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GOD: CREATOR AND REDEEMING KING?

FRIDAY – CREATOR AND REDEEMING KING?

THIS IS MY FATHER’S WORLD

This is My Father’s World

And to my listening ears

All nature sings

And round me rings

The music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees,

Of skies and seas

His hand the wonders wrought


ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR

All Glory, Laud and Honor

To Thee Redeemer King

To whom the lips of children

Made sweet hosannas ring

Thou art the King of Israel

Thou David’s royal Son

Who in the Lord’s Name cometh

The King and Blessed One


Two great but different hymns. Two different verses. Two different thoughts. Two different focuses. One focus on God as Creator, the other on God as Redeemer.

If we focus only on God as Creator, we will fail to enjoy an eternal relationship with Him. The theology of religions other than Judaism and Christianity will focus on God as Lord of Creation who deserves man’s allegiance and obedience to earn a place in the Kingdom of God (KOG).

Biblical Judaism and Christianity are different. They teach of a Creator God who redeems in order to be known. Without His redeeming work there is no knowing the Creator God.

But knowing the Creator God though His redeeming work has its responsibilities. When the Lord of Creation is embraced as the Redeeming Lord, the redeemed strive to demonstrate their appreciation for His redeeming work by seeking to know and live His revealed will. Their focus shifts from God being the Lord of Creation to one of demonstrating that the God of Redemption is Lord of their life as an act of appreciation for His redeeming work now embraced through faith.

NAU 2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

NIV 2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

KJV 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

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LORD OF THE REDEEMED

THURSDAY – THE LORD OF THE REDEEMED

A Lord or Master is one who has the power to control others at will. He is one with absolute authority. He defines what is right and wrong, good and bad. He establishes boundaries of conduct.

God is Lord and Master over His Creation. He made us, we did not just appear (Psalm 100:3). It was His power that made us from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). He has defined what is right and wrong , good and bad based upon who He is (Exodus 20:1-17). He established a boundary of conduct (Genesis 2:15-17). But mankind has rebelled and continues to be in rebellion against God as Creator.

God has not only established His Lordship over us as our Creator, but He has established His Lordship over us as our Redeemer. To understand His Lordship as Redeemer we must have a proper picture in our minds. To do this we must picture a slave market outside of Israel (I emphasize outside of Israel because God presented Israel with humane guidelines for servitude among His people which is for a future discussion). One who was enslaved in the ancient world was stripped of his or her dignity and openly displayed naked before potential buyers. After examination, the bidding would begin and the winner would pay the redemption or ransom price and become the owner of that person. The buyer became the Lord or Master in that individual’s life because he was their redeemer. He or she was obligated to do the Master’s bidding. Paying the redemption or ransom price is the meaning of both the Hebrew and Greek word used in Scripture to describe God’s work in Israel and Christians.

This is true of Israel:

NAU Exodus 6:6 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

NIV Exodus 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

KJV Exodus 6:6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments.

It is true of Christians:

NAU Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

NIV Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

KJV Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

As our Redeemer, God has the right of absolute control over our lives. He is the One with absolute authority over us. He defines what is right and wrong, good and bad. He establishes our boundaries of conduct. He is a benevolent dictator.

Like slaves in the market, mankind stands exposed because of their sin before God. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6) long to be redeemed. However, not all men desire to be redeemed or to acknowledge God as their Redeemer. This leaves them as unclaimed and unredeemed slaves of sin. But for those who desire and believe in the work of Jesus’ on the cross for their redemption from the slavery of sin and its consequences it means they are servants of their Redemptive Master. He owns them and has absolute control over their lives. He is their Lord.

May we appreciate His redeeming work and demonstrate our appreciation with grateful submission to His will.

NAU 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

NIV 1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

KJV 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

NAU 1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

NIV 1 John 2:5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:

KJV 1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

LORD OF CREATION

WEDNESDAY – THE LORD OF CREATION

There is one thing that all of mankind has in common – they are all created by God. We are created in His image. We all share this common heritage. Though presently there are many races, we all came from one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve). And God has not let us forget this truth in His revelation:

NAU Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

NIV Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,

KJV Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:

NAU Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.

NIV Mark 10:6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.

KJV Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

NAU Mark 13:19 “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.

NIV Mark 13:19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now– and never to be equaled again.

KJV Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

And we must not forget that while Genesis 1 declares that God created the heavens and the earth, later revelation declares that it is the creative work of the Second Person of the Trinity – Jesus!

NAU Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

NIV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

NAU John 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

NIV John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

KJV John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

NAU Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.

NIV Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

KJV Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

As our Creator, God is our Master, our Lord. Man tends to forget this truth but God gently reminds us:

NAU Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

NIV Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

KJV Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

God has staked His claim as Lord over us by being our creator. We may rebel against God’s Lordship as Creator but the truth remains – we are His by creation. He owns us and has the right to rule over us.

