Are things bad and getting worse? Is it doom and gloom? Will things get worse and worse? Is the end near? Is it what the Bible teaches and the way we are supposed to think concerning PEACE IN THE WORLD? Now is a good time to look at the following
4. Peace In The World - Delbert Young (Sermon notes) (Listen sermon audio mp3)
Luke 2:10-14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:6-10, Genesis 49:27, Matthew 7:15, Luke 10:3, Revelation 13:2, Deuteronomy 32:33, Isaiah 11:9, Luke 11:5-8, Romans 14:17, Luke 11:7
We are in our series titled LIVING IN PEACE. Today will be the fourth and final lesson in the series. I want to talk about LIVING IN PEACE IN THE WORLD, which will go along well with the date, as it is the Sunday before the Fourth of July.
How do you see the world today concerning PEACE? You probably see our world with the strong and wealthy eating food while the weak go to bed hungry. You see violence filling the news. You see weapons of mass destruction becoming more and more available to evil countries and terrorists. You see a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. You see terrorist striking terror into all... and you see everyone afraid. You hear of predators molesting our children. You probably see the world in bad shape and getting worse every day. How close am I? Is that how you see the world concerning peace?
Have you ever wondered exactly why you see the world this way? Is it because the world is in bad shape and getting worse every day, or could it be society trained you to see the world this way? Even church teachers/leaders teach you to see it that way. According to some preachers and theologians, the world is in the "last days" of existence, as we know it. They say at any moment, God will rapture the church because things are so bad. Someone called the "antichrist" will appear and the world will spin into a nonstop, 7-year, worldwide chaos heading for the mother of all wars called "Armageddon."
I have this great cartoon clip of Calvin and Hobbes.
It's winter time and Calvin made three snowmen. However, they are all melting away. Each snowman is holding a sign. The first melting snowman's sign says "REPENT SINNERS!" The second says, "THE END IS NEAR!" The third melting snowman's sign says "SPRING IS COMING!" (Spring would be Armageddon for a snowman.) Calvin's mother joined him and Calvin explained his artwork. He said, "They're snowmen prophets of doom." His mother replied, "You certainly take the pleasure out of waiting for Daffodils." That is somewhat how I feel when I hear the "rapture," "great tribulation," and "Armageddon" prophet of doom thing. They sure do take the pleasure out of the advancing kingdom. They certainly remove the truth about the Prince of Peace and the God of Peace.
Nonetheless, that is how many preachers and "Bible scholars" train Christians to think. Instead of thinking as the Bible teaches, preachers train us to think as the world. I went fishing the other day and on the way, I saw a sign in front of a church. The sign read, "We're gonna be outta here like bottle rockets when Jesus comes back." Today, this is the message of the church.
Are things bad and getting worse? Is it doom and gloom? Will things get worse and worse? Is the end near? Is that what the Bible teaches and the way we are supposed to think concerning PEACE IN THE WORLD? Now is a good time to look at the following scripture.
Luke 2:10-14 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN.
Does that angelic announcement tell you things will get worse and worse ending in "Armageddon?" Or, does it tell you things will get better and better until there is ON EARTH PEACE and good will toward men? Please notice that the historic mission of the savior is PEACE IN THE WORLD.
Isaiah the prophet had a vision/prophecy about PEACE IN THE WORLD.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE. OF THE INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END. He will reign on David's throne and OVER HIS KINGDOM, ESTABLISHING AND UPHOLDING IT WITH JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM THAT TIME ON AND FOREVER. The zeal of the LORD Almighty WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS.
I do not know how that reads to you, but to me it reads that once the child is born and the government given to the Prince of Peace, his GOVERNMENT AND PEACE WILL INCREASE AND THERE WILL BE NO END. No seven-year interruption or anything like that. He will establish and uphold his kingdom FROM THAT TIME ON AND FOREVER. The word says that the Lord Almighty WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS. Put it in the bank! Am I missing something? If John 3:16 is true, this is true. My point is that things are not getting worse and worse. Things are actually getting better and better, but you must think Biblically to see it. For example, before Christ, one world empire/dictator after another ruled the world. How many world empires/dictators have there been after Christ and the termination of the Roman Empire? No world empires existed, though many tried, because Jesus became King of kings and Lord of lords. Let's read further into Isaiah's prophecy about the Savior bringing PEACE IN THE WORLD.
Isaiah 11:6-10 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for THE EARTH WILL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; THE NATIONS WILL RALLY TO HIM, and his place of rest will be glorious.
Is Isaiah really talking about animals and reptiles? If so, then why does Isaiah make an immediate transition into the nations will rally to him? Allow me to give you a larger thought.
Genesis 49:27 "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder."
Matthew 7:15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Luke 10:3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Revelation 13:2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. (Empires/nations of Daniel 7)
Deuteronomy 32:33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.
