Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART III | Hope & Humility | Isaiah 6
Topic: New Testament Passage: Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 29, Matthew 28
Christopher Rich – November 8, 2020
Jesus & Politics | For King & Country
PART II |Hope & Humility | Isaiah 6 – Jeremiah 29 – Matthew 28
Introduction | God Over and In History
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing “Jesus & Politics: For King & Country”
Jesus is the central figure in History we worship Him as God & King so there is a separation of church and state but not of Jesus & Politics. We are citizens of Heaven, ambassadors of His Kingdom, with the church as an embassy on a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who Love God and Love People. We have a role and responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves to be involved in politics to promote flourishing, liberty and justice for all. How are you today? A lot has happened. We need Hope & Humility - History happens every day, but some events impact us more than others. The course of human events can easily propel us to the heights of elation or the depths of despair. When our political allegiances and aspirations seem to be ascending, we can assume a position of pride and satisfaction. When we suffer an apparent defeat or experience what seems like a loss our frustration can lead to fear. Regardless of circumstances, we need to remember what is true, what we are called to do now, and where our hope lies for the future.
Part I | Still on His Throne | Isaiah 6
Isaiah 6| In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, 12 and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.
King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) – 52-year reign (long time) Focused on the right worship of God. God gave him (and the nation) Prosperity. Military victories as territories were expanded and cities established. There was an increase in infrastructure. Opponents who had stood for generations were defeated. Fortresses were built, armies were raised and legacies of leadership were established. Technology advanced, the nation was strong and seemed to be trending stronger, but there was great pride. Led by Uzziah, the government overreached into religious practice soiling and angering both. Eventually, the LORD struck him with leprosy, and he died in disgrace. It was a transformational time that was distressing for many.
Still on His throne (Isaiah 6) – During a time of great political and society upheaval and loss, including the death of a king who symbolized prosperity, safety and stability, the prophet Isaiah is given a vision of hope. God is on His throne; (This is not a trite dismissal of the painful reality of temporal events, it is a timely redirect of truths that are transcended. Breath taking heavenly beings boldy proclaim truths of God’s nature and character. God is mighty (strong), holy (righteous/set apart), and in command (Lord of Hosts/Angel Armies) Somethings have died or been lost this year – What has it been for you? “Woe to Worship” – Heavens voice is so powerful it can make our earthly footing uneasy. Isaiah is already a bit shaken up yet we are also assured of His mercy to us as we are given a hope and a purpose that is truly unshakable. Isaiah has humility in the presence of God. God is good, God is glorious, and God is powerful. In His presence, the only logical reaction when considering oneself is to realize how “not” those things we are. Isaiah sees this in himself first and is able to see it in his people, both are “unclean” in their declaration of and allegiance to God. Neither are perfect, he and they are both in need of a savior. Humility is the outworking of this reorientation. He doesn’t attempt clean himself up or distance himself from His people. God works as one of the angelic beings comes to him with a purifying heat and declares his guilt taken and sin atoned for (Mercy/Grace) He then responds to and is commissioned for mission to tell his people what is true about God, with the “assurance of resistance” In some ways the path ahead will be harder for us to reach people for Jesus as the lines between politics and the Gospel continue to blur and our culture continues to grow more religiously apathic or even hostile. Yet we have Hope While there is difficulty guaranteed there is also victory guaranteed. There is a stump left (but from that stump will and (has) come a branch that will be a new tree of Life found only in Jesus, the God who enters History and is over History.
PART II | Still Planning for Our Good | Jeremiah 29:4-7,11-14
4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
We are Elect exiles living as Ambassadors - Christians today are elect exiles in a world opposed to the rule and reign of God. We do not have an earthly royal king in governmental power, we do not have a divine prophet as a direct conduit of God’s revelation and will, and we do not have a worldly homeland to call our own. We will struggle to engage in a hostile politically charged climate, lamenting at times we have little or no control over the course of our lives and current events. Yet we know we are citizens of an eternal kingdom where Jesus rules and reigns with righteousness and justice. We are not home. In the midst of exile, long for Home, but live and love where you are now. He doesn’t say fight to overturn Babylon, He doesn’t say retreat into an ethnic/religious/cultural ghetto or try to wait it out for things to get better. Adversity can cause us to fight or flight, but we do neither, we are called to faithfulness for flourishing. Build a life here for you and your family. Plan, plant, invest in your community economically. Pursue meaningful relationships and continue to be fruitful and multiply. All of this isn’t solely for our benefit as we are to actively pursue the “welfare of the city” rather than disengage waiting to be taken home. Our welfare our flourishing is tied to the people and places we dwell. We are set apart but we are not separate from our communities. Our lives are not independent but interdependent. God wants us built for the long haul for the purpose of being a blessing to the people and places we exist in. Don’t listen to those who say things are always going to be smooth sailing or that we can or/should wait it out just thinking things are going to get better. The timeframe given for these exiles is longer than there remaining lifespan so it’s not hoping for fulfillment now but it is engaging and enduring with an eternal hope. Persevere knowing God’s Plan for you!
