Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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Sept 25, 2022 Podbean

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Hebrews 11.5.  Enoch – faith brings God pleasure.
 
Esterhazy Baptist Church. Sept 25, 2022
 

Call to Worship: “Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.”” “He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.” Psalm 91:1–2, 4(GNB)

      The book of Hebrews was written to discouraged, wavering Christians.  They had begun with strong faith, for they endured persecution and helped others to do the same.  Yet doubts were now creeping into their minds – had they made the right decision in accepting Jesus as Messiah? 

      The author of Hebrews reminds them of Jesus’ sufficiency to represent us before God as our true High Priest.  It is only by placing our faith and trust in Jesus’ redemptive work on our behalf that we can enter God’s presence with confidence.  He then calls his readers to not give up, but to live by faith.  Chapter 11 shows us what it looks like to life by faith. 

      Hebrews 11 begins by introducing us to two pre-flood individuals we know little about.  We may overlook them when studying the heroes of faith, but God does not over them!  Why?  He was pleased with their faith, and therefore we need to learn lessons from their lives.  Abel (v. 4) is the first person we encounter as we enter “faith’s hall of fame.” That Abel had faith is repeated three times in one verse!  Abel’s act of giving the best he had to the Lord, in love and worship, not concerned with the reaction of anyone but the Lord, gained him God’s approval and first mention in Hebrews 11.

      Today we are looking at a man named Enoch.  Hebrews 11:5 says, 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 (NIV). 

      Why is Enoch included among the heroes of the faith?  An amazing act of faith?  Faith the size of a mustard seed?  We are simply told that he pleased God, so he did not experience death!  Three times in this verse we are told we was taken (NIV) or ‘translated’ which means conveyed from one realm to another.” [1] He was transferred by God from earth to heaven without passing through death. The only other biblical record of anything like this is the prophet, Elijah.  Let’s to Genesis chapter 5 which tells us about Enoch.

      Genesis 5:18–24 “18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 19 After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (NIV) 

      Our reading at verse 18 with Jared the father of Enoch to get a taste for the rhythm that is repeated again and again in Genesis chapter 5.  A man lived a certain number of years, became the father of … then lived …years and had other children, altogether he lived … years and then he died and the next one lived and died and on it goes.  God’s Word is proved true and the serpent’s “you shall not die” a lie!  Yes, they live long lives, but eventually everyone succumbs to death.  Enoch’s obituary stands out because it is missing his death announcement! Instead, we are told then he was no more, because God took him away.  This would have shocked people because he was only 365 years old!  People in those days didn’t die that young of natural causes.  Adam had died only 57 years earlier and his son Seth was still alive when God took Enoch!  This was to remind them that although death comes, it does not the final word; God still has His say!

      A little girl who came home from Sunday school, and her mother asked, “What did your teacher tell you about today?” The little girl said, “She told us all about this man Enoch.” And the mother said, “Well, what about Enoch?”

      So the little girl told her mother this story: “Enoch lived a long time ago, and God would come by every afternoon and say to him, ‘Enoch, would you like to take a walk with Me?’ Enoch would say, ‘Yes, I’d like to take a walk with You, God.’ And so every day God would come by Enoch’s house, and Enoch would go walking with God. One day God came by and said, ‘Enoch, let’s take a long walk today. I want to talk to you.’ So they started out. Enoch got his coat—even took his lunch, and they started walking. They walked and they walked and they walked, and finally it got late. Enoch said, ‘My, it’s getting late, and I am a long way from home. Maybe we’d better start back.’ But God said, ‘Enoch, you are closer to My home than you are to your home, so you come on and go home with Me.’ And so Enoch went home with God.”

      Why did God take him away?  Because “Enoch walked faithfully with God”.  To walk with God in the Hebrew means being in close relationship with God, and this only happens with those who “pleased God” (Heb. 11:5b).  When Enoch “was no more, because God took him away”

      We are told in Genesis 5:22-24 that Enoch’s walk with God began after he became the father of Methuselah.  The arrival of a child does call for parents to examine their priorities and life’s direction; this may be what led to Enoch’s decision to walk with God.

