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.

Christmas and Infanticide

Christmas and infanticide are forever related and linked.

That may sound strange. Christmas is supposed to be a happy occasion. Food, family, and presents are the order of the day. And thoughts about baby Jesus, of course.

The tame, mild baby Jesus who was born in a manger, surrounded by cute, cuddly animals (all who could be at a modern day petting zoo, of course), doted on by his parents, and visited by some dumbfounded shepherds.

This view helps us maintain the sentimentality of the season. Fuzzy feelings and sugar plum thoughts.

But let’s not forget the rest of the story.

The wise men came bearing gifts for a king, intending to give homage. But the ruler of the land, Herod, a bloodthirsty tyrant, became jealous for his own power. He was troubled. And he was right to be troubled.

For make no mistake, the story of Christmas is the story of the first gambit in the last battle of a long war. It is the rightful king coming to take up his throne. The prince who would raise up the lowly, and throw down the prideful. Prideful people just like Herod.

And so Herod had every child under the age of two years old slaughtered. Mass murder. Infanticide. Mothers weeping as their children were stolen from their arms.This is as much a part of the Christmas story as the angels singing “Peace on earth,” but we don’t sing many carols about Rachel weeping for her children.

In a nation like ours that routinely murders its own children as a matter of convenience, it is a part of the story that we can never forget. Bundled up in the Christmas story is a clear picture of why Christmas had to happen in the first place. The world is dark. The world is sinful. The world is begging for light.

When the Bible says Herod was troubled, it also says that all of Jerusalem was troubled with him (Matthew 2:3). Their salvation from tyrants, like Herod, had been born, and yet they sided with the tyrant. They empathized with the man who would kill their children not long after.

It is no different today. Our own Herods nod approvingly as they allow the slaughter of millions of innocents, in numbers that might have made the original Herod blush. And we nod right along with them. We have our excuses. Some of them even sound reasonable, on the surface. But that is par for the course with sin. It always sounds reasonable, right up to the point where it demands your very life, or the life of someone you love.

We think we are an enlightened people. Because science…or something. But we are no better than Herod and his ilk. Perhaps, we are even worse.

Christmas is a time for celebration. So celebrate. But know what you are celebrating: the hope of a final victory of over darkness. A darkness that casually calls for the slaughter of children on a whim. A darkness that still calls for the slaughter of children.

This is the very darkness that Christ stepped down into, so that it would flee like a swarm of cockroaches.

Merry Christmas. And may the light continue to scatter the darkness.

 

The Work of Your Hands and the Image of God

Intro to Sermon:

1 Thess 4:9-12

Last night before your dinner, you probably said a prayer, and thanked God for the food you were about to eat. And that is good and proper. It is God that provides all of our needs. Psalm 136:25 says that he gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever. We are told by Jesus in Matthew chapter 6 that it is God who provides for the birds of the air, even though they do not sow or harvest. How much more so will he take care of us? And in the model prayer Jesus provides just before that, he says that we should ask for our daily bread. Because our daily bread comes from God.

And yet….how did God feed us? He didn’t

He provided it with common means and circumstances. It was the farmer who reaped a harvest and sold the grain. The baker who actually made the bread. The truck driver who drove it across the country to your chosen grocery store. The third-shift worker who stocked the shelves at 3:00 AM in the morning, so you could easily find what you were looking for.

All of these things conspired to give you your daily bread yesterday. All of these things are everyday jobs of normal people, some would say mundane jobs. And yet it was actually God working through them to care for you and your family. There is a very real sense that when the farmer puts his hand to the plow, God is putting his hand to the plow.

This has some staggering implications, some of which we will be talking about today, but the first one is the importance of the work of men’s hands. Even mundane work. Maybe even ESPECIALLY.

That’s what we are going to be talking about today. And we are going to start at the very beginning. Literally, the very beginning.

The Objective Scoreboard

The postmodern goo continues its attack on basic reality. Jason Collins is now the first ever pro sports player to be openly gay. Gauging the reaction, you might be led to believe that the revelation is as big of a deal as Jackie Robinson or something…oh wait. People are explicitly making those comparisons now.

