It is joy to speak of Him who is perfect and harmless, and also of His Kingdom. It is amazing, given the state of the world, the rampant unbelief in any particular god (or belief in every kind of god), and the widespread rejection, in truth, of the LORD God and His Anointed, that most people, when asked, think that God is too good to send people to hell at all, not to mention forever! So we heard last week from Olavi. This only confirms the Scripture that says even God’s enemies will praise Him. What sovereign wisdom He has to accomplish this!
As a Jew growing up, my own concept of God – if there were One – was that there was only one, and that He was (is) all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, and that He had to be good. After coming to faith in the truth of Jesus Christ, I only began to see the truth and wonderfulness of these vague and abstract concepts, and also in learning repentance to see the wisdom of sin being sin – not only that God declares it sin or sinful, but also His wisdom as to why it is necessarily so.
We (speaking of my wife Randi and myself) have been astounded in our relatively brief Christian lives (which, until you enter into the Kingdom of God, one doesn’t even notice) at the number and variety of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, yet say and do things completely contrary to the teachings of Scripture concerning such faith. We have met professing believers who say that they hate God, who place their circumstances outside the instruction and wisdom of Scripture, who question everything which the Bible teaches or which the Lord does, presuming themselves in His place and doing – can you hear the serpent? – things differently or better! The antichrist spirit in the old nature is present in every fallen man, and except for God’s mercy and grace towards us who are redeemed in Christ, we would remain His adversaries.
Apart from knowing in both our minds and hearts that Jesus is not only the Savior, but that He is also the Son of God, THE Messiah or Christ (which is to say The Anointed Prophet, High Priest, and King, whom God the Father has appointed, that He is the LORD and Lord of lords, etc., then our commitment and devotion to Him will certainly be less than single-eyed. God has called each one of us to be His witnesses of the risen Savior and Lord, who was crucified on account of our sin, and who is waiting to come back. We proclaim this, in fact, every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. His word abides forever and all the promises of God – from both the Old and New Covenants – are “yea” and “amen” in Christ Jesus. We are each charged by God to be ambassadors not of Israel or of the United States or of Rumania or even of any particular church affiliation, but rather to be ambassadors of Christ and of His Kingdom, which is both heavenly and earthly, and which is both present and future.
How can we be effective and faithful ambassadors and missionaries when so apparently uncertain about God’s sovereignty and wisdom in each and every matter of what we call life and living – whatever the pursuit or vocation or culture, and in the reconciliation God has made Jesus Christ to be in His death and resurrection between persons who are otherwise unlike or inconsistent? Brothers, sisters, friends, we have a God who is worthy of the name!
I want us to consider several passages of the Bible concerning God’s sovereignty and wisdom in four particulars, and to briefly elaborate on them:
Prov. 3:19-20 – Creation and Nature
There is order, stability, harmony of nature when God gives even relative peace; but confusion, unpredictability, disruption as man destroys his environs and as God intervenes with advancing judgments.
God is the true ecologist: no waste, all things purposeful, each in its place and time.
What a wonderful thing to anticipate that day when the sons of God will be revealed and when Israel will receive her King, the Lord Jesus Christ, for then the curse upon creation since the entry of sin will be removed, and we shall see this present earth respond to the presence of her Maker! All that is called ‘nature’ – plants, animals, inanimate things, people, seasons, the land and waters – will, shall we say, break forth in praise! How amazing and powerful and delicate we find creation now. What truths are spoken – some expressly, others concealed – in Scripture about God’s handiworks; how scientists continue to find only more marvelous discoveries of the eternal power and Godhead. The Godhead speaks of the triune God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; therefore how much God has communicated concerning Himself through His creation! It is tragic that we have allowed what is called ‘science’ to separate true knowledge from the God of all truth. No wonder the educational system has reached the low level of today, or that our children suffer so much from being obliged to pursue the things of this world – a world and an age (generation) which reject the Father and the Son and the Spirit of Holiness.
In Messiah Jesus and the New Covenant we are a new creation, and indeed look forward to the new heavens and new earth, the Kingdom of the Father, where God will be all and in all. It is good to give thanks unto the LORD, the Creator and Redeemer, and for all the works of His Hands and of His Spirit – the God of resurrection.
Rom. 11:25-36 – Israel’s Salvation
The re-establishment of Israel is a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, as well as of soon-coming judgement and the return of the Lord. What is occurring today in Israel is also in accord with the Scriptures, and a furthering of prophetic history leading to these events and the end of the age, when satan, man, and the world will have had their day ended, and the everlasting Kingdom of God will begin.
Historians, politicians, diplomats, academics are unable to understand Israel or the Jews (or the Arabs and Palestinians either) when it comes to grappling not only with the current situation but also historically. This is to be expected by us whose minds have been renewed, since we are taught that the natural mind can not nor will not subject itself to the law of God and His sovereign authority and wisdom.
