Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13th - Superbowl Debrief

Prayer Requests
David Preaching
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Superbowl Outreach Results
Kari's friend Kyle - Death of mother, heart attack of father
Hannah - Washington Trip
Jennifer - Magnet Admittance
Greyson - Job Interviews

Text - Zechariah 14:16-21

Today we are going to finish up Zechariah with a definite application of world-evangelization.

Since Tyler and myself and 108 of our closest friends went to the Superbowl we have lots of sermon illustrations for this lesson, so the second part of this lesson will be a Superbowl debrief.

The very end of Zechariah is an amazing prophecy for world-evangelization. God has always had a chosen people, starting first with the descendents of Seth, then to Abraham, then to the people Israel descended from Jacob. This selectivity shows that God is Sovereign in the world and has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens, that he is orchestrating history, and is under no requirement to save anyone at all, but in his grace has a small remnant of saints amongst rebels.

If you asked a Jew in Zechariah's time, or even today, you'll most likely hear that God's chosen people is the nation Israel, and God is not particularly interested in people outside of Israel. But chapter 14 is going to show us otherwise, the God will be saving from every nation and tongue.

It's always good to check the New Testament to make sure it agrees with our interpretation of the Old Testament, and here we definitely see that it does:

Revelation 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

So, what was the major event that happened in the beginning of chapter 14 of Zechariah? Major battles and Christ's total victory. The language used at the end of this passage is great, because it really paints a great picture of Heaven and of Christ.

Zechariah 14:16-21 Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.

All survivors will recognize that God is the King of the earth, and they celebrate a very specific feast, it is called the Feast of Booths, or probably a better title is Feast of Tabernacles. This feast commemorates a time when God lived with the Israelites in the desert when Moses had led them out of captivity from Egypt. This was a very important feast because it reminded the Jews that God was with them and dwelt with them and cared for them and would be their Saviour. Basically what this feast was was the Jews would built little tents in their front yards or on their flat roofs or in the center of town, and live in them for a week, both to remind themselves of God's provisions, and to remember that ultimately they must dwell with him if they would live. So that brings us to the greatest verse in all of scripture, if you only memorize one verse in your entire life, you need to memorize this verse, it is the summation of the whole Old Testament, John 1:14. Let's start at verse 1 for context:

John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 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.

Jesus Christ, God himself, tabernacled among us, he built a tent out of flesh and came and lived in it. So this feast of Tabernacles that we will celebrate for eternity is not us living in tents in our back yards, no, it is so much more grand, it is us recognizing that Jesus Christ is God with us, he is the Word Incarnate, the gracious God, the True God, the full weight of glory of the Father, and that we have put on his righteousness and his Spirit dwells in us and makes us holy. Anyone who rejects this Christ as the true Tabernacle will be rejected,

vv.17-19 And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.

The language here is very prophetic, it's something the Jews would have understood without knowing exactly how Christ would save them, so it relates it in language they would understand giving allegiance to a sovereign conquering king. What is missing from this passage is any idea that the decision is reversible; if a nation changes its mind there is no chance of blessing after they have rejected the Conquering King.

Look at the language of the curses, there will be no rain, we can very clearly see Hell described in this passage, look at one description of Hell in Luke 16:

Luke 16:24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'

And there is a final nail in the coffin for anyone who thinks they will find blessing somewhere else, like Egypt doesn't really need rain because they have the Nile River, so God adds pain to the lack of moisture. The other curse is a plague for punishment, it doesn't take much to see this described in the endless torment and wailing of Hell. We could say these are the people who say, "I don't need Christ, I'm good enough," or "Mohammed will save me," or "Mary will save me," or, "my suffering in purgatory will save me," or even, "My ceasing to exist will end my torment." No, there is no other Saviour than Christ, and God knows how to keep them in eternal punishment, as it says in 2 Peter 2.

So all who recognize Christ as God in the flesh, and who honor him as such, will be saved and receive blessing after blessing after blessing, but those who will not recognize him will face an endless punishment because their sin against a Sovereign and Infinite King will require an infinite retribution.

vv.20-21 And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.

