Cultivating the Culture of Heaven Pt. 4
1) This is the third message in a series on cultivating the culture of heaven.
a) The first message discussed the paradise lost and restored through the gospel.
b) The second message explored the possibility of transforming culture without within a difficult situation and changing the culture through the missionary gospel that changes the situation.
c) The third message wrestled with questions about Ernest Gordon’s story.
i) The picture of a death camp is what many Christians believe is a reasonable expectation for the future.
(1) Even when all light had gone out, the seed awakened and culture was transformed.
(2) We discussed the importance of a culture with differing perspectives on non-essentials like Wesley and Whitefield for a great awakening.
ii) We wrestled with Messianic prophesies, whether they are to be expected today or are for a future age.
iii) We asked questions that are meant to be life questions:
(1) If these things are true, then why do we see culture moving in the wrong direction?
(2) Can we turn the tide of history?
(3) Even if the world were to fall into darkness, is there any hope?
2) Awakening the seed of Christ in the church to grow the culture of heaven.
a) 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) — 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
b) Lighting the flame of hope in the church today.
i) Proverbs 13:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. 13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
c) Lighting the flame of faith in the church
i) Hebrews 11:1–2 (NKJV) — 1 Now faith is the substance (assurance ESV) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
(1) 1. substance, nature, essence; 2. LN 31.84 trust, confidence, being sure
ii) Hebrews 11:5–7 (ESV) — 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
iii) Jude 3 (ESV) — 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
d) Lighting the flame of love in the church
i) 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
ii) Matthew 23:11–12 (ESV) —11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
3) Restoring a vision of hope for the future from the time of the judges 1076 – 1060 BC
a) The message of the book of Judges: Why are there 2 appendices about Levites at the end?
i) Micah and the Levite
ii) The Levite and the Concubine
b) The book of Genesis ends with an Exodus account from bondage to the Philistines.
i) God took the initiative without repentance – 2 Nazarites and the ark.
c) 1 Samuel 7:7–14 (ESV) — 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, (from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.)
d) Thus, the theme of a radically new beginning is present with Samuel as with Samson. There is a third aspect to God’s work at this time, and it is the capture of the Ark (1 Sam. 4- 6). As a Substitute for His people, God Himself goes into captivity to All the parallels here are with the exodus from Egypt, as God wars against and disgraces the false gods, as He visits plagues upon and as the Ark is sent away adorned with spoils. The Philistine understood this fully (1 Sam. This new bondage and exodus makes possible a new beginning for Israel. Just as the Angel offered Himself as a sacrifice to make possible the birth of Samson, so the Ark goes into captivity and oppression to make possible the freedom of Israel. It is the beginning of a deliverance that will culminate with David and Solomon.
e) From the perspective of 1 Samuel, Israel is able to defeat because of a whole burnt sacrifice that takes away their sin (1 Sam. 7:8-11) From the perspective of Judges, that same victory is due to the final and mightiest work of Samson, the Savior, who shattered and made their defeat certain. Both perspectives are true, and both are necessary.
4) Nazarites and the Burnt Offering
a) Samson’s birth
b) The resurrection of Benjamin in the appendix to Judges.
c) The victory of Israel under Samuel
d) Rededication and the atonement of Christ
e) Cultivating the culture of heaven – a river of life from the church
f) Many people are out of church because they are burnt out by legalism
g) A culture of faith, hope and love
h) This series has about biblical ideas that cultivate the culture of heaven, arguing that it is possible.
i) In all three of these stories, which happened simultaneously in the history of redemption, we see God working to grant resurrection out of judgment and death. Israel had not repented, but God gave them Samson. Israel was in moral blindness, but God wiped out Eli, took the judgment upon Himself (in Philistine exile), and raised up Samuel. Israel was dead, having cast herself out of the land, but God raised up a true king David) in spite of man’s sin.
 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).