      James Boice in his commentary suggests there may have been something more.  The name Methuselah, is usually understood to mean: “Man of the javelin.”  Boice feels a second option is: “He dies, a sending forth” which he understands to mean: “When he is dead, it shall come.”  Boice suggests that: Enoch had a revelation at the time of Methuselah’s birth of the destruction to come on the earth by flood. God said that the flood was to come after the death of that son. So, either at God’s explicit direction or as an act of his own faith, Enoch named the child Methuselah – “when he is dead, it shall come.” While Methuselah lived, the flood would be held back. But when he died, it would come.” [2]  This may explain Enoch’s decision to walk with God following the birth of his son Methuselah.

      Methuselah lived the longest of any human being recorded in the Bible, with his son Lamech, Noah’s father, dying 5 years before him. The flood came the year Methuselah died.  Boice sees his long-life as a gift, a demonstration of God’s mercy, offering the people of Noah’s time opportunity to return to Him: “Methuselah… was a testimony to God’s grace. For this is why Methuselah lived longer than any other man on earth. His longevity was no accident.” [3] 

      Boice’s speculation that God gave Enoch some insight into His coming judgment on the earth may explain his decision to walk with the Lord.  However, before we use this as an excuse to say that’s why he had such faith, and we struggle, let’s remember that we also have many revelations that judgement is coming!  Continuing a walk of faith for 300 years (3½ – 4 of our lifetimes) is no easy task!  How can we develop a faith that brings God pleasure?  Hebrews 11:5–6 says: “5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV) 

      The writer of Hebrews is urging his readers to keep their faith in the Lord, because it is impossible to please God without faith.  All the good works or offerings in the world, done without faith, will not please God!  At the heart of faith in God is a belief in God’s existence and His goodness, that leads a person to live their life to please God as their chief priority no matter the situation.  This is what we will see in upcoming examples of faith in Hebrews 11. 

      This week I have been encourage by passages of scripture which have been turned into prayers by Kenneth Boa:

May I not be like those who draw near to You with their mouths and honor You with their lips, but whose hearts are far from You, and whose reverence for You is made up only of rules taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13)

I desire not only to call You Lord but to do what You say. By Your grace, I will come to You, hear Your words, and put them into practice. Then I will be like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock, and when a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:46–48)[4]

      Faith, believing that God exists and rewards those who seek Him, is something which grows and deepens as we grow in our friendship with God.  Like any friendship, you must spend quality time with your friend for the relationship to develop.  You walk through good times and bad times together, and as you do, your appreciation for your friend (the Lord) grows.

      I was reading in Daniel 7 and marvelling at the vision Daniel had been given of the Lord coming with the clouds of heaven to receive all authority.  I thought, wow, how does one come to the point where God is willing to trust them with such revelation?  Then I reflected on Daniel’s story.  It began as a youth, with a small but deliberate choice not to be swept up in the pagan culture surrounding him.  So, he and some friends refused to eat the Babylonian food, since it did not meet the dietary laws of the Jews and instead ate grains and drank water.  They also continue their practice of daily prayers to the Lord God, even as pressure to conform grew, yet they saw glimpses the Lord was pleased with their faith in Him.  They were entrusted with more responsibility and known as people of integrity, even as others hated them! 

      Join with Abel & Enoch in the walk of faith.  Believe that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him!

      I will close with personalized versions of Jeremiah 9:23-24 & Lamentations 3:24-26:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the strong man boast of his strength, and let not the rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will wait for Him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good to hope silently for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24–26) [5]

Closing Song: “Jesus strong & kind.” https://youtu.be/T5Y8s-Sz_ac

Benediction: Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.



[1] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 185). Baker Books.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 292). Baker Books.

[3] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 295). Baker Books.

[4] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Month 1, day 19. Trinity House.

[5] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Month 1, day 24. Trinity House.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

Sept 18, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
Hebrews 11.4 – The message of Abel.
Sept 18, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Teach me your way, Lord, and I will live by your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear your name. I will praise you with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor your name forever. For your faithful love for me is great, and you rescue my life from the depths of Sheol.” Psalm 86:11–13 (CSB).

