Sabbath 12/20/14 Daytona SDB Pastor Wray sermon The Glory of Israel Luke 2:8-15, 25-30
The book of Luke the 2nd chapter, I urge all of you to read when you go home. In our text, the shepherds are in the field and angels show up telling them about the birth of Jesus. The angels tell them to go to Bethlehem and see the baby in a manger. Question, where did the angels come from? Heaven! They came from Heaven, from God. The Psalmist said the Heavens declare the Glory of God. Many people believe that the closer they get to Heaven, the closer they get to God. Some astronauts believe that in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. Some astronauts that were in space looking down on Earth felt the power of God like they never felt before. When they came back they became preachers and missionaries for the Lord.
Where can we go to be close to God? Do we have to climb to great heights to be near Him? No. The bible tells us that we don’t have to climb up to Him. God has repeatedly stepped down from Heaven to Earth to be with us. In the Old Testament, God came down and dwelt in the tabernacle. In Exodus 40, God came down in a cloud and the Glory of God filled the temple. Wherever the tabernacle went, the Glory of God with it. In fact, the Glory of the Lord led the children of Israel thru the wilderness in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. After the temple was built and the ark was inside it, God filled the temple with a cloud. I Kings 8:1-0-11. The Glory of the Lord filled the temple. God came down and dwelt among his people. They didn’t have to ascend, go up into Heaven or the sky to be with God. God stepped down from glory to be with them.
This is the way it was for centuries. But the day came when the Israelite’s sin became too much and God had had enough! Ezekiel 9:9. God said the sins of Israel and Judah were very great and the land was full of bloodshed. The city was full of injustice and people said the Lord would not see their sins so they could do whatever they wanted to do. They said God was not looking and the He was not around. They said God has left town. Since they thought this then that is what God did. God’s spirit first left the temple and then it left the city. Ezekiel 11:23. The glory of the Lord went up from the city. The Glory of the Lord left the temple and never returned for the rest of the Old Testament era.
All this has changed, thank God. In Luke chap 2, the Glory of the Lord was now returning to Judah. The shepherds in the field saw the angels of the Lord and the Glory of the Lord was around them. A few days later, an old man named Simeon would meet baby Jesus in the temple. Simeon would prophesy that Jesus would be a light for revelation to the Gentiles and be glory to the people of Israel. God had once again stepped down from Heaven and came to his temple in Jerusalem. The Glory of the Lord had returned to dwell with his people. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen the Glory of the Son of God, full of Grace and Truth. John 1:14. Jesus was born, came down from Heaven to be the consolation of Israel. He came to be their glory. This means that Jesus first came to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Matt 10:5-6. Jesus sent his disciples to the sheep of Israel and they were not to go to the Gentiles yet. In Romans 1:16, Paul wrote that the gospel of Jesus Christ was for everybody that believed, the Jew first and then the Gentile.
Jesus said forgiveness of sin would be preached in His name in all nations beginning at Jerusalem. The gospel was to be preached first to the Jews. In the first three to four years, the early church was made of Jewish believers. This is because God wanted them to get first shot at the gospel. Why? There are four reasons:
1. The Jews had been set apart as part of a covenant with God. God had created a contract with the children of Israel that was exclusive for the nation of Israel. The Gentiles didn’t have a contract with God.
2. The Jews were the tribe of the Messiah. Jesus was born a Jew.
3. The Jews and Israel were the holders of the written Word of God. Israel was responsible for studying and guarding this religious literature. God did not intend for the books of the Old Testament to remain only in their hands. These books they had guarded for so many years, He had plans for them. God planned for the day when the Old Testament would be available to all people in the four corners of the Earth. We sing a song…red and yellow, black and white. All are precious in His sight!
4. Because Israel had kept the Old Testament books of the Bible, they provided Jesus a paper trail. My wife got a bill that she knew she had paid so she went to a box of paperwork. She dug in and researched until she found the paper trail. She had the date it was paid and the check number! She was on the phone with the bill company to set the record straight! There is paper trail for everything that is important. Jesus was born according to the scriptures. It had been recorded that He would be born in the Bethlehem. He came as the prophecies stated and He did at the prophecies said He would do. He taught what they said He would teach. Jesus was the fulfillment of over 300 prophecies.
Let us compare Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy with other religious leaders. Buddha was thought to be a powerful teacher. But…nobody ever said that someone like Buddha would be born or where he would be born or what he would say or what he would do. Buddha just popped up in history and his teachings began a world religion. Then 500 years later, Jesus Christ was born. After Jesus was born, there was a man named Muhammad. People thought Muhammad was a powerful teacher. The world religion, Islam, grew out of his writings and teaching. But…..nobody ever said that somebody like Muhammad would be born or where he would be born or what he would say or what he would do or what he would teach. Muhammad simply popped up in history and his teaching became a world religion. But….when Jesus was born, He didn’t just pop up in history or just have a few teaching. Jesus came in fulfillment of prophesy that the Jews had guarded for centuries. The Jews were set aside to provide a service to God and in this service they would provide it to all mankind. God was returning the favor.
The Jews did not have a lock on God’s salvation. They were not the only ones that Jesus came to save. The Gentiles had always been a part of the plan of God. In the early church, the Jews looked down on the Gentile believer and the Gentiles didn’t like the Jews either. In Romans, Paul explained why they should not look down on each other but to consider the kindness God had showed them all. The Jews were saved by the same way all of us are saved. Saved by the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, by the repenting of our sins and by making Jesus the Lord of our lives. We are to live for Jesus for the rest of our lives. We are to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Jesus came for the glory of Israel but when He died and rose from the grave, He became the glory of everyone who became his children. All Christians have a glow for Jesus in their face like the glow Moses had on his face after being with God in the mountain. The glow we Christians have is something that comes from inside. It is the reflection of the light of God in our hearts. The song goes….Something on the inside that’s working on the outside, oh what a change in my life! As Christians, we reflect God’s Glory. The closer we get to God, the more we reflect His Glory. We are being transformed into His likeness. We are changed into the same image from Glory to Glory as by the Spirit of the Lord. Jesus became our light so we can reflect His glory and His light in what we do and say. Jesus said to let our light shine before men so they see our good deeds and praise God our Father.