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Christ's Present Glory is Great... and Yet, Too Small

Christ's Present Glory is Great... and Yet, Too Small

December 09, 2012 | Andy Davis
Isaiah 49:1-13
Glory of God, Missions

Pastor Andy Davis preaches a verse-by-verse expository sermon on Isaiah 49:1-13. The main subject of the sermon is God's intention to increase the glory of Christ, giving Him the glory of which He is worthy.



Turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 49, which you just heard Tim read. Beautiful passage of Scripture. It's the one I think the Lord led me to, to speak this morning about missions. Eight days after he was born, Jesus was brought by Joseph and Mary to the temple to be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Jesus was born of a virgin, born under the law, submitted to the precepts of the law, circumcision being one of them. And there was a man waiting for Jesus at that point, a godly man who had been waiting for the consolation of Israel, waiting for the Messiah, and it had been specially revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ. But the day had finally arrived, the day of fulfillment of that specific promise made to him had arrived. Moved by the Holy Spirit, he went to the temple, and there happened to bump into Joseph and Mary by the sovereign hand of God. And he saw this little baby, and he took Jesus, the baby Jesus, eight days old, into his arms, and he spoke these incredible words, he said, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised you now dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light of Revelation to the Gentiles and for glory for your people, Israel."

Now, at the end of Luke's gospel, Jesus, at the end of his earthly ministry, his life, after his death on the cross, after his resurrection, he met with his disciples in the upper room, and he said these words to them, "This is what is written," he said, "That Christ must suffer and die for the sins of the people and be raised on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." So really the Alpha and the Omega of Jesus' earthly life in Luke's gospel I think bring us directly to the text we're gonna look at today, Isaiah 49. And for me, as I preach this Lottie Moon Christmas sermon, the goal for us immediately is fundraising. Our goal is $120,000 to be given to the spread of the gospel through the Southern Baptist Convention through the International Mission Board. That's the immediate goal, but my purposes, I think God's purposes are far greater than that. And I think this is a beautiful text, Isaiah 49, to rekindle and renew our heart of passion for missions, for cross-cultural missions, to ignite inside of us that flame again.

And for me, the interpretive key to this passage, and this is not easy, friends, as you look through Isaiah 49, it's not easy, and it's gonna bring us into some deep waters, but that's great, isn't it? To learn some new things and to be challenged, but here's my interpretive key. This text, Isaiah 49:1-13 is primarily, it really, in one sense, it's completely Jesus Christ speaking to us through Isaiah the prophet. It's Jesus speaking of a conversation he had with his Heavenly Father, and so you get the words of the Father through Jesus, but it's essentially Jesus speaking, and the “I” and the “me” and the “my” in this text is Jesus, or it's the Father speaking to Jesus. So this is Christ talking to us here. And that's very, very powerful. And the message that the Father has given to Jesus here is going to become the center of this sermon, and it's this phrase, "It is too small a thing," or in some translations, "It's too light a thing." 

And the approach I'm gonna take is right from verse six, I believe this is Jesus, because of Simeon's use of this text, and even better, Paul and Barnabas' direct quotation of this in Acts 13 at Pisidian Antioch, there there was some trouble with the Jews, they were back for a second week, the whole city was there to hear the word of the Lord, it was an awesome time, God was about to unleash his grace on the Gentiles of that region, but they went always to the Jew first, they went to the synagogue, a mixed reaction like always there. The next week, the Jews were filled with jealousy because of the huge crowd that had gathered, 'cause the whole city was there to hear the word of God. And Paul spoke boldly, "We had to speak the word of God to you,” Jews, “To you first. Since you reject it, do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us." That “us” is huge for me. "I have made you," singular in the Greek, "I have made you,” Jesus, “A light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." 

So this is Jesus, I'm convinced of it, Isaiah 49 is Jesus, and the approach I'm gonna take here is from this phrase in verse six, “It is too small a thing.” The glory that already is, is great, it's magnificent, it's wonderful what 2,000 years of God the Father's glorifying of his servant Jesus has done. It is an awesome thing, it's a great glory, it's just too small. It's just too small a thing. Why? 'Cause there's just more glory out there, there's more glory to be had for Jesus, specifically unreached peoples, lost people being brought to faith in Christ, that's greater, and I yearn for that greatness, and I think you should too.