Paul the apostle, at the close of his teaching concerning the Jews and Israel in this portion of his letter to the Roman believers, breaks out into a burst of praise and adoration at the wisdom and knowledge of God—not only that God will use Israel for the benefit of the gospel amongst Gentiles, and in due time (even now) return His attention to the Jewish people, but also for the manner in which He is going to bring it about. Again I say, we are to be ambassadors of Christ and of the New Covenant. The love and righteousness of God will not permit us to take a simplistic position when God desires that all should repent and believe and so be saved. He tells Israel that is not for their righteousness – in fact Israel is unrighteous – but rather for His holy Name’s sake that He will fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He says to the Palestinian, “Esau I have hated.” The Word of the Lord has been spoken concerning each people, and He will fulfill it at the coming of Jesus in great power and glory.
This brings us to the Assembly (Church)—Eph. 3: 3-12.
God’s wisdom in dealing with earthly and national issues is beyond our capacity to comprehend, and this humbles us. Yet the spiritual realm is even further beyond our capacity to lay hold of. And that God can reconcile each as well as maintain their distinctions, who can not just fall down and worship Him and the Lamb!?
God’s eternal purpose through Christ Jesus our Lord is the Church, where He takes out from each nation an elect people and priesthood, and making them one body. It is a high calling, and higher than Israel as Israel is seeking after. It is the Church where we who are in Messiah have our position and responsibility and into which, through the preaching of the gospel, we seek to both bring in others through saving faith and baptism, and to build up one another in love. While we maybe either Jew or Gentile, or male or female as God has sovereignly and naturally made us, yet the Assembly itself – which is both the Body of
Messiah and the Bride of the Lamb (combining both male and female aspects) – is neither Jewish nor Greek but rather a new and spiritual man, which we are commanded to put on, having taken off the old which is but natural and carnal. Our relationship and unity are based upon who and what we are in Messiah, not on what or who we were before.
How could anyone think of anything more wise or wonderful?! For gentiles are brought near to God in the Church and enter into New Covenant promises, which are better than those of the former covenant, which is passing away. And Jews in Messiah are carried beyond O.T. promises to the remnant nation of Israel and also inherit New Covenant hopes and blessings – even now through the Spirit by faith.
1 Cor. 1: 17-25 – the Gospel
A brief illustration to show the simple purity of the wisdom of God which is to the world foolishness, but to us the power of God, that while the world continues to do what seems right in its own eyes, but whose ways lead to death, we continue to preach the good news of the crucified Son of God/ Son of Man, whom death could not hold and who therefore rose in power from among the dead, and whose Name is exalted above every name – both now and forever – in the heavens, on the earth, or in Sheol and Hell!:
The other day in Jerusalem we were in the Old City, and most of the Arab shops were closed on strike. A few stood outside their closed doors and invited likely tourists inside and closed the door behind them. This happened to us, and while I remained outside with Evan, I asked the assistant who stayed at the door about the strike and for how long he thought it would continue. Then I asked if he was Muslim or Christian, and he answered Muslim. I said that I was a Jew. After a moment’s hesitation (I think due to surprise), he said “very nice to meet you”, and we shook hands. Then I said that I am also a Christian. He expressed the usual wonder and confusion as to how I could be both. I said that I was born a Jew just as he was born an Arab. But when I realized that Jesus is the Messiah after growing up being taught that He isn’t, then I became a Christian by faith. I explained that Jesus is the One God sent for peace and that when He returns, then there will come peace here. Then he asked if I didn’t believe in the current negotiations. I said, “As a human being, I appreciate the need to consider each side. But God has shown that Jesus is His Way to true peace, that anything else that may come out of these current negotiations will be temporary at most, a false peace, and will only bring judgment because God has given His covenant.” The man responded that Muslims have another way. I told him that Jesus is the Son, and no one greater is coming after Him. God gave the Land of Israel (Canaan) to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to their descendants, but only when they accept Jesus will this be fulfilled. To Ishmael and to Esau, the LORD gave a lot of other land, again to be fully realized only when they come to terms with the Lord. But in the New Covenant through Jesus Christ, God has given me more than a piece of land, and to him, this Muslim Arab, God also offers much more than a small piece of this land – and forever. I said that Yassir Arafat is not going to give his life for him, and Itzhak Shamir is not going to die for me, but that Jesus Christ has died for both him and me, and is risen from the dead, offering us eternal life through the forgiveness of sins. God does not take a sword and hold it over someone’s head and say, “Believe or die!” This is neither free will nor love. When the time came to go, I told him to consider these things.
The sovereign and wise God has made peace through the blood of the everlasting covenant, the blood of the Son of God, even of God Himself. This is true for the nation of Israel as it is for each one of us individually who has received that peace which is not as the world gives, but is that peace with God and of God which surpasses all understanding.
God is working to remove every doubt concerning Himself which allows sin to separate us from Him and from our fellow man. This will end for us in Christ at the first resurrection and following the judgments of our works as believers. He will continue this more fully with those who, in His mercy, enter the millenial kingdom on earth, in preparation for the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.
Who has believed our report? Remarkably few, when looked at in its totality however many uncountable multitudes there will be, praise the LORD! Yet for that one pearl of great price, our Lord Jesus Christ became poor and bought us with a price, and has enriched us immeasurably. He has become wisdom and the Sovereign Lord to us.