Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ruler of the World (Psalm 24, Revelation 11:15-17)

Sermon by: Robert Austell
October 30, 2011
Some Music Used
Prelude : "Trumpet Tune" (German)

Song of Praise: "Come Now, Almighty King" (Kauflin)
Song of Praise: "Beautiful Savior" (Townend)
The Word in Music: "23rd Psalm" (Bobby McFerrin)
Hymn of Sending: "Joy to the World" (ANTIOCH)
Postlude: "Hallelujah Chorus" (Handel)

Ruler of the World
Text: Psalm 24; Revelation 11:15-17

(download) **Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes - search for "Good Shepherd Sermons or Robert Austell"**

Testimony - by John Shuler



For many weeks now we have been talking about God’s love of the world He made. God has demonstrated that love, as the Scripture reminds us, through sending His Son, Jesus, into the world. We have traced this purposeful love of God from the earliest parts of the biblical story through Abraham, the people of Israel, the exiles in Babylon, the coming of Jesus, the formation of the Church, and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Last week Greg (in his sermon) and Graham (in his testimony) reminded us that God sought us from a long way off in order to bring us home and into his family.

Today we reach the end of the story… Revelation. We get to peek behind the curtain and into the very Heavenly worship scene and see that indeed, God has drawn together people from every tribe and tongue and nation. Our ending point today is to be reminded that God not only loves the world, but rules the world in glorious and perfect power, justice, love, and wisdom. Today we will be reminded that all of history bends in an arc toward this eternal moment, where those whom God has pursued in love gather in humility, worship, and praise. We will consider what it means not only that God loves you, but that God reigns over everything… that Jesus is not only a personal Savior, but Lord of all of life. 

The King of Glory (Psalm 24)

I used Psalm 24 for the call to worship and the first scripture reading this morning. It is an ancient reminder that everything belongs to God. Listen again to the first verse: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” The Psalm goes on to root God’s sovereignty in Creation. The earth is the Lord’s possession because He “founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”

Then, the Psalm asks an interesting question: if the Lord is this powerful and awesome, who may approach God? Who may ascend His hill and stand in His holy place? (v. 3) It is only one with clean hands and pure heart. Not only is the Lord powerful and awesome, but holy and righteous. There is a purity and perfection that only adds to God’s power and presence. This middle portion of the Psalm reminds us why it is necessary for God to come to us, for who among us has clean hands, pure heart, true soul, and consistent witness? Other scripture (Psalms 53:3, Romans 3:10) will confirm what we probably know instinctively: no one, not one is righteous.

The next verse bridges our plight to God’s salvation. Though we may not approach on our own, we may seek the Lord (v. 6), and the glorious good news is that God is coming among us. Lift up your heads; look up and out, for the King of Glory approaches. God is come to us and among us. The God of power and might and GLORY has come to us! In this setting in Psalm 24, that language probably described the coming of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. But, that action and this language is such a powerful reminder of what God did once and for all in Jesus Christ: the King of Glory came among us and approaches that He might “come in” to our lives and hearts. What a truly awesome thing. This Psalm depicts God FOR the world He made, for sure! 

The Kingdom of Our Lord (Revelation 11)

Revelation is the end of the biblical story and describes the scene in Heaven where God is being worshiped in glory. The main part I want to highlight is part of verse 15, which is sung by “loud voices”: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” This is a significant kingdom-shift from the current world, according to scripture. The New Testament (and Old Testament for that matter) says two key things about the time and place in which we live.

First, though we live in the world God made (and loves!), it is a fallen and broken world. There is sin and sorrow, sickness and suffering, difficulty and death. And there is a spiritual aspect to the physical/material world in which we live. For a time, God has given some rein to Satan in this world, to tempt and try and test. So the New Testament refers to Satan as “the Prince of the Power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; Ephesians 6:12).

Secondly, Jesus’ primary message while on this earth was to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t in the distance, but was now HERE. And yet, it was not yet fully established. There was still a conflict and a confrontation to happen. According to scripture, Jesus’ death signaled the beginning of the end for Satan; the war was won against sin, death, and evil! But there were still battles and skirmishes during this in-between time after the beginning of the end and before the end of the end, described in Revelation 11 and elsewhere.

So, scripture reminds us that God made this world and everything in it; God loves this world that He made; and the King of Glory has come to us. The New Testament declares that Jesus is this King of Glory; John tells us Jesus is the glory of God, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) And Jesus has announced and accomplished the beginning of the end of Satan’s power, rule, and influence. What remains is what we heard in Revelation 11. God will fully establish His kingdom, righteousness, power, and peace, and shall reign forever.

You may recognize this verse from the Hallelujah Chorus: it is the refrain of the Good News of God in a day and age when we need to hear it. God loves you and the world He has made, and is working even now to redeem and rescue it. This big story that God is not overwhelmed or even tried by sin, evil, and death is a comfort in a world full of sin, evil, and death. It is Good News that all that we know already belongs to God and will one day be fully ruled by God Almighty. 

Savior and Lord of All of Life

Is there anything personal in these texts beyond the big picture claim that God is still on His throne and engaged with the world He has made?

Yes, I think there is. If you’ve grown up around church people much at all, you have probably heard language of trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. In fact, that language is the first of our membership and baptismal vows: “Who is your Lord and Savior?” It is a foundational question to Christian faith.

It is straightforward enough to explain what “Jesus as Savior” means. It means that God has pursued you, loved you, claimed you, adopted you, and welcomed you from death to life with him. Jesus came and lived and suffered and died in order to be the Savior. And all who believe and call on his name will be saved!

What is harder to grasp and live out is the idea of Jesus as Lord. That means doing a lot of things that we really struggle against: submitting, obeying, listening, following, emulating. It means recognizing God’s authority in your life and responding to God as King or Lord. Said another way, it means anticipating Heaven and the Kingdom of God, and living like you are already there. Which you are, according to Jesus!

So I would say that this passage has even more to say than, “It will be okay; God is still on His throne.” Even more than that, this passage is an invitation to love and serve the God who has loved and served you first through Jesus the Son. Jesus is not only Savior of the world, but is Lord of Life.

Do you know him?

Will you trust, obey, listen, and follow?

That’s the question. What is your answer? Amen.

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