December 21, 2014
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural address. It was filled with conviction, with powerful rhetoric, and, of course, a thick North-eastern accent. He had many great statements in that speech, but one sticks out. It’s very memorable. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It sticks in the mind and rolls off the tongue. But it seems that, in a lot of ways, this gets imported by a lot of well meaning Christians into how they think about their relationship with God. It sort of gets turned into “Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.” But it also seems that King David does this too in our text. David may have been well-meaning, but YHWH, the Lord, has more in store for David, for you and me. You see:
IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT WE DO FOR THE LORD BUT WHAT HE DOES FOR US.
What does the Lord do for us?
I. YHWH, the Lord, comes and dwells with us.
II. YHWH, the Lord, gives peace to His people.
(I. YHWH comes and dwells with us.)
The Lord advents, He comes. The Lord has always advented to His people, come to His people. He advented in the Garden of Eden, He advented to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He advented and dwelt with His people Israel. When He advents, when He dwells, He does it His way, and we don’t want to look down on how He does it. David did, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” David thought it was unbecoming of the Lord to dwell there in a tent. “That’s so far beneath the Lord,” David thinks, “This needs to be fixed.” We might think, “What’s wrong with that? Isn’t it just that David wants the best for the Lord who had given so much to David?” But David was looking to himself and not to the Lord. For the Lord said, “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for My dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”
No, that’s not what happened. In fact, the tent dwelling, the Tabernacle is what the Lord had commanded Moses on Sinai: “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” The Lord had His way of dwelling with His people to save them, to give them His holiness, and David thought that was below the Lord. Don’t we so often do the same thing? Can we truly say, “There was no eternal Son of God outside of the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”? Can we say, “There was no eternal Son outside of the one nailed to a tree”? We want something more glorious. We want something more than water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word, we want more than a man saying, “I forgive you your sins,” we want more than bread and wine that are the body and blood of Jesus, we want more than just Words on a page. We want excitement! But the Lord has His ways of dwelling, of adventing, of saving His people.
God chooses His way of dwelling, and His dwelling with His people is to establish them. It’s how it was for Israel. YHWH dwelt, tabernacled with them and brought them out of Egypt. He brought them to the promised land. He established David, brining him from the sheepfold and pastures, and gave David rest from all His enemies. The Lord does the same for us as well. He dwells with us, advents, comes to us to establish us, to build us up as His people, His saints. He makes us holy and keeps us holy by dwelling amongst us, adventing to us in His Word and Gifts, the only ways He’s known and comes.
(II. YHWH, the Lord, gives peace to His people.)
When the Lord dwells with and establishes His people, He also gives them peace. To do that He needs to remove our enemies. Enemies make things not so peaceful. He did this for the people of Israel. He gave them judges to drive out their enemies, and He promised to drive them out again, “I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more.” He did it and would do it for David: “I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you…I will give you rest from all your enemies.” He does this for us too. He’s conquered our enemies of sin and death by cross and tomb and gives us that victory by Font, Bible, Pulpit, and Altar.
This peace from enemies, this rest isn’t just temporary. Earthly kings rise and fall. Kingdoms pass away. The peace and rest offered by treaty and alliance don’t last forever. The Lord said, “From the time I appointed judges.” There were many of them. The peace temporary. But there is eternal rest and eternal peace. The Lord promises it to David, “I will give you rest from all your enemies…when you lie down with your fathers.” We all get that rest because of Jesus. That peace and rest is eternal. This is what He promises to David, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever.” This is Christ’s kingdom. The kingdom where He reigns, dwells, and advents to save His people. He forgives our iniquities. He gives us His peace and rest. Not only now but forever. His life-long presence in Word, Water, and body and blood gives way to eternal face-to-face presence, as it’s sung in Handel’s Messiah, quoting Revelation 11, “The kingdom of this world Is become the kingdom of our Lord, And of His Christ; And He shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!”
“The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad,” says the Psalmist. He has. He’s advented. He’s come to us, for us. He’s done so much for us. He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. We certainly don’t want to break the 2nd and 3rd commandments and despise His preaching, His Word, His gifts and look for something else. Our neighbors need our love, our deeds. The Lord wants to dwell with us, to give to us. He’s done great things already, and He’ll keep giving us more: more Word, Water, body and blood; more adventing to be with us. It’s all about what the Lord Jesus does for us. He had more for David. He has more to give you both now and forever.
INI + AMEN.