When the Bible talks about wolves, lambs, leopards, cows, bears, lions, oxen, snakes, etc it is not talking specifically about those creatures. It is relating their natures to that of humanity/nations. Isaiah saw a day when all types of humanity experience peace on earth and good will toward men. It is a day when all colors of people lie down – dwell in peace – together. The strong and powerful do not sink their teeth into the weak. It is a day when little babies and children are safe from predators. It is a day when no one is afraid, and the earth is full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. It sounds like a fairy tale, a fantasy from a children's story. Will there ever be that degree of PEACE IN THE WORLD? Yes, and the world is moving in that direction as we speak and breathe. Let me show you.
Martin Luther King relayed Isaiah's typology in his magnificent speech titled, "I Have a Dream." Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… I have a dream…"
It is an aspect of the lion eating straw like the ox. What happened since that day in August 1963, when Martin Luther King spoke those words? It may be slow and not where it should be yet, but today we are a thousand miles from where we were then. The world we live in today is far different and far better than the world our parents lived in concerning racism and peace. Today, forty years later, on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I want to ask you a series of questions. Was it moving toward PEACE ON EARTH to make a certain race of people sit in the back of a bus while all other races sat in the front? Was it moving toward peace to make certain people, because of their skin color, drink from different water fountains, use different bathrooms, or go to different schools? The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, eliminating legal segregation. I went to a segregated school until I was a junior in high school. I will never forget in 1964 when the first four black students came to my high school. That was a thousand miles ago and foreign to the thinking of students today. HALLELUJAH! My point is the world is getting better, not worse. You can always find the bad and we should to fix it, but the world is better today and closer to PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN than any time in history.
So, how will PEACE IN THE WORLD come? That, my friend, is the purpose of the church. Jesus said he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mat 16:18). As the church does what it is created to do, the earth will fill with the correct knowledge of the Lord. We read it previously.
Isaiah 11:9 …for the earth will be FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Martin Luther King was a preacher and he preached his message to the church. It was the knowledge of the Lord. As mindsets changed, PEACE came. The problem is the church is doing little today along those lines? Jesus told a parable in Luke 11. It is a parable about persistence in prayer, but it is also a picture of the church – the sleeping church.
Luke 11:5-8 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
The parable takes place at midnight. Midnight speaks of the transition and change from one day and time to another day and time. It is always midnight just before the next day. On one side, it is darker and darker until that day ends. There is war, disease, starvation, fear, anxiety, and depression. Colors loose their sharpness and become only silhouettes. On the other side, it grows brighter and brighter. Colors become more and more brilliant and beautiful. Things look different. It is transition time in the parable. The transition is from the dispensation of Judaism and before Christ to the dispensation of AD – Anno Domini – the church and kingdom of God (Eph 1:10). It is midnight in the parable and the darkness is deep… but, day is coming and there is hope as a knock interrupts the darkness. Somebody is waking the sleeping church. The person will not stop knocking until it gets its lazy self up and provides bread for the hungry midnight travelers.
There are more midnight travelers than ever in history. A stunning 33% of the earth's population is today Christian and the number is growing daily. Mega churches are common in nearly any country. Even in the once atheistic Russia and China, millions of hungry people are midnight travelers. We project the church as a friendly place for the midnight traveler – bread. We say the church offers answers that bring peace for a confusing time – bread of life. Midnight travelers seek a little bread – 3 loaves – the bread of the kingdom – righteousness, PEACE, and joy.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and PEACE, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
As the church brings the KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, PEACE IN THE WORLD comes with it.
Who is the one knocking on the door? Of course, it is Jesus himself (Rev 3:20). However when the knock comes, he is greeted with an unfriendly reply.
Luke 11:7 Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'
Those inside the sleeping church say, "I'm comfortable. My family and children are comfortable. My part of the world is comfortable. I am not going to worry about the rest of the world." Allow me to ask you a question. How many of us are truly active concerning world peace? I am not talking about bringing peace to wars. Wars are only a fruit of missing peace. I am talking about the family in Africa that has no peace and goes to bed hungry – no bread. How many of us are truly concerned about the victims of the 2004 Tsunami who lost their homes. DON'T BOTHER ME. THE DOOR IS ALREADY LOCKED, AND MY CHILDREN ARE WITH ME IN BED. I CAN'T GET UP AND GIVE YOU ANYTHING." But, do you know what? Jesus is going to keep knocking, asking, and seeking until he gets his lazy church up to provide bread – righteousness, PEACE, and joy – to the hungry midnight travelers. I was watching The Late Show with David Letterman. His guest was Oprah Winfrey. They were talking about all the things that Oprah does for humanity such as building schools in South Africa. Oprah said everyone is not able to do what she can do, but everyone can do something. Think about that. Could there be PEACE IN THE WORLD AND GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN? Yes, nearly overnight if everyone would do something. However, we would rather sleep and produce children that sleep with us.
I want to end by saying, though there are bad things happening, the world is better today than it has ever been. We are closer today to PEACE IN THE WORLD than ever before. Jesus will continue to knock on the door of your heart until you do your part. The world is not ending and you are not a bottle rocket. You are an Ambassador of Christ put here to preach the historic message of PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN.