God's End Game - Part 17

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

March 10, 2019
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

Today is message number 17 in a series I’m preaching called “God’s End Game.” We’re trying to figure out what God is up to with us and the world, answering the question: where is all this is headed?

You don’t really know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, so we began by looking at the beginning of all things in Genesis.

There we learned our world is a good world gone bad because of sin. Sin has corrupted every corner of the universe, but on a personal level, it’s given us all dark hearts, which separate us from our creator.

God’s End Game is about how he deals with that. We’ve seen that the way God deals with his good world gone bad, the way we are brought back into right relationship with him is not works or the keeping of the law (religion). It’s faith; it’s by believing in His promises. And…

All the promises of God are bound up in a person, Jesus Christ.

The major play in God’s End Game is the coming of Jesus.

***ILLUSTRATION of the arc of God’s plan

God’s end game plan revolving around Jesus has three telescoping parts, one flowing from the other.

It begins with the INCARNATION.

It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION.

It carries on with the RESURRECTION.

Today we continue unpacking the first part:

INCARNATION - God taking on human flesh, becoming a man, and living a life in perfect fulfillment of God’s law.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and that’s right. Things that happen in real life are often more peculiar and fantastic than things made up in our imagination. 

That’s how it is with God fixing his good world gone bad, He shows up to fix things in a way no one would have ever thought: he actually became one of us!

Put all this together and you see the way you and I are made right with God is by faith; it’s by believing in His promises, promises bound up in Jesus, who is God come in the flesh.

Last week we looked at the beginning of John’s gospel where he took us even deeper into the wonders of the incarnation, where the first few verses he blow our minds.

John 1:1–18 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John helped us to figure out that the Word is Jesus (God come in the flesh), and he was there with God in the beginning, which means he existed before time, space, and matter came into being. And John says Jesus, the Word, was God. He was separate and distinct from God, yet he was God at the same time.

This points to a critical, no-wiggle-room doctrine of Christianity: the Trinity. God is one God in three persons.

This seems impossible in human terms but actually makes sense when talking about sovereign-God-of-the-universe terms. A deity who can speak reality into being is going to challenge our thinking in countless ways. God tells us as much in…

Isaiah 55:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Now let’s go back to John’s introduction and focus on another verse that reveals even more about Jesus, God with Us, confirming that John believed Jesus is, in fact, God himself.

John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Just as verse one took us back to Genesis 1:1 (intentionally), verse fourteen takes us back to something in the OT. To understand how we have to look at the Greek words this verse is translated from.

Now I try to be careful about that. There’s an old story about a pastor who always made a big deal about the original languages when he preached, so much so that he never really said anything.

One day a dear saint explained to him that when people sit down to a meal they don’t need to know every detail of the recipe; they just want to be fed. “Leave the cookin’ in the kitchen,” she said. That is good advice.

I’ve tried to preach from that perspective, but sometimes it is helpful to spend time looking at the original languages. I think bringing the cookin’ out of the kitchen just a bit here is helpful.

John’s gospel is unique among the others in that it’s more theological than historical or chronological. He’s very careful and strategic about the stories he includes and the words he uses.

In verse fourteen he says the Word, Jesus who was with God and was God, became flesh (incarnation) and dwelt among us. Dwelt is translated from a Greek word associated with “tent.” So, it could be translated, the Word pitched his tent among us.

John could have used a number of Greek words to convey the same idea, but he chose this one for a reason. Just as in verse one, he wanted the reader to make a connection to Genesis; here he wants the reader to think back to Exodus.

The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt by Moses and were on their way to the Promised Land. 

They came to the foot of Mt. Sinai, where God descended upon the mountain and gave them the Law as well as instructions on making a sanctuary, a place for God to dwell among them.

Exodus 25:1–9 (ESV) — 1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

This sanctuary was to be a tabernacle, a word associated with tent in Hebrew. The tabernacle, the dwelling place of God among his people (which would one day become the temple), was also called the tent of meeting.

Sanctuary = tabernacle = tent

You could also translate verse fourteen as “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”

John even added something else that ties directly into this:

John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This takes us back to what happened just before God gave Moses instructions for the tabernacle…

Exodus 24:12–17 (ESV) — 12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

The glory of the Lord was the weight of his presence. Remember, Moses asked to see God in all his glory and God said no because it would crush him. So he let him see his back as he passed by.

It was the glory of the Lord that descended on the tabernacle when it was built…

Exodus 40:34–38 (ESV) — 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

Tim Keller says…

“…when Moses was on the mountain, he said, ‘I want to know you. I want to know you, Father. God, I want to know you. I want intimacy. I want power. I want connection, so show me your glory. Let me see your face.’

Do you remember what God said? ‘I can’t. It’ll kill you. You will not survive it, but here’s what I will do. Let’s build a tabernacle, a great tent, and that will be my dwelling place. In there you’ll have the sacrifices and the priests, but I will dwell in the Holy of Holies behind the veil, because my glory must be concealed. You can’t behold it. You can’t have it. You can’t know it. You can’t touch it. It’ll be there, but it’ll be concealed in the tabernacle,’ which is exactly the opposite of what we’re told here.

When Jesus is the tabernacle, we behold the glory Moses couldn’t have.”

John declared the coming of Jesus was God pitching his tent with us and showing us his glory in a way that wouldn’t crush us. The direct connection between the Jesus revealed in the NT and the God of Israel revealed in the OT is unmistakable.

If that’s not enough, John goes on in his gospel to show that Jesus is God tabernacling among us in the flesh with all his glory by presenting signs, seven to be exact. Signs like turning water to wine, healing diseases such as blindness, feeding multitudes, and raising a man from the dead. Only God could do that.

The other Gospels as well, show Jesus doing things only God himself could do: work miracles, teach with the authority of the author, and forgive sins.

The incarnation, phase one of the major play in God’s end game, is about Jesus actually being God, fully God…

Not God coming upon a regular man and making Him divine.

Not God appearing to become a man in some divine illusion.

But Jesus actually, really being 100% God.

We could spend so much more time here. But we need to move on to another aspect of the incarnation, the flip side if you will, and it will seem as if I’m contradicting everything I’ve shown you so far. 

That’s for next time.

Conclusion: Right now, though, you may be thinking, “So what?” That’s a very good question to ask at the end of every sermon, every teaching concerning the Bible.

John answers for us in his gospel…

John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

And that ties into a major truth we’ve uncovered in God’s End Game which takes us back to…

The way you and I are made right with God is not works or the keeping of the law (religion). It’s faith; it’s by believing in His promises, promises bound up in Jesus, who is God come in the flesh.

Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church