      We are continuing our study of Hebrews chapter 11.  Last week we were reminded that the certainty of our faith lives wholly on who or what it is placed.  Our faith is in the living God.  He made all that is from nothing.  He spoke it into being and there is no one who compares with Him.  Our faith/trust in God is the firm foundation which gives us confidence, that what our powerful & truthful God has said, will come to pass.  Why is this important to emphasize?  The recipients of this letter were becoming discouraged.  Persecution and doubt were causing them to waver in their faith.  The writer of Hebrews, in the first 10 chapters has shown that Jesus is the one we have been waiting for, He is the perfect High Priest.  Now in this chapter, he draws on those whom in chapter 12 he calls “a great cloud of witnesses” to testify of the value of trusting in God by living a life of faith.  These witnesses are not spectators watching us, they are cheerleaders whose lives testify to the dependability of God to meet the deepest needs of life.  Their lives call us to us, “Trust God and don’t give up, He will see you through!”

      Our text today is Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Hebrews 11:4 (NIV).  It speaks of the immortality of influence.  Abel was the second generation of humanity, a son of Adam & Eve.  Although he is long dead, his life of faith still speaks!  This should remind us that our lives speak to those around us, and they will continue to speak even after our tongues have grown silent.  What message is your life communicating?  Is it good news that blesses or it that which brings harm & pain to others?

 

 

1.  Abel speaks of a life of faith.

      When we think of faith in God, especially in the context of Hebrews chapter 11, we may conclude that the most faithful are those who did great things, even impossible things.  Whether this is deliberate or a sub-conscious, accepting this definition of faith gives most of us a “pass,” allowing us to think: that’s just not me, I don’t have that ‘gift’.  Yet the very 1st person you meet as you enter the Hebrews 11 faith hall of fame is Abel.  What great act of faith did Abel accomplish, remember it led to his death.  He expressed his faith in God, he responded to God in faith!

      Faith is a response to God and to his will for our lives.  Genuine faith is more than our mental agreement with biblical truths.  It is more than saying “Yes, I believe in one God.” James 2:19 tells us that even the demons, fallen angels who reject God’s authority over them, agree with that statement, that is not faith!  Genuine faith is responding in accepting trust to God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ and the testimony of those who have known Him and lived with Him.

      Saving faith is a believing response to the Good News of Jesus.  1 My friends, I want you to remember the message that I preached and that you believed and trusted. 2a You will be saved by this message, if you hold firmly to it. 3b Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say. 4 He was buried, and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2a, 3b–4 (CEV).

      Faith is a gift of God which we then respond to.  We show our faith, our trust, our belief in God’s promises through our actions, and that is what Abel did through offering the best of his flock.

2.  Abel speaks of a life of faith & worship.

      Abel’s faith was deeper than a concept or ritual.  His faith in God longed for a way to express heart felt appreciation to Him, and this was expressed in personal worship.

      Genuine faith, like genuine love, longs to find a way to express itself.  Because of the faith in his heart, Abel sought to worship the Lord through the means available to him.  Worship of God is the offering of worth to the one who is of supreme worth. 

      Do you worship the God of Abel, Abraham and Paul, or have you allowed the god of success or leisure to take first place in your goals and activities?  Heart-felt worship of our God is a natural result of genuine growing faith.  Our faith grows as we daily put our trust in God to lead and direct us.  How are you doing this?

3.  Abel speaks of a life of faith, worship & excellence.

      Genesis 4:4 says: Abel also gave an offering to the Lord. He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the Lord the best parts of it. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering,” Genesis 4:4 (CEV).

       Abel’s worshipful attitude is seen in that he brought the best of what he had to the Lord as an offering.  While those with a heart which matches Abel would say, Of course, what else would you do?  Those with shallow or no real faith are looking for loopholes, for this level of faith & worship is costly to continue for a lifetime and it takes away from what I have for myself!  The prophet Malachi relayed the Lord God’s sorrow that the people had so little respect for Him that they were sacrificing blind, crippled and diseased sheep, animals they would never dare present to their Persian governor (Malachi 1:6-8)!