So I'll be honest, I've sat through a lot of mission sermons, it's sad to me how often the whole MO is guilt them into action. Alright, there are basic verbs with every mission's appeal, and it's pray, give and go. If you kinda really think about it, you could add the word send or hold the rope, so that kind of thing. So that's good, but just, I just don't believe in that as a good motivation, amen? I just don't think it works. You're guilted into giving like 4% more than you would have and you feel bad about it and all that, look, let's not even go there.

I wanna set before you, glory, the greatness of this work, that your hearts would burn, that Jesus would be exalted and get his reward for dying, and that you would wanna be involved and that you would pitch everything you have, and then there's more than money, money is just a barometer, but just spend yourselves for this, that's my yearning. So I'm not going to guilt you into anything. I could do it, and I actually had to rephrase the title 'cause it just seemed too guilt ridden, "It's too small, FBC, what we're doing is too small." It's like, look, that's not it. Praise God for the growth of the Lottie Moon offering since I've been here. $27,000 when I got here, $120,000 the goal now, which we generally meet. Jack told me this morning we're at $12,000, it's like great, 90% to go, praise God. And how awesome is it, that we get to participate in this, that we get to be part of this? I don't wanna waste my dollars and I don't wanna waste my time or my gifts. And I think we can easily see from the Scripture, from this scripture, this is God's will, the glory of his son in getting what he died for, which is the allegiance of the nations. So we're gonna look at this and that MO, and basically we're gonna approach this by saying it's been glorious, it is glorious, there's just more glory yet to come, and let's live for that glory. 

I. The Calling and Equipping of the Christ (vs. 1-3)

So let's look at this text if we can, let's start at verses 1-3, and there we're gonna see the calling and the equipping of the Christ, verses 1-3, "Listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations, before I was born, the Lord called me, from my birth, he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me. He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."” So it begins, this section I entitled, the calling and the equipping of the Christ, it begins with a call to the nations. Again, the “me” I'm taking as Jesus. So Jesus is standing and calling out as the servant of the Lord, as the light of the Gentiles, he is calling out to the distant nations and islands, the distant coastlands, and it gives you a sense here of the worldwide scope of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And that's the backdrop of the ‘it's too small a thing’ for you just to save Israel, that's just too small. And so Jesus wants his word to be heard to the ends of the earth, the distant islands, the distant nations, and so we have that message going out, ‘Well, what, Jesus? We're listening. We're the distant lands, what do you wanna say to us?’

Well, the first thing he says in this text is concerning his origin, his calling. "Before I was born, the Lord called me. From my birth he has made mention of my name." Now, in this text, you get a similar thing that you get from Jeremiah, where Jeremiah was called while he was still in the womb, before he was born. And that's fair enough here in Isaiah 49, but other texts give us more information about that. Jesus' entrance into the world is a supernatural mystery of redemptive history. He's able to stand before Pilate and say, "For this I was born, and for this reason I entered the world." Only Jesus could say that, ‘I made a willful choice to enter the world. Let me tell you why I did.’ Why did you choose to be conceived and born? [chuckle] What were you thinking before you were conceived and born, so that you would make that decision to enter the world? Friends, it's utterly unique.

And so in Micah 5:2 we have this word concerning Bethlehem, Ephrathah, "Although you are least among the clans of Judah, out of you will come a shepherd, a ruler, whose origins are from ancient times." The eternal origins of this ruler who's coming from Bethlehem. Or better, 1 Peter 1:19-20, we're coming to Jesus as a lamb, spotless lamb without blemish or defect. It was with his blood that we were redeemed. This lamb, it says, was chosen before the creation of the world, but has now been revealed. And those are themes here in Isaiah 49, the concealing of Jesus and the revealing of it, but he was chosen by God the Father, elect, chosen for this redemptive work before the creation of the world. And that's the calling. And so also we have a sense of the incarnation as he was knit together in his mother's womb, as he was put together for this very purpose, that's his calling. And we'll get to his mission, what he was called to do in a moment, but look at his equipment, look at the equipment of this mighty king, this conqueror king, this Prince of Peace, "He made my mouth like a sharpened sword." He also said, "He made me into a polished arrow."