What I’m about to say is related to the fact that gay is not the new black, no matter how much our culture really wishes to frame the debate.

As someone said recently, institutional racism first began to crumble in sports, because abstract lies can’t survive an objective scoreboard. Jackie Robinson’s talent could not be questioned. Those who did were objective idiots.

But now we have the opposite effect. An average NBA player, by most accounts, comes out as gay, and suddenly he’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The objective scoreboard, like everything else in our flailing culture, is now subservient to the sexual preferences of those involved. The press now moves to glorify the accomplishments of a man who, for the most part, has had a pretty mediocre career.

When I say mediocre, I’m obviously comparing his career to those we would call “top tier” in his profession. Me playing Collins in basketball would be a frog versus a fly situation. Being gay doesn’t suddenly make him better at basketball, anymore than having black hair makes me a better cook.

To compare him to Robinson also cheapens the true bigotry that existed back then. Robinson was barred from playing in the Major Leagues. Collins has been playing in the NBA for years, with people happy to pay him millions of dollars to do so. While I certainly wouldn’t want to lessen the harmful effects of words and locker room slurs, or whatever may cause the ears of those in the closet to burn, this is not a situation of widespread, institutionalized bigotry, and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

The press will continue to spin this as demolition for a major wall, and that now other pro athletes currently playing will feel more comfortable coming out of the closet. The key phrase in this is other pro athletes currently playing. To compare it to Robinson’s time shows a frantic leaping for straws, and comes across about as desperate as a bad car salesmen trying to reach his quota.

Gosnell – Our Idols’ Names Rhyme with Molech

Members of the media are starting to make some embarrassed apologies about the lack of coverage for the one of the most successful serial killers this nation has ever know. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, no one can really blame you. It hasn’t really been covered by any of the major media outlets, let alone even a mention on the national nightly news.

Here is a rundown of the situation from The Gospel Coalition. You might not be able to finish. The stories contained in them are not of the train-wreck variety.

Other authors have made shown examples of other, far less monumental news (and in some cases downright trivial) making national headlines and sticking around in the news cycle far past their welcome, like lonely house guests on a school night. Sandra Fluke, Trayvon Martin. There wasn’t much restraint when these “local crime” stories were thrust into the national spotlight.

So why, when it comes to the horror show that was Gosnell’s abortion operation, has everyone suddenly found their restraint? This is a story of chopped up babies lying everywhere, unlicensed practitioners, medical rooms about as clean as gas station bathrooms, not to mention rampant racism and the failure of several governmental agencies.

I’m not suggesting any malicious intent to hide the truth or that there is deliberate selection bias going on for all parties. Only God knows the heart. We all have our own set of blinders that we wear. People are fully capable of making big mistakes on accident.

But why is this case being ignored? There were some rudimentary articles written about it back in 2011, but no serious digging. No real interest in the details.

This case presents the underbelly of sterilized infanticide…and people don’t like it. It throws back the curtains and shows the ugly monsters living under our beds. Turns out, their names rhyme with Molech.

Deep down, our culture has severe blood guilt. How can we not, with the killing of over 40 million innocents? Surely, the ground itself cries out the fact of our guilt.

We already know it. We don’t want to be reminded yet again, and slapped in the face.

We are a tragic people, because we have a strong sense of morality, left over from the dregs of Christendom, and yet turn our eyes when children are dismembered. So we compensate. We pour ourselves into saving puppies. Into crusades against factory farming. Into self-righteousness about organic foods. Into guilting others to drink fair trade coffee. We desperately want to be moral, to cleanse our conscience. But nothing can do that but the blood of Christ.

So normally, the media scrambles at the first sign of a juicy story about a horrific crime. It happens all the time. But in the case of Gosnell, they would simply be looking into a window of what they…WE…have allowed to happen.

In a time when a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman can say, with a straight face, that mothers should be able to kill their baby if it survives an abortion and is born, Gosnell’s abortion clinic reminds people how sick we really are. How infanticide is really the next logical step in our rampant idolatry of the orgasm.

Is it any wonder that no one really wants to talk about it?