These verses describe Heaven, where everything is totally holy. The smallest ornaments will be holy, there will be no need for Priests, which is where, "Holy to the Lord" used to be found, because there will be no need for atonement for sins, both because the atonement has been perfectly completed by Christ, AND because there will be no sin to atone for. Everything down to your coffee cups will be holy, as if they had been cleansed in the temple. And we will forever offer a sacrifice of praise to God for our salvation, partaking in the blessings forever and ever.

And the book of Zechariah concludes with a great little phrase, that there will never again be a sinner/trader/Canaanite in Heaven ever again.

So, let's transition to real world application; evangelism and world-missions. Right now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of nations that have no believers in Christ from them. When we think nations, we think big massive governmental systems, but a nation can actually be much smaller. In early American evangelism it was an exciting time because many thought it was the last frontier to bring the gospel to, and they catalogued Indian nations and found there were thousands of them. Growing up I always remember that he Hopi and Navajo Indians were very careful to call themselves nations.

The main reason that Christ is not returning today is that many of his saints have not yet believed, and many of these are in currently-lost nations. So it is vital for us to be hastening his return by sharing his gospel. We live in such an amazing age today that we are able to witness to Christ in ways previously unknown of, like the internet, or skype, or online games. Another way is our airport in Atlanta has multitudes of foreigners travel through it daily. And yet another way is to visit major sporting events which draw massive crowds.

Last weekend Tyler and myself and six others from Atlanta drove to Dallas for the Superbowl. We went because there were probably half-a-million visitors in Dallas/Fort Worth for this event.

We were in Dealey Square, where Kennedy was shot, and an Egyptian demonstration sprouted up behind us. My guess is that there were 150 protestors there, mostly Muslims. This fall of Mubarak is a horrible thing for the world, and will cause great damage to the world, the fact that our president supports the Muslim Brotherhood in this tragedy is horrendous.

The demonstration happened under a guise of democracy and social justice, but truly it is a means for Islamic domination of the nation. At the rally I read Revelation 3:14-21 on how God is against democracy and calls for people to recognize him as King. The Muslims were using a public address system, which I clearly had to preach over. I really surprised the man speaking when I was so loud, and the Muslims moved very close to me to try to intimidate us. As soon as I knew I had their attention I preached the gospel and called them to repentance. Later my friend Rich preached for over an hour with our public address system.

At the rally my friends were talking to various people, one of them talked to an Egyptian woman named Messina who believed that Jesus was just a prophet. My friend asked, "Can prophets lie?" She said no. He asked, "Well then was Jesus lying when he claimed to be God?" The woman said, "I've always wondered about that." They were able to answer many of her questions.

Another group of my friends talked to a man from Jordan who had gotten saved a few months ago. He had no idea where to go for discipleship, and was getting some really bad information from various places. My friends were able to show him a little about how to read the Bible, and they got his contact information to hopefully help find him a church near where he lives.

Another man from Jordan was given a Muslim specific gospel tract and read the entire thing, which was not short. Probably every Muslim there got that tract, given out by a new evangelist who really stepped out of his comfort zone to call people out of the darkness into the light, to be a part of the chosen nation of Christ.

I was getting flustered and my friend Bobby asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else to talk to some people, I assented and went with my friend Katherine to share the gospel. It so happened that the first people we talked to were from France; four 17-18 year olds. They had no idea who Jesus is or what he has done, and it was a real treat to get to witness to them. They tried to say that they didn't need to worry about their sin because they didn't believe in Jesus; I corrected them to say that it doesn't matter what they believe, judgment is coming and they must flee from the wrath to come. At the beginning of the conversation I used the example that they could get hit by a bus and stand before God today. At the end of the conversation one of them was so anxious to get away that he almost ran into traffic. I told him, "Don't you get hit by a bus until you've had time to think about this!"

