Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"God of the Living"

Haggai 1:13-2:9,  Psalm 145,  II Thessalonians 2:1-17,  Luke 20:27-38

November 7, 2010       by James Greene

 

           This coming week, we celebrate Veteran’s Day in our country.  It is the day we remember all the veterans who served in our military.  In April, 1917 the US entered World War I. It was the end of “the war to end all wars” as it was called during that era. 

The fighting ended on the 11th Month, on the 11th Day, at the 11th hour in 1918. That day was originally called Armistice Day? It was truly a world war, resulting in the death of thousands and thousands of people.

How does it relate us to today, to the passages we read today?

           I was looking through several old newspapers we brought up from my parent’s house in San Antonio.  There were several sections of newspaper from The Wayne Independent from Pennsylvania from 1915, 1918, and 1919.  They were saved by, my Dad’s mother, who passed away in 1964. 

In the 1915 paper was the obituary for her father.  It read like a family history.  I discovered that her grandfather was in the Civil War, and was at the battle of Getteysburg. 

           In the 1918 paper was about the drafting of her brother and all the young men from the county, into the Army.

A letter in the 1919 paper was about her brother William Spratt who died on Nov. 6, 1918 in France. It really put a face on historical events that I have always read about, but they were never personal.  It now became something personal and significant.

 This is much like our readings in the Bible today.  We read about events and people but it doesn’t always strike a personal note, until we see that the text is talking about not just history, but our history.  It is filled with Great-Great Grandfathers, and Grand uncles, and parents, and grandparents.  It is about our understanding our identity as a Child of God, in the community of believers, and how important that is to us, as followers of The Christ, to understand that God is the God of the Living.

 

I  God’s Spirit Moving on The People - Haggi

In Haggai we see God interacting with His people in history.  Now Haggi’s name means “My Fast”.  Sheatiel’s name is Hebrew and means “I asked God for this child”. He went into the Babylonian captivity.

Zerubbabel is (Sheatiel’s son) and the governor of Judah.  His name is Babylonian and means “offspring or shoot of Babylon”.  He is the one, who led the 1st group of 42,360 Hebrews in the return from Babylonian Captivity.  He helped to lay the foundation for the building of the 2nd Temple.  In the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple the Samarians asked if they could help with the construction.  The Hebrews said “no” to them, and the Samarians caused the delay of the rebuild for 15 years. 

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This is when Haggai the Prophet and God’s Spirit moved the people to action to begin again to rebuild the Temple.  God is always the encourager to us and to His people.  He declares twice to HaggaiI am with you”.  He tells them to “be strong” (3 times).  Haggai describes the Spirit of the Lord moving upon and stirring up the people, and how God’s Spirit “remains among you”.  God promises that He will fill this house with glory, and will grant peace in Haggai’s prophesy.  We see the close emotional involvement and interaction of God with His people.

 

It helps us to understand not only Biblical history, but how it is personal and relevant to us today as the community of God’s people.  There is a reference where the glory of the present house, will be greater than the glory of the former house.  This second house is the Temple that Jesus will teach in, and to illustrate His resurrection.  This houseIsrael, and this Temple will become the focal point of all history, and God promises that “in this place I will grant peace.”

           The history of God’s people, is more real to us when we realize that it is also our personal history.  It is when we realize, how God has poured out His Spirit on faithful people through the centuries who have lived, built, and sacrificed and they are a part of our history.  It helps us to understand the eternal significance, that our actions and behavior, reflects the qualities and spirit of those linked to us.  God, in His example, has reminds us through His Spirit written down for us in that history. 

 

II God’s Spirit in His Emotions – Psalm 145

In Psalm 145 we see a praise of God, and the attributes of God’s character.  It praises the following: God’s name, His works, deeds, power, might, majesty, righteousness, goodness, goodness to all, compassion, and love. 