So here we have this image of Jesus, this is the mightiest equipment for the building of an empire there has ever been. There is no force in human history as great as this double-edged sword that came from the mouth of Jesus, that comes from the mouth of Jesus. You get the same image twice in the book of Revelation, once at the beginning and once at the end. Revelation 1, you remember how the apostle John had a vision of the resurrected Christ? He was on the island of Patmos, John was in exile, and on the Lord's day, he had a vision, he saw the exalted glorified Christ radiant, his head and hair were white like snow, white as wool, his eyes like blazing fire, his feet like bronze glowing in a furnace. He had a golden sash around his chest, and he was moving through seven golden lamp stands, which represented seven actual local churches, it's symbolic of his ongoing priestly ministry to every local church. And it says he had a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth. In one of the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3, one of those letters he says, "These are the words of him who has a sharp double-edged sword coming out of his mouth." So he's applying that sharp double-edged sword to his own people as a great physician, with the skill of a surgeon, that sharp scalpel cutting out the tumor of sin, going after wickedness, going after sin in his own people and cutting it out. This is the piercing aspect of the words of Christ. They have piercing power. 

See that in Acts chapter 2, as Peter preached that awesome spirit-saturated Pentecost sermon. And at the end of that it said, "When the people heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And the word was given, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" All of that came though after the piercing. The piercing power of the words of Jesus, that's how he works on our hearts. As was said in his own lifetime, you remember how the guards were sent to arrest Jesus and they came back empty handed to the ones that had sent them? ‘Where is he?’ ‘We went and we were waiting, and while we were waiting we heard him speak, and we were smitten. No one ever spoke the way this man spoke.’ The sharp double-edged sword coming from the mouth of Jesus to heal his elect, to heal his people of their sins, to bring them to faith in Christ, to pierce them and convict them and bring them to life. That's the first half of Revelation. 

But in Revelation 19 he's riding on a war horse, he's leading out the armies of heaven, and he's coming to slay the wicked who are arrayed there against the Lord and against his anointed one and against his people, and he comes back, and every eye will see him, and they will mourn because of him, and he slays the wicked with the sword that comes from his mouth. And they are in the same way cut off, like a tumor very much, but this time the devil, his angels, the wicked, the unrepentant who have not loved the appearing of the Lord, they are cut out like a tumor from the universe, and that sharp double-edged sword looks like this or sounds like this, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Do you see the cutting? Depart from me, go away from me, then these will go away to everlasting torment. And so this is the power of Christ's word, the sharp double-edged sword that comes from his mouth.

Notice also the concealing aspect here. It says it twice in the text. Jesus is hidden in some sense, he is concealed in some sense. In the shadow of God's hand, Jesus was hidden. He was concealed as an arrow in God's quiver. So what do we get out of this? I tell you, Jesus must be preached, he must be proclaimed. He cannot be discerned by creation. You can't look at a sunrise or a sunset or a baby being born or a beautiful flower and see the son of God. You can see a great, wise, loving Creator, but you can't see the Redeemer. And so Jesus is concealed and he must be revealed, he must be proclaimed, and so he has been by the proclamation of the Gospel, through the prophetic writings, by the proclamation of Christ, so that, Romans 16, so that all nations might believe and obey him. This is the revelation of Jesus. This is mission work. Christ is hidden. They don't know him. Some people don't know anything about him at all. Others have been taught wrongly.

Think about Muslim lands that have the Injil, their own version of the New Testament, that have the Quran, but they don't have a true teaching about Jesus. So think about perhaps a 48-year-old Muslim owner of a tea house in Islamabad and an American missionary just comes in there regularly, maybe weekly, and just drinks tea there, and his purpose is ministry, his purpose is mission. The shop owner knows him but doesn't know what he's all about. At one point, though, it's just the two of them alone, and there's time to talk. The moment has come, [chuckle] and that missionary tells him the truth about Jesus, tells him that he is the only begotten Son of God. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he lived a sinless life, he died an atoning death on the cross, an atoning sacrifice that Islam does not have. There's no atoning sacrifice in Islam. But Jesus is the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He explains all this, and suddenly the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to this man, and he hears that call, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," and he cries out for salvation. Hallelujah!

