Friday, October 31, 2014

Let God Almighty Change Your Eternity

IS THIS CONFIDENCE?


If you consider the will of God when you look into the future, then you belong to a small minority. The larger part of our people have no regard for God at all. While they are outwardly modest, perhaps even timid souls, possessing some personal humility, they have learned to put a completely unjustifiable confidence in collective mankind. That trust has had sour results. So our society gets blindsided by evil events, from shootings in high schools to worse and worse anti-freedom legislation, and to the systematic plundering of our country by predatory trial lawyers. We can never be free of such onslaughts, neither  can we predict the future, but we can call upon God to become part of our national life. I doubt that the majority would join us in this, but at least we, who know what's going on, can intercede for our people, our leaders, our varied educational systems, our military, and our poor cities. We can hold them up to God, asking Him to focus His attention on them in mercy, that they might do His will.

In the Psalm, David had just been blindsided by his own flesh. First he had allowed sexual lust and coveting to lead him to adultery. His partner in this tryst was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, which should be of special interest to us, because of all David's partners, she would be the one through whom we trace the Messiah's pedigree. Yes, Jesus was who he was partly because of David's adultery. When she became with child, David attempted a simple cover-up, but it turned out to be more complicated. In the end, he resorted to murder to solve his problem. His membership in Israel did not protect him. His anointing as God's elect king did not protect him. Indeed, the devil gets peculiar pleasure from corrupting those who guard the Lord's name. Did that shake David up? Hardly! He still ate like a schoolboy and slept like a baby. He was confident in himself, certain that he could control the situation. So before He could help David, God had to demolish that confidence.

He elected the prophet Nathan. The prophet would preach the Law, using an appropriate parable. If you want to follow it, turn to II Samuel 12 -- a rich man and a poor man lived by each other; the rich man had many animals, but the poor man had only a single ewe lamb, which he treated like a pet, a companion to him and his children. One day the rich man had company, so he took the poor man's lamb and killed it to serve it to his company. When David heard that he grew very angry, and threatened to kill the rich man in the parable. But the stinger was about to come. Nathan pointed his finger at David and said, You are the man. Now David did have a conscience. That was all the prompting it needed. Psalm 51 is an ongoing testimony to his contrition. Notice he doesn't make any excuses for himself. He doesn't try to argue that he's really a victim. He doesn't plead any exceptional situation. Instead he says, I have sinned against the Lord, and in the Psalm he says, You are correct when You judge me, I have sinned against You, I have done what You hate, I am guilty of blood. Now where is David's confidence? No longer in himself. So now Nathan pronounces words of discipline. The sword would not depart from David's house, the child resulting from David's lack of self-control would die. This was not a threat. The events Nathan announced were inevitable. David's bravado was gone. The Scriptures describe him as having a sanguine personality, but now he was in deep depression.

Does that remind you of our society? Like David, we have come face to face with our sinfulness in all its sordid forms - evil desire, misconduct, deception, over-confidence, violence, and then despair. The first step is to face up to the evil in ourselves. We must cut through the entangling web of excuses we spin before the world. Then we have to face God's judgment upon it. Reduced to that condition, it's easy to see the one thing needful, that we must be born again, kill the Old Adam, and drink from the Fountain of Life.

Then we need to look at David again. Is this another, new confidence in the same, old David? Yes, but this time he is confident that God will not reject a penitent whose heart is broken by its own unworthiness. We also need that kind of cleansing, purging with the hyssop of the holy Gospel, washing in the water of redemption, being baptized into the death and resurrection of the Son of David, who pours into our souls the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life. How can this be? How can God turn your contrition into new spiritual life? The answer is in the book of the Prophet Zechariah, chapter 12 and 13. The house of David will look on Him whom they have pierced and mourn for Him … on that day a Fountain will be opened to cleanse them from sin and impurity. As you probably have figured out, the Fountain results from the piercing. Jesus of Nazareth fulfills these Scriptures. When He was pierced, the Fountain of Life flowed out. We know this because He was raised from the dead, even as Isaiah had foretold - He shall see the fruit of His agonizing labor, yes, He would harvest the souls for whom He laid down His life. The cross, my friends, the cross gives us what the Psalm so urgently requests - a new heart, a right spirit, the joy of salvation. By God's marvelous design, Jesus of Nazareth was a descendant of Solomon, the second child to result from the union of David with Uriah's wife. The Fountain cleansed His own ancestors with forgiveness.

What else happened to David? First of all, he continued on as king. God had chosen and anointed him, no one could impeach him, because that would be setting God's covenant aside. Just as Aaron was allowed to become high priest in spite of his shameful role in fashioning the golden calf, so David continued in both offices as king of Judah and Israel. He would bring sacrifices of joy, thank-offerings to the God who saved him. Some day he would fall asleep in peace, and inherit the kingdom of eternal life, but there would be consequences. The sword would not depart from David's house. Nathan did not put any ifs in his pronouncements. Both the Law and the Gospel were certain. The discipline was inevitable, but it was also a cross, which David could take up without losing the joy of salvation. God had canceled his guilt. He looked forward with confidence to an everlasting crown.  AMEN.


~Rev. Lloyd E.Gross

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