Sermon title:

The Winner—and How It Will All End

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, November 8, 2020

 

 

 

Everyone was tired of waiting.

 

Who’s going to run the government

for the next few years?

 

Tension and anxiety reached a fever pitch

as election day drew to a close

and the ballots began to be counted.

As the days dragged on, with no clear result,

it seemed that rumors and lies make headlines

and truth was nowhere to be found.

 

The presidency was still up for grabs,

and so was control of the Senate.

 

And it’s not just a matter of political personalities:

the results could send this country

in a radically different direction.

 

So, the wait for final results

became even more stressful.

 

And then mid-day yesterday came

the earth-shaking announcement from the media:

Joe Biden has been elected president.

 

But, was he really “elected,”

or simply “projected” by the media?

 

What will be the final count,

when all the votes are counted,

and all the recounts are completed

and all the murky legal issues are settled?

 

While Biden supporters accepted the media’s projection

as an election,

and partied in the streets,

Trump supporters—

who made up half the country—

were left wondering,

“What happens next?”

 

And this just adds to the problems

that undermine our sense of security

and leave us reeling.

 

First the COVID-19 epidemic turned life upside down,

then fires burned our countryside

and fires, rioting and looting consumed our cities,

and now there are threats

to our democracy and our freedom.

 

It calls to mind a passage from Psalm 11,

where Verse 3 asks,

“If the foundations are destroyed,

what can the righteous do?”

 

That’s what’s so frightening about an earthquake:

the foundations are destroyed,

and there’s no solid ground to plant your feet

when even the ground below is moving.

 

With so much instability in the world today,

it’s like the ground below our feet is shifting sand.

 

But the next verse in that Psalm

gives this reassuring answer:

4 The LORD is in His holy temple;

the LORD is on His heavenly throne.

 

Yes, if we know Jesus as our Lord,

he is our foundation

that cannot be destroyed or shaken.

 

As the familiar hymn says,

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand—

all other ground is shifting sand.

 

Christ is our Solid Rock—the Rock of Ages.

 

If we know Christ,

we know who will be running the government—

not just for the next 4 years,

but for much longer than that.

 

We know it from reading the Bible.

 

In particular, a verse from the prophet Isaiah

that is often recited at Christmas time,

in connection with the birth of Christ.

 

Isaiah 9:6 says,

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, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

 

Yes, it says about the Christmas child that

“the government shall be upon his shoulder.”

 

Yes, when we use the expression “Christ the King,”

it’s not just a symbolic gesture.

 

People call Elvis Presley “the King.”

 

People call LeBron James “King.”

 

Those are just honorific nicknames.

 

But Christ is the King

in the real sense of the word “King”—

in the sense of a ruler, a King,

a head of government.

 

“the government shall be upon his shoulder”

 

The kings and queens of England today

are mere figure-heads today,

with no real governmental power.

 

And the same is true of the kings

in other modern democracies:

they are powerless ceremonial figures

who cut the ribbon to open a new building

or christen a ship that is launched.

 

The days are long gone when the king of England

really ran that government

and everyone gave him their obedience.

 

But Christ is King in the real sense of the word “King”—

in the sense of a ruler, a King, a head of government.

 

“the government shall be upon his shoulder”

 

A billion Christians worldwide look to Jesus Christ

as our King, our rightful ruler,

the one we obey as our highest authority.

 

And the time will come when everyone on earth

will acknowledge Jesus Christ as King.

 

Philippians 2:9 tells us that Jesus is

“... the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

He is Lord of heaven and earth,

King over all creation.

 

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

 

How do the human governments of the nations

compare to Christ, the King of Kings?

 

Isaiah 40:15 tells us,

15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

...

17 All the nations are as nothing before him,

they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

 

Human governments may seem like a big thing to us,

but to Christ they are “like a drop from a bucket

—insignificant.

 

The governments of nations are like

the dust on the scales.

 

When you get on the bathroom scale in the morning

to weigh yourself, do you first dust off the scale,

to remove any dust that might be there,

so the dust won’t throw off your weight?

 

No, of course not.

 

The dust on the scalesdoesn’t matter,

and neither does Christ the King need to worry about

the governments men have set up.

 

They are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

 

Christ already rules today

over the hundreds of millions of believers

who look to him as King.

