The Glory Has Departed

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Mid-Week Advent Service, 2016. The Sceptre - Genesis 49

Advent, November 30, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Mid-Week Advent, Wednesday, 7 PM Central Standard

The Hymn #81 Gerhardt       O Jesus, Christ, Thy Manger Is  
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 100 p. 144
The Lection - Isaiah 40 KJV
The Sermon Hymn #61     Comfort Ye My People  

God the Creator -  The Sceptre

The Prayers and Lord’s Prayer p. 44
The Collect for Peace p. 45
The Benediction p. 45
The Hymn #552                                  Abide with Me

Isaiah 40 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from theLord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Sceptre Prophesy

Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

One of the most stunning aspects of the Old Testament is the accumulation of Messianic prophesies and how they were fulfilled exactly. That shows us the Holy Spirit's work in the Word, because the Old Testament writings, from Genesis through Malachi, are filled with detailed predictions that are cited in the New Testament or known to all Christians.
The John the Baptist passage from Isaiah 40 is significant, because John was a central figure just before the public ministry of Jesus. He had the hardest task of all, because the Old Testament prophets spoke of a prophet to come. John pointed to Jesus and said about this ordinary looking person - He is the One.
If fathers and mothers think no one listens to them, as many pastors do as well, think of the prophets who spoke the truth and had many people miss the message altogether.
The chief passage is the most important Gospel in the Old Testament - Isaiah 53. That is such a compelling message about Jesus that no one can miss it, and that chapter is considered the best way to convert Jews to the Christian Faith. At the end, and for many centuries, the passage was dark to almost everyone. 
The disciples certainly knew it but did not apply it, as shown in many conversations about which one was the greatest and their talk about glory in God's Kingdom.
The Genesis 49 prophesy intrigues me because of its obscurity and the details that led to it being fulfilled thousands of years later.
The Messiah (Shiloh) will not come until the rule over Israel departs from Judah. In other words, once a non-Jew ruled over Israel, the Messiah would be revealed.
Consider the historical complications that made this come true. Israel became a powerful force in the region and kept together even during the Babylonian exile, a feat in itself. They returned and rebuilt Jerusalem, a city ideally suited for defense against any enemy.
Around 300 BC, Alexander the Great's general took over the area and controlled it. But the Maccabeean revolt returned the rule to Israel, and it continued. Once that kingdom became weak and Rome stepped in, something new developed. Herod, a non-Jew, became ruler. The sceptre departed from Israel.
We know from the Wise Men that Herod was very concerned about prophesy. He knew the Messiah was going to be revealed, and he wanted to stop it. That led to Slaughter of the Innocents, but the Holy Family was warned and escaped.
How did they end up so close to Jerusalem, at Bethlehem? They had to be there to be enrolled in the taxation because they were from the House of David.
So this was a combination of centuries of history, various governments, a failed independence drive, and Roman occupation. Apart from all those things governed by God alone, Christmas would not have happened, and the hostility would not have been so great.
Government persecution of religion often causes revolts, as it did with the Jews. But another cause of hatred and hostility is religion itself. Religion is a powerful force. When united with God's will (through His Word) it is a powerful good. But when united with evil (false doctrine, apostasy, atheism, etc) it is a powerful evil.
Long ago I realized that arguing for a correct translation of the Great Commission made people's hair start on fire. They became enraged when I said that the Greek text clearly says "teach all nations," a far cry from the Pietistist and Fulleristic "make disciples of all nations."
One of my pastor friends wrote about this to the WELS ministerium and was pushed out of the ministry. So was the circuit pastor who agreed with him and signed the letter.
That is how much people hate the truth. My essay on Making 
Disciples: The Error of Modern Pietism was banned at the ELDONUTs conference. They did not even want to see those pernicious, soul-destroying booklets. Ditto The Faith of Jesus.
Book burning is not dead. They were saved from the match by local fire codes and a building more tinder than steadfast.
Jesus taught the truth by saying, "Righteousness comes from believing in Me, not from works of holiness, no matter how sacrificial they might be." The Pharisees built their cult on their works, so that infuriated them.
The title of King (Messiah) was likewise a threat to Rome. That is the strange thing about fear. Pilate was an especially violent leader, appointed by Rome, and he was terrified by the threat of Jesus, who was in fact no threat at all. Thus the Jewish Messiah died from Roman punishment, egged on by Jewish opponents.
And yet Jesus was sent as the Savior to His People first and to the Gentiles.
The Gentiles carried out the punishment and provided the framework of world empire to spread the Gospel by persecution.
That is why it seems to feeble to imagine that money and methods will spread the Gospel when God did all this without either one.
Trust the Word

The reality of this prediction from Genesis 49 is that God's rule over the entire universe should humble us about the glory of our works compare to the power of his.

The divine Promises are not like ours. We try to keep them but cannot. God keeps all His Promises and does not forget them, even when centuries multiply.