Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
GOD'S COMPASSION PROTECTS US IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
30 OCTOBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 6:14
1 Timothy 6:11-16
1 Peter 2:9-10
Preparation Verse: (Colossians 3:4)
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Tomorrow is Halloween, and it is a day that speaks of the dark side of creation or, perhaps more accurately, that portion of creation that chose the darkness rather than the light. It is a day that honors the forces of evil.
When I was asked what I thought about this holiday, I responded that it is something that Christians should stay away from.
Sure, there is candy and fun for the children, but that is the way that the devil lures us into his trap.
Isn’t this the way that evil men also try to lure children into their cars?
In John 8:12, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Why should Christians who know the light seek to walk in the darkness with unbelievers?
The answer is that they shouldn't.
Note also what we are told in 2 Corinthians 6:14.
14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
And again we must answer and say "none."
Haven’t unrighteous and lawless people tried to hurt our children by putting things in their candy?
If we come together as a body in Christ, and celebrate the good things, we can have even more fun, and we don't have to do it only once a year; and in the process, we won't be exposing ourselves to harm.
God has so much for us, if we are willing to accept it.
Let's take a look at part of this promise in 1 Peter 2:9-10.
9. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10. for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We used to be followers of the devil and his demons, but we don't have to be there any longer.
We were of the lost races, but we don't have to be there any longer.
We were in darkness and without mercy, but we don't have to be there any longer, either.
To be in the light is to be in God's presence; for when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are brought out of darkness and into the light and given the garments of a royal priest.
So why return to the darkness?
And why should we, even for one day a year, remove our priestly garments and put on the clothes of demoniacs?
Moses knew the difference of living in the darkness of the sin of Egypt and living in the light of God.
He knew that God had separated him and the people of Israel from the rest of the world, so that they might be distinguished from them.
So Moses prayed and thanked God for all that He had done; and in our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Exodus 33:17-23, we listened in on the conversation that followed. Let's do it again.
17. And the Lord said to Moses, "1 will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I have known you by name."
18. Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!"
When we follow God, He will grant our requests, and give us far more than we could ever get on a night of trick or treating.
Moses has found this out, and here we hear him request to actually see God's holy and righteous glory, a light so bright that it will destroy all darkness and those who bring it into His presence.
Moses, like us, still had sin in his life, and unlike us, Christ had not come to shed His blood to take away his sin; thus what he is asking for could actually cause his death, and ours, until we are glorified with Him.
But note how God lovingly protects him and us when we allow Him.
19. And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you,
God isn't going to have one of His angels show him; He is going to do it Himself, personally.
and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to
whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show
20. But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"
To see into the spiritual face of Almighty God is to be aware of how really sinful we are and how truly holy He is, and our awareness would bring upon us such fear that we could not live.
21. Then the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;
22. and it will come about while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.
23. "Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen."
Like Moses, our protection will come when we stand upon the Rock. And that Rock is Jesus Christ.
When we are in Christ Jesus, He is in us, and His marvelous light will surround us and protect us.
With the brilliance of that light, no darkness can approach. And the repented sin in our lives is covered by the blood of Christ, just as the hand of God covered Moses.
Since we know the difference between spiritual light and darkness, why do we seek the darkness, or allow it into our presence?
We do it because we have become weak and perhaps lazy as well.
It's easier to go along with our children's wishes and the rest of our society, than it is to say “no” to the evilness of this world, and to provide alternatives without the satanic implications.
Note that I said “without the satanic implications”; for having a Halloween party in the church is no different and, in fact, may even make things worse, because it appears to give our blessing upon it.
During the Crop Walk, we had clowns that expressed the joy of Jesus Christ, and extended His love to all around them.
Tomorrow night there will be many other costumes present, and most of them will express anything but the love of Jesus Christ.
The horrible thing about this is that most people participate in complete innocence, thinking that it is completely harmless.
A gun is harmless without any bullets, and bullets are almost as harmless without a gun, and even putting the bullets in the gun can be harmless until that time someone picks it up and points it at someone else and pulls the trigger.
Exposing ourselves to the things of the devil has a similar relationship. At first they look completely innocent. Then we even might acknowledge some evilness, but deny its effect on us. But as we keep adding to it, we will find that we have a living time bomb within that can explode at any time.
Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy and to us about our attraction to the world. (1 Timothy 6:11-16)
11. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
12. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Are we fleeing from the darkness into the marvelous light?
Are we making a good confession of our faith in Jesus Christ when we seek after the darkness?
God has provided everything we could ever want. Stop chasing after other things. Come into the light of the Lord, and He will protect you in the cleft of the rock.
13. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14. that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15. which He will bring about at the proper time – He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and the Lord of lords;
16. who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.