God’s actions include: slow to anger, fulfills desires, watches over, lifts up, upholds, and mighty acts.  It shows God’s integrity.  It demonstrates how God is faithful, in His Spirit, to all promises, loving towards all he has made, near to all who call upon him, and watches over all who love Him.  In all of this we get a glimpse of God’s emotion towards us and His creation.  It is a function of relationship.  It is a caring, loving God, who reaches out to us in history, and calls us to reflect his attributes and qualities as a people of God.  Our response is to reflect that character, both to God and to each other, and praise God in response to His care for us.

 

III God’s Life Giving Spirit - Thessalonians

Paul urges his audience to stand firm in their belief and their instruction.   He calls them to remember their standards, and that God had chosen them from the beginning to be saved.  Jesus said in John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  KJV -“more abundantly”. 

 

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IV God of the Living - Luke                                    

In Luke we hear the challenge of the Sadducees to Jesus.  They questioned him about the role of the Kinsman redeemer - and how The Law -marriage -would apply in the resurrection.  They were talking about The Law and their interpretation of redemption.  Their question is about the Law, and the kinsman redeemer.

            Kinsman Redeemer: The Go-el.  They were called to redeem a kinsman who was in debt, or enslaved.  He was to buy back property, and to save the lost. Deuteronomy 21:17 

 

Seen in the Book of Ruth - Boas redeems Ruth and her mother-in-law.  The First Born responsibility was vindicate a murdered kinsman. The concept of Redemption in the Old Testament was that the first born or next-of-kin was obliged by law to redeem or buy back any property of a deceased or impoverished kinsman, and in the case of a brother, to raise up children by the widow “carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel” Deuteronomy 25:5-6

 

This is a redemption of the name of the brother. In the Hebrew culture, the name is representative.  It is an extension of the personality, caring in it the soul, the spirit, the power, and the authority of a person to whom it belongs.

           This is critical in understanding what is being said, when we read in the text that we are to do things “in the name of” Jesus, our redeemer and savior.

 

           God in the Old Testament was understood as the agent of redemption of the people of Israel.  Later Jesus assumes the role as redeemer when we (as children of God) are to be bought backredeemed by the saving blood of Jesusour kinsman redeemer.  He buys us back, and saves us- the lost, we who could not redeem ourselves to the righteousness of God because of our human sinful nature.

           In the New Testament redemption was when an item or a person were exchanged for payment.  Jesus’ death, for us, is that payment that delivers us, and saves us, redeems us in our spirit, body, and in our soul.  This is the essence of resurrection.  God is the God of the living – in spirit, and body and soul.  It is all accomplished “in the name of” His Son.

           In Luke, Jesus uses two distinct phrases in explaining resurrection.  Now in the different translations we get different phrases. Jesus says that the people ofthis age”- NIV, “this world”- KJV, “Here on earth”- Living Bible marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are considered “worthy” of taking part inthat age”- NIV, “that world”- KJV, “get to heaven”- Living Bible  -they do not marry.

                                                                

           The passage in Matthew 22:V31-33 states “have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  And when the multitude heard this, they were greatly astonished at his doctrine.”

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Jesus refers to “ Those who are chosen”- as the redeemed – the children of Godredeemed in the resurrection, into God’s fellowship.  This is beyond our wildest dreams, that they will be - in The Kingdom.  Jesus (being our redemption) fulfills The Law (in love) - so that our "name" will not be blotted out from The Book of Life in The Kingdom.  There is not a need to marry – they don’t need to be redeemed under The Law - because Jesus fulfills The Law - (Psalm 145 V.17-20  God is faithful to all promises, loving towards "all" he has made, he is near to "all" who call on Him, hears their cry and "saves" them,  watches over "all" who love Him.

This is all done in the Communion of Saints.  It is not just the people

present here today, but all the believers through history,- our history and a “People of God” who stand present with us today.  Because our God, is the God of the Living, and we all – from all ages - worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. 

This is our history as the People of God, and as the Children of God.  We are saved by His Son, - by Grace, - through Faith, and ….

 

 

“In the Name of”  - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen  

 

 

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