And all men will have to acknowledge this truth one day as Isaiah 45:3 told us yesterday. Yet, it is not enough to merely acknowledge YHWH as Lord of all creation. The person who only bows to YHWH as the Creator God is in the same predicament as the person who refuses to acknowledge YHWH as their Creator God. They are both rejected by God. Theists, in the broadest definition of the term, are on equal ground with the atheist if YHWH is only submitted to as Lord of Creation. There is another submission by man to God that is necessary to receive God’s favor as we will see tomorrow.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS

TUESDAY – Isaiah 45:23

THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

I think one of the more compelling and pre-eminent verses in the Bible is Isaiah 45:23.

NAU Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.

NIV Isaiah 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.

KJV Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Isaiah is like the Bible in miniature. The Bible has 66 books, the Book of Isaiah has 66 chapters. The Bible is divided into two parts – the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). Isaiah is divided into two parts – The Prophecies of Condemnation (the first 39 chapters) and the Prophecies of Comfort (the next 27 chapters).

Isaiah 45 is found in part 2 of Isaiah – The prophecies of Comfort. More particularly it is found in a section dealing with prophecies discussing the deliverance of Israel. More specifically, chapter 45 is detailing God’s comforting of Israel after using Cyrus to deliver the nation. It is also a chapter dealing with Divine Lordship over mankind.

Isaiah 45:23 is the basis for two arguments used by Paul in the New Testament found in Romans 14:11 and Philippians2:10. In Romans 14:11 it is used in a discussion of Christian principles to discourage judgmentalism among Christians. His argument is that all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account to Him, therefore, we must not judge other Christians based on our preferences rather than the clearly proclaimed standards of God.

Philippians 2:10 is used a little differently. After describing the submission of Jesus’ Divinity to His humanity in the Incarnation as an example of humility for Christians to follow, he uses Isaiah 45:23 to exalt Jesus as the Messiah to be worshipped. I think Paul also had a picture from Psalm 2:12 in his mind as well.

As a pre-eminent verse in the OT used twice in the NT, Isaiah 45:23 should command our attention. It tells us that one day everyone will bow their knee to God. Why? Why should we bow our knees to God Almighty? It is this question we will attempt to answer this week.

THE RESURRECTION

SUNDAY

THE RESURRECTION

Certainly a look at Passion Week would be incomplete if it stopped at the Crucifixion. While an important event, it pales in comparison to a more dramatic event. The Crucifixion set the stage for the climax of Passion Week. The physical death of Jesus was necessary for the satisfaction of our sin, and like Jesus, we will still experience physical death unless we experience the rapture. It is a consequence of the inherent sin nature we inherited from our ancestors, Adam and Eve.

The spiritual death of Jesus was of greater significance because without its elimination in our life, we are destined – as rebels from God – to experience its consequence for eternity. For those who have placed their confidence in the Person and work of Jesus with His experience of spiritual death or separation from God as our substitute, there is the annihilation of the spiritual death experience.

Yet for the final event in Passion Week all Jesus’ work would have been for naught (a good term from the past). It was this one final act of Jesus that gives us the hope that removes our fear of death – both physical and spiritual – and gives us our hope for better than our destiny deserves. I am speaking of the Resurrection of Jesus.

I am basing my remarks on the words of that greatest of Christian thinkers and theologians, the Apostle Paul. He said it best in 1 Corinthians 15: 13:

NAU 1 Corinthians 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;

NIV 1 Corinthians 15:13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

If there is no resurrection of Jesus, there is no Gospel, there is no payment for sins, there is no eternal life. Without Jesus rising again from the dead – both spiritual and physical – there is no Gospel hope. Re-entering to His rightful eternal relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit made it possible for us to enter into fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead was a dramatic demonstration of this truth. They are tied together. One without the other is incomplete. The spiritual resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for man to enter into the presence of the Triune God. The physical resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the reality of this truth which those of faith will experience at our physical death or translation. Without the resurrection, It would have shown that while He was capable of dying physically and spiritually, He was powerless to rise above death’s clutches.

Without the resurrection – both the physical and spiritual – the Gospel is vanity.

NAU 1 Corinthians 15:14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

NIV 1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

Let us celebrate the resurrection not just once a year but daily.

GOOD FRIDAY – THE CRUCIFIXION

FRIDAY – The Crucifixion

So much has been written about the crucifixion of Jesus. What more can be added. Most Christian authors, however,  have focused on the physical agony of crucifixion. It is the human connecting point with the suffering of Jesus.

No doubt crucifixion was a horrendous way to die. The Romans were the masters of it but they did not invent the practice – they only perfected it. Alexander the Great learned it during his conquest of the Persians but as the practice spread west it was the Romans who perfected its cruelty after learning of it from the Phoenicians. So horrid was its suffering that only slaves and the lowest form of criminals could be sentenced to crucifixion. By law no Roman citizen could ever suffer this form of punishment.

The Romans appear to have studied and perfected this form of suffering so that death would be elusive for two or three days. What made crucifixion so excruciating was the slowness of the suffocating process that induced death. The victim’s lungs would slowly fill with liquid making the satisfaction of a full breath elusive. Not completely without mercy, the Romans also designed an alcoholic potion that they intermittently offered the victim (when they saw fit) to ease the pain. But they rarely shortened the suffering of the victim.

