In Zechariah’s days a king’s arrival was spectacular. The chariots, the waving banners, soldiers on horses, the trumpeters—what a sight! The arrival of a President or Prime Minister is much the same. Their aircraft glides from the sky onto the runway. The red carpet is unfurled and the Head of State disembarks to salute local dignitaries. With cameras rolling, there’s a pause behind the microphone for a few sound-bites, and then it’s into the limousine where the leader will motorcade through police-monitored traffic. It’s an impressive sight!
But reading the Gospel accounts of Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem just doesn’t square with the sensational arrivals of today’s world leaders. Here was the King of Kings making His most dramatic entrance into Jerusalem, at the holiest of Hebrew festivals, and He’s riding a donkey! There were no city, state, or religious dignitaries to welcome Him—only children, the common-folks, a retinue of fishermen, tax collectors, and curious bystanders. The protocol appears awkward; even irreverent! The “King of Kings” deserved more than a donkey and this lowly assemblage of onlookers. There must be a noteworthy truth hidden in this transposed episode; and there is!
The fact is, Jesus wouldn’t utilize the conventional transportation of horses and chariots because He wasn’t presenting Himself as an earthly king to give a speech. Jesus had arrived to give His life. His destination was Jerusalem and the Cross of Calvary. He hadn’t arrived to rehabilitate Jerusalem; He had arrived to transform hearts.
When you strip away the hyped entrances of world leaders it’s really more of a spectacle than anything earth-shaking. When the Premier leaves, the landscape looks the same, the dignitaries return to their chambers, and the visit becomes a fond memory. But that’s not the case when Christ arrives! Jesus didn’t enter Jerusalem with “lights, camera, and action” but what happened that week will always be remembered:
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday only the common-folks welcomed Him. But before departing there was an earthquake, the Temple’s veil was ripped into, the dead rose from the grave, and Jesus conquered the grave as the “Resurrection and the Life.” That’s what happened when Christ arrived! And when Jesus returns to Jerusalem the next time it will be the most dramatic entrance of all. Gabriel will trumpet His arrival, angels will throng Him, the Mount of Olives will divide, and He will appear in undiminished deity. This will happen when Christ arrives!
Our most profound hope is Christ’s Second Coming. Nothing surpasses that! Titus 2:13 says: “we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” It’s our most coveted hope because the whole world gets overhauled and transformed. But until Christ’s physical return Christian hold to a secondary hope. We want Him to show-up by His Spirit now! We want Him to show-up during a crisis. We want Him to show-up in time to avert disaster or to pay the mortgage. We want to know He cares and is willing to get involved in our life. The Good News is, Christ is still willing to show-up! And when He arrives something happens!
(Transition) Let’s discuss what happens when Christ arrives. First, there is hope when Christ arrives.
(Definition) What is hope? Hope is the confident assurance—the sure trust—that good is coming. Hope is “desire plus expectation.” And everyone needs hope! It doesn’t matter who you are or how perfectly together your world is, you need hope! There may not be a rift in the road or a ripple on the water, but sometime soon you’ll need hope. You’ll need to trust God to bring good into your life.
(Illustration) Some time back I read the story of a Rotary Club speaker that went to a mountain village. He recalled he had never seen a community so unconcerned about the appearance of their town. The streets were filled with potholes, the buildings needed painting, the storefronts were disheveled, and garbage was everywhere. After investigating, the speaker discovered the answer to his curiosity. The town had been built by a river. Several months earlier, the State had ordered the construction of a dam that would cause flooding to the city. The government had paid the townspeople for their property and asked them to evacuate. Thus, there was nothing that motivated the townspeople to paint their houses, fill the potholes, or groom the landscape. It was a hopeless community! The people lived without the “expectation of good” so the entire community had lost its sense of purpose.
(Definition) Webster defines hopelessness as: “Having no expectation of good or success . . . not susceptible to remedy or cure . . . incapable of solution.” Folks, living without hope is terrible! You don’t have to conduct your life like the community without hope and awaiting a flood. The promises of God in this Book provide you with the optimism that Christ can transform everything! You see, hopelessness isn’t when you’re abandoned by family or spouse; hopelessness isn’t when you’re bankrupt, jobless, friendless, or terminally ill. If that describes your situation that simply gives God an opportunity to interrupt your life with a miracle! Hopelessness is refusing to give God a chance to make a difference. It’s life without God.
If your life is defined as being “without the expectation of good or success; not susceptible to remedy or cure,” you are disconnected from God. And detachment from God means you’re headed toward defeat. But you don’t have to live that way. At times hope is all that sustains us! There’s no other rope than the invisible rope of hope to sustain us. That’s why the Bible emphasizes hope as it does. Sometimes we miss the magnitude of hope. But do you realize Paul enshrined hope as part of the Magnificent Trio” in 1 Corinthians 13:13? Paul said: “Now these three abide: faith, hope and love.” These virtues endure forever! They are virtues that will carry Christians from earth to heaven.
