Cultivating the Culture of Heaven Part 5
1) This is the final message in a series on cultivating the culture of heaven.
(1) Today we are going to explore if there is hope even if the world were to fall into darkness?
2) 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) Jordan’s argument concerning the refrain in the book of judges “In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their eyes.”
ii) Micah and the Levite
iii) The Levite and the Concubine
iv) The Levitical failure to spread the knowledge of God.
v) “The word of the Lord was rare in those days.” – Multi-layered meaning in scripture.
b) The book of Judges ends with an Exodus account from bondage to the Philistines.
i) God took the initiative without repentance – 2 Nazarites – What God can do with dedication.
c) 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 Philistia. 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. 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.
d) 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.)
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.
i) The war with Benjamin
f) God brought deliverance when the people were so lost they did not even repent:
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.
3) Hope based on the promises of God and the atonement
a) Deuteronomy 9:5 (NKJV) — 5 It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
i) God gave Israel the promised land because of His promise as well as His commitment to transforming the world.
b) The greater promise for today:
i) Isaiah 49:5–6 (NKJV) — 5 “And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, And My God shall be My strength), 6 Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
ii) Psalm 2:7–9 (NKJV) — 7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
iii) Micah 4:1–4 (NKJV) — 1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. 2 Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. 4 But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
4) Cultivating the culture of heaven
a) Being comfortable with imperfection, for God brings deliverance through the imperfect jars of clay that carry His life and light to the world.
b) Acts 5:22–32 (NKJV) — 22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. 25 So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”