffering and killing of animals.
We even have some churches that have only lost sheep and shepherds in them; for they want the social aspects of the church, but they don't want any part of Jesus Christ, for they would have to turn away from their ungodly ways, and that would interfere with their own goals and desires.
To them it doesn't matter what God wants, and that is why they are chastised by God.
If we want our own success, and if we want truly outstanding Christmas gifts, then we must respond to the Giver.
Do you know the stories about Santa Claus; and the way that he is always
noticing who is naughty and nice, and the fact that no one has to do anything to
get his gifts, other than be nice? He just gives freely.
Jesus Christ gives more, and He is not a myth. He is real.
And if we accept His ways and His gifts, we and our gifts will live on forever more.
The Lord our God is the beginning and the end of all our hopes.
As we give up on the worldly ways and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, as He gave Himself to us, then we begin to rejoice in our anticipation of His return, even in the face of difficulties.
Listen to the faith and joy expressed by the psalmist in Psalm 89:1-2:
1. I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever;
To all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth.
2. For I have said, "Lovingkindness will be built up forever;
In the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness."
God is indeed the faithful one and in our praise of Him, He responds with His promise of our Christmas gift, which didn't arrive for hundreds of years, as we read in verses 3 and 4:
3. "I have made a covenant with My chosen;
I have sworn to David My servant,
4. I will establish your seed forever,
And build up your throne to all generations."
The people were impatient about this promise of the coming Messiah, and they
turned away from the Lord.
Isn’t the world, now, likewise impatient about their Christmas gift of His return?
He was faithful with His first coming. Why do we doubt that He will return? Why don't we live like we know He will return soon?
Let's jump ahead to verses 19-29 and hear more of this promise of Christ's coming, of His everlasting reign, and of our position in it:
19. Once Thou didst speak in vision to Thy godly ones,
And didst say, "I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20. "I have found David My servant;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,
21. With whom My hand will be established;
My arm also will strengthen him.
Samuel anointed David with holy oil as a physical sign of the real anointing by the Holy Spirit; and it is by the anointing of the Holy Spirit that David and we are strengthened.
Do you remember what John the Baptist said about this in Matthew 3:11?
11. …I baptize with water for repentance …He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
If we have truly accepted the birth of Jesus in our hearts, then we are given the strength to live godly lives until His return, which will be our eternal Christmas gift.
As we continue with our reading (Psalm 22), hear the promise of protection:
22. "The enemy will not deceive him,
Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
23. "But I shall crush his adversaries before him,
And strike those who hate him.
24. "And My faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him,
And in My name his horn will be exalted.
We are speaking of David, the line of David, Jesus Christ, and all those who follow in the line of Jesus – we who believe and follow His peaceful teachings.
The Holy Spirit lets every one of us know when things are false, or when we
are on the verge of being deceived.
And if we listen, the sons and daughters of wickedness cannot hurt us.
All we have to do is hang on to God's faithfulness and His lovingkindness; and in His name we will come out on top.
Christ is indeed coming back.
Keep that hope in your heart and wait patiently for His eternal kingdom.
And keep remembering the words of the psalmist, for they have come to pass and they will come to pass again:
25. "I shall also set his hand on the sea,
And his right hand on the rivers.
26. "He will cry to Me, 'Thou art my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.'
27. "I also shall make him my first-born,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
28. "My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall be confirmed to him.
29. "So I will establish his descendants forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.
Is God your Father?
He is if you have repented and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Then He should also be our rock and strength: the One who carries us through all the days of our lives, so that we can be compassionate and loving and holy.
And if we are born again; if we are spiritual descendants of Jesus Christ, then we will even be allowed to sit on His throne in heaven.
Don't let the sins of this world and the cares of our everyday life steal this precious promise from you.
Don't allow anything or anyone to steal this Christmas gift from you, for then it will truly be a Merry Christmas.
25. Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
26. but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
27. to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
Christ will indeed come again!
Amen and Amen.