And do you know how much that's going on? More than you can count. A multitude greater than anyone could count. All over the world that's what's going on. The money, Lottie Moon, helps that happen, that's all. But listen, it is individuals who have set themselves apart, their hearts ablaze, saying what Paul and Barnabas said in Pisidian Antioch, “This is what the Lord has commanded us,” me, I wanna make Jesus a light for the Gentiles. And so Jesus must be revealed.

In verse three, a bit of a challenge to my interpretive scheme, but I'm gonna blow right through it. How is Jesus Israel? Israel was God's son, carried on his shoulders out of Egypt, called to glorify him among the Gentiles and utterly failed in that mission through their wickedness and sin. And so that crown of glory that was meant for the people of God, Israel, was down in the muck, down in the mire, Jesus picked it up, made it glorious and put it on his own head. I don't know if you heard the story about Napoleon, how he crowned himself Emperor of France, snatched the crown out of the hand of the prelate there and put it on his head. It kind of fits his whole approach to life, I think that was just him. That's who he was. But he said about that moment, he said, "The crown of France was in the gutter. I picked it up at the tip of my sword and put it on my head." Well, I'm gonna just take that whole idea and just kind of redeem it a bit and say the crown of glory of Israel is in the gutter because of their sins, and Jesus put it on his own head because he is truly the Son of God, and he is the fulfillment, “Out of Egypt I've called my son,” and that's applied to Jesus, and then we are Israel in him, if you know what I mean. He is our head, and he is Israel, and he is the one who is called to be the servant of the Lord and to glorify him in this world.

II. The Apparent Discouragement of the Christ (vs. 4)

But now we come to a challenging part, and I say to you, it's the most difficult, theologically most difficult part of the interpretive scheme that I've taken on, but I think therefore the richest. Look at verse four, the apparent discouragement of the Christ and his mission, “But I said, I have labored to no purpose, I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” Now, we all face discouragement in life, we do, life is not always what we want it to be, we face what we would call adverse circumstances, trials and tests, and we can get discouraged. If this were Isaiah the prophet speaking these words, we wouldn't bat an eye, we would say, ‘I understand Isaiah had a challenging ministry, etcetera, but I just don't think this is Isaiah, I don't think that Isaiah has the honor and glory of being the light for the Gentiles to carry God's salvation to the ends of the earth.’ I don't think that's his calling, and Acts 13 tells me it's Jesus anyway. So how is it that these words could ever be spoken by Christ? Well, I think the picture I have in my mind, you could go to Gethsemane, but I'd rather just go right to the cross. There is Jesus on the cross, his life blood is flowing out from those wounds in his body, and at that point, as he looks at his ministry, remember, he said, concerning the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Gentile woman, he said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." That was the focus of his ministry there. John 1:11, he came to his own things, one could say, and his own people rejected him and turned him away.

Isaiah told us it would happen, he was despised and rejected. A man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Look at verse seven, "This is what the Lord says, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation." What nation? Well, it's Israel. They hated him, they rejected him. I mean, they did it officially. The night he was arrested, his disciples all deserted him and fled, then they brought him bound to Annas and Caiaphas, and they officially condemned him to death as a blasphemer, turned him over to Pontius Pilate, then exerted tremendous pressure on Pilate to have him crucified, though Pilate had decided to let him go. And they said some horrendous things in reference to Jesus, "No, not him, give us Barabbas," they said. Or Pilate said, "Shall I crucify your King?" And they answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Do you really wanna say that over yourselves in reference to Jesus? He was rejected, officially rejected by the Jewish nation, he wept over Jerusalem because they did not recognize the time of God coming to them. And so not one stone would be left on another. So there he is surrounded by mockers, the chief priest, teachers of the law there to mock him, not to believe in him.

And there at the foot of the cross was his mother, not a surprise, just the way it is to be a mother, some other women that Jesus had ministered to, and one apostle. And that's it, that's it. For the only perfect ministry there has ever been in history, a sinless ministry, in which he loved God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and he loved his neighbor as himself, and he poured out a river of blessings on people. This man has done everything well, it was said of him. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cured, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, good news was preached to the poor. The only perfect teaching ministry there's ever been, he fed the 5,000, he walked on water, he stilled the storm with a word, and he has one disciple at his feet when he died. An apparent failure. Not much different, perhaps, than what Paul felt in 2 Timothy 4 when he said, "Everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me.” There's not much left to show for my ministry at this point.

