“By the Hem of His Robe”
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'" Zechariah 8:23 NIV
Intro: Zechariah was a prophet of Israel about 500 years before Christ. He was born in Babylon as a slave. He was a member of the family of High Priests. His family returned to the land of Judah under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. (Zechariah genealogy, see Nehemiah 12:4.)
In Zechariah’s time all that was left of the nation of Israel was a small remnant of the past Jews. After 70 years in Babylon, during the first year of his reign, Cyrus King of Persia released the Israelites to return and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem in hope that the Messiah would come.
But when they returned to their homeland they were met by foreign people practicing a mixture of religions. They were met with hostility. They were judged and condemned by the Samaritans. They were mocked and ridiculed as a people who had lost everything: Imagine having everything about who you are ripped away from you. Their home, their city, their self-value, even their identity as a people of God, their Temple, the Ark of the Covenant. A people abandoned and forsaken by their God. A faithless people whose God allowed them to be exiled into forced captivity and servitude. Others joked about their God as either too weak or too uncaring to liberate the nation before it crumbled into utter annihilation.
We all have our vicissitudes in life: A negative change in circumstances. An unwelcome reversal. A downward shift of events. Instabilities, and uncertainties. Whether they are in our relationships, our finances, our business, our family, our emotions or our physical health or our spiritual soul. We live with ups and downs, twists and turns in life. We can be going along just fine. Then something happens and we are faced with an illness, a job loss, death, a disaster, a betrayal. Maybe things get better for a little while but then in reoccurs again. Some are short term or temporary. Others last for months or years or even through generations in our family history.
Today’s sermon is about a God who can take a bruised, wounded, bleeding and broken group of people and restore them back to health and wholeness again.
What are some of the things you are hoping for? What areas in your life do you want to see changed? What things have you been praying about? Problems you have been trusting in God to turn around. Defeat, and discouragement, disaster, and turmoil, storms and trial. That is not your final destiny. That is not the last chapter in your book. Keep believing, keep expecting, keep honoring God and God will change your circumstances. “You would not be here today if you did not already believe it.” Let me repeat that. “You would not be here today if you did not already believe it.”
Your faith has brought you out into this crowd. Your faith caused you to come here. You know that Jesus is in this place. You came here today hoping and expecting to meet Jesus in a song, to see Jesus on a face, to hear Jesus in a message, to feel Jesus in a prayer, to experience Jesus in worship. You believe it. You have faith in it. You came here, now claim it.
Faith is speaking words and taking actions that activate God’s power. Let the word of God take root in your spirit. Let the word of God grow in your heart.
The devil may try to talk you out of it. But your job is to believe and have faith. Then to act on that faith. Your struggle has to go. Your problem has to go. Your sickness has to go. Your troubles have to go. Your sadness must go. A new sense of joy is coming. You just have to know that God wants it for you.
This is what the lady in Luke’s Gospel chapter 8:43 did. The experts said she’d never get well. God wanted for her a better life than what she had been living. Her condition was so that she could not be with a husband. She could not hold a child or ever hug another person. She spent all her money on doctors without results. She could not go to the temple to pay. She had to cover her head when on the street to hide her identity. But she knew that God wanted her to get healthy and get well. She heard Jesus was coming to town. Something inside you this morning said get up out of bed and go to church. Turn to somebody beside you and just say, “Something inside me this morning said get up out of bed and go to church.” Even though she was weak from losing blood, She moved thru the crowd to get to Jesus. If I can touch Him I know I will be healed. Healing is coming. Favor is coming. Blessings are coming. Joy is coming. Let me tell you God wants good for you.
God doesn’t want us to live worried every day about whether we are going to have enough for tomorrow. God doesn’t want you to live from pay check to pay check. God doesn’t want you to wake up sick in the morning. God wants what is best for His children. You already believe it or you wouldn’t be here today.
This woman was filled with faith. She reached out and barely touched the hem of His robe. Jesus immediately asked "Who touched me?" Somebody touched me with such expectancy they drew the miracle power right out of me. When you came to church this morning you were doing the same thing this woman was doing. You came here today wanting to get God’s attention. Guess what you got it. We’re doing what this lady did.
Your faith can release the miracle Jesus has in store for you. This lady’s miracle was released By touching the Hem of His Robe. Christian is more than a religion it is your identity. Notice what does Jesus calls the woman who touched him? “Daughter” (Strong's 2364 by Hebraism means: descendant.) It is a New Testament way of saying an Old Testament word. It is a Greek way of saying a Hebrew word. Identifying her specifically as a descendant of the remnant that Zechariah the prophet was talking about people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe.
Later in 2 Corinthians 6:18 the Apostle Paul is teaching to the church of new believers at Corinth about Christ. Separate yourselves from the ungodly idols and things of the world and Christ will receive you, “And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” That is our identity of the church today.
This is why it is so important that we teach the meaning and value of church membership. Being a member of the church is no casual thing. When you make a profession of faith. When you are baptized in the water. When you complete confirmation. When you take vows of membership in a local church. All of these things are part of who you are. Who your God is.