      Abel was thoughtful about what he offered, presenting to the Lord the best he had.  Like King David, Abel also refused to give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).  The value of the gift to the giver, expresses the value placed by them on the recipient of their gift.  This is what Howard B. Grose expressed in his poem: Give of your best to the Master, Naught else is worthy His love; He gave Himself for your ransom, gave up His glory above; Laid down His life without murmur, you from sin’s ruin to save; Give Him your heart’s adoration, Give Him the best that you have.

4.  Abel speaks of divine approval.

      Genesis 4:4 says: The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but not with Cain and his offering. This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings.”  Genesis 4:4b-5 (CEV).

      There is much discussion over why Abel and his animal offering was accepted by God, while Cain and his offering of crops were rejected.  Both types of offerings became part of the Hebrew sacrificial system.  It seems to me that the attitude of the giver lies at the root of the issue here. 

      This is the attitude Jesus highlighted in his comments recorded in Mark 12:41-44 – 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”” Mark 12:41–44 (NIV).

      It would seem Cain’s offering was not given in faith, as a genuine love response to God.  When God didn’t respond as he expected, Cain was mad, then jealous of his brother for receiving God’s approval.  Still today there is the danger of simply “going through the motions” of worship and giving and not responding from a heartfelt relationship with God.  Sometimes God is offered a gift in the hope of off-setting sinful behavior, it won’t work.  A gift may be given to receive the praise of people, but the wrong motive of the heart is clearly seen and disapproved of by God.  Gifts presented grudgingly, out of a feeling of obligation or simply to attain tax benefits also fall short of divine approval.  What’s missing?  Our love for God.  Paul tells us that even the greatest gift or sacrifice if not given in love is ultimately meaningless: 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV). 

      Abel’s simple act of giving the best he had, in love and worship to the Lord, gained him the Lord’s approval.  That’s it!  No begging. No manipulation, and no need to bargain with God.  Come to God the Father, through the saving work of Jesus the Son, and offer Him in love, your heart, body, mind and spirit.

Hymn: “Give of your best to the master.”

Benediction: Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you” 1 Chronicles 28:20b (NASB 2020).

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

Sept 11, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
Hebrews 11.1-3. The full assurance of placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
Sept 11, 2022 Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16 NIV)

Hymn: “Faithful one”

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19-23; 10:32-11:2,6

Hebrews 10:19–23 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (NIV).

Hebrews 10:32–11:2, 6 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV).

      Yesterday morning (Saturday), I opened my email and saw the heading “Today is an important mental health day.”  It was from a Christian site and I thought, oh, it must be in preparation for the anniversary of 9-11 in the states.  Instead, the email stated that Sept. 10 is “World suicide prevention day.”  It went on to explain that the CDC has found that almost half of all adults experience mental illness in their life time.  Mental health is something Christians need to be compassionate and caring about for those within and without our churches. 

      There is still the terror from abroad represented by 9-11 and terror from within, witnessed at the James Smith Cree Nation here in Saskatchewan.  We were looking forward to “getting back to normal” after the covid-19 health restrictions; however, war, weather, air port chaos and inflation has popped that balloon!  Most churches have been slower to return to their pre-pandemic vibrancy and the graying of our congregations seems to be growing.

      Good mental health is vital, and so is our spiritual health.  What can we do to maintain our spiritual health, especially when we are facing difficult times?  Periods of problems, stress and pain seem to stretch us to our spiritual limit and all the while, voices within and around us are telling us to look for help in places other than the Lord God.  What are we to do?

      Rather than giving into the urge to walk away from Lord, we should run to Him, clinging to Him and seek His wisdom found in His word.  Do not be embarrassed to ask Him for help, His greatest victories can be seen in our toughest trials!

      The pressures and feelings we are experiencing today were not unknown by 1st century Christians, and so, help is found in God’s Word.  Today I want to begin a study of Hebrews chapter 11.  Turning to a chapter which is seen by many as being the Biblical Hall of Fame, may seem counter productive when trying to help the discouraged, yet this is what the writer to the Hebrews did.  We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, but it was written to discouraged, wavering Christians, likely converts from Judaism.  They had started with strong faith, enduring persecution and helping others to do the same.  Yet some had grown weary, relief was not coming and doubts were creeping into their minds – had they made the right decision in turning to Jesus? 