Aren't you glad the verse doesn't end there? Aren't you glad for the word “Yet?” He says right there in the middle of the verse, "Yet, what is due me is in the Lord's hands and my reward is with my God." So this is how I picture it. Right before he died, in Luke's gospel, he says this, "Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit." Would it be wrong to kind of use that phrase and theologically say, in effect, what he said is, ‘Into your hands, I commit my ministry. Do something with this. Father, I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, make something of it.’ John 12:24, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself a single seed, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” ‘Father, make something of this. Make great fruit come from this death.’ And then he dies. ‘Into your hands, I commit all of this.’ And then he dies, and I feel like the Father says back in Psalm 1:10, "Sit at my right hand until I glorify you to the ends of the earth.” I'm gonna make your former enemies to be your worshippers, and those who will not worship you, I will cut them off and crush them. So you sit at my right hand, I will pour out the Spirit and the gospel will be advanced to the ends of the earth. Psalm 1:10, "Your troops," that's us, "will be willing on your day of battle.” I'm gonna move them out and they're gonna take your glory to the ends of the earth. 

So much for Jesus' apparent discouragement, he's sitting at the right hand of God, and he gets his reward. And what is his reward? You and me, us, we are the reward, the redeemed, that's what he gets, he gets to live with us forever and ever. Now, do you realize how fruitful this meditation is when it comes to cross-cultural missions? I can speak from personal experience, it's not every day is brighter than the day before on the mission field. There are definitely times you're there and you say, "Why did we do this? I don't see anything coming from this.” Nothing is, I mean, somebody who prayed to receive Christ seven months ago, they're not coming anymore, they've kind of drifted away and you're crying out in reference to them and you're wondering. It's been going on for centuries. Look at Adoniram Judson after six years of labor, not a single convert, ends up burying a wife, burying two wives, burying children, tropical fevers, digging his own grave and sitting by it waiting for God to kill him, the depths of discouragement and despair. And yet when he died, there's that word yet, when he died, I'm talking of Judson now, 210,000 baptized Burmese Christians. Government survey in Burma, when he died, 210,000, almost a quarter of a million.

We have to face the discouragement, say, "Is there anything good?” We just, every year we send 100,000 plus to the IMB, “Is anything coming of it?”  Yes, absolutely, but we can't always see it, and if even Christ can be in some deeply mysterious way, saying, "I have labored to no purpose, I've spent my strength in vain and for nothing," still yet, the reward is yet to come.

III. The Mission Fields of the Christ (vs. 5-7)

Alright, so what are Christ's mission fields? Well, I'm gonna break it into two, in verses five through seven, Jews and Gentiles. Amen. Now the Gentiles break up into lots of peoples, people groups and nations and all that, that's great. But verses five and six, especially, give us a sense of his mission field, "Now the Lord says, 'He who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my reward has, and my God has been my strength.' He says, 'It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.'" So Jesus really lived out what Paul said to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. 

So his first mission field, "I was sent only to the lost tribes of Israel,” to effect in them a radical transformation, to bring back the tribes of Jacob, to restore them and bring them back to God, to transform their hearts, that they would actually love God and glorify him and be in good fellowship with Almighty God to bring them back. That's his first mission. Now, I already said in verse four, it apparently failed when he died? It hasn't failed at all. The early church in Jerusalem, they were all Jews, hallelujah, and they're up in heaven now praising God forever and ever. They are glorious and radiant and waiting for their resurrection bodies. And they were Jews. And that was and is glorious in every generation, there's a remnant, those of Israel or Jacob, that God has kept, he has protected them. They are his elect, and they are going to come to faith. And have you ever met them before, Jewish Christians, aren't they awesome? They have different names, Messianic Jews, whatever. They're some of the most incredibly sweet brothers and sisters you'll ever find, and they frequently pay a very heavy price with their families. And I just wanna tell you that's a glorious thing. That's a glorious thing. Because Moses said of them, and Stephen said, "They are stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears, and they always resist the Holy Spirit, and there was never a prophet that they did not persecute, and they even persecuted the one who predicted the coming of the righteous one and now they murdered him." That's Acts 7. So do you not think it's a glorious thing for Jesus to redeem some people out of that stiff-neckedness and that hardened heart state and bring them to glorious salvation through his blood? It is a glorious thing. It's a marvelous thing. It's a weighty thing of infinite value. It's just too small a thing. It's too small. God had plans to the ends of the earth, and it was from the very beginning when he called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and he said, "Through you, all peoples on earth will be blessed." And so Jesus is also a light for the Gentiles, that he may bring God's salvation to the ends of the earth.

