If you would, please stand as we say together our memory Scripture for this quarter:
“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
And our memory refresher Scripture is …
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
Please open your Bibles to 1 Peter 1:3-12
At family camp they always have fun events after the evening services on week nights.
Mostly these games are for the children and the teens but this year there was one that allowed adults to participate as well. It was an escape room.
I am not sure exactly how most of them are set up but in this situation there were clues in the first room which, if found, enabled you to move into the next room and on and on. All the while you would be collecting clues to the final objective.
It was not professionally done but it was fun.
Having never participated in an escape room before some of the clues did not seem to make any sense. But in thinking back on it, it was easy to see how all of the pieces fit together.
(We won, of course …;-)
With that in mind let’s go ahead and read 1 Peter 1:3-12 with special attention to verses 10-12 …
1 Peter 1:10-12(NIV)
10 “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
11 “trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.
12 “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
“Even angels long to look into these things.”
We live between two great groups of prophecies.
Both of these have to do with the arrival of Jesus the Messiah on earth.
(Move to left side of the platform for a moment …)
Let’s say that this side of the platform is the time in which the Old Testament prophets lived. It was a time of mystery regarding exactly how the Lord’s salvation would come through the Messiah. Even the Messiah was a mystery. Who would He be? How would He bring salvation?
------------ Old Testament --------------------
The First Great Revelation is found in the Old Testament.
They knew from the beginning the Messiah would be human.
When satan is being cursed in the garden of Eden the LORD says to him:
Genesis 3:15 NIV
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”
They also knew that there is One and only One true God!
What is the first sentence in the great Jewish Shema prayer?
Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 YLT
“Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God [is] one Jehovah”
Deuteronomy 6:4 NOG
“Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our Elohim. Yahweh is the only God.”
Of course the Trinity had not yet been revealed.
The only true God was Jehovah or Yahweh!
And that is absolutely true but the oneness of Yahweh the Father, Yahweh the Son and Yahweh the Holy Spirit had not yet been revealed.
So, it really must have messed up their minds when the Holy Spirit would say to the prophets, “Write this down” and it seemed to be saying something incomprehensible.
Isaiah 7:14 NIV
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel.”
This makes great sense to us right?
We’ve been hearing it from before we can remember.
“The virgin shall be with child” as it says in the KJV.
The Hebrew word translated as virgin in this passage could also be translated as “maiden” or “young woman.”
A maiden or young woman conceiving and giving birth to a son is no big deal.
It happens thousands of time a day.
What IS a big deal is a virgin conceiving. That just doesn’t happen!
Well, it did happen and not only did it happen but the sex of the child was also prophesied!
Oh, and by the way, even if a human virgin birth were possible without the intervention of God the child would have to be female because a human female does not have any “Y” chromosomes!
So, just imagine that you are a Jewish person who has grown up knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord alone is God. And then you run across a verse that says a virgin will conceive (which is impossible) and will give birth to a Son (which is doubly impossible) it would almost make your head explode to read the next phrase that says He will be called Immanuel which means “God with us!”
OK, so that’s in Isaiah chapter 7. What else is there?
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This get’s even crazier if you are an Old Testament believer in Yahweh the One and Only God!
A Child is born – ok, that’s natural
A Son is given – just who is giving us this Son?
And then we get to the descriptions …
His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor” … OK.
His name will be called …. WHAT????? … “Mighty God?????”
And when you put these together with the Suffering Servant scriptures such as Isaiah 53:1-6 it is no wonder that the prophets tried to understand what the Holy Spirit was causing them to write about.
So, that is a sample of the OT prophecies regarding the first arrival of Jesus the Messiah here on earth, that is His FIRST arrival, the Incarnation.
The second great group of Revelation prophecies is found partly in the Old Testament but mostly in the New Testament.
(Now move to the right side of the platform for a moment …)
The second great revelation is in the future. We see prophecies about the second coming of Christ to earth and much of it does not make sense.
There are prophecies by Jesus Himself in Matthew 25 where He gives us a very basic preview of the Judgment that will take place in the future when He returns.
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 we see the apostle Paul prophesying about the return of Christ when He says:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
These are fairly easy for us to understand and grasp even though the thought of us being “caught up … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” seems physically impossible we can still kind of wrap our brains around it.
But in the book of Revelation we such massive destruction that it is incomprehensible.
Just go to Revelation 8 and check out the disaster that will be coming in the end times.
Go ahead and read the whole thing and see if you can understand everything is says.
“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”
It describes a battle where blood runs as high as the horse’s bridle for miles and miles …
The earth is destroyed by fire.
Horrible destruction and rebellion of those who remain on earth at that time.
And then there are the good parts …
And then we see a glorious rebuilding of a new heaven and a new earth and the new Jerusalem which is a cube measuring over 1,400 to 1,500 miles in each direction!
How could that possibly be?
