Archive for September, 2014

The King is Coming

September 26th, 2014
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The blowing of trumpets on Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets proclaimed the celebratory message, “our King is coming!”

 The first coming of the Lord was prepared by John.

 Matthew 3:1-17

 1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”[a] 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

Our King is coming!

The idea is taken from the practice of the eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition, or took a journey, especially through desert and unpractised countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for their passage, and pioneers to open the passes, to level the ways, and to remove all impediments.

So people are made ready to be responsive to their King.

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

The ordinary people were ready to receive him –even when he came in to Jerusalaem at the end.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

But it will be the religious in the security of the temple who will see no need for this King.

They are impressed with their religious discipline and heritage.

11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

The king who is coming is not one to underestimate.

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is the language used at the coronation of Israel’s king in coronation psalms like Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling 12 kiss his feet,[a]
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.(NRSV)

The king is coming. Let’s announce and declare this.

But there is a problem; he isn’t what we were expecting. These prophecies were fulfilled in a most unexpected way.

 So much so that even John had a difficulty with this Jesus as the Christ – the anointed One.

Matthew 11:1-6

 1Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

Surely this isn’t how the Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled.

John was the one declaring “The king is coming.” The whole thrust of the Feast of Trumpets!

Joe Tkach wrote recently;

Hebrew text of Leviticus 23:24 the day is referred to as “Zikhron Teru’ah,” meaning “a memorial with the blowing of horns.” And so in English, the day often is called the Festival of Trumpets. Many rabbis teach that on Rosh Hashanah, a shofar (a trumpet carved from a ram’s horn) was blown a minimum of 100 times, including a series of 30 blasts indicating the hope of the Messiah’s coming. I have a shofar, and I can tell you it’s hard to make any sound when you blow into it. I’ve read that at Rosh Hashanah services, it was common to have a second trained person in the wings just in case the first one was unable to complete the task of blowing the shofar the required number of times.

Jewish sources indicate that three types of notes were blown that day:

Tekiah—a long unbroken tone symbolizing hope in the strength of God and praise for who God is
Shevarim—three shorter, more broken sounds, indicating wailing and sorrow for sin and fallen humanity
Teruah—nine quick, staccato notes (like the sound of an alarm clock) representing the broken hearts of those who come to God
Regarding Teruah, the Talmud says this: “When there’s judgment from below, there’s no need for judgment from above.” Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (known as Maimonides), perhaps the greatest Jewish scholar and teacher of the middle ages, adds this important qualification:

It isn’t enough that God is my King alone. If all humanity doesn’t recognize God as King, then there is something lacking in my own relationship with God. Part of my love for the Almighty is to help guide all people to an appreciation of Him. Of course this is largely an expression of my deep caring for others. But it also affects my own sense of God’s all-encompassing Kingship.

Ancient Israel initially used ram’s horns for their trumpets, but by the time of Numbers chapter 10, trumpets were typically made of silver. The use of trumpets is mentioned 72 times in the Old Testament. They were sounded for various reasons: to announce national crisis, to call the nation to solemn assembly, to make announcements, and as a call to worship. In time of war, trumpets instructed soldiers as to how to prepare for and then proceed into battle. Trumpets also announced the arrival of the king.

But surely this isn’t how it is meant to be fulfilled? John who had sacrificed his life for this purpose must have been wondering: did I get it wrong?

Read more…

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Ulladulla Festival 2014

September 17th, 2014
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Delighting in God

Blessed are the pure in heart,for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

One cannot think of a more wonderful anticipation than to see God face to face. As the apostle Paul wrote:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Anything we know in this age is not necessarily inaccurate, just incomplete. But we know enough revealed in the face of Jesus to have a true knowledge of God and thus to really look forward to this deeper fellowship.

What does it mean to be pure in heart? The person whose heart is pure knows their heavenly Father is the giver of all abundant, joyful and good life. They believe in the end, all things have to do with God.

Cathy Deddo wrote:

The pure in heart, however, long for integrity. They long to have their inner life and their outer life be the same. They want God in every part of their lives and they look forward to the time when there is no slippage between their outward behaviour and their inward character. It will be wonderful, they think, when there is nothing left to hide inside, no dark or shameful secret left…

Jesus also has nothing hidden or dark in him. All that we see him say or do comes out of his heart and can tell us truly who he is. Jesus is what he says and does. And this enables us to totally and completely count on him and to know that as we learn more about him our new knowledge will not contradict what we have already seen of his great character…

And the wonder of it all is that someday you will see God, filling the whole universe with his glory, and all things able to realize their full connection to God, responding at last, fully and completely to him and his glory.

At this festival we want to look forward to a time Isaiah the prophet said:

    9They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the
as the waters cover the sea.

10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:9-10).

To view the schedule please click ULLADULLA FESTIVAL 2014 Schedule.


Keep to the Centre of Scripture: Jesus

September 16th, 2014
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Previous to this Jesus has exposed the leaders failure to interpret scripture faithfully. This has lead to false arguments about the resurrection.

 We heard that where possible we are to avoid foolish arguments and focus on doing good.

It is important to understand that Jesus is the true interpreter and teacher of the scriptures.

 Luke 20: 41 

Then Jesus said to them,

Jesus is most probably speaking to the people in the temple precinct.

 Jesus is going call into question the authority of the legal experts to interpret scripture.

 He will focus on the potential contradiction between two biblical texts.

 “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David?

This is an allusion to OT texts providing identification of the Messiah from David’s line. (eg

2 Samuel 7:12-13

12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. )

 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

“‘The Lord(Yahweh) said to my Lord(Ruler or Master):
    “Sit at my right hand
43 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”[

This is from Psalm 110:1,

44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

Any identification of the Messiah as a son of David is problematic

Yahweh speaks to the Messiah, which David says is “my Lord”. He is ascribed a position of honour: “Sit at my right hand”.

So to portray David, who thus honours the Messiah in this way, as the father of the Messiah is a difficulty.

But Jesus doesn’t answer this question. It was not possible to answer at that time. But the question does expose that they cannot really teach the scriptures without knowing who Jesus is.

And we cannot know who he is without the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.

The answer comes later in Acts 2:34-36.

34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

His exaltation to the right hand of God, his installation as Lord comes via the resurrection and ascension. This shows how this descendant of David, the man Jesus fulfills what David wrote..

Paul summarized it this way in Romans 1:1-4

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,

 When one studies the story of David’s family tree before and after David, it is just a typical story of human sin and confusion. Yet Jesus joined himself completely to this fraility. This is the amazing truth about the Messiah – he is one of us.

 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Again it is only revealed through the working of the Holy Spirit.

At the heart of the gospel is that this human nature was raised to Lordship. This is the restoration of what we were made to be.

Because they had rejected Jesus’ authority they could never truly explain the scriptures. They had no idea how how to answer Jesus’ question. The answer depended on believing all that he said he was: revealed in what he did for us.

Jesus has effectively silenced those who trying to undermine his authority in front of the people.

 But he is not finished with these religious leaders. He now goes on to the offensive.

Read more…

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