"Do you not think it's a glorious thing for Jesus to redeem some people out of that stiff-neckedness and that hardened heart state and bring them to glorious salvation through his blood? It is a glorious thing. It's a marvelous thing. It's a weighty thing of infinite value. It's just too small a thing. "

Now, what is this ‘light’ language? Well, in Isaiah 9, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” What is that darkness? It is a spiritual darkness, it is a moral darkness, it's described in Romans chapter 1, their hearts, “Their foolish hearts were darkened," it says there. In Ephesians 4:17 and following, "So I tell you this, you must no longer live as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking, they're darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that's in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” It's a darkness that comes from bad thinking and wicked living that flows from their hearts. And Jesus, John 8:12, is the light of the world, and he goes there and he shines in a dark place, and they are redeemed from their idolatry, and then from their empty way of life handed down from their forefathers. He is the light of the Gentiles. And that's his mission field. 

And the mission to the Jews is not over yet. I think the final act is in the final generation. I believe in Romans 11, it speaks of the comprehensive salvation of the Jews that are alive right before the second coming of Christ. He says, I tell you a mystery, Gentiles, so you won't become conceited, Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, the deliverer, Jesus, will come from Zion, he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." Magnificent, that's a crowning final drama of redemptive history, when the Jews turn en masse to Jesus and recognize him and weep for him as for an only son. So this is glorious, isn't it? It's glorious, and I would say much of it has yet to happen, it's still in the future. There's still more great things to come in these two mission fields.

IV. The Glorious Progress of the Gospel of the Christ (vs. 8-13)

So in verses 8-13, we see the glorious progress of the Gospel through Christ. Verse 8, "This is what the Lord says, 'In the time of my favor, I will answer you. And in the day of salvation, I will help you, I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people. To restore the land and reassign its desolate inheritances.'" Now again, I think this is an inter-trinitarian conversation. I think it's still Jesus talking. Verse 8, "This is what my Heavenly Father is saying to me, 'In the time of my favor, I will answer you,” Jesus, “And in the day of salvation, I will help you, and I will keep you, and I will make you, Jesus, to be a covenant for the people,” etcetera.

So the funny thing is, though, the Apostle Paul doesn't seem to do that with this verse. In 2 Corinthians 6, he says, "I urge you, I beg you as God's fellow workers, please do not receive God's grace in vain, for he says, 'In the time of my favor, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you, I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.'" Well he's appealing to people on the basis of this scripture. How does that work? Alright, this is how it works. If you're lost, I mean, I'm talking to you right now, you were invited here to First Baptist Church by a friend, or you just wandered in here, you found out on the website, where is a church I could go that'd be nearby, and you looked us up on MapQuest and here you are. I don't know how you got here. It's fine, I'm just glad you're here. You know what the apostle Paul is saying to you from this text? Don't wait to call on the name of the Lord. Don't wait for tomorrow. You don't even know if you're gonna be alive tomorrow. Now, “Today is the day of salvation. If today you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” So on the basis of that, call out, let your voice be heard and say, "Oh, Jesus save me, God save me in Jesus' name." What does that mean, in Jesus' name? Well it means, in effect, God's not gonna hear you except through Jesus. That's how that works. You have no access, none of us has any access to this holy throne of God except by Jesus. So in effect, God the Father is saying to the Son, "I'll listen to you. Do you have something you wanna say to me?" "Yes, Father, I wanna talk to you about my elect. There's another one that's just calling on my name now." Father says, "I'll save him.” He is our mediator. So we go to Jesus, Jesus goes to the Father and the Father forgives us. Hallelujah. Just don't put it off. You don't need to go in there or you don't need to do anything, you just need in your hearts to trust in Jesus and call on him and say, "Oh Lord, your blood was shed for sinners. I am a sinner, save me." 

And that's the message that missionaries are taking to the ends of the earth. This is the very thing. And how is it doing? How is the message, going what, over 2000 years has been doing really, really well. Read about it in verse nine and following, "To say that the captives ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness ‘Be free.’ And they will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill and they will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them besides springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads and my highways will be raised up, behold, they will come from afar, some from the North, some from the West, some from the region of Aswan," in NIV, Sinim in other translations. 

