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Kingdom Living

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Kingdom Living
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
16 December 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Isaiah 11:11-16
        12:1-6
Zephaniah 3:10-20
Matthew 6:10
Luke 3:7-18

Do you remember in last week’s discussion, we talked about the peaceable kingdom and that it will come about when we are truly filled with the knowledge of the Lord? (Isaiah 11:6-10)
 
And when that happens, the people will also resort back to God whole-heartedly.
 
This is all part of kingdom living, which helps usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
 
In Isaiah 11:11-12:6 we are continuing with this message.

11. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord
Will again recover the second time with His hand
The remnant of His people, who will remain,
From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath,
And from the islands of the sea.

These are not just the Jewish people who will be recovered, but people from all over the world who have turned to God wholeheartedly.
 
And, on what day will this happen?
 
On the day that the people are filled with the knowledge of the Lord, free creation from its present corruption, usher in the peaceable kingdom, and return whole-heartedly to God.
 
Well, from looking at the world around us, we seem to be a long way from having this happen, because we are not living in God’s heavenly will, as Jesus tells us to pray for in Matthew 6:10.

10. 'Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
NASB

The only way this is going to happen is if we do it.
 
God has already set this in motion.
 
It’s all around us.
 
All we have to do is make it our heart’s desire to live in God’s heavenly will, and end all the warring madness, and violence in our hearts and souls toward all the millions of humans, and the billions of animals that suffer and die every year.
 
If enough of us do it, then we will see the world begin to change more and more into the peaceable kingdom God desires.
 
This is what it takes to be living as the peacemaking children of God.
 
And when this change really begins, then we will see God moving to change the things, such as what is written in this passage by Isaiah.

12. And He will lift up a standard for the nations,
And will assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
 
13. Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart,
And those who harass Judah will be cut off;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
And Judah will not harass Ephraim.

All over the world there are sensitive people who are suffering at the hands of those who are hard of heart, and God will rescue them as He promised Israel; He would bring home those who were banished.
 
Furthermore, if we are living in God’s heavenly will, there will no longer be any jealousy in our hearts.

14. And they will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west;
Together they will plunder the sons of the east;
They will possess Edom and Moab;
And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them.
 
15. And the LORD will utterly destroy
The tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
And He will wave His hand over the River
With His scorching wind;
And He will strike it into seven streams,
And make men walk over dry-shod.
 
16. And there will be a highway from Assyria
For the remnant of His people who will be left,
Just as there was for Israel
In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.

This is very war sounding, for that’s what the people understood, but according to what we are told in the New Testament, this will be more of a separation of the evil ones of this world from those who are peacemaking children of God.

12:1. Then you will say on that day,
"I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD;
For although Thou wast angry with me,
Thine anger is turned away,
And Thou dost comfort me.
 
2. "Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation."
 
3. Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.

Those who say this will be the ones who have truly returned to God with all their hearts and souls, and are living in the kingdom of God here on earth, just as we all are to pray for God’s help in bringing this to pass.

4. And in that day you will say,
"Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted."
 
5. Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.
 
6. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
NASB

This is what the peacemaking children of God do naturally.
 
This is all part of kingdom living.
 
Now, let’s take a look at what Zephaniah says in 3:10-20 about these end times.

10. "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
My worshipers, My dispersed ones,
Will bring My offerings.

Through his use of the Hebrew word “mim-chaw,” Zephaniah is also one of the Hebrew prophets who emphasize that these will be grain offerings.
 
God was plainly telling the Hebrew people some 650 years before the first coming of Jesus, and several generations before the Babylonian captivity, that He doesn’t want any animal sacrifices; but the people refused to stop.
 
We further believe He wanted to totally end all forms of the raising and killing of animals for food, just like His original creation in Eden and as it is in heaven. (Genesis 1:29-30)

11. "In that day you will feel no shame
Because of all your deeds
By which you have rebelled against Me;
For then I will remove from your midst
Your proud, exulting ones,
And you will never again be haughty
On My holy mountain.

We believe that a large part of the rebellion and shame has to do with the hardening of our hearts and souls in order to kill and eat animals, for God wants us to have soft hearts that are obedient to Him.
 
This hardening of the heart is also the root cause of all of the other forms of violence and corruption in the world.

12. "But I will leave among you
A humble and lowly people,
And they will take refuge in the name of the LORD.
 
13. "The remnant of Israel will do no wrong
And tell no lies,
Nor will a deceitful tongue
Be found in their mouths;
For they shall feed and lie down
With no one to make them tremble."

The Lord is gathering not only the Godly remnant of Israel, but also of the nations, and they will come together in holiness and righteousness and take refuge in the name of the Lord
 
He will also remove the proud and self-exalted people who are responsible for all of the corruption upon the earth, and there shall be true peace.
 
All living beings will no longer live in fear, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

14. Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
 
15. The LORD has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
You will fear disaster no more.
 
16. In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
 
17. "The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

The Lord will fight the necessary battles in the spiritual realm and not in the ways of mankind with all our warring madness.

18. "I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts —
They came from you, O Zion;
The reproach of exile is a burden on them.
 
19. "Behold, I am going to deal at that time
With all your oppressors, I will save the lame
And gather the outcast,
And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
In all the earth.
 
20. "At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,"
Says the LORD.
NASB

Zephaniah is describing every possible joy for these redeemed people, and we believe the animals, for there are no longer any sins to atone for, and thus no longer any sacrifice.
 
God is also removing all the oppressors of the world; those who cause so much suffering and death to millions of our fellow human beings, and billions of other animals every year.
 
This is truly kingdom living.
 
During this Christmas advent season, we see and hear a lot about “peace on earth,” yet only a relatively few are true peacemakers.
 
And if these oppressive people are not working for God, they must be working for the devil.
 
In Luke 3:7-18, we are told about the people who came out to be baptized by John in the Jordan River.
 
And as we look at these verses, remember that this takes place before the end times prophecies that Zephaniah and Isaiah were prophesying about.

7. He therefore began saying to the multitudes who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
 
8. "Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

John knew what the people were like, and he is telling them very pointedly that being baptized for repentance of sins is not enough unless it is also coupled with the deeds of living in God’s heavenly will.
 
And we don’t believe that there is any difference with those who claim to be born again, but fail to bring forth the fruits of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, by living as the peacemaking children of God He desires us to be.

9. "And also the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
 
10. And the multitudes were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?"
 
11. And he would answer and say to them, "Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise."
 
12. And some tax-gatherers also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
 
13. And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to."
 
14. And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages."

John is teaching them about kingdom living, but if they don’t do it, their baptism will be of no use to them.

15. Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ,
 
16. John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
 
17. "And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

John is telling us that Jesus anoints those who are truly seeking to live in God’s heavenly will, and He will be removing all those who work against Him and send them to hell.

18. So with many other exhortations also he preached the gospel to the people.
NASB

The choice is ours.
 
Are we going to live in the ways of this world, and lose the kingdom of heaven, or are we going to seek to be like Jesus and live in God’s heavenly will as the peacemaking children of God?
 
If it’s the latter, then we will truly have a Merry Christmas all the days of our lives.
 
Amen.