Last week I started out by blowing holes in the rugged individualism and independence of the American spirit and just how self-sufficient we think we are but really aren’t. We are completely dependent on PSE to light and heat our homes. We are dependent on Comcast for our internet and cable. We are dependent on the postal service and UPS to bring Christmas to us. We are totally dependent on our grocery stores to make arrangements with huge distributors who have arrangements with farmers, fishermen and manufactures to raise crops and animals and make things we need to eat and to live. Children are dependent on parents for provision and protection. Teenagers are dependent on parents for wisdom and guidance. I have been dependent on Galen for help with our vehicles this week. I am dependent on this church for my income and housing. We are not an independent, self-made, free-standing, autonomous people needing nothing from no one. If we think that we are deceived and proud. I also pointed out last week that our dependence really comes to light when we consider our spiritual needs. We absolutely need someone to stand in for us between us and God, someone to be a mediator, a priest, a Savior. In order to pay for my sin there had to be a perfect sacrifice and a perfect person to make the sacrifice. On earth there was no such person. So Jesus came, the perfect God/man to make the sacrifice and to be the sacrifice. I am utterly dependent on Him because He is my only savior from my sin, from my anger, hatred, impatience, pride, greed, selfishness and on and on. In fact every time I sin it is a fresh reminder of my need and dependence. This week we come to consider the third OT office or role that Christ came to perfectly fulfil. He is the long awaited and promised prophet, priest and king. In the OT no one could be all three, but in Christ they are perfectly brought together in one person. Jesus is the promised King. This promise is clearly established in Isaiah:
Most of us like to think of ourselves as pretty independent, we are autonomous individuals that don’t really need much help from anyone else. That’s the American spirit, we are rugged individualist, we pride ourselves on being self-sufficient. Yet with a few moments reflection I can show us we can’t accomplish anything in life without help, without mediators, arbiters, go betweens, intermediates, middlemen, and representatives. We could not function or get anything done or get what we need without mediators or go-betweens, someone helping us. We can’t get a hamburger at McDonalds without a person standing between us and the cooks making it possible. Lots of people at Safeway stand between us and the farmers and producers. We can’t get money from the bank without someone being a mediator or channel between us and the vaults full of money. None of us can buy houses without a go-between, a realtor who stands in for the seller, and a mortgage company, someone stepping in and making available to us someone else’s money. Ticket agents and bus drivers and pilots are between us and where we want to go. Teachers are the mediators between us and the knowledge we need to function in society. Lawyers mediate the law to us and represent us in court, judges stand between us and the justice we seek. Umpires and referees stand between us and the rules of a fair game. Doctors and nurses stand between us and our healing, giving us the knowledge, skill, treatment or medicine we need. The greater our sense of need, the more we need them, the more we appreciate them, value them and honor them. And as much as we need all these intermediaries in the physical world, we need them even more in the spiritual world, which brings us to the importance of the OT.
Allow me a brief explanation of why this sermon tonight. First, I will not be preaching on Revelation the next four Sunday evenings and I didn’t want to start the final section of Revelation on heaven with one sermon and then have a four week break. We will finish the last two chapters of Revelation starting January 7. Second, it didn’t say very much about the lake of fire in my last sermon on this text and more needs to be said since most churches and most pastors tend to pass over such topics. And third, there is actually a connection between Christmas and hell. Christmas and hell. Christmas is about hell, it’s about the lake of fire and perishing forever. Some people say a loving God would never send people to an eternal hell. Christmas is about a loving God sending someone to save us from an eternal hell.
We have a new year quickly approaching. How many of you would like to know what’s ahead in the New Year? It’s human nature to want to know the future. We have a strong drive not just to know the future, but to influence or control the future if possible. The Greeks consulted oracles. The superstitious look to the stars, or tea leaves, or lines in their palms. More modern and rational people use statistics and math and probability predictions. There are countless books on the market now breathlessly telling us of new insights and new revelations about the future that are hidden in the pages of Scripture. Our text this morning has a context that rises out of a strong inclination to try to gain insight into the future. The Israelites were surrounded by nations that all practiced magical and superstitious arts, ways of trying to communicate with the gods and gain knowledge of the future.