Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Transfiguration

Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 9:1-13 / Psalm 104:1-35

I. The Coming Kingdom Appeared

A. Jesus told the crowd that some present would see His kingdom. “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1)

B. Peter, James, and John saw the ultimate kingdom. “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)

C. The event dazzled beyond any possible human production. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” (Mark 9:3)

D. Elijah and Moses appeared from Heaven to talk with Jesus. “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:4)

II. Peter Caught the Excitement

A. Peter drew a connection with the Feast of Tabernacles and the approach of the end of the age. “And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (Mark 9:5)

B. What does one say when the windows of Heaven open? “For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. (Mark 9:6)

C. God Himself confirmed Jesus and His call and ordered the witnesses to hear Jesus. “And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Mark 9:7)

III. Something More Important Was Coming

A. The visitors returned to Heaven as the angels had at the nativity. Jesus remained to finish His ministry, die on the cross, rise from the grave, and only then ascend into Heaven. “And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.” (Mark 9:8)

B. A wonderful event had occurred, but it would not be appropriate to teach until the cross and the resurrection had been seen and understood. “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9)

C. On Emmaus Road Jesus would explain everything and the encounter would become part of the gospel. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:27-32)

D. Peter explained what had occurred and why it had to be remembered. “Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:15-18)

E. Then Peter concluded the story with what may be the most amazing of all statements in Scripture; the Bible is more powerful than human experience or the most reliable testimony of tradition. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

F. Scripture is not a matter of private experience or interpretation; the Bible must be understood in the context which it supplies. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20) Consequently truth cannot be a matter of private opinion.

G. Scripture is God’s interpretation of the gospel story; the Holy Spirit produced the Bible and speaks in it as the final authority on all things in the church. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21)

H. Here is what the Bible says. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Eventually There Will Be Justice

Psalm 58

I. Justice May Be Denied

A. Sometimes societies collapse; justice becomes the opinion of power rather than law. To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David. Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” (Psalm 58:1-2)

B. Some people are born bad and get worse as their skills and abilities develop. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3)

C. Some people are constitutionally incapable of hearing reality. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.” (Psalm 58:4-5) “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

II. Don’t Hold Back—Tell God All About It

A. God can disarm evil; ask Him to do so. “Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.” (Psalm 58:6)

B. See evil for what it is; as it takes place, evil is running its inevitable course to oblivion. Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.” (Psalm 58:7)

C. There is little to fear from evil and nothing much can be done to keep evil from destroying itself. As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.” (Psalm 58:8)

D. Righteous people can get hurt when they try to cozy up to what is about to be blown away by God. “Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.” (Psalm 58:9)

E. Evil forces laugh at the righteous, but their laughter is itself evidence of their swift destruction; don’t stand too close to the fuel. “For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 7:6)

III. Start Praising God—The Court of Heaven Is Open

A. Mouse traps work because mice see the cheese, not the loaded spring; selfishness converts vermin of all kinds into their own executioners. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.” (Psalm 73:18-20) Mouse” is a Sanskrit word for thief.

B. Nobody misses the great tyrants of yesterday; why worry about the tiny tots of terror. “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Psalm 58:10) To the chief Musician, A Psalm or Song of David. Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.” (Psalm 68:1-3)

C. When honest people look back over history, they must always acknowledge that the Judge of Heaven does right. “So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.” (Psalm 58:11)

D. Take the long view as Moses did; when all is said and done, God will do what is best. “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

E. Relax the clouds will pass; the Holy One comes to set all things right. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:4-8)

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