Planning for Good, Blessing not Curse (v11) - We are living history now, but we do and will have a future and hope forever. We are reminded of God’s character, the world may have some good and evil, but God’s plan is for our Good! Humility and hope in a God who gathers His people from where? All nations. What will be restored? Our fortunes, our joy, our hope, that one day we will finally be home with Him.
So what does being ambassadors who participate look like? Bible believing, Jesus loving, Gospel-centered Christians can debate and disagree about what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. Biblical principles and truth does not always translate to the indisputable endorsement or prohibition of a myriad governmental policies. Governments may be inside the sphere of what is God’s but that doesn’t always mean they operate in a godly manner. They are all run by men and women who are infected with sin. The first vote we ever made as humanity was to declare our independence from God. Since that time each government since has tried to speak into and shape policy where God has already clearly spoken. As engaged ambassadors we need to be discerning to see where our governments and cultures seek to assert authority beyond what should be with in their auspices or engage in activities that are opposed to God’s word and will. While seeking to live peaceably we are also called to be “salt and light” in the world. This means Christian involvement in the politics can serve as a preservative of Godly principals while preventing cultural rot AND work to exposed injustice while highlight what is good, right, and noble to bless the country we are called to. We can have core convictions and still have disagreement on where and how Government might (or might not be) involved in legislating, promoting, or deterring certain activities. We need to continue to display a counter cultural ethic that is distinct. Pastor Tim Keller has laid out some key cultural priorities that early church embodied, and the current church should emulate as we serve our country for our king. He says it this way:
The Early Church Christian social project was a unique kind of human community that defies categories. It had at least five elements:
- Multi-racial and multi-ethnic
- Highly committed to caring for the poor and marginalized
- Non-retaliatory, marked by a commitment to forgiveness
- Strongly and practically against abortion and infanticide
- Revolutionary regarding the ethics of sex
Each of the five elements was there because Christians sought to submit to biblical authority. They are all commanded. They are just as category-defying and both offensive and attractive today. The first two views (ethnic diversity and caring for the poor) sound “liberal,” and the last two (abortion and sexual ethics) sound “conservative.” But the third element, of course, sounds like no particular party. Churches today are under enormous pressure to jettison the first two or the last two, but to not keep them all. Yet to give up any of them would make Christianity the handmaid of a particular political program and undermine a missionary encounter.
Specifically, at Mercy Fellowship we believe God has already spoken in creating men and women, absolutely equal in value and absolutely distinct in gender design. Reflecting that design, and His character, we believe God instituted marriage to be a complementary relationship between one man and one women. Furthermore, we believe God is the author of life, He decides when life begins, and His word (and science) is clear distinct human life begins at conception, is valuable, and worthy of care and protection. We can and do affirm a pro-life position that includes racial and ethnic equality, not being color blind or blending but rather celebrating the rich tapestry of humanity God as seen fit to create in His image. Regardless of any efforts, past or present, by the courts of Caesar in our country to redefine any of these things we will not cease graciously speaking and acting in ways that reflect the unchanging truths of God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are bold and respect the role of government, even and especially when it is decidedly non-Christian. So we pray our elected officials that they lead with wisdom and justice. Pray for peace and unity in our country. Seek God’s will for the welfare and flourishing of our community. We pursue clear convictions with compassion to form a prophetic voice which transcends parties pointing our ultimate allegiance to King Jesus, and eternal hope in His Kingdom.
PART III | Still on Mission for His Glory and our Good | Matthew 28
Matt 28:16-20 |16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Still on Mission for His Glory and our Good (Matthew 28:16-20) – While there is constant political and societal change, the call for God’s people to be on mission in the world and to the world is unchanged. He has ALL Authority – “all means all” so we don’t have to fear or rely on the condition or ambition of earthly authorities because there is one who has greater authority than all others who claim to rule and reign.
His Authority Leads to our Mission - Jesus has all-encompassing authority and with it He doesn’t say so now know I’ll positively impact all your earthly circumstances the when and way we want them handeled. His authority empowers His mission, not ours. He has given His people an all-encompassing purpose that spans across time, place, and political realities. While politically engaged, politics is not the primary purpose for which we exist. At Mercy Fellowship, we exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ who Love God and love People. He is our Great King, He sets our Good Purpose, and He is our Glorious Hope.
Revelation 22:1-3 | Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
The story still ends well! We’re back to the throne of God. Jesus doesn’t leave it, conceded it or share it, He reigns from it! Life, light refreshment and renewal all flow from the THRONE in the middle of a glorious perfect city! The nations may rage against God but they will be healed by God as the story ends with no more sin, suffering, death as we dwell with God, love God, serve God, and worship God. So until that day we continue to have hope and humility in the God who is active in and over history as we Trust Jesus!
More in Jesus & Politics | For King & Country
November 1, 2020Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART II | God & Government | 1 Samuel 8 - Rom 13
October 25, 2020Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART I | Rage & Worship | Psalm 2 & Matthew 22:15-22