The ROCK
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Rock Report by Pastor Paul

This is a blog that comes from my personal devotions each day. It will also include sermons as I have to delete them from the audio section of the website. This blog will also keep you up to date with what is happening at the Rock in Strathroy Ontario 

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  • Dec4Sun

    Sermon: “Anticipating the Light”

    December 4, 2022

        One of our favorite campgrounds is MacGregor Provincial Park, Ontario Canada. Looking at the stars made the nightly trek to the restroom much more tolerable. Oddly, I am not sure why it is called a restroom when your body rudely wakes you up, then you have to get dressed and go for a walk in the middle of the night. Even so, there was always an incredible view of God’s handiwork in the night sky. Out of curiosity I looked up a few of the best places in the world to view the night sky, meaning there is very limited light pollution. A couple of the darkest places on earth are locations in the Canary Islands and Nevada. One article said this. “In 2016, a study entitled “World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness” found that one-third of the world’s population can’t see the Milky Way, and 80 percent is affected by light pollution. This has more consequences than some of us realize. Light pollution can disrupt sleep patterns, disturb wildlife and ecosystems, and even harm human health.” Another article said, “If cities were to turn off all their lights — all their street lamps, billboards, neon signs, car headlights — a clear night sky would look something like this.” They then showed an amazing picture of what the sky would look like when that happened. They also said “Most of us living in urban areas can’t see it because of all the light pollution. In big cities, we’re lucky to even glimpse the Big Dipper. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick out our place in the universe.”

        While having light at night is nice, nothing can compare to the natural beauty of God’s creation. The most powerful telescopes like the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, just keep showing us how vast God’s creation is. They can describe it and take pictures but can’t explain it and at the same time refuse to humble themselves before God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth who created all that they are looking at. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Isaiah 40:22 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” 

        Where I live, we have no problem seeing the Big Dipper, but it is nowhere near what we could see at MacGregor. Think about New York city. Like most places in the world that have been severely affected by light pollution, people have grown accustomed to living with artificial light but there is no comparison to God’s handiwork. This last moon and lunar eclipse (November) were amazing. The clouds cleared, at least where I was located, and the view was spectacular. It is very easy to take for granted what we see above us but as we just read in Romans, we are accountable. This is also true for the sun that burns brightly, turning darkness into light day after day. We just expect that when we go to sleep at night, the next morning the sun will rise but most do not know the significance of the sun rising. This is why it is important. God gave a promise to David and said Jeremiah 33:20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” God is a God of compassion and there will always be a remnant. The sad part about that statement is a remnant means most have turned away to what their hands have made. 

        The hands of man have created some amazing things. Artificial light is one of those creations. In our house we replaced the incandescent bulbs with LEDs and has made a huge change in brightness and efficiency. One article described the kind of inventions that human intelligence can create. “Scientists have created the brightest light ever produced on the earth, shining a billion times stronger than the surface of the sun.” But there is a small problem with man’s creation. It all needs power to continue, whereas the sun is powered until God says it is finished its purpose. When there is a power failure everything shuts down. It really doesn’t matter what kind of bulb you have or how powerful your laser is when there is a power failure. People get very grumpy when there is a power failure that causes a disruption in life as we know it. People who live off grid are dependent on the sun to charge their solar array. When the sun doesn’t shine, generators are necessary. So yes, while man has created some pretty amazing inventions, one nasty storm or as we are seeing with war, can bring it all down. 

        Light pollution has really interfered with the natural light God created. This light pollution was created by man for his own purposes and God created His light for His purpose. Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Job 42:1 “Then Job replied to the Lord: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Even though we are surrounded with God’s creation, the world continues to reject God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and it is getting worse. We talked about how the Queen was supposed to be the "Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England," but recently an article talked about the decline of Christianity in England. For the first time fewer than half of people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christian, the Census 2021 has revealed. The proportion of people who said they were Christian was 46.2%, down from 59.3% in the last census in 2011. In contrast the number who said they had no religion increased to 37.2% of the population, up from a quarter.” The “nones” as they describe the non-religious, are increasing everywhere but to be clear just because someone states they are a Christian, does not mean they are in God’s eyes. This can be said because they don’t know His word or even believe His word, so the numbers are even lower than the researchers state they are. While many believe in God, they don’t believe in Jesus, even though John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way. You can’t say you believe in God if you do not believe in Jesus. You can’t say you believe in Jesus if you do not believe His word, as His word is truth (John 17:17).  Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.”