We don’t know. We may try to guess but we would be wondering how it could all be and we would be just like the prophets of the Old Testament wondered how their prophecies could ever come to pass.
So, we can certainly understand the actions of the prophets in the OT when Peter writes:
1 Peter 1:10-11(NIV)
10 “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
11 “trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.”
You see, the Lord was actually speaking directly through them and they still could not understand how it would come to be.
We may strain our brains until they fall out trying to understand all of the future prophesies of Jesus’ return but we will end up being as frustrated as they were.
So … what are we to do?
What do WE do, those of us who live between the prophecies?
What do we do, those of us who live between the first arrival of Jesus on earth for our salvation and the return of Jesus to earth for the end times and the judgment?
You see, we don’t live here (on the left side of the platform) in the Old Testament time when the prophecies about Jesus the Messiah were a great mystery.
And, we don’t live here (on the right side of the platform) after the fulfillment of the end times prophecies.
We are living in a most precious time period between the great prophecies, the time of grace.
What are we to do during this time period?
This is what we are NOT to do …
We are not in to live constant speculation of what is to come but we are to live in the truth that has been revealed to us.
When we read the Old Testaments prophets we can understand that they yearned to know how the prophecies would be fulfilled and yet they did not allow that yearning to distract them from doing the work the Lord had put before them.
We are to live right here (in the middle of the platform), between the prophecies.
We may be intrigued by the end time prophecies but we CANNOT allow that to be a distraction from the work that the Lord has set before us.
What is one of the greatest desires of the Lord for this time period between the prophecies?
2 Peter 3:9 NIV
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
You can’t get any more specific than that. “The Lord is … not wanting ANYONE to perish but EVERYONE to come to repentance.”
His desire is for EVERYONE to be saved.
When John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world …” it actually means that the Lord has a self sacrificing love for all humans who have ever lived everywhere.
But, He will not force you into salvation!
And when it goes on to say, “that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” it actually means whoever or whosoever.
The Lord has a great desire for you to be saved and for me to be saved. Are you?
(Explain in a simple way what it means to be saved and how.)
Once we are saved and changed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives our desire is to know the Lord more and more.
As we come to know the Lord more and more our love for Him grows more and more.
As our love for Him grows more and more His desires become our desires more and more.
And then His desire that, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” becomes our desire as well. And when we see someone who does not have eternal life but is on their way to eternal destruction it should set off alarm bells and sirens and whistles in our hearts.
Jesus loves them and wants to save them and that should be our desire for them as well.
There’s an old song called “Ship Ahoy” that likens salvation to a ship that is saving sinners who are drowning, “on life’s pitiless sea”. The captain of the “ship” is Jesus who hears the cry of the sinner drowning in the sea. He lowers the lifeboat, brings the repentant sinner aboard and gives him life, eternal life.
Now, with that image in mind let’s think about what we, we who are saved, we who are aboard the “ship” of salvation, should be doing between the prophecies.
Is this ship that this song talks about a cruise ship where we get saved and just relax until we reach the port of Heaven?
Is this a ship where Jesus feeds us, gives us a comfortable state room and entertains us?
Is that how we who live between the prophecies should be living?
- In keeping with this ship metaphor we must be ship mates not passengers!
- If there is rowing to be done we should be rowing for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
- If the sails need tending we should be tending the sails for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
- If the deck needs swabbing we should be swabbing the decks for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
- If the ship needs a lookout to search the sea for lost souls we should be searching the sea for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
- If the crew of the ship needs feeding we should be feeding the crew for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
- And always and forever we should have our ears attentive to Jesus the Captain of the ship to instantly respond to whatever He commands for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.
Here’s warning message. If we have no desire to glorify the Lord with our lives and if we have no desire for the salvation of lost souls we need to check to see if we are even “on the ship”, if we are even saved or not.
The Heavenly Father did not send His Son to live among us, to be brutally beaten half to death and then crucified on the Cross of Calvary just to give us a free ride to heaven.
He did it so that we could be reconciled to Him and then so that we could be partners with Him in saving souls for the Kingdom of God on earth!
As I was trying to think of how to transition to the time of communion when we remember Jesus’ sacrifice of His body and His blood for our salvation it brought to mind the way He was brutally beaten.
How He was beaten over the head with a rod for my sin, how He was punched in the face over and over for my sin, how the soldiers grabbed hold of His beard and ripped it out by the handful for my sin, how they spit in His face for my sin, how He was flogged with whips that tore His back to shreds until He was almost dead for my sin.
That is terrible and horrible.
But on the flip side, for those of us who know Jesus as our Savior …
He HAS taken away our sin
He HAS written our names in what is called the Lambs Book of Life
And we WILL spend eternity in His presence for ever and ever and ever.
For many it is just a story that has been heard over and over. As we come to communion may the sacrifice of our Lord become real to us and may we give thanks.
(Final thoughts and then moving into Communion)