Monday, December 03, 2012

Sermon on Jeremiah 33:14-16, for the 1st Sunday in Advent, "Secure with Jesus"

Sermon Outline:
·         Do you feel secure? What is it that gives you security? Jer. 33:16, “In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely.” Current crisis: Israel and Palestine—hundreds of rockets fired before the cease-fire. “Iron Dome” system. Shot down 300 rockets (80-90%) that it fired on. Living securely? Several hundred million $ rocket system? Physical security? Peace agreement, cease fire? What kind of security did Jeremiah mean?
·         Closer to home—what steps do we take to guard our security? Your homes, your property, your health, family? We go to incredible lengths to keep our property and physical health in safety and security--e.g. surgeries, security systems, food security (freeze dried foods for the eventuality of a food shortage). There is seemingly a type of insurance for almost all eventualities—travel, accidents, life, theft, fire, earthquake, etc. Do you long for security? What makes you feel secure? Locks? Alarm? Insurance? Nearness of police, fire, hospital? Presence of family, a spouse, a father, mother, or even a bodyguard?
·         What about your soul? How do we secure our soul? We could have all the earthly security imaginable, all the “safety” and insurance money can buy, and still be completely vulnerable, completely exposed. Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37) Our soul’s security, our salvation is infinitely more valuable than all the world’s goods and treasures. And it’s not given by any human means or protections.
·         The soul’s greatest danger is not from rockets, car accidents, contagious diseases, robbery, or even murder—the soul’s greatest danger is sin and its wages—death. Eternal death, perishing without God, if our soul is not made secure.
·         Jeremiah’s prophecy—times of fear—war raged against Jerusalem, terrible toll, exile in Babylon. Promise of a day of restoration, a day of return and safety—more important—a righteous Branch. A King to rule on David’s throne. God would keep the promise (lit. “good word” He made. A forever-king (2 Sam. 7:12-16). When He comes, justice and righteousness come with Him. Not like the wicked kings before. Righteous rule. Then Judah will be saved, Jerusalem will dwell securely.
·         The security Jeremiah describes is not the physical security of a ceasefire or a peace agreement, or merely an ending of hostilities between one nation and another. Nor the “peace of mind” from being fully insured and living behind locked doors and security systems. Rather, the security and peace which he describes is the unique gift of the Messiah, the Righteous Branch, who delivers perfect spiritual peace and righteousness from God. He brought to an end the hostilities between us and God because of our sin. And the wrath of God is an infinitely more potent and deadly force than any weapons of warfare, from swords and arrows to guns and rockets, to weapons of mass destruction. There is no shelter or shielding, no Iron Dome of human devising, that can save us if our sin lies exposed. Only the shed blood of Jesus, can cover all our sin. Forgiveness of the New Covenant. From Jesus’ death on the cross, His meeting of all the righteous and just demands of God’s law. He executed justice and righteousness in the land when He was executed as the just punishment for all the sins of the world, and freely gives His righteousness to all who believe in Him. He is the peace and the security in which we dwell, because He is Our Righteousness. What does that mean? It means that Jesus’ blood and righteousness stands in my defense.
·         It means that better than any bodyguard or strong man to stand with us, the One who stands in your defense is the Righteous Branch of David. God’s own “right-hand man”—Jesus Christ! Chosen to be the King in David’s line. Praised by crowds in Jerusalem with the words, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Recognized as the fulfillment of God’s prophecies. The Lord who stands with us holds power over life and death, and He alone can grant you the resurrection of the body one day. Wouldn’t you like to have Him with you in a time of insecurity, instability, or fear? Should even death frighten you with Him at your side? What a great comfort to know that the shepherd who leads you through that Valley of the Shadow of Death will bring you safely through to the other side! The death of our body will be only the passing portal from this life into the next, and then our body will be raised from the dead one day, glorious and renewed. That knowledge has comforted many who are dying, to know that Jesus Christ will take us where He has gone before, from the grave to everlasting life!
·         Jesus came as the Forever King, the Son of David, the righteous Branch to bring righteousness and peace to His people. “The Lord is our righteousness.” He is our Righteousness—by faith in Him, all His goodness and innocence is our mutual possession. Every spiritual blessing is ours in Him—He is “our righteousness.” We have the peace and security of knowing that our sins are forgiven—we have been saved, and we dwell in security with Him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. Compare Jeremiah 23:5-6 with 33:14-16. What similarities and differences appear between the two passages? What is the identity of this king known as the “Righteous Branch” both in prophecy (Isaiah 11:1-10; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12) and fulfillment (Acts 13:22-23; Romans 15:12)? See also Luke 19:38.

  1. The Jews were facing the destruction of Jerusalem, their capital city, and the nation of Judah, as well as exile in Babylon. What is the “good word” or promise that God made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah (v. 14)? See Jeremiah 29:10; also 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and Jer. 33:17-18.

  1. What kinds of  insecurity do we face in our times? What efforts do we make to try to secure our safety, possessions, health, future, etc? Why are all these efforts futile if our soul is not secure? Mark 8:35-38; cf. Luke 12:13-21.

  1. Who alone can secure the soul, and give us the peace that enables us to dwell securely? Jude 24-25; Psalm 40:1-3; Isaiah 32:15-18. From what assaults must it be guarded? What kind of false security should we watch out for? Isaiah 47:8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.

  1. Why does having Jesus Christ, the Lord our Righteousness, with us, give us the ultimate confidence and security to face all the uncertainties and insecurity of life? What does it mean to have the One who has conquered death on our side? 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.  What does it mean to have His righteousness stand in our defense? Revelation 12:10-12.  How does the believer possess Jesus’ righteousness? Romans 3:26; 4:3.

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