The Story | Ch 7 - His Promise Renewed

April 2, 2017 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: THE STORY

Topic: Gospel

The Story of His Promise Renewed from Damascus Road Church on Vimeo.

Introduction | Catch up with the story
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our series, The Story looking at the narrative of the Bible taking us from now until after Easter. When you skip a chapter or hit a story in the middle you miss out on some references used later in The Story. We’ve seen The Story is all about Jesus. That God is the creator of everything, author of The Story and commissioned humanity to cultivate and flourish. Because of our rejection and rebellion from the author of life, our stories have all included sin and death. But the Good God made a promise to a man, a family, a people that, through their line one will come from whom all the nations of the world will be blessed. This family grows and goes from favored refugees to into an oppressed minority in Egypt. God redeems His Family who is enslaved with a “Mighty Hand” assaulting each of Egypt’s idols and bringing justice to the oppressors. A wandering horde of former slaves becomes a conquering army expelling wicked idolatrous nations and establishing God’s rule and worship in the place He had promised them. God is faithful to consistently give His nation victory in battle. This should embolden God’s people to greater faithfulness. Yet faithlessly, Israel seems to stop short of full obedience and even ignores God’s clear instructions to purify the land. Called to be a holy and distinct from all other human nations by having God as their king, Israel’s generations go through a downward spiral of idolatry/rebellion, oppression, crying out for deliverance, God saving them by raising up a deliverer (a Judge) from each tribe, only to rebel again. It is a bloody vicious cycle that looks less like a return to gardenlike flourishing and more like a dystopian wasteland. The book of Judges ends with “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Finally, the last Judge (and Prophet) Samuel receives the demand from the people for God to give them a human King like every other nation. A warning comes, this will not go well. Israel enjoys a few generations of faithful flourishing under David and then Solomon, but soon the imperfections of the Kings and the kingdoms they build begin to permeate the people. A people have gone from slavery, to promised land, to a great kingdom only to be led by a series of imperfect rulers. Some are secretly corrupt, others openly wicked, while few are faithful but insufficient to keep Israel from descending into division, decay. A united people of different tribes become two rival nations with Israel taking the lead on faithlessness. Judah is slightly better blessed with a few more good kings but is typically only a few generations behind the wickedness. In judgement from God for Idolatry, Israel is taken into captivity by Assyria, former freed slaves are now a people in exile. You’d think that would get Judah to return to faithfulness, but you’d be wrong. At one point, things get so bad in Judah. King Manasseh openly practices child sacrifice, and set up worship to Baal and Asheroth in the heart of Jerusalem. 2 Kings 21:9 | But they did not listen, Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. This is so difficult to hear because these people were saved for a purpose to show other people the greatness and holiness of the God who saves slaves and instead they are more wicked than all the other nations that God had kicked out for them to flourish in their purpose. I can relate to this in my story. I am a prodigal son meaning my life is one of knowing the truth, rejecting it and by God’s grace returning. When I was in my fraternity, even claiming to be a Christian, I was more wicked than nearly all of my fraternity brothers. Hope in God’s promised victory over evil and joy for His people is waning, sin appears to be winning. Someone needs to step to stop the bleeding! When will we have a king who will make Judah great again!?
Part I | Reform is not Restoration | 2 Kings 23:21-27
2 Kings 23:21-27 | 21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. 24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. 26 Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. 27 And the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

The Good: Salvation is remembered Passovers is restored because God’s salvation has been forgotten. No Passover since the time of the Judges. They had to go back to The Story as told through Moses empowered by the Holy Spirit. The first act of reforming is a return to right worship of God, remembering what he has done to save His people. Idolatry is repented. This is big, Josiah in his leadership confronted the peoples’ false worship which was so entrenched they had household Gods. This had to have been difficult and painful for all involved, as habits of sin and idolatry don’t end easily. It required resolute, clear, and godly leadership and we see Josiah was that type of King. He was faithful and used all effort and energy he had to direct God’s people back to faithful worship. Maybe he was the great savior king? Maybe not…