Rev. Terry Reffett was speaking at the funeral of Mary Williams one of our senior members 98 years old. “He said that with the passing of people like Mrs. Williams and with the passing of each generation we move farther and farther away from the center of our true identity as a people of God. Like ripples in a pond with each passing generation we lose some of that clarity of who we are.
Oh what I would give to have a dozen men or women with the values and vitality and commitment and understanding of the meaning of the church that people in this past generation had. This sermon is a call to strengthen your commitment. To double your efforts. To triple you witness. Come forward. Step up. It is time for a group of people in this church rise to the challenge. Lest we forget all the things that were learned from the past and lose all the things that have been worked so hard for by those who have gone before you.
Zechariah preached to the people of Israel you are going to be set free from your bondage and you will go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Holy Temple of God and that will usher in a new age of preparation for the coming of the Messiah. God kept His promises as seen in the life of Christ. God kept those promises in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. A closer and deeper look of Zechariah's’ preaching tells us God will send Jesus back to return again. It is the return of Jesus in our future. Zechariah 14:4 predicts, “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the Mount moving north and half moving south.” The phase: “That day” is a reference to the Day of the Lord, and the One who stands on the mountain is the Lord Himself. So, yes, this passage predicts the second coming of Christ in our future.
Our ministry and mission is to go out into the community and tell people to get ready. We go out to teach people how to be saved and become Spirit-filled believers. We go out into the community to help those who are lost touch Jesus. We are the only hands Jesus has today. We are the only feet Jesus has today.
Often that hand that reaches out to us will be filthy, (unclean.) and has obviously been places and used for things that you would not want to touch. Yet we allow them to touch our hands because that is exactly what Jesus has done. We are all sinful both by birth and choice. (see Mark 5:28) and therefore all need the healing and forgiveness and salvation that comes only in Jesus Christ “By the Hem of His Robe.”
John Wesley understood that the spiritual condition must be changed if the social condition is to be improved.
When Christ heals somebody physically, there is a deep spiritual announcement like with this woman who touched the hem of His garment. Her condition in the gospel represents the inability to change your physical condition, and the inability to change your spiritual condition on your own.
This woman was one of the ten fulfilling the prophecy and imagery of Zechariah. A “daughter” as identified by Jesus. A descendant of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel who had returned to Judah and to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah. "In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe” This Woman is a type or imagery of the House of Israel. The physicians are the Pharisees. The 12 years of her suffering this illness in Hebrew numbers signifies completion or perfection, the blood is a sign of uncleanliness as a whole for the house of Israel. The Lord turns to the woman as she finally knew this was her best hope.
As the Jews do when they returned backed to their homeland and Judah and the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives from Zechariah's’ day to the Mount of Olives in Jesus day to the Mount of Olives in the Return of Christ all come together as we proceed forward through the age and meet Christ, all are healed and saved “By the Hem of His Robe.”
This woman was looking for something the other dead religions had been powerless to give her. Are you still looking for something that other dead religions have been powerless to give you?
Just as a wild animal can smell blood in the forest from miles away, the enemies of your soul can smell your wounds and brokenness as they close in around you for the kill. They want to take your life away. They want to destroy your blessed assurance. They want to challenge your safety and security. They want to wreck your future. They want to put you in the chains of their wickedness.
The woman acted on her faith. This woman somewhere had heard what Jesus had done for others and came to believe that what he had done for others he could do for her. Christ is prophecies fulfilled and promises of deliverance and salvation kept.
Invitation: By the Hem of His Robe I am healed every day. Whatever your need this morning, I want to encourage you to come to Jesus. Do you need to be saved? Come to Him! Do have special needs in your family? Come to Him! Whatever your need! Come to Him! This woman could have stayed home when she heard that Jesus was in town. She had reasons to be depressed and discouraged. She had been told that there was no help for her. That she would not get better. In fact she would get worse. She could have stayed in her pew when she felt Jesus was in that place. But she made the decision to rise up out of the crowd and crawl down to where Jesus was as she touched the Hem of his Robe.
If we could see into Zechariah’s eyes. If we could see the corner of his lips. I believe we would see a sparkle in Zechariah's eyes. The hint of a grin on Zechariah's face. As he knew that someday the daughters of Israel would see the promised Messiah and be made whole. He delivered her “By the Hem of His Robe.”
You have to rise up. You have to call on Jesus. You have to reach out and be healed and forgiven by the hem of his robe. I want you to know your children are going to meet you in heaven? How by faith! The woman said, “If I may touch but His clothes I shall be whole.” Faith is the meeting between your limited self and your limitless God. We have to stop thinking the God only worked miracles in the past. We have to stop thinking that being saved is old fashion. We have to stop thinking that kneeling at an altar is out of date. Because that is our prophecy being fulfilled. That is our identity being created. That is how we become daughters and sons of God.