      The writer of Hebrews has reminded his readers of Jesus’ uniqueness and sufficiency to represent us before God as our true High Priest.  Through placing our faith and trust in Jesus’ redemptive work on our behalf we can enter into God’s presence with confidence, because Christ has made us clean.  He has reminded us repeatedly of God’s faithfulness to us (faithful one so unchanging), and then calls us not to give up, but to hold on and live by faith.  Then he begins chapter 11 with an explanation of faith in verses 1-3.  Some may think of faith similar to a young girl who defined faith as: “Having to believe in something you know ain’t so.”   Yet expressing faith is something we do everyday.  Every time we turn on a light, sit on a chair, drive a car or bank, we are exercising faith.  Without exercising faith our economy would collapse.  Yet when Christian talk of faith they are sometimes mocked.

      Our Christian faith is based on a relationship of trust in God, not our abilities!  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5–6 (NIV).  Hebrews 11:1-2 is a description of our faith, rather than a definition of faith.  1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1–2 (NIV). The Contemporary English Version says: 1 Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. 2 It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.” Hebrews 11:1–2 (CEV). The Message Translation says: 1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” Hebrews 11:1 (The Message).  Our faith in God, our trust that He will do what He says because He does not lie, is the bedrock, the firm foundation we can count on when everything is unstable.

      F.F. Bruce in his commentary on Hebrews says this about Hebrews 11:1-2: In Old Testament times… there were many men and women who had nothing but the promises of God to rest upon, without any visible evidence that these promises would ever be fulfilled; yet so much did these promises mean to them that they regulated the whole course of their lives in their light. The promises related to a state of affairs belonging to the future; but these people acted as if that state of affairs were already present, so convinced were they that God could and would fulfil what he had promised. In other words, they were men and women of faith.[1]

      Those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 “Hall of Fame” are not people who experience a life of ease without hardship or challenges.  The point for us to grasp is that because of their faith in God and His promises to them, they were faithful to Him and have become examples to us of those who walk by faith and not by sight.  Their voices call out to us today, “God is faithful! Trust Him and don’t give up! He will see you through!”

      When we are anxious, Noah’s life speaks to us: “Patience! I had to wait 120 years to see God’s plan fulfilled in my life; a few more weeks of waiting will do you good!”

      When we run the race and begin to doubt, Sarah shouts, “Keep going! God is able to do the impossible!”

      Joseph faced one hardship after another: sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned on false charges, forgotten by those he helped. Yet his life testifies to us, “Trust God in spite of your circumstances!”

      Faith in the Lord God produces faithfulness, this means our faith is seen in our choices, our action, because we believe God’s promises.  Let people see your faith through the life choices you make, because faith in God will bring victory!

Hymn: #486 “Faith is the victory” (vv. 1,2)

Benediction: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 (TNIV)



[1] Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., p. 276). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

Sept 4, 2022 Podbean

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 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 

Psalm 118 – The Lord’s hand has done mighty things. 

Sept. 4, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church. 

 

Call to Worship: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16 NIV)  

Psalm 118 (NIV) 

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. 10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” 17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  

Today we are looking at Psalm 118, the last of 6 psalms known as the Egyptian Hallel (praise) psalms (#113-118), which were sung during the Passover celebration.  One can understand why this psalm would be including in a collection for use remembering Israel’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  The Exodus was a time when the Lord demonstrated that human, including princely power is no match for His.  The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 

As we have seen with the other psalms in this collection, we don’t know when, where, why or by whom this psalm was written.  It is so beautifully general in its description of the troubles faced that it applies to many incidents in Israel’s history.  The form of this psalm invites its use in both large and small gatherings as well as allowing for an individual to testify to the Lord’s goodness and enduring love.   