 

But he is also coming again, when,

at the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow.”

 

But, when is that ever going to happen?

 

The Church has been waiting for a long time

for Christ to return.

Christian churches have been suffering from

what you might call “Second Coming Fatigue.”

 

They have grown tired of waiting

for the return of Christ,

and many churches have taken up preaching

a self-help ‘gospel’

of how Jesus will make your life happy today—

of how you can have health, wealth and happiness.

 

They don’t talk much about the Return of Christ,

because they suffer from “Second Coming Fatigue.”

 

They’ve grown tired of waiting.

 

They’ve turned their attention to other things.

 

Our Lord Jesus knew that would happen.

 

So, he gave the parables in Matthew 24 & 25

the parable about the Virgins whose lamps went out

while waiting for the Bridegroom.

And the Parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant

that ended with this admonition

about the servant who grew tired of waiting—

the servant who had Second Coming Fatigue:

 

At Matthew 24:48, Jesus said,

48 But if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the lord of that servant will come in a day when he doesn’t expect it, and in an hour when he doesn’t know it, 51 and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.

 

Yes, we find those in the churches

and in the general population of Christian lands—

the lands formerly called “Christendom”—

who have grown so tired of waiting for Christ’s Return

that they now mock and scoff at it.

 

The Apostle Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit

to write about that in his Second Letter,

where he wrote at 2 Peter 3:3

3Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

 

We can learn a lesson

about keeping on the watch for Christ’s Return—

a lesson from ancient Israel

who grew tired of waiting

for the Messiah’s FIRST coming.

 

The Hebrew Scriptures were full of assurances

that God would send Israel a Messiah, a Christ.

 

But it was hundreds of years

from when the promise was made

until Jesus finally showed up to fulfill that promise.

 

Moses made that promise around 1500 years before Christ.

 

And King David repeated the promise

around 1,000 years before Christ.

 

We read at Acts 2:29,

29Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne.

 

And that promised descendant of King David

would be the Messiah, Jesus,

who inherited the legal right to be King

from his ancestor, King David.

 

But, before Jesus came, it had been hundreds of years

since Israel had a king in David’s royal line

sitting on a throne in Jerusalem.

 

More than 500 years had gone by

since the last king descended from David

was taken captive to Babylon

and died there in captivity.

 

It must have seemed to the Jews

that the promised Messiah would never come.

 

They had First Coming Fatigue.

 

They grew tired of waiting for

a descendant of King David to appear, as their Messiah.

 

But God had filled the Old Testament

with that prophetic promise,

just as he has filled the New Testament

with the promise of Christ’s Return.

 

One of the prophetic promises is found

in the Old Testament scroll of the prophet Isaiah—

just a couple of chapters after

the words we read earlier from Isaiah 9:6

where he said,

“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, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

 

Two chapters later, in Isaiah Chapter 11,

the prophet elaborates on

what that Holy Child will do when

“the government shall be upon his shoulder.”

 

But first, at Isaiah 11:1,

the prophet deals with the long waiting time—

the long time that would cause many

to give up hope of the Messiah’s coming.

He talks about the royal line of Kings

descended from King David’s father Jesse.

 

And he compares that royal line of Kings from Jesse,

to a dead tree stump—

the stump left in the ground

when a tree was cut down centuries earlier.

 

Hundreds of years would pass

from the last King descended from David’s father Jesse,

until another descendant would show up,

who would be the promised Messiah.

 

And people would give up waitinggive up hope—

just as you would if you saw a tree stump

that sat there in the ground,

with nothing growing from it.

 

But then Isaiah said, at Isaiah 11:1,

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

 

Yes, a new shoot—a new branch would shoot up

from that long-dead tree stump

of the royal line of kings.

 

It would be like what I saw happen

in my own front yard.

 

Years ago there was a tree that was blocking our view,

so I cut it down, close to the ground,

leaving only a dead stump, and the root below.

 

And that dead tree stump sat there for years,

dead as a doornail, as they say.

 

No one would expect any new life to come

from that old, dead tree stump.

 

But then suddenly this spring,

a new shoot shot up from that stump and root.

It made me think of that passage where Isaiah said,

at Isaiah 11:1,

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

 

That shoot from the stump of Jesse

was that child born in Bethlehem,

that baby who would have

‘the government upon his shoulder’

-- the promised King.