        So, like the light pollution that has affected the world, the church has also been affected by light pollution, that is those things created by man combined with the works of satan have decimated the church. I would dare say that those affected in the church are even higher than the 80% affected by light pollution as there is only a remnant left due to the desolation. Ezra 9:15 “Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Daniel 12:7 “When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

        I love how our house is situated. We live in a raised ranch that has large basement windows. While sitting in my basement office, I can see the sun rise and the sun set. Today is a gloomy, windy and rainy morning but the sun still came up and the darkness went away. Other days the morning sky is fiery red. The evening sky is much the same. Each day the sun and moon do what they were designed to do until the end of creation comes and only God knows when that will be. 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” Our job is to be ready. Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.” We must humble ourselves before God. God said Isaiah 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, 6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. 7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” God said to Job, Job 38:12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? 19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” Yet Psalm 53:1 “the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

        Advent is a time of anticipation. The four Sundays leading up to Christmas is a time to focus on the Messiah. Since Jesus was already born and became King, we no longer focus on the birth of Jesus but His return. Yes, the birth of Jesus is a celebration, but Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of Lords and no longer a baby, and we must submit to Him and anticipate His return. The problem with the church calendar is that it is cyclical. Year after year the focus is on the birth of Jesus at Christmas and then at Easter His death and resurrection, but little emphasis is placed on Pentecost. Year after year most of the church cycles through these events but there is little to no change nor is there any power. Those three events actually should be a daily focus. Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means “God with us.” Paul said Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” That power was given to the church at Pentecost. Ephesians 3:21 “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When God dwells among us there is power, just as we see in the Gospels and Acts. Yes, Jesus was born and the word became flesh. Yes, Jesus walked among us peaching the good news, healing the sick and casting out demons. Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” And yes, Jesus will return one day to take us home. John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

        The power we see in the Gospels and Acts is not happening in the church nor is the church anticipating that power to return. In fact, most believe it is not even possible as they have adapted to a powerless church. While many are anticipating heaven, most have not truly repented and are not actively seeking God with everything they have. Not only has the kingdom of God not come near, eternal life will not be available because they have been deceived and deluded. Many have been taught the lie that there will be a rapture and they will be whisked away. Today you even have to be careful when talking about the Advents of Christ. Many teach that there is a distinction between the rapture and the second coming but there is no distinction as there is no such thing as the rapture. One writer in describing this actually gave away the problem, which is terrible exegesis (critical explanation / interpretation of the text). He said “The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two.” The only way to make the rapture work is to change scripture to say what their end time theology states. Deuteronomy 11:26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” It is not difficult because the bible talks of the second coming not the rapture. Man talks about the rapture and interjects doctrines of demons into the bible even though the bible does not describe the rapture but the Second Coming. We have already talked about this but the same goes for the millennial kingdom that many are waiting for. That kingdom was already here but because of man going their own way and being deceived by satan, God turned His face from us, thus the light pollution. What you are about to read has already happened to the church. Zechariah 11:11 “They refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.” Micah 3:11 “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” Lamentations 5:15 “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim 18 for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it. 19 You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. 20 Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? 21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old 22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” The problem is the church will not admit it has sinned and refuses to turn from their wicked ways.

        What we are seeing today is darkness covering the land, but that is not how it was supposed to be. When you go back to the very beginning as seen in Genesis, we see the first words God spoke. Genesis 1:3 “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Then man sinned and death entered the world but God was compassionate and made a way back to eternal life and light. Isaiah 7:14 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Luke 1:78 “Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Matthew 4:16 “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Daniel 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        We then see the light described. Revelation 21:22 “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Revelation 22:3 “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” John describes this light. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Colossians 1:13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

        The church was to continue to do as Paul was told to do. Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” And as we saw in Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5 “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 2 Peter 1:19 “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

        The church started off doing as Jesus did but then quickly turned away. Jesus showed us what the church would look like. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Jesus appointed others to do as he did. Matthew 10:6 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” This was a prelude to Pentecost. After God’s Spirit fell on the church, the disciples continued to do as Jesus did. Pentecost was not a one-time event as we see in Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 5:15 “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” Acts 8:6 “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” The disciples did just as Jesus said they would. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”

        This was the church; disciples doing as Jesus did in the power and authority of His name. The church was to continue destroying the work of satan just as we saw Paul doing; opening eyes and turning people from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God but the church almost immediately turned away and followed the ways of man and doctrines of demons. This rebellion caused God to turn His face from the church and darkness took over the land, again. Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” To make matters even worse, because the church rebelled against God, God brought delusion on the church. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” The church began to operate in darkness, not light. We were told but the church did not listen. John 12:36 “Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” So instead of light, we have darkness. Job describes this. Job 24:13 “There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. 15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed. 16 In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. 17 For all of them, midnight is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.” Instead of celebration we have mourning because the children of the light became children of the night.

        John tells us that when Jesus came, His own people rejected Him just as the church has done. John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Even though God has been rejected, people will still be brought to account. Luke 12:2 “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” Even so, there is no fear of God. One of the reasons people don’t really want to read or hear God’s word is this. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” We can’t hide from God even in this darkness. 

