November 26th, 2017
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
<Intro> Deut. 29:29—“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Sometimes children ask this question. “Dad, where did I come from?” Dad answers, “From your mom’s belly button.” You cannot explain everything to a child. You can’t say, “Oh before you were born, your mom and dad were deeply in love. One day your mom got pregnant and went through horrible morning sickness. When your mom was giving birth to you, she was in much pain and she pulled on the dad’s hair.” You have no choice but to hide from the child. The child will not be able to understand or take in all the information. Back in the days in my neighbor, there were three brothers. One of the brothers looked differently from the other two. Later on, I found out that that boy was an adopted child. Because the boy was adopted in an early age, he simply lived with his family thinking that they were his biological family. Because the child was young, the parents couldn’t say, “You were adopted and you have a different blood type.” They couldn’t say, “Instead of I giving birth to you, I went to an adopting agency and brought you from there.” For the sake of the child, the parents remained silent and concealed the information. We also had many unsolvable questions in our lives. Why am I poor? Why can’t I bring lunch to a picnic? Why can’t I go to college? Why do I have to live with my relatives? Why do my mom and dad always fight? Why am I this unfortunate? Why do I have nightmares? Why do I always get nosebleed? Now, I understand, but back then, I did not.
Our walk of faith is the same. There are times when you feel that there is no God even though pastors say God is alive and elders say they receive answers to their prayers. Sometimes you acknowledge the existence of God but you feel like He is silent. In fact, God is concealing the truth purposefully for the sake of our good. At the end of Deuteronomy 29, it says, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.” God is hiding it. “But those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” There is a reason to this, “that we may do all the words of this law.” God intently hide things from us that we cannot take in. There are things we are not capable of carrying out. Entrust the things to God that belongs to God. God made this system, and it is only to our own loss if we complain and grumble about it. Especially, the people of the Bible all waited patiently for God’s time schedule.
1. People of God who awaited God’s silence
(1) Abraham’s family line (Gen. 21:5)
(2) David the shepherd (2Sam. 5:3)
(3) Saints of the Early Church
The people of faith in the Bible patiently waited when God remained silent. They enjoyed the blessing of patiently waiting. Abraham’s family line was like that. David the shepherd was like that. Saints of the Early Church were like that. “You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” However, Abraham did not receive this answer when he was 76 or 77. He did not receive it when he was 80 or 90. It seems like God does not exist. It feels like God is silent. Eventually, God answered Abraham when he was 100. God only allowed own son, Isaac, to Abraham. Nonetheless, God raised Abraham as a father of many nations. In our view, God is silent as if He doesn’t exist, but God absolutely fulfills His will. It was the same for Isaac. He got married when he was 40. When he was 60, he got twins. Also for Abraham’s grandson, Joseph, was the same. God gave Joseph a vision when he was 17—“You will save the world. You will be the head of the world.” Instead of conquering the world, Joseph was abandoned by his brothers and sold as a slave. It seemed like God doesn’t exist. In the view of people who know that God doesn’t remain silent, it is a secret; in the view of people of the world, Joseph completely failed in his life. In Genesis 41, “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” After 13 years, God worked and fulfilled the vision He gave to Joseph. All the Biblical figures were like this. As a shepherd boy, David was anointed to become a king by Samuel in his teenage years. When David defeated Goliath, he might have felt if he was going to be a king soon. However, he faced many trials from King Saul. David continued to run away. Eventually David became a king later on. He became the king of Israel and ruled for 40 years. When David was running away from Saul, it seemed like God doesn’t exist. If He were alive, He seemed silent. Nevertheless, all the people of God waited. If you are truly a person of God I hope you will be able to enjoy this blessing. Resurrected Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” However, for almost 200 years, the Christians were faced with many tribulations and persecutions. Many were martyred. The children were taken away. It seemed like God doesn’t exist. It seemed like Rome evangelization or world evangelization was not taking place. It seemed like God was silent for over 200 years, but He was in fact continuously working among them. God prepared His chosen people. Believe that God doesn’t fall asleep. He absolutely fulfills His will. However, we lack faith. We are easy to resent when things are not working out. We are easy to give up when we are afraid. We are easy to become discouraged when situations are not favorable.
2. Israelites who passed through God’s guidance
(1) Before the Red Sea (Ex. 14:11-12)
(2) Through the wilderness (Ex. 17:3)
(3) When entering into Canaan (Num. 13:3)
God had a perfect time schedule for the Israelites. However, the Israelites gave up and fell into unbelief, resentment, and complaint before the Red Sea, before the wilderness, and before Canaan. God showed 10 miracles upon Egypt. The last one was Passover, and all the Israelites experienced this miracle. However, they were hesitant in front of the Red Sea. They complained to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” These were the words of the Israelites who received salvation and experienced God’s miracles. Despite the state of the Israelites, God prepared faith in Moses. Moses answered the people “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” God prepared a strong wind to part the Red Sea. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea and all the Egyptian soldiers were buried under the water. That was God’s time schedule. Believe that God will fulfill the things He has prepared.
In Exodus 15, the Israelites grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” They didn’t ask Moses, “Moses, we are so thirsty, what should we do?” They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” This is same thing as “Why did you save us so that we can’t go to parties or drink or smoke. Since I can’t do anything because I’m saved, I just want to be a nonbeliever again.” Although God guides us according to His perfect plan, we are blind and cannot see it.