 

And then Isaiah went on to describe

our Messianic King—

how he will bring in an everlasting government

of justice and peace

to replace corrupt human leadership.

 

Isaiah went on to say,

2The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,

the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

3and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,

or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4but with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling a together;

and a little child will lead them.

7The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8The infant will play near the cobra’s den,

and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

9They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

 

We non-Jews can rejoice

that the promised Shoot from the stump and root of Jesse

rules as King, not just for Israel,

but for “the nations”—

for all the peoples and nations of the earth.

 

Human governments come and go,

and so they can’t fulfill their promises,

no matter how well-intentioned.

 

But Christ as King will bring the peace and harmony,

the social justice and world peace

that Isaiah describes here and in other passages

that we lack time to read this morning.

Isaiah also describes the coming King himself

a King unlike any other king.

 

He would be a King who would humble himself,

who would allow himself to be despised and rejected,

who would take our sins upon himself,

who would suffer lashes from a whip,

leaving stripes across his back,

to heal us from sin and death.

 

Isaiah describes him in Isaiah Chapter 53,

where he again refers to Christ as a shoot

growing from a dry root.

1Who has believed our message?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no stately form or majesty to attract us,

no beauty that we should desire Him.

3He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

Like one from whom men hide their faces,

He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

4Surely He took on our infirmities

and carried our sorrows;

yet we considered Him stricken by God,

struck down and afflicted.

5But He was pierced for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,

and by His stripes we are healed.

6We all like sheep have gone astray,

each one has turned to his own way;

and the LORD has laid upon Him

the iniquity of us all.

Yes, Christ came the first time like a suffering servant,

suffering and dying on the cross,

so that he could take our sins upon himself—

so that he could take upon himself

our iniquity, our transgressions,

our sorrows, and

the punishment meant for us.

 

Christ came the first time like a suffering servant,

but when he comes the second time,

he comes as the all-powerful King of kings.

 

Christ returns at the head of heavenly armies

to do battle against the wicked rulers of this world.

 

He returns with a heavenly military force

to remove from power today’s wicked rulers

and the evil demonic forces

that prop up this world’s governments.

 

These invisible demon spirits

are preparing the human governments

to fight against Christ.

 

Revelation Chapter 16 tells us that the coming battle

will focus on a place in Israel named Megiddo,

or translated into English as Armageddon.

It says,

14They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty. . . .

16And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon.

 

The human governments ruling the nations are so wicked,

because they are actually led by demonic spirits—

spirits ruled by Satan the devil,

our enemy and the enemy of God.

 

It would take a demonic deception

to get anyone to battle against Christ,

because the Lamb of God is the King of kings,

and has already been declared the winner.

 

But the governments of the nations are deceived,

and so, they fight against God

and against his faithful people.

Revelation 17:14 says,

14 These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and those who are with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

 

Yes, we who “are called, chosen, and faithful”

have a part in this battle.

 

It might look, at first, like we are losing,

just as it appeared that Christ was losing,

when he was nailed to the cross of Calvary.

 

But he rose from the grave in victory over death,

and he returns from heaven in victory

over the demon-controlled human governments.

 

And we share in that victory.

 

The demon-controlled governments think they have won,

because they have thrown out the Bible

and excluded Christianity from the public square,

and have legalized murdering babies,

and have legalized every sort

of sexual perversion.

 

But the battle has only just begun.

 

And Revelation 19:11 makes it clear

why the human governments don’t stand a chance

in their war against God.

 

It describes Christ leading the armies of heaven

when our Lord returns in power:

11Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war. 12He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God.

14The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses. 15And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

 

Yes, we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

And he is returning angry.

He will strike down the nations.

 

The Gospel message does not call upon us

to arm ourselves for battle with guns and bullets.

The Apostle Paul wrote at 2 Corinthians 10:3,

3For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4 The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 

The part assigned to us

is to live godly Christian lives

and to uphold and share the Gospel,

as we wait for Christ to complete the victory.

 

Rather, Titus Chapter 2 tells us in Verse 12,

…12It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

So, while we join the world in waiting

to see who will be President for the next 4 years,

our real hope lies

in the higher authority of our King—

the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

That outcome has already been decided.

 

Christ has already won the victory.