Isaiah12 A Bright future
A Bright future
The law goes out from Zion
Doxology: Hymn no 331: “Majesty”
Call to worship
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer
O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. (1 Kings 8:23)
May You, LORD our God, be with us as You were with our fathers; may You never leave us nor forsake us.
May You turn our hearts to You, to walk in all your ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations You gave our fathers. (1 Kings 8:57-58)
Hear our prayer as we pray and unite as your gathered church under the Headship of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who taught us to pray:
The Lord’s Prayer
Psalm 97: “The Lord now Reigns” (Tune Rejoice 93)
Sing as follows: Verse 1: All
Verse 2: Ladies
Verse 3: All
Verse 4: All
Verse 5: Men
Verse 6: All
Hymn No 251: “I heard the voice of Jesus say”
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:1-13
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Almighty God and Father,
We look upon the stars at night as they shimmer in the sky,
we see the planets dance among their light and praise the Lord most high. For You are God Almighty who owns the heavens; yours are the planets, the stars, and sun. You alone deserve our worship.
The sun arises, bringing light, it warms and cheers the land. So every nation can see your might and the goodness of your hand.
We see the oceans full of waves that crash upon the shore, and echo in the great sea caves to praise God evermore.
We ask: Why don't people give You praise when You own everything? Oh, Lord, teach us to honour You in all our ways because You are Lord and King.
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, and in his word I put my hope.
Our soul wait for You, O Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Father, as we confess our sin and wrongdoing, please forgive us. Teach us put our hope in You, our LORD, for with You, O LORD, is unfailing love and with You is full redemption. Only You yourself will and redeem us from all our sins. (Psalm 130)
Father, hear our plea for grace and forgiveness. We pray this only on account of the righteousness in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Declaration of pardoning
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Hymn No 515: “Search me O God” (Tune 362)
Offering and Dedication
Prayer for others
Prayer opening of the Word
Dear Brother and Sister in the Lord Jesus Christ,
8 Is everything for the Christian doom and gloom? Do we have a future? We look around us and apparently it is the world which has the victory. We even see the evil creep right into the church to destroy it from within.
Do we have a hope? 8 What is the anchor for our hope? More: is the hope we have so distant that we lose sight of the benefits of the victory in Jesus Christ for our everyday walk with the Lord and work in his service?
We as Christians agree we have a hope and a future, but we be honest and confess that we can at times be so pessimistic that we only think of our future as the time we will spend in eternity, after the return of Jesus Christ.
The Bible wants us to understand that we indeed have a bright future. And more to the point, the bright future with Christ one day is shaped so that our waiting for that day does not become a meaningless groan and sigh. No, the parables of Christ tell us to be busy until our Master returns. It also promises growth of the investment of talents into the life of the church.
8 Let’s say it loud and clear, without fear of contradiction: God promised us a bright future.
The study of the last things as we deal with it in the theology is called eschatology. The doctrine expressed as eschatology The Lord Jesus Christ declared that He has overcome the world, and that He will be with us till the very end of earthly history; He promised that He will return one day in majesty to judge the nations and to vindicate and rescue his elect to be with Him into all eternity. 8 It is exceedingly sorrowful that this very promise of our Lord drives Christians in different camps and causes confusion to the point that they lose hope in the future!
As Presbyterians we have certain aspects of the return of Christ that we firmly believe. The WCF states:
God has appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
The righteous shall go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who do not know God, and do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
That day is unknown to men, that they may shake off all worldly security, and always be watchful, because they do not know at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen”.
That is what we believe about the return of Christ. But that is not all what the Bible teaches about what is broadly referred to as the “last days”. 8 This period is not only that final day or moment, but it includes what leads up to that glorious moment.
8 An important aspect to understand prophecy in the Scripture
8 Progressive development of the revelation
We need to understand that there is and was progression and development in the way God revealed Himself through the history of Israel and the church. It starts with Adam and Eve. After they fell into sin, God gave them a promise. This promise shows development. 8 There would eventually be someone who would finally crush the head of the serpent. This promise is fulfilled in and through Noah, but not finally. It unfolds in the life of Abraham, but not finally. It progressed in the life of Moses, but not finally. And so the development of the revelation continues through the prophets, the kings and the whole sacrificial system of the Old Covenant. 8 But all along the way it pointed forward to the ultimate One, Jesus Christ, who bring and end to the waiting period to ultimately fulfil the promise completely. His birth as a human being, and His ministry on earth revealed the Father and his love, mercy and righteousness. His death on the cross brought an end to the sacrificial system. His conquering resurrection on the third day made Him King of all kings. Paul says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
So, the was a progressive unfolding of God’s dealings with mankind, all pointing forward and culminating in the Person of Jesus Christ.