When we consider the crucifixion of Jesus, our minds naturally race to the physical suffering He had to endure. No doubt it was excruciating. He entered into crucifixion with no sleep over the previous 24+ hours because after His supper with the disciples they went to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed (Luke 22: 39-46).

Then, in the middle of the night, He was arrested (Luke 22:47-53) and forced to endure three illegal trials between midnight and 6AM at the hands of religious leaders who claimed to be protectors of God’s Law ( John 18: 2-12; Luke 22:54-71). After being condemned as a lawbreaker and blasphemer, and after being severely beaten and deprived of sleep, Jesus was turned over to the Romans for punishment. Because the Jews had no authority over capital punishment, their leadership demanded the severest form of punishment from the Romans who presided over death. While Pilate, the ultimate decision maker among men in this Roman province, tried in vain to avoid crucifying Jesus (John 18:28-19:16), he ultimately made the decision that sent Jesus to the cross. And after being severely beaten and whipped again – this time by the Romans – Jesus was led to Golgotha where He was fastened and displayed on the cross to die. His physical suffering was immense.

Yet for all the physical agony of the cross, I do not think that Jesus’ physical suffering was the greatest pain He had to endure. He was put on the cross by 9AM and by 3PM He was dead. His physical death was under His control. As the Son of God He chose when He would physically die (John 19:30; Matt 27:50). Six hours of suffering on the cross before dying was unheard of yet Jesus’, in complete control of His physical death, decided when that event would take place. The thieves, crucified on either side of Jesus, also had death hastened – by the Romans who broke their legs which prohibited them from pushing up to receive another refreshing breath of air.

What Jesus did not control was His spiritual death or separation from the Father. He lost that control at Gethsemane – the last opportunity He had to avoid capture and ultimately crucifixion. Three times He fervently prayed that the Father would use another means to accomplish the redemption of mankind – not to avoid the physical agonies of the cross but the spiritual separation from the Father. The Trinity having been in eternal fellowship with each other, was about to experience disruption of their intimate relationship. Jesus’ in His humanity experienced some of that separation during His earthly life. But now He was about to experience a complete spiritual disconnect with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and They with Him. It is conceptually impossible for us to completely grasp the spiritual separation experienced in the Trinity. For Jesus (as well as the Father and Holy Spirit), it was emotionally heart wrenching. This, I submit, was the greatest pain experienced by the Trinity – all its members – at the cross. It is the separation we deserve from God because of our sin. Yet, Jesus endured this separation so that those who are redeemed would not have to experience it any more throughout eternity.

We still must experience physical death (unless we experience the rapture). But, our faith in the Person and work of Jesus removes the fear of spiritual death or separation from God for all eternity. He took that away in His work and though He beseeched the Father for another way to accomplish our redemption, He ultimately endured the rejection by and the separation from the Father and Holy Spirit so that we who believe and celebrate the cross would not have to experience this separation.

May we, on this day of contemplation remembering the Cross, celebrate its work with gratitude expressed with a lifestyle representative of our profession.

THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

THURSDAY – The Olivet Discourse

Matt 24, 25

The Jewish people in Jesus’ day were looking expectantly for the coming Kingdom of God. Daniel 9 told them when to expect the King and when Jesus’ Triumphal Entry did not fulfill their expectation, there must have been a massive disappointment. While the religious leadership is antagonistic toward Jesus and the people have rejected Jesus, the disciples are still loyal to Jesus but wondering what to expect now that their prophetic expectations regarding Jesus have been shattered. So in private they ask Him a very penetrating questions – “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”The establishment of the kingdom is still on their minds.

Jesus answers with a list of identifiable signs that the establishment of the kingdom is near. These signs are: the emergence of false Messiahs (24:5), wars and rumors of wars (24:6), anarchy, famines and earthquakes (24:7). Amazingly, Jesus tells us that this is only the beginning of problems to come (24:8). The real difficulties begin after these signs. There will be persecution of Jesus’ followers (24:9), apostasy by professed followers of Jesus (24:10), the appearance of false prophets (24:11), anarchy (24:12a), the humility and service characterized by agape love ceases to be expressed (24:12b). The only positive sign is that the Gospel will have permeated the world (24:14).

But then comes the big sign – a figure who performs the abomination of desolation (24:15). Once this figure prophesied by Daniel makes his appearance, Jesus warns those listening that it is time to flee (24:16) because God’s wrath is about to be displayed (24:16-26). Once this figure appears and does his evil, the Lord says He will return (24:27). It will be at this time that Jesus will commission the angels to gather the elect from around the world for entrance into the kingdom.

Jesus follows these signs of His second coming with parables encouraging urgent expectation by followers of the King (24:32-25:30)! He was urging His followers to be on the look out for these signs (24:32-25), that it will occur unexpectedly (24:36-44), and that faithfulness is expected by followers of the King (24:45-51).

What about you? Are you expecting the King? Could the signs we are seeing now be the signs spoken of by Jesus during Passion Week? If so, it is all the more reason to be prepared for His return and to keep our eyes focused on the King rather than circumstances.