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Wednesday, November 30, 2016
4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. 5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. 6 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. 7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. 8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. 9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day. (Job 3:4-9)
26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. 27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. 28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalms 18:26-28)
The darkness was so heavy one could cut it with a knife. Despite the torches of Light born by the prophets from Abel to Zacharias, the Light had finally been extinguished – it seemed, FOREVER! God had taught His people through long-suffering and patience. The Law was given as testimony of man’s inability to be righteous in and of himself. Something far greater was needed to satisfy the righteous indignation of the Lord arising from our dreadful sins and shortcomings. Of course, God was not surprised at the Fall of Adam eastward in Eden. He was not surprised at the great wickedness of Noah’s Day, nor of the pridefulness of desire of man to build a one-world government at Babel. Abraham was a man of faith, but even Abraham failed of righteousness despite his close walk with God. The Law and Commandments given to Moses on the heights of Sinai were first broken, in toto, by Moses himself. God was not surprised at this failure of character in Moses, either. It was all a part of His foreordained plan to draw men by the unbreakable cable of LOVE to Himself through the sacrificial death of His only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the close of the age of the Kings, including the failures of Saul, David, and others, the people of God were demoralized. They were also in bondage now both to sin and to the despotic rule of Babylon. Cyrus the Great, an anointed and benevolent minister of God to free national Israel once more (as He had done in Egypt) from harsh alien bondage, rose to power and was empowered by God to defeat the mighty walls of Babylon and enter the city. There he met Daniel the prophet who revealed to the great King the parchments of Isaiah and others which prophesied specifically the triumph of Cyrus, and even called him by name two hundred years before his birth. This prompted Cyrus to issue a proclamation of prayer to the people of his conquered provinces:
1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4)
Still, being liberated from Babylon, national Israel could not prove faithful to God. Those among Israel who were believers of the Promise made to Abraham were a tiny remnant of what we could term ‘Spiritual Israel’ which exists today in those who believe in that Promised Seed of Abraham – the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s last torchlight of prophecy in the person of Malachi now stands up to utter the last Light and Hope of prophecy that would precede four hundred years of abject darkness and silence from the Throne of God. Having murdered and horribly mistreated the prophets across the ages of the Law and Prophets, God would now deprive the people of the voice of prophecy – for four hundred dark years. Imagine the darkness and despair of those who trusted in the secular power of Israel as one sand castle after another was washed away by the waning tides of unfaithfulness. Only those who KNEW God by heart, and believed all that He had promised for His people in a Redeemer, were able to grasp the dimly lit cinders of hope in the devastation of the dreams of a corrupt Israel.
God promised His people to wait with patience as His Mighty Hand endeavored to fulfill the Promise made to Abraham. Patience is the fruit of Faith. God even promised to endow us with an altogether New Language (the Gospel): 9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. (Zeph 3:9)
Though the shadows gather in ever-increasing darkness, the Promise of a Redeemer was closer now than ever before: 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (Hag 2:6-7 )
Zechariah prepares for the salient prophecies of Malachi in making a number of completely descriptive points concerning the coming Lord:
8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. (Zech 3:8)
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zech 3:9)
. . . and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. (Zech 12:8) Of course, our Lord is called, in his Incarnated Body, the Son of David, but is truly God as well.
9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. (Zech 3:9) Jesus Christ is the Stone the builders rejected, but has become the Chief Cornerstone!
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zech 11:12-13) This was the going price for a servant. (see Matthew 26:15 & 27:3-10)
. . . . and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zech 12:10)
1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. (Zech 13:1) 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. (John 19:34) This was the Rock cleft by Moses at Mount Horeb.
Now on the heels of this long and dark night of four hundred years comes the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophetic utterance. 1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:1) (The ministry of John the Baptist here) For a fuller understanding, read all of Chapter 3. 1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Mal 4:1-6)
. . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) How true! The long, dark night is coming to an end as God has prepared, from the Foundation of the World, a Great Light symbolized by a Star (literally as great Sun which every star is). That Star heralded the fulfillment of God’s promise and ended the silence of darkness. It was not seen by the royalty or priestly class of Israel, but by distant strangers of the East – the Magi of Persia. They sought, and found, the Promised Seed of Abraham. It was the promised Advent which we observe in the church – the Coming of the Promised Seed of Abraham symbolized in the Star of Bethlehem. The last word of the Old Testament is the Word ‘CURSE’ for the Law is a curse unto us; but the last Word of the New Testament is, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. AMEN (Rev 22:21)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Devotion on Hymns of the Church - Hymn 3 – Wake, Awake for Night is Flying – 29 November 2016, Anno Domini
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38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye (Matt 26:38-41)
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believe enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. . 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:11-14)
When Christ left the disciples to pray in Gethsemane, they had no idea when He might return; but one point is certain – they could not abide in prayer at the darkest moment of the ministry of Christ even for one hour! What weak and pitiful witnesses we are; and much worse, what unfaithful friends to One who is about to die in our stead for our sins.