(Example) Acts 27 describes one the last episodes of Paul’s life. He’s aboard a ship with 276 passengers in transition from Adramyttium to Rome where he will appear before Caesar’s court. In route, the Lord showed Paul a coming storm. Paul sent word to the Captain but the warning was ignored. The skies were clear, the waters were calm, and since weather satellites weren’t available the Captain assumed he knew best. But as they cruised across the Mediterranean they sailed right into a hurricane. The ship was so battered that the crew began discarding cargo. Days passed without the light of the sun or moon. Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, summed up their dismay when he said, “the storm continued raging, [and] we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (20). Nobody expected deliverance—not even Dr. Luke that penned Scripture.
You see, disregarding God’s warning is dangerous. But thank God for grace! With the storm raging and people hanging on for life, Christ arrived! And when Paul saw Him he pounced to his feet and announced it to everyone on board: “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me (24) and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ (25) So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me” (Acts 27:23-25). That’s just like God!
You may have lost control long ago but Jesus hasn’t. He is the Master of the sea! In fact, He’s whatever you need Him to be:
But don’t try to figure out how God will bring you through because it’s rarely as you would figure it. Just trust that He will show-up! You can’t figure out the Lord any better than the apostles did. For example: on the Sea of Galilee Jesus stilled the storm; on the Mediterranean Sea He provided grace and safety to endure it; and at the Red Sea he opened a passage to walk through it! While we can’t always figure out how the Lord will intervene we can take confidence that He will!
Let me make one more point about Paul’s undaunted hope. Here he was sailing toward his death in Rome. Agabus had prophesied his future so Paul knew the outlook. It would have been easy to give-up, but he knew there was a reason for going to Rome. And there was. When Caesar jailed him Paul pulled out his pen and conquered Rome by writing letters—Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians were all written from prison! There’s hope beyond your prison walls!
But Paul wasn’t the only man of hope. Abraham displayed incredible hope! Turn to Romans 4. Paul said Abraham “hoped against hope.” What does that mean? How can you “hope against hope?” Here’s what that phrase means. It means to hope without any empirical basis for fulfillment. It means you believe even when there’s nothing tangible or concrete to sustain you. This is what Abraham did. He unwaveringly believed God’s promises despite having no empirical evidence. Let me show you:
Romans 4:18 says: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (19) Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. (20) Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, (21) being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
The key is found in the last phrase in verse 21. Paul said Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Let’s dissect that phrase:
Remember: With God there is always hope!
(Transition) Not only is there hope when Christ arrives, secondly, When Christ arrives He brings restoration.
This is what we really want when Christ arrives—restitution. We want Him to renew and restore our losses. Peter recognized that in Acts 3 when he preached at the Temple:
The purpose of Christ’s First Advent was to start the restitution process. The purpose of His Second Advent is to complete the “restoration of all things.” His First Coming made-way for our salvation, healing, deliverance, and blessing. His Second Coming makes way for reclaiming and improving upon the paradise Adam forfeited.
The Good News is, we don’t have to wait for Jesus to return to enjoy the recovery process. The Lord can make restitution now! Notice, once again, what the prophet Zechariah said our text. Zechariah 9:12 says, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Underscore that recompensing promise. God promised His blessings would twice eclipse the pain of our past—double-blessing for past sorrows. And that’s not the only time God promised that. You remember that Job received double-blessing for his sorrow. And I love Isaiah 40:1-2, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”
Do you realize that after Sarah died, a year later, Abraham remarried a woman named, Keturah. God had so touched and “re-enlivened” Abraham’s body, that he and Keturah had six more sons!
(Definition) That Hebrew phrase, “received from the LORD’S hand” is interesting. It means: “to take hold in a wide variety of ways. To bring, buy, carry away, receive, reserve, seize, send for, and take.” In other words Isaiah said God’s restitution supplies blessings in many ways and from all directions—even after you have miserably failed God. Now that’s grace!
We need to understand that Calvary is about renewal and restoration. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says Christ “makes all things new.” He renews our mind, our soul, our heart, and our spirit. He furnishes a different outlook on life. But we have to understand that and make the claim! He leaves it to us to seize the promises.
Some people would rather complain about their lot in life and blame others than claim their inheritance. It’s easy to assume the martyr’s mentality or become the victim. It’s easy to pick up the phone and dial: 1-800-WHINE. But folks, the Bible doesn’t call us orphans! Even when we fail God He doesn’t cast us aside as useless objects of scorn. He will never reject us. And He promises that we can recover and recuperate from any condition!
Do you know one of the mystifying questions the 21st Century Church needs to answer? If Christians are promised power, authority, and hope why don’t we radiate with these virtues? Why don’t we live with Apostolic power and glory? Here’s the answer: We must determine to live in Christ’s presence! We must determine to fully identify with Him and allow His attitude, character, Spirit, and Word to control us. This is what attracts God’s power and authority into our lives. It’s why Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” He knew people took courage and placed their hope in God, as they lived in God’s presence.
Do you see the value of living in Christ’s presence? Open the door of your heart and let Him rush in. Let Christ arrive in your life. When you are filled with Christ you can face whatever confronts you. There is always HOPE when Christ arrives!
Jul 10, 2019 Comments Off on HE WHO SITS ABOVE THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH
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