Fatherhood Before the Foundation of the World

A Father’s Day sermon. Cross-posted from Eastland Church of Christ.

Passage: Malachi 4:5-6

This centrality of fatherhood should not really surprise, because the relationship between the Father and the Son is the central relationship of the gospel itself. God the Father sends his only Son, and the Son obeys the Father. The Father gives the Son honor and recognition, while the Son is the perfect image of the Father, imitates the Father, and points others to His Father.

And make no mistake. When I say that the relationship between God the Father, and Jesus the Son is the cornerstone of the gospel, I don’t mean it’s the cornerstone of what we practice here in this building…though it is that. I don’t mean that it is the cornerstone of our personal ethics…though it is that. I also don’t mean that it is the cornerstone of our personal salvation…even though it certainly is that.

When I say that the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is the cornerstone of the gospel, I’m saying that it is the cornerstone of creation itself. Of the cosmos. Of the very fabric of reality. The pew you are sitting on holds together because the Father loved the Son. It all goes back to that fact.

The world was created, God spoke us into existence, so that He could send His only Son to be slain. The world was created, God spoke us into existence, so that his Son would be glorified. Reality itself is founded on the desire of the Father to enthrone His Son with all authority in heaven and on earth.

And this Father, who is source of all life, who is the source of all love, gives us, His creatures the same name that He has given Himself. The name that we are taught to call Him in His infinite glory – Father – is the name he requires us men to bear. Just dwell on that for a second.

This is a great privilege. But it also represents a heavy responsibility.

When God Became Dust

Text: Hebrews 2:5-8

The Triune God is eternal, the alpha and omega, the great I AM, He who always has been, and always will be, everlasting and never changing, the very source of the fabric of reality as we know it. A God who spoke the worlds into existence, laid the foundations of the earth, placed the barriers of the sea. A God who knows the number of hairs on your head, and everyone’s head, who knows when every sparrow falls from the sky, when every blade of grass withers, who sustains us through every breath and with every heartbeat…A God who holds together every atom that makes up your body, your skin, your blood, your mind, with nothing but his Words.

This God, who stepped down into history, into time, and became dust. This God who is the rock and anchor of all time and reality became a vapor. This unchanging God was born of a woman, and began to grow older. This God outside of time, to whom one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day, was born on earth and felt every…crawling…second. This everlasting God was born into a body that was pierced and torn. This eternal God who…died.

How…do you come up with an analogy for that? How do you truly fathom the weight of the significance?

And just as he was fully God, he was also fully man. When he was a baby, he soiled his diaper. God in the flesh, his backside being wiped by his mother, because he couldn’t control his bowels. Just like all babies that age. And when he was born, do you know he made his mother unclean, according to the Law of Moses? God made someone unclean.

Obadiah – The Faithful Servant of an Evil King

The books of 1 and 2 Kings, in the Hebrew Bible, are part of a section referred to as the Former Prophets. And its not that difficult to see why. As we hop quickly from the reign of one king to another, the narrative slows down whenever a man of God comes on the scene.

Between the tales of the prophets, we just get straightforward recitation. Dry statements of fact. This king lived and reigned this many years. And then he died. And then this king lived and reigned this many years. And then he died. And on and on.

Most of the details are glossed over, even though there are certainly some great tales of intrigue and succession to pull from. But they get almost no time to shine.

Instead, over and over, it is the rote retelling of death. In Romans 5:14, Pauls tells us that ever since Adam, death has reigned, and that point is hammered home in the accounts of the kings of Israel. It can seem dull. It can seem tedious. And such is life without the living, breathing word of God, represented here by the prophets who speak for Him.

And there is no greater example of this than the stories surrounding the prophet Elijah. Elijah is the prototypical prophet, the one all others will be compared to after him. A bold man of God, mighty in both deed and speech. He appears out of nowhere, with almost no introduction, and announces a famine and then takes off as soon as he lays down the judgement. On his journeys, he raises the dead, he defeats 450 prophets of Baal in a grand, dramatic demonstration of God’s power, he brings the rains back, he outruns a chariot, and at the end of his life is himself taken up to heaven in a whirlwind air and fire. A bit dramatic.