The Psalm begins in vv. 1-4 with a call for communal praise, using the response: “His love endures forever.”  In v. 2, the community of Israel is invited to respond, in v. 3 it is the priest, and in v. 4, it is likely everyone.  It is possible that by the time of Jesus “those who fear the Lord” included God fearing Gentiles.  Thinking of the book of Proverbs, I wonder if this is another way of call for those who are wise to respond – 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdomProverbs 9:10a (NIV).  

Verses 5-13 contain an individual’s testimony on how trusting in the Lord made the difference between victory or certain defeat.  Some scholars feel we are to hear a Davidic king testifying to the Lord’s faithfulness.  Psalm 118 begins and ends with the call to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 118:1, 29).   This is the same refrain King Jehoshaphat had sung by those leading his army out to watch the Lord defeat an invasion force (2 Chron. 20:21b). 

By the way, here is an interesting observation from James Boice’s commentary: It is reported by people who count such things that there are 31,174 verses in the Bible, and if that is so, then these verses, the 15,587th and the 15,588th, are the middle verses. That position should be reason enough to give them prominence. 

What do you suppose a middle verse should say? Shouldn’t the middle verse of the Bible be John 3:16, or its equivalent? Or something from Psalm 23? At least it should be about God’s love, perhaps “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Actually, the middle verses of the Bible are none of these or anything else we might naturally expect, though in their simplicity they are of vast importance. Significantly, they are about putting our trust in God rather than in mere human beings. 

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (Ps. 118:8–9).1  Amen, Christian, put your trust in the Lord rather than in people, no matter how influential! 

Verse 14-19 continue the testimony of praise to the Lord, now including some of Moses’ song of praise found in Exodus 15, after Pharaoh’s army was swept away by the sea.  Psalm 118:14 quotes directly from Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.Exodus 15:2a (NIV).  Exodus 15:6 6 Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.” (NIV) is paraphrased in Ps. 118:15b-16 15b The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!Psalm 118:15–16 (NIV).   

Verses 20-29 end the Psalm with thanksgiving and worship.  Some feel that the gates referred to are describing the special entrances designed for the king and his entourage to access the inner courtyard (Ezek. 44:3; 46:1-8). 

Verses 22-24, referring to a rejected stone becoming the cornerstone, was from a Hebrew proverb expressing the transition from humiliation to honour.  Some say this was a picture of Israel, God choosing the people and bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.  One can also see David, rejected by King Saul, then most of the tribes, until he is finally made king of all the tribes (2 Samuel 5:1-5).   

By Jesus’ time Psalm 118 was considered a Messianic psalm.  As we read this psalm, did you hear some familiar passages?  Verses 25 & 26 were shouted by the crowds on “Palm Sunday” and is recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts (Mt. 21:9; Mk. 11:9; Lk. 19:39; Jn. 12:13).  The words from Ps. 118:25, “Lord, save us” literally mean, “save us now,” which is the Hebrew word hosanna.2  Now we know not only where this phrase comes from, but why it would have been on the people’s minds as they approached Jerusalem to celebrate Passover!  Jesus confirmed that this messianic passage referred to himself, when speaking of Jerusalem’s rejection of those the Lord had sent when he said in Matthew 23:39: For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”” (NIV).  

Psalm 118:22-24 is another passage that we hear during Jesus’ final week in Matthew, Mark & Luke (Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10-11; Lk. 20:17) In Matthew 21:33f, as Jesus finished His parable of the Tenants, we read: 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.Matthew 21:42–46 (NIV).  

The nation of Israel was rejected by the Empires of the World, but God chose it, and through Jesus, a descendent of King David, would build a new people.  Jesus was rejected by Israel’s leaders, but chosen by God, demonstrated through His resurrection.  This is what Peter told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:7-12 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:7–12 (NIV).  

  This great truth is what we remember and celebrate: Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved than Jesus Christ!  It is through a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ that we can enter into the Lord’s presence – Thank you Lord! 

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.Psalm 118:19–29 (NIV).  

Benediction: 18 Lord God of Israel, we praise you. Only you can work miracles. 19 We will always praise your glorious name. Let your glory be seen everywhere on earth. Amen and amen.Psalm 72:18–19 (CEV).