Afterwards Tyler and I approached a group of five local kids hanging out next to a parking lot. As we approached it became readily apparent by odor that they were smoking Marijuana. Two of them ran off as soon as I started talking, I thought it was to get away from the light, but I think what they did was run off and stash their drugs, because they came back after not too long and got to hear the gospel.

That night as we were waiting to eat in a crowded restaurant lobby my friends Peter and Alex had the idea to do what is called "eavesdrop evangelism" where they share the gospel over their cell-phone with the hopes that people around them will listen in on the conversation.

I open-air preached at the train station and got to talk to two totally lost girls who claimed to be Southern Baptists. It was a running theme through the week to talk to people who thought they were Christians but had no idea of the basics. We gave them tracts and a book on what the gospel is.

Late that night we ended up preaching in front of an Usher concert, there was a line of about 250 people and we got to tract and preach to the whole crowd. Sometimes when you're preaching you need to gather a crowd, other times the crowd is provided for you. A drunk guy came up to tell us we were evangelizing wrong, and over the course of a long conversation it became apparent that he didn't believe the Bible, that God is Trinity, or that drunkenness and fornication is a sin, and we left him knowing that we did not consider him a brother and that he needed to repent.

At the Superbowl we gave out about a hundred thousand tracts, and preached all over the stadium. It was a great day and many many people from all over the world heard the gospel. I was preaching in front of the Rangers Stadium, doing what is called stoplight preaching, which means you need to deliver the message very quickly, between a minute to three minutes. My friend Eddie had my open-air stand, so I was at street level, while it's always good to have some elevation over your audience so your voice will carry farther. Once when I was preaching a guy said, "You're too loud." I responded, "Sir, you're too close."

My open-air sermon when something like this: Hello sports fans, we're with Sports Fan Outreach International out of Atlanta, Georgia. We're here partly because we like football, we were here last year because we like baseball, but the main reason we're here is because we want to see you in Heaven some day. Every major religion says that in order to go to Heaven you must be a good person. I know from the Bible that almost everyone of us will proclaim our own goodness, but we have a problem, Jesus said, "There is none good but God." So let's test ourselves to find out if we're right, or if the Bible is right. Here is the good person test: Have you ever told a lie? What do you call someone who lies? A liar, right? Have you ever stolen anything, regardless of value? Here is the good news for your Packer fans, it doesn't make you a Stealer, but here is the bad news, it does make you a thief. Have you ever taken God's name in vain? When we do that we set our mouths against Heaven, we declare war on the God who made us. And the one that got me, you've heard it said of old, thou shalt not commit adultery, but Jesus said that if you look with lust you've committed adultery already in your heart. Those are four of the Ten Commandments, there are six more and they don't get any easier, if you've broken them then you are not a good person, but a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and you have to stand before God on judgment day. But God, in his great mercy and by the great love by which he loved us, sent his Son Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, to live a perfect life and die willingly for our sins on the cross. We broke the law, he paid our fine. Three days later he defeated death, proving he was who he said he was, so now if we repent of our sins and place our full trust in him to save us, we will be saved, for he who knew no sin became sin for us so that we may become the righteousness of God in him. I implore you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be reconciled to God! Thank you for listening to me, enjoy the game!

That night we wanted to go eat and watch the game on TV, but we ended up at a Chili's where they didn't have TV's except in the bar. It was alright though because we had great fellowship. We asked our waitress if there was anything we could pray for her about, and she said no. As we were ready to leave she asked us which church we went to, and we explained that we were from out of town. We had two girls with us, Eve and Katherine, both amazing young women with great theology and boldness, and Katherine took over this conversation, encouraging the girl to read her Bible. At the end Katherine asked to pray for her and when Katherine was done the girl was crying and really touched by the compassion of our group.

A couple days before Eve had read the entire book of Second Corinthians in the open-air in Fort Worth.

It was really a great trip and hopefully people from many nations and tongues will be added to the kingdom of Christ. I pray that it encourages you to share your faith and go out and preach Christ to your friends and neighbors. Our next major evangelism outreach will be the Big Shanty Festival in April, so be praying about going with us.