Advent is the Season to prepare for the coming of the Lord. In fact, every season is that proper time. But the generations from Abraham had sat in seemingly interminable darkness awaiting the fullness of time for His first appearing at Bethlehem. Today’s Advent hymn reminds us that we must not only be awake, but prepared with the oil of the Holy Ghost in our lamps as we expectantly look for His promised return.
The lyrics of the hymn are the composition of Philipp Nicolai in 1597, and the music as well is of his composition; however, the beauty of arrangement is a product of the great Baruch composer, Johann Sebastian Bach in early 1700’s.
Wake, Awake for Night is Flying
Wake, awake, for night is flying;
the watchmen on the heights are crying:
awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
and at the thrilling cry rejoices;
come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
the Bridegroom comes, awake;
your lamps with gladness take;
And for his marriage feast prepare
for ye must go and meet him there.
Zion hears the watchmen singing,
and all her heart with joy is springing;
she wakes, she rises from her gloom;
for her Lord comes down all glorious,
the strong in grace, in truth victorious.
her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, thou blessèd One,
God's own belovèd Son;
We follow till the halls we see
where thou hast bid us sup with thee.
Now let all the heavens adore thee,
and men and angels sing before thee,
with harp and cymbal's clearest tone;
of one pearl each shining portal,
where we are with the choir immortal
of angels round thy dazzling throne;
nor eye hath seen,
nor ear hath yet attained to hear
what there is ours,
but we rejoice and sing to thee
our hymn of joy eternally.
Wake, awake, for night is flying; the watchmen on the heights are crying: awake, Jerusalem, at last! Midnight hears the welcome voices and at the thrilling cry rejoices; come forth, ye virgins, night is past; the Bridegroom comes, awake; your lamps with gladness take; Hallelujah! And for his marriage feast prepar e for ye must go and meet him there. One of the shortcomings in modern faith is the church considers the writings of Scripture to apply only in antiquity; it is certain they do apply in antiquity, but no less than at this very hour in the life of the believer. The Groomsmen appears on the dark and cloudy night near the home of our hearts and sounds the Trump, and shouts the alert – “The Bridegroom Cometh!” There are two categories of virgins that hear and respond to that call. Both categories are morally sound and respectable young ladies; but one part of the group has prepared oil for their lamps in ample supply for the need. But the other part has not done so. This part of the Church has been over-sleeping at the helm. They have not loved the Bridegroom so very much as to hang onto every Word uttered about Him in the Law and the Prophets, the Gospels and Epistles. So they have no oil of the Holy Spirit to burn in their lamps and to light the way. There is no greater privilege than to be an invited guest of the Bridegroom at this supper. Salvation and Faith are the most important considerations for our own souls today. Had we not better be prepared with oil in our lamps for that great moment of His coming? Should we not know intimately the One who bestows upon us such an honor?
Zion hears the watchmen singing, and all her heart with joy is springing; she wakes, she rises from her gloom; for her Lord comes down all glorious, the strong in grace, in truth victorious. her Star is risen, her Light is come. Ah come, thou blessèd One, God's own belovèd Son; Hallelujah! We follow till the halls we see where thou hast bid us sup with thee. Just as the five foolish virgins had no time to go and buy oil for their lamps at the coming of the Bridegroom, neither will we have time to make preparations for our souls at that glorious moment “when the sky shall be rolled back as a scroll, and we behold the son of God descending at the head of the Armies of Heaven.” We must follow our Lord closely. We take up our crosses daily and follow Him, but where? We follow Him in sacrificial living, and yes, on the via Dolorosa to Calvary. We follow Him to a borrowed tomb (yes, our tombs are only borrowed as well). We follow Him in the sleep of death, but we also follow Him in the resurrection to life eternal. If we are absent from following Him, we shall not recover our path. If we are absent seeking worldly commodities at the crucial moment, we may find the door to the Banquet Room closed and locked for us – FOREVER!
Now let all the heavens adore thee, and men and angels sing before thee, with harp and cymbal's clearest tone; of one pearl each shining portal, where we are with the choir immortal of angels round thy dazzling throne; nor eye hath seen, nor ear hath yet attained to hear what there is ours, but we rejoice and sing to thee our hymn of joy eternally. On that wonderful Christmas Night of long ago, the Angels of Heaven adored Him, and sang the glorious song above the hills of Bethlehem, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” The redeemed of the Lord shall be privileged, as were the lonely shepherds, to hear that song sung by the heavenly choir in our persons. The pearl-adorned gates shall glisten and beckon. Those pearls of covering are produced over the ages by the tears of the saints and martyrs of the Lord. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalms 116:6-9) There will be not tears at the Banquet for every one of these shall be wiped away by our Lord. He even keeps our tears today in His bottle for we need them no more when we cast our cares upon Him as did the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matt 24:42-44)
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Sermon Notes - First Sunday in Advent - Evening Gospel - Saint Andrews Anglican Church - Enterprise, Alabama - 27 November 2016, Anno Domini
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The First Sunday in Advent
LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.
hen shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto , which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the doorwas shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1-13)
Do we possess this oil? Do we have fire to cause the oil to provide light?