        It appears that people still seem to love the darkness. John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” Jeremiah 5:20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?”  declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ 25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. 30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Instead of seeking God and turning from wicked ways, the church embraces their wicked ways all the more and continues down a path that leads to everlasting destruction, not eternal life. Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        The church has followed after the Jews and rejected God’s word. Today the Jews still do not believe Jesus was the Messiah because He did not meet their criteria even though they did not understand and believe the prophecies about Jesus. Many in the church are looking for the same criteria. One of the criteria’s that was not met or so they say, was peace. They believe the Messiah will bring world peace. This is what many in the church think the Millennial Kingdom will bring. Jesus already brought a peace beyond understanding but it was not the world peace they were looking for. Remember they were also looking for someone to sit on the actual throne of David. Jesus already did that when He set up a spiritual kingdom not a political one. Luke 1:30 “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 11:20 “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” His kingdom already came because He drove out demons. Jesus did say Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” The Jews then murdered the Messiah.

        The church is doing the same by rejecting God’s word by adding their own words. Hebrews 10:29 “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Every church has done this. The church you see today is not the church Jesus is the head of but there is hope. I just let the dog out and looked up and sure enough there was the moon shining brightly, therefore the promise to David is still in effect. When the church returns to God’s word and turns from their wicked ways, God will turn His face back to us and power will flow among us once again. The church will then go and do as Jesus did. 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Right now God has turned His face and closed His ears but like Daniel we too can pray. Daniel 9:17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

        I have never been to a place where it is dark all the time for days on end. I noticed that there is this place in Norway called Tromsø where the “Polar Night” lasts all winter. Can you imagine going to bed in November and it is still night all the way to January? I thought the time change was bad twice a year. The interesting thing about this place is that the days get progressively longer until the Midnight Sun period, from May to July, when the sun never sets. Most people anticipate the arrival of the morning with the darkness leaving and maybe a fiery red sunrise. Yes, I know the day is much better if there is something to anticipate. Let’s say it is not work or taking your car in for repairs. Maybe you are going on a trip or its Christmas the next day and anticipation fills the air. You have already bought your tickets and you have seen the presents under the tree, unless santa brings them later in the evening and there is much anticipation. Think about the anticipation of a child going to be bed knowing that there will be presents the next day. They can hardly wait for the day to start. Now picture living in Tromsø and anticipating the sun coming back. It turns out this is quite a celebration with the eating of sun buns. After all those long days of darkness the anticipation for the return of the sun must be exhilarating. 

        During this Advent season we celebrate the already but not yet. Jesus has come and will return to take us home but there is more to anticipate as we still have the promise to David. Like the sun rising and darkness fleeing, God said He would return to us if we would return to Him. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” This is a promise that we can anticipate God fulfilling but we must seek God wholeheartedly and obey His word. Psalm 30:4 “Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” 

        When we anticipate the morning coming, we can also anticipate the defeat of our enemies. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 22 As the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me    to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 18:1 “I love you, Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

        We can anticipate this same hope Micah tells us about. Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will see her downfall.” We can anticipate because we trust God’s word. Psalm 119:129 “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. 131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. 132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. 133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. 134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts. 135 Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees. 136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.”

        Many have turned away from God’s word and we have been warned over and over that this would happen. Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” The church did not test the spirits and darkness came upon the church. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The church has been devoured even though it should not have been. Jesus told Peter Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church did not obey and the gates of hades overcame and the church ended up powerless against our enemies. We were warned not to be deceived. We were told about false prophets and teachers and shepherds who have distorted the word of God and led people astray. Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” 2 Peter 2:17 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.”Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Matthew 15:14 “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Deuteronomy 27:18 “Cursed is anyone who leads the blind astray on the road.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

        The good news is that we do not need to belong to the darkness. This is a celebration much bigger than just eating sun buns. Zechariah 2:10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5 “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” Romans 13:12 “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” This is not something we can do on our own. We need the power of God to makes us new. We need to God to turn His face to shine upon us. When God does turn His face, His Kingdom will come near and His power will flow once again. The message is still the same Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” When God’s power flows, the sick will be healed and demons cast out and the good news of the kingdom will go out to the ends of the earth. People lives will be changed just as these were. If lives are not changed, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. This verse shows the power of God’s kingdom. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Mark 6:2 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.”

        So it is with anticipation that we wait for the darkness to turn to light once again. 2 Samuel 22:29 “You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” When Samuel was just a boy 1 Samuel 3:1 “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out.” Today the light of the church is just a flicker but if we return Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.” The light will return at just the right time and darkness will flee. Once again, Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Once again, the word of God will be spoken and Isaiah 49:9 “say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!” Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” There is good news if we would return to God. Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Amos 9:11 “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.”

        So today we ask God to turn His face back to us and shine upon us. Numbers 6:22 “The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ 27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” 2 Chronicles 30:9 “He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” Ecclesiastes 12:12 “Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” In this day of darkness know that the light of morning is coming. Malachi 4:2 “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” It is with anticipation that we watch for the morning. Psalm 130:6 “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”