Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Teaching Peace"

Isaiah 11:1-10,  Psalm 72,  Romans 15:4-13,  Matthew 3:1-12

December 5, 2010  by James Greene

 

           Have you ever thought what it would be like to be in the Garden of Eden before The Fall?  Can you imagine a harmony, with out strife and conflict in our every day existence?  That is what life and creation are like in the Kingdom of God.  There is a purpose and an order that reveals the harmony in everything.  All of creation is in tune with its creator.  Like the old phrase: “God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world.” - Is a picture of peace between the people, the creation, and God.

 

In our season of Advent, we are called to celebrate that Christ is coming to teach and bring redemption; not just the children of Abraham, but all people. 

The title of this Advent sermon is “Teaching Peace”

 

I The Bringing of Peace  - Isaiah

 

In Isaiah we see an outline of The Messiah; he blue print of Christ’s coming and his purpose to redeem the people, and all of creation. 

The terms used to describe The Messiah are the following: a branch from Jesse, (King David’s father), the shoot that comes from the root (of David’s tribe), filled with God’s Spirit.  It is The Spirit ,of wisdom, of counsel, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, that delights in righteous judgment, and will champion the poor of the earth.

 

           He is to strike the earth with the rod of his mouth.  The Rod was used for caring burdens and for protection. The shepherd used it for support, a walking stick, or a weapon to defend the sheep.  It was used for threshing grain, to separate the grain (the fruit) from the stalks (the chaff). It was a symbol of authority and an instrument used by God.  The breath describes the Spirit of God in slaying the wicked.

The sash was the banner and identity of the office of the Priests.  It was a band that held the sword, or carried your money.

 

Isaiah describes the establishing of The Kingdom, and the restoration of the creation.  Many of these descriptions are familiar to us: the wolf lying down with the lamb, the lion eating straw like the ox, and the child playing with poisonous snakes.  It gives us a view of the creation before The Fall with mankind and nature in peaceful harmony.

Nature as we imagine it: where the birds will let you pick them up, the deer will let you pet them, and the animals would eat out of your hand.  It is a creation with out evil, and fangs, and poison.

The Messiah (root of Jesse) will stand as a banner for the people.  When Israel moved in the desert, the banner that went before them read “The People of God”.

                                                      1

 The High Priests were the battlefield commanders, with the Ark.  They directed the course of the battle. The Messiah, is the rallying point of all people, and all nations.  The Redeemer who will brings in The Kingdom, God’s Kingdom, and God’s Peace to the world.

 

II  Teaching God’s Peace through The Messiah – Psalm like Isaiah

 

In Psalm 72 was written by David for his son Solomon.  It is also the basis for our Hymn today: “Jesus Shall Reign”, written by Isaac Watts in 1719.  In it we see the role of The King and the characteristics of The Messiah.  He brings justice and redemption to the poor and afflicted.  He is the one who will judge, will defend, will endure, will rule the people in righteousness, and will deliver the afflicted and the needy.  The Messiah /King is the Lordship and the King of Creation, he is a righteous deliverer, and all nations will be blessed through him.  It is a description of bringing in The Kingdom.

We see this in the light of The New Testament where  every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord of all.”

 

III The Teaching of God’s Kingdom Romans

 

In Romans, is God’s call of transformation between Israel and the Gentiles.  It reflects the hope of God’s Promise, and that all believers will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and filled with God’s Joy and Peace.  Paul discusses the heritage and history of Israel in its roots.  He explains their covenants with God, the giving of the Law, the temple worship and the patriarchs.

Paul demonstrates that it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but the children of The Promise, who are re-guarded as Abraham’s offspring.  It is God who calls The Messiah to righteousness, and to bear fruit, (Isaiah V 11:1) from the root of Jesse.  Just as God calls those who are grafted into that branch of Jesse.

 

IV The Teaching of Peace Matthew

 

In Matthew we see John the Baptist, demonstrating the call to repentance and baptism that is required before the coming of The Messiah and God’s redemption. 

It is our response to God’s call upon our lives that is part of, that redemption process in the bringing in of the Kingdom of God. 

 

The term “repent” is a change in the person’s attitude towards God, and the direction they are taking in their lives.  John the Baptist is a prophet, but he does not use the bracketing phrases like Isaiah.  He is preparing “The Way” for the King / the Messiah who is coming to redeem the children of Abraham, and all people.  The term “heaven” is a substitute for the  name of God with out mentioning his Name; He was preaching a message of hope, and independence free from oppression.

                                                      2

 

John’s preaching had struck a chord, that called to all of the people in the hope of being redeemed.  John’s actions matched his words.

He is speaking of the Pharisees and the Saducees referring to them as the “brood of vipers”.  Because they are wise and cunning like the serpent, and allowing evil to exist.  They used their wisdom to bind people in the legalism, and the traditions of the law.  They did not teach the heart and intent of the Law through living in God’s will.

They believed that their heritage (being sons of Abraham) would save them. 

John was calling them to proper leadership in their responsibilities, as the leaders of the community.   He was calling all people to repentance, to bring peace to the people, and free them from the legalism of their traditions. 

 

V Conclusion

 

We see The Messiah, as the redeemer, bringing Peace.  He calls, rescues and restores, not only the nation of Israel, but also all people to redemption who repent and turn to God.  This is done that all nations may bless His name, and be saved.  There is the restoration of the Peace of the creation.  We know that Christ ,our kinsman redeemer, buys us back from our fallen state.  He has come to show us His Peace that we may have hope, and return in relationship with the Father.  He calls us into community as a people who can forgive, because they realize they are redeemed in joy, and restored to relationship to peace with God the Father who brings about The Kingdom of Peace, through Christ the Prince of Peace. 

In being faithful to Christ and faithful to ourselves, we return to relationship with God and with each other.  We help bring about the Kingdom of Peace, that God intends, for us, and his creation.

 

Christ will be faithful in His righteousness.  

He will redeem all people and all nature.

 

We have only to trust in the presence and care of God for us.

 

As Jesus’ followers, we need to learn the peace of God’s teaching,

 

through the example set for us.

 

It is The Kingdom that brings God’s peace in the world and in creation.

 

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

 

                                                                 3

 

 

 

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun

will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and

in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

 

- Luke 2:78 – 79      (Wrong verse)