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Summary: At Jesus’ baptism the heavens were opened and there was no longer a separation from God.

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SERMON

01/09/2005

And The Heavens Opened

Grace and Peace from God our Father and Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:6-8. And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. Later in verses 14-19 God creates the sun, the moon, and the stars and places them in the dome.

To the ancient Hebrews, the sky was a solid object and there were windows in the sky through which rain and wind could come down. Which is why in the account of the flood, it says that the windows of heaven had opened and the rain poured down on the earth. This sky, this solid dome also separated God from His creation. I am not speaking today about creation but simply giving you the information about the concept the ancient Hebrews had about the sky which still existed at the time of Jesus. I believe that knowledge is a gift from God. And God decides when we can use the knowledge He has to give. Think of it, God does miracles today with the hands of surgeons which were unheard of just a few years ago. There was an article a month or so ago which talked about the change in the rate of death of wounded from the civil war to today in Iraq. The change is staggering. Being wounded in the civil war was a death sentence. Today with our knowledge we are able to save almost all of the wounded.

So the same is for the Hebrews. They weren’t ready yet for the knowledge of the universe with galaxies and super novas or even planets. Therefore this concept of a dome with the sun moving from east to west across the dome each day was sufficient for them. So God did not begin to give us the knowledge of the universe until much later with Copernicus and Galileo.

That sure is a long introduction but we need to know that to understand what God is telling us in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism. Something monumental happened when Jesus was Baptized. The heavens opened. Mark puts is even stronger. The heavens were torn apart. Something torn could not be put back together again. No longer was there a physical separation between God and his creation. Think of what that meant to the people reading or listening to those Gospels. Immanuel, God is with us. No longer separated from us. Access to God is now open for everyone not just a few. Now God would reveal to us the knowledge to understand His statements of Grace in the old testament which we could not understand. Now we could begin to see God in his only begotten Son. There would be two more visible signs given to us in Mark and Acts. The curtain which separated the Hebrews from the Holy of Holies in the temple was also torn in to by the resurrection and the Holy Spirit coming to us not as a dove but as tongues of fire. That is the wonderful grace of God. By his own initiative by his own will he came to us. He is a God that defies all of our thoughts. For every thing else in the world, it is a cause and effect that happens. If this then that. If I do this then I will be rewarded. If I work hard then maybe I’ll get promoted. If you study hard then you will get good grades. If you put a coin in a slot then you will get a can of soda. If you eat your spinach then you will get dessert. God’s grace is so contrary to our conditioned thinking. We sing simple songs like Jesus Loves Me but we don’t want to really believe it. Jesus will love me if I am good, work for his church, or even if I believe hard enough. All we need to do is believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. And guess what God even gives us the ability to believe. That is the Good News. The Gospel. Why then are there so many who don’t believe? Because God doesn’t force us to believe. He gives us the ability to believe but we can refuse. Therefore it is so imperative that we keep proclaiming God’s gift to us. Paul says to us in Romans 10 that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved but how can they call on His name if they have not heard. The heavens are open. There is no longer any separation between us and God. That is the Good News. Go and proclaim that Good News to your friends. Tell them that there is no longer any separation between them and God. He is simply standing there with his arms open saying come all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Praise be to God and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. AMEN


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