And, perhaps the most impressive of all, he actually gets evil king Ahab to finally repent with sackcloth and fasting. The most wicked king Israel had seen to that point, and he finally humbles himself after Elijah confronts him for what will turn out to be the last time.

As soon as Elijah steps onto the scene, everyone is forced to react to him and his declarations from the Lord. No one can ignore him.

One such person who cannot ignore him is a man named Obadiah. He too is caught in the blast radius of Elijah’s footsteps. That’s where we will be focusing our attention.

Text: 1 Kings 18:1-6

Here we are first introduced to Obadiah, and we are immediately told two very important facts about him.

The first: he is head over the household of Ahab. He is an important official in the Ahab administration. To have this job means he is trusted with many things, including the king’s very life. This is someone very close to the king and his family, possibly even the king’s close confidant and friend. He is most likely wealthy, and he commands many resources on his own, as we will see.

And yet, immediately after we learn about his employment, we learn of another fact. The text tells us that Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.

Psalm 2 – The Kingship and Inheritance of Jesus

When the Devil tempts Jesus, he saves his best play for last. In Matthew 4:8-10:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Why did Satan save this temptation for last? Because the nations, the kingdoms of the world, are exactly what Jesus came for. He wanted the nations. He desired them. That’s part of what the definition of a temptation is. You have to want the thing being offered. And here the Devil is offering something Jesus desires. The nations of the world. But with a shortcut. A presumption. Here would be another Adam eating of yet another forbidden fruit. Another Fall.

But no. Jesus would not accept the nations as a gift from Satan. He would lay claim to them on the field of battle. He would only accept them by right of conquest.

The Delicate Art of Swallowing a Camel

Intro to Sermon:

Matthew 22:35-40

Once upon a time, there was a house that had a sewage leak in the basement. The family had no idea where it was coming from, and as the mire got deeper by the minute, they made an emergency call to a plumber. The plumber came by, took a glance down the basement stairs, and turned to the husband and wife with his verdict. “First things first,” he said. “You need a water filter for your kitchen sink.”

The husband and wife, confused, asked how that would help with their basement situation.

The plumber shook his head and said. “It won’t, not directly. But it will make your water cleaner and help it taste better. You’ll be happier and healthier in no time. I guarantee it. I can install one tonight.”

The husband, getting a little angry now, and speaking a little slower, said “What does a filter have to do with sewage leaking into our basement?”

The plumber got a little indignant himself, and said “Nothing. But the quality of the water you drink is very important. Don’t you care about what your children are drinking? Trust me, I’m a professional.”

This plumber sounds absurd, but Christians should be careful about falling into the same trap. “All sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord” goes the mantra.

It sounds holy. And it sounds pious. It has a nice ring to it. But is it true? Is it actually Biblical?

Every sin is against a holy God, and against Him only do we sin (Psalm 51:4). We are all guilty and deserve death (Romans 6:23).

James 2:10-11 says that if you fail to keep the law in one point, you are accountable to the whole law. All of these together can sometimes tempt us to flatten all offenses and treat them all as equal, and to think that God treats them all as equal.

But we’re going to deconstruct this notion. And we’re going to start with everyone’s favorite punching bag: the Pharisees.

Jesus and the Pharisees

One of the warnings given against any kind of hierarchy of sin is that it will tempt us toward pride, to act like the Pharisee who looks over at the sinner, and thanks God that he is not like him (Luke 18:9-14). It would allow us to look down at the murderer when we are sinners ourselves.

But our pride is creative. It usually doesn’t need any help to inflate. While the sin and temptation to act like a Pharisee is perennial, we often are blind to what the sins of the Pharisees actually were, even though Jesus spells it out time and again.

What were some of his actual criticisms of the Pharisees?