Monday, December 18, 2017

Living in the Not Yet

Isaiah 9:6-7 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
At this season of the year, we celebrate the First Advent of Jesus. We remember his birth and sing songs about a baby who was born in an obscure village in an obscure province of the Roman Empire during the time when Caesar Augustus reigned through the iron fist of militarism and burdensome taxation. The downtrodden masses resented it, yet the leaders of the Jews had compromised with it and were living quite well. There was a major disconnect between the ruling class and the working class. The masses longed for freedom, yet they didn't know that true freedom came by being set free from a different slave master than that of Rome. And it was in this environment that Jesus appeared in time the first time.
In 2,000 + years, it seems that not much has changed. The masses are still under the yoke of taxation and militarism. They long to be free, yet don't realize they are under a far worse task master than the government. They need hope, and cry out for peace. They need help, and don't know where to turn. As in Jesus' day, they are like sheep without a shepherd that he longs to come to him, yet the majority won't. And in this environment, much like the First Century, where the government is looked to, along with our leaders as gods, that we find ourselves celebrating His First Advent this year. 
But what was it about a baby born 2000 years ago that can offer us any hope today. For certainly in our day, we find little in our society today. Our politicians and celebrities are bogged down in lawsuits with innuendo and accusation of sexual harassment and other crimes. Most of our churches are empty, while the bars are full. Many leaders in our churches are involved in immorality hidden or open, and it's only a matter of time before their sin will find them out. Many turn to religion to only find it as empty as the bottle of pills they downed a week before. 
What if anything can offer us hope?
To this question we turn to Isaiah who gave us prophecy concerning Christ's First Coming but it also contains a foreshadowing of things to come when He returns at His 2nd Advent. He tells us that He was given to us as a "Wonderful, Counselor, an Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace." In this day when so many are turning to psychiatry and psychology for answers, going to many earthly counselors, can we be reminded that Jesus came to be a Wonderful Counselor!?! He is a friend that sticks closer and the well-spring of all wisdom! 
According to John 1, He is the Word [Logos], who was in the beginning with God and in the beginning was God! The Logos was the loftiest idea in Greek Philosophy, and the Word was often used by the Jewish Scribes as a Euphemism for the name of Jehovah God. John was saying, as was Isaiah that when Jesus came He was and is the Answer to all of life's questions and Solution to all of life's problems. 
Isaiah goes on to tell us that "The Government will be on His shoulder, and of the increase of His government there shall be no end." Ye we ask how can this be so? He was crucified and cut off. He didn't reestablish the throne of His Father David, and certainly the governments of this World today are as corrupt as the day is long, and our politicians compromised. The truth is, He came to set up a Kingdom that exists in this World, but is not of this World, yet one day it will take over this World and crush all the Kingdoms that we now see in this World. This is what Daniel saw in Daniel 2:44-45, which states, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." It's as if it has already taken place, for the interpretation is sure! 

Just as God announced in advance through the prophets that Jesus was coming to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21); they announce a 2nd Coming and a visible Kingdom that is coming to do away with the Earthly Kingdoms that have promised Utopia yet brought more oppression. 
But now we live in the not yet! The writer of Scripture describes this in Hebrews 2:7-9: "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
I believe this was Paul who wrote these words, and he describes Christ's First Advent when He who was God, was made a little lower than the angels, perfected through suffering and now highly exalted. He has had all things placed under His feet, but "Now we see NOT YET all things placed under Him." HOW CAN THIS BE? Either they have or they haven't. Truth be told, they have! We are just yet to see the fulfillment. It's what Solomon was saying in Ecclesiastes 1:9, where he states, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." In the mind and eternal purpose of God, IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, yet we await its fulfillment in time. Just as with His First Coming, it was established in Eternity Past from the Foundation of the World, foretold of prophets for Centuries and Millennia, yet wasn't seen until Christ was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and effectively split time in half, with the Common Era beginning and continuing "In the Year of Our Lord!" 
The same is true of the time When the Government will be on His shoulder, all things, including the Kingdoms of this World will be under His feet. We wait! We Watch, and we wait, and we pray, eagerly anticipating "Our Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ." And we try and prepare as many as we can for that Great Day! We fight the good fight of faith, and we tear down strongholds by claiming the Victory that was won on Calvary and declaring the name which is above every name, THE NAME OF JESUS! We tell them to Good News of His First Coming, which was to die for our sins. But we give them Hope that He will come again and make right the wrongs of this World! 
So this Christmas Season, may we celebrate His first Coming, but also look forward with anticipation to His 2nd. And may we redeem the time and win others to Him, claiming the victory of Calvary, as we live in the Not Yet! May God bless you!

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