The Israelites grumbled again before entering into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. In Numbers 13 the Israelites said, “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes. And we looked the same to them.” God had promised to give that land to them, but the Israelites did not believe it. They did not see God’s time schedule and guidance. Although the Israelites gave up and fell into unbelief, resentment, and complaint, God worked in power. God did not pass away. He is alive. He does neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over us. The Israelites and we are both very weak. Knowing all this, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. God fulfilled everything through His Son. Why can’t you believe and shake? It is because you have departed from God and you are not enjoying God. So grab hold of only one word, then you will meet God and enjoy Him. The word is “Christ”. When you grab hold of this word, everything is over. The being that deceives us and destroys our life is Satan. Christ crushed the head of Satan. Christ sacrificed Himself to save the humanity. Jesus nailed all humans’ unbelief, resentments, and complaints on the Cross and finished them. We need to confirm this again today. Christ has finished everything in my life. When you come to this conclusion, you can confess to your children.
Galatians 4 records, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son.” The main figure of Genesis 3:15 came. He solved all the problems of disaster, hell, and Satan. That event is Jesus’ death on the Cross and His resurrection. That was the greatest event in human history. When this incidence enters into your heart and your soul, the Holy Spirit works upon you. The heavenly angels are mobilized when you move. This is the blessing of a saved child of God. Sometimes our thoughts, mind, and emotion fall into unbelief. We have the same nature and the Israelites. We are always afraid and we do not believe. That is why God told us to believe in Christ. Even when the thoughts of unbelief come in to our mind, make a confession of faith. Then God will work because Christ has already finished our life’s problems. I hope you can make this confession this week. There’s no need to be shaken. Yes, you may have unbelief, but never say it out loud with your lips. Only speak of faith with your lips. Confess that our remnants will become summits.
3. God’s purpose which He desires to fulfill through His silence
(1) Relationship with God (Rom. 8:14-15)
(2) Fellowship with God (Rom. 29, 32)
(3) Co-working with God (Rom. 8:37)
As if God doesn’t exist or remain silent, there are times He leaves us alone. Why is that? There is a purpose to this. First, it is for our relationship with God. God is our Father and we are His sons. No matter what happens, this relationship is absolute. He wants us to realize and confess the never-changing relationship with God. David made a confession, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Nonbelievers could complain and say there’s no God, but God wants us to make a confession of faith. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” In Hebrews 13, Jesus said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” In Romans 8, God made Paul to cry out Abba, Father. This is an unchanging relationship. When we make a confession of faith, our Father God is glorified. Even though we may walk through the darkest valley, God is with us. Jehovah God is our good Father. As we confess this, all the forces of darkness crumble down. This is what God is trying to fulfill. I hope you can confess this blessing of absolute relationship with God.
Regardless of the people of the world, we should proclaim the fact that we have fellowship with God. No matter what happens, in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. In whatever shape or form, we will receive answers. “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” In every situation, confess in the name of Jesus Christ in front of God. God allowed that situation for you to realize Christ’s mystery. Everything comes as an answer. All things come together for your good.
The Jews love the Talmud. This is the true story recorded in that book. The Jews respect rabbis. One of the most respected rabbis, Rabbi Akiva, went on a pilgrimage. By the time the rabbi reached the gate of the village, it got dark outside. He found a little cottage by the gate. Since no one was in the cottage, he decided to spend the night there. He tied his donkey and dog outside of the cottage and went inside. At night, he couldn’t fall asleep easily, so he lighted up his lamp and started to read a book. Soon afterwards, the wind blew out the lamp and the rabbi decided to just go to sleep. The next morning, he found out that his donkey and dog were killed by a beast overnight. Without them, he made his way into the village. When he reached the center of the village he saw the villagers were robbed and murdered by thieves last night. Rabbi Akiva thought that if the lamp hadn’t blown out, he would have continued to read his book. If the thieves saw the light inside of the cottage, they would have killed him. Also, if the donkey and the dog were alive and made noises, he could have died by the thieves. Although Rabbi Akiva lost everything, he could save his own life. This means that we can find an important thing in the midst of events that are hard for us to comprehend. Believe that God has a perfect time schedule and plan to guide us. Why is that? It is because we are precious children of God.
Many people think that we are born to simply carry out our walk of faith on this earth. However, for children of God, God has a clear plan and purpose. Because it is good for us, God allowed every meeting and event in our lives. Although it seems like we have failed and we are lonely in this world, but because God is our Father, He gives us an absolute victory. We you realize this and enjoy just a little bit, you will receive answers and be triumphant. This is working together with God. God is carrying out the work through us. This is co-working with God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We may seem abandoned in this world, but in fact, we are sons of God. We may seem like we have failed, but God’s answers will absolutely come. We may seem like we are under destruction, but God works in us. God carries out His will even in the times when we feel like He is silent.
<Conc> Eph. 3:18-19—“May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Our conclusion is Ephesians 3. 18-19. “Have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp the love of Christ.” To what extent should we grasp His love? We need to grasp the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love to the point that we are filled with things of God. Our Father God let us experience different things for us to realize. He is enlarging your vessels to carry out His greater will. It seems like God is silent and hidden, He has a deeper meaning behind it. How do we fry fish? We coat the fish with flour and fry it in oil. To evenly cook the fish, we flip it a couple times. Likewise, God lets us know His mystery in many different ways in our lives. There are times we receive immediate answers. Some answers we don’t receive in our generation. Is God dead? Is He silent? No, He is not. He is always with you. Believe that God’s “silence” is His perfect plan to guide His saints. Let’s look over today’s Scripture, Psalms 13:1-6, one more time and end the sermon.
(1) How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face form me? (2) How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (3) Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death. (4) and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. (5) But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. (6) I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.
God provides salvation and grace upon us. God will absolutely raise a miracle. He will make us realize things we had not understand and make us victorious.
Dear Almighty God, we give You glory and praise. Your lacking servant relayed Your Word of covenant to Your people. Help us to realize it and become victorious. Help us to believe and enjoy Your perfect plan during the time schedule when You are “silent”. We give You thanks who gave us eternal victory. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.