The Bad: Th sin still remains, and there is still judgement. God says great you reformed the nation and turned from idolatry but it’s not enough. Reformation is not restoration when there hasn’t been reconciliation. One good generation or good 31 year run from one human king doesn’t undo countless generations of people wickedly rejecting the Creator of the Universe. Sin has a cost, sin defiles and stains our lives. No amount of your personal reformation will clean up or pay for your sin or break the cycles of slavery. Maybe you’ve enjoyed no longer season of your life looking better than others. Maybe you were a partier but now you’ve settled down. Maybe you used to be lazy and now you’re working hard. Maybe you’ve tried to “clean up your life” and it’s failed. Maybe you find yourself making the same “mistakes” over and over again. How have you tried and failed on your own to reform your behavior? You need something lasting and dramatic to change the course of your story other wise it looks like a show that just repeats the same theme every episode. You need God’s judgement and wrath stayed. Josiah is a good king but is not the ultimate answer for the fall of humanity in the garden or the faithlessness of God’s people in the wilderness or the wickedness of God’s people in the Promised Land, a generation later the cycle continues. God in His mercy steps in a breaks the cycle by ending the farce of human kings trying to solve human problems. He preserves a remnant and the line of David but Judah invaded by the Babylonians, now exile.
2 Kings 25:26 | Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose, and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans. REALLY!!? Egypt!? People are fleeing back to the land that enslaved them generations ago rather than fight for freedom! Even the “captains of the forces” the leaders of the armies have no fight left in them. When we get overwhelmed with the herculean task of trying to reform our lives or fight back the enemies of our sin and the world’s brokenness under our own power we will retreat to the slavery we know and think we can endure rather than repent and trust God.
PART II |Mighty King - Suffering Servant | Isaiah 9 – Isaiah 53
While the Kings, government and culture were leading the people farther from the garden with God and closer to the broken fragile and false kingdoms of men, God was still calling out to His people through Prophets. One prophet Isaiah, in the year King Uzziah, a decent but diseased king, died of leprosy is given a vision of God’s High and lifted up enthroned in glory surrounded by singing Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord. When the kingdoms of earth are perishing, he is reminded God still reigns and His promise is still true.
Isaiah 9:6-7 | 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
We’ve seen during the reign of the King David that God made a promise He would have a king from David’s line who will give his people rest from their enemies and have a throne forever. Generations later God’s people have been waiting for this great king who will restore the nation to prominence and provide peace. It is in these verses we learn more about the full identity of this king. He won’t be just the “Son of David” but he is also MIGHTY GOD! The God who took his people from Egypt with a mighty hand will be the king that arrives who will bring peace, who will be wise, who will lead the family of God. The zeal of God’s love for His people will lead Him to establish Justice and righteousness not for the lifetime of a human king but for eternity only a King who is God can ever hope to maintain. There is more to The Story.

Isaiah 53:3-11 | 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
700 years before the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s people are given the promise the mighty God who will be king of His people will also suffer to solve the problem of sin. The settlement of justice and the establishment of righteousness will be paid not by the offending straying sheep who have turned away from God. The King who deserves glory and allegiance will instead be rejected by people the way Manasseh should have been in his wickedness. While sinless, blameless, and true, He will bear, suffer for, and be sacrifice for sin. He will die the death every wicked king and everyone of us deserve in our place, so we can be healed. He will be buried as the wicked in the tomb of the rich (this happened!) The purpose of all of this is the willful joy of God to pay the cost of sin so many could be made righteous in resurrection.
PART III | A New Covenant - A New Heart | Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Ezekiel
Jeremiah 31:31-34 | 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
With the people of the promise scattered in foreign pagan nations, God continues to speak to through prophets like Jeremiah who tell people to settle in exile knowing it’s part of God’s will for His people. He shares The Story of His Promised Renewed. God’s answer for the wicked kingdoms of the world is Him as the king. God’s answer for our sin, is Him as the sacrifice. God’s answer for our faithlessness to the covenant is a new covenant. God will forgive sin, and be with His people. God dwelling with His people again is still the outcome. Because of the sacrifice of sin the separation isn’t necessary, God’s people will know Him! His Law won’t be written on stone like Mount Sinai but on their hearts. The promise renewed is comprehensive, He doesn’t merely forgive sin (no wrath yeah!) He guides his people with His Law written on their hearts by The Holy Spirit. But this isn’t the end of the story, because people are still in exile disconnect from God and His people. Hearts are still hardened and dirty. Like Israel and Judah our answer can’t be national renewal or cultural reform. It’s not a country God wants to renew, it is His people’s hearts.

Ez 36:24-26 | 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Sin has scattered God’s people throughout the nations. He promises the bring them into their own land. This is a great promise, one we can wrap our heads around easily. Political, military, victories are great. Migration, settlement or resettlement happen, A change of setting can be helpful to reorient lives and affections, but at the core same people, different place with no heart change, will eventually have the same results. What I find more miraculous than the work God does to gather His people is the work God does to change the hearts of His people. Writing His law on dirty calcified stone hearts is like trying to pain over dry rot and thinking it’s made a lasting difference. No, a new covenant need a new heart. God does far more than external reform, He preforms heart surgery, cleaning His people from their sin, idolatry, and indifference and give them new hearts that beat for Him to provide new life lived for Him.
This where I pray you search your heart. When I was in rebellion I knew there was something wrong. When I began to know what was wrong was me, my heart, my desires, my action, I feel into despair because I knew I couldn’t pay for my sin, I knew I was like a dirty brush trying to clean a dirty toilet and wondering why it wouldn’t get any better. Every time I tried to reform myself I would have periods of success and think ok, I’m better now, only to fall back into old habits and attitudes. I needed to be made clean by something clean. I needed my dirty hard heart removed and replaced with something clean and tender. I needed a new Spirit in me who’s power would overcome my desires and compel me to live a new life.
PART IV | And then Jesus…. | Hebrews 1:1-3
Back to The Story, Generations in pass and people return to the land. The “kingdom re-built” is a shadow of its former self. Outward building doesn’t cover heart decay. Far from glory, God’s people are no longer in exile but the Kingdom has not been restored. A final prophet promises a future messenger who will prepare and proclaim the great and awesome day of the LORD’s arrival. Only silence and anticipation remain…… And then Jesus…..
Hebrews 1:1-3 | Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God’s answer to all the promises to His people in the Old Testament of The Story is Jesus. He is God’s perfect Prophet, who speak Gospel Truth to His people, the mighty King, and faithful Priest fulfills the new covenant. The Creator who spoke the world into existence is Jesus. He is the King who arrives to lead His people to peace. He is the servant who suffers for His people so they can have their sins removed, forgiven, and washed so new clean hearts where the Spirit writes His law can be given. The only thing we bring to this new covenant is our unfaithfulness, our sin, our defilement, our transgression, our iniquity, our rebellion, our impurity and He bears its takes it on the cross where it is crushed by God, to satisfy God’s justice, so he can then account our lives righteous. In Jesus the lease to the greatest can “know the Lord”. In Jesus we gather from every tribe, nation, and tongue, no longer exiles but a nation of sinners washed clean by the blood of our savior poured out for us. This is why we gather to be reminded of The Story all about Jesus, to remember the Good news of the God who renews His promises and answers them with Yes in Jesus. This is why we take communion every week, to remember it is in Jesus work on the cross not our own that fulfills God’s covenant of renewal for His people.
Luke 22:19-20 | 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
This is your time to respond to the story of His Promise Renewed We know The Story radically changes the life stories of individuals. We must respond either by receiving it as true and glorious or rejecting it favor of a lesser story. Are you ruling your own kingdom? We sing remembering His victory and hope in His return. We give financially remembering he has given us everything we are not slaves but stewards. Stop trusting your ability to reform or clean yourself and truly be made new and clean when you Trust Jesus.