Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's not a Kingdom without the King: part two

The Lord was with Him by David Murray
The Lord was with Abraham, Joseph, David, and Hezekiah.  Enoch and Noah walked with God.  This article displays different aspects of being able to experience God's special presence.

This was a gracious experience.  These people are the same descendants of Adam who betrayed the Lord by seeking knowledge and life apart from God.  God did not have to walk with these people.  He did, though, and we are eternally grateful.

This was a spiritual experience.  There was no physical person walking with these guys until Jesus came to earth.  The Holy Spirit's "withness" caused these people to commune with God.

This was a personal experience.  Not the Force, but an actual Person with emotions, will, ability to communicate, and a personality. 

This was a transforming experience.  It caused Enoch and Noah to be so different from their neighbors that they stood out.  People mocked them and tortured them for being closed-minded.  They discouraged Abraham from staying faithful to his wife and encouraged David to conform more to the kings of the other nations.  Yet, the Holy Spirit transformed these people in a way that they were different from everyone else.

This was an enjoyable experience.  God was their best friend who walked alongside them when they were otherwise alone in their pilgrimage.

This was a varied experience.  Hezekiah did not have the same experience that David or Moses had.  They were all different, showing the many facets of our Lord.

It was an everywhere experience.  It was not just in the temple or tabernacle, but it lived alongside Nehemiah as he rebuilt Jerusalem's gates.

The OT believers experienced the vague divine "withness" that now has a face and name in Jesus Christ in the NT and is more obviously with his followers in the indwelling of the Spirit.

Could God have taken his Spirit from David?
Salvation cannot be lost (Phil. 1:6, 1 John 2:19).  Yet God took his Spirit from King Saul who preceded David.  In the OT, the Spirit anointed and gifted people who became king, prophet, priest, or elder.  He was not poured out freely and openly to all Christians like today.  He focused mostly on the leaders.  David had just committed his sin with Bathsheba that ruined his family and his reign.  In his repentance, however, he still sought for God's guidance in his difficult job. 

Spokesmen for God by John L. Mackay
The Lord did not commission the prophets to act as missionaries, going to places that had not heard God's Word.  They had to administer spiritual first aid to those who had a cursory understanding of the covenant, but did not comply with it either through lack of knowledge or pure defiance.

When God enacted his covenant with Israel, he alone had the right to dictate the terms on which they could have fellowship with him.  They were the ones who betrayed him by relapsing into idolatry, synthesizing pagan beliefs with God's decrees and pretending they still worshiped God faithfully.  However, God made a covenant with Abraham where God passed between the halves of the animals, and he keeps his word.  He would send prophets to remind them of their danger and to urge repentance.

He sent weird guys who did weird things.  They used sign-acts such as lying on one side for a year to get people to ask questions and for them to answer with the unbearable truth.  Severity awaited them if they did not repent.  Ultimately, they pointed to the only solution to this impending doom: the love and benevolence of God the Father.  God is love, but he also judges sin and injustice.  Israel still went into exile and people who live apart from Christ will spend eternity apart from God.

Why did the faithful remnant have to suffer along with Israel in exile?
"God's covenants were explicitly corporate, meaning they were made with groups of people rather than individuals."  This still applies today in the church and in families.  People are considered as a family unit rather than as individuals.  God simply blessed the entire community when they were faithful, and he exiled the whole community when he could not stand any more blatant idolatry.  In the unseen kingdom, God will treat each person for his individual faith, and he will no longer punish a whole country including the ones who are faithful.  However, you can see his judgment on America and Europe today as they face judgment due to their constant hatred of God and his commands.

Immanuel by Gerald M. Bilkes
"Immanuel is one of Christ's most precious names."  It means "God with us."

The Beauty of Immanuel
This name is used mostly in connection with Christ's incarnation.  It is first heard when Isaiah prophesies that a virgin will conceive and the son's name will be Immanuel. Christ became incarnate in order to bring God's presence to us.  Being born without a sinful father, he escapes the curse of sin, but being born of a woman, he is also completely human.  He took on our flesh to be on our side.

The Blessings of Immanuel
1. He is God-with-us to reconcile sinners to God.
2. He is God-with-us to guide, empower, and expand His church.
3. He is God-with-us to comfort his people.
4. He is God-with-us to bring his people to glory.

What is Jesus doing when he breathes on his disciples in John 20:22?
Jesus told them to receive the Holy Spirit.  They already had the Spirit because they were regenerate believers in Jesus.  "The Spirit indwells everyone He regenerates." You can not be saved and not have the Holy Spirit.  However, Jesus anointed his disciples as his authoritative covenant ambassadors.  They received their authority from Jesus, and this validated their ministry.

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