8 Two Testaments, one Church
What is further important to remember, is that all the elect of all times, are known in the Scripture as the church. Once again we listen to the WCF (VIII, 6) 8
Although the work of redemption was not actually brought about by Christ till after his incarnation, yet its merit, effectiveness, and benefits were conveyed to the elect, through all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices. He the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.
This progressive development of the dealings of God with his church, 8 helps us to understand the unity between the Old and the New Testaments. The old was the promise, or the shadow, although not less real. The new is the fulfilment, although not more real. 8 As a consequence we need to understand that Israel of the Old Testament was, as we are in the New Testament, people of God’s covenant. There is no absolute break between the Old and the New Testaments as if we have 8 two different ways by which God saves his elect.
8 There is a theory that goes more or less like this. God elected Israel as his people, but they rebelled to the extent that God almost gave up with them. 8 So He worked out a new plan. He called another group of people together, which He calls the church. The church’s purpose is to glorify God, but they must also make Israel jealous to obey and serve God. As soon as Israel then repents to God, the time of the church is up. God calls them to heaven in a rapture. Israel is then restored as a nation, they rebuild the temple, and Christ returns to rule for a thousand years in Jerusalem, and makes Israel a nation that will rule all the other nations with Him. This time is a period of remarkable peace. But then, after the thousand years, the final end come, and all are called before the judgement throne of God. After the judgement, the heavens and the earth are destroyed, and God will replace that with a new universe as we read in Revelation 21 and 22.
This way of understanding the Scriptures is know as dispensationalism. The eschatology is called premillennialism, because it refers to the return of Christ before the 1000 years of the earthly rule of Christ.
8 The Reformed understanding
We have seen that we hold to the principle that the Bible is a unity. Also that Israel of the O.T. becomes the Israel of the N.T. That is what Paul says in our reading for this morning:
8 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:4-6)
8 In another verse Paul states it this way:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
If we now look at this paragraph out of God’s Word and apply the principles of both views.
The last days
When are the last days going to be? Will it be when Christ returns? Will it be to establish the nation of Israel again with Jerusalem as capital for his throne? What is the need for the rebuilding of the temple now that Christ will not need it seeing that the sacrificial system is redundant? Did Christ not say that He will rebuild the temple in three days referring to his body which was the fulfilment of the old era? Are we not the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us?
No, the last days in this paragraph had some significance for the Israelites in their days, as many of them returned after exile to rebuild the city and temple. But even that was not the ultimate meaning. It pointed forward to Jesus Christ. The “last days” is then that period between the resurrection of Christ and his coming again. And before He returns, we will see the last of the last days, and when He returns, we will see the last day.
8 The Mountain of the Lord
Does this refer to the real Jerusalem? There was an immediate fulfilment for those who returned from exile. Once again they prospered and the worship was restored. But it was not lasting. It was only fulfilled in Christ. He is the Head of the church of all times. All are saved by Him. So, the mountain refers to the church as continuation of Israel, but now under the blessings of the resurrected Christ who declared just before He ascended into heaven:
8 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-19)
8 In our reading of this morning we also read:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10-11)
8 Once we understand this, we begin to see the full scope of Isaiah 2:1-5. Under the Headship of the victorious Christ, God’s calls his church to be the mountain of mountains. The faithful church becomes the centrifugal power of God, drawing to her the peoples of the earth. They see the work of Christ in and through the church, and driven by the Holy Spirit , they say, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. The Law goes out from Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
This corresponds with Luke 13:29
People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:29)
As we have seen through our study of the first chapter of Isaiah this progression we talked about has the following elements:
· The God of the covenant calls his people into existence
· The rebellion of the covenant people
· The faithfulness of God towards his people
· God purges and judges his people by righteousness
· God destroys his enemies of the church
· God then rules in and through his church, making them a light to the nations to minister to all the peoples of the earth so that they too will come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
This is our message. Yes we have a bright future. Christ is coming; one day we will see Him as judge over the nations. But in the meantime, He rules in and through his church. And we are part of the ever-growing multitude of people drawn by God to Himself until the full number of the elect is gathered in.
Thank God, we have a bright future. Give Him the thanks and worship Him. Amen.
8 Hymn No 302: “Behold the mountain of the Lord”
8 for summary