V. Christ’s Present Glory is Great…Yet, TOO SMALL!

Verse 13, "Shout for joy, O heavens, rejoice, O earth, burst into song, O mountains. For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones." All you have to do is just look at these verses and get a picture of a pilgrimage of people streaming. They're going up on highways, do you see it? They're just moving out. The Lord is leveling ground in front of them, and he is leading them. This one who is comforting them and he's their shepherd, and he's leading them on this salvation journey. Now, some could say this is just language about the restoration of the exiled Jews from, you know, in Babylon and all that, going back to the promised land. Friends, that's too small a thing. Amen. That's a good thing, that's a great thing. That's just too small a thing.

Now Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." There is a journey to be traveled. And in these verses, he describes, he's going to protect you, he's not gonna let the desert heat beat on you, he's going to give you living water to drink from, he's going to shepherd you and he's going to move you out, he's gonna have compassion on you and guide you, and he's gonna turn all of his mountains into roads and his highway is gonna be lifted up, and they're gonna come from distant lands, that Sinim or Aswan, many translators and many commentators think that's Southern China, isn't that awesome? He's gonna come, they're gonna come from Southern China, and they don't need to go anywhere. We don't have a Mecca that you stream to. We don't need to do that. Jesus told that to the woman at the well, remember. He said, ‘Neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, just stay where you are and worship him in spirit and truth. But you'll be on a pilgrimage, all right, you'll be following me to heaven.’

And these exact words are quoted in Revelation 7, this multitude greater than anyone could count from every tribe and language and people and nation. Many of the Old Testament allusions in Revelation are just allusions, he doesn't quote them directly, but he's talking about these that have come out of the tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, this multitude from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 7:15, "Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve him night and day in his temple, and he who sits on his throne will spread his tent over them," listen to these words, "Never again will they hunger, never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat." Are you hearing Isaiah 49, "For the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, he will lead them to springs of living water and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Magnificent, magnificent. And that's going on right now all over the world. Missionaries, evangelists are going out boldly and sharing this gospel, and the elect are responding. And they're coming to faith and they're getting up on that highway of holiness, and they're starting that journey to heaven.

"Missionaries, evangelists are going out boldly and sharing this gospel, and the elect are responding. And they're coming to faith and they're getting up on that highway of holiness, and they're starting that journey to heaven" 

 VI. Application

Now, what does the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering have to do with that? Some. [laughs] God can use Southern Baptist and Southern Baptist money and Southern Baptist missionaries to do that. And amen, he is using it. So, so far we have $12,000. That is a great thing. That's a lot of money, $12,000. But, if I can say this gently, it is too small a thing. So let's give sacrificially, and I want us to give more than that. Andy, why don't you come up here? I've asked Andy, Andy shared with the elders the other day, Andy went overseas and met up with some of our friends that are serving the Lord in distant lands, maybe even mentioned in our text today, I don't know, but at any rate, come and tell us some more practical ways that we can be involved.

[PASTOR ANDY WINN] Well, you'll notice in your bulletin, there are 10 practical points and if you can follow along with me. Let me just briefly unpack them just a little bit more. You'll notice right to my right, your left, right outside those doors, there's a big map, and on the bottom of that map, there's about seven different prayer cards or cards of our FBC family there. Just very practically, just pick one of those cards up, take it home, put it on your refrigerator or somewhere that you see it often as a reminder to pray for our church family that are serving overseas. So again, that's a very practical, specific thing that we can do as a church body.

Also, number two is to consistently read and respond to emails. I'm sure that from time to time, you'll receive an email update from one of our members or maybe a friend of yours that you know that's serving overseas, you receive a prayer update. When Kyle and I were on that trip that Andy mentioned, all of these things came from some of our church families sharing with us, but one of the things they mentioned is that they send those updates and they often wonder if they're being read or secondly, if people are praying for them. And one way that we can do that to communicate is just to say, "Hey, thanks so much for this update, I'm praying for you," or pick up a specific thing they mentioned in their email, so that's very practical.

Number three is to send a picture or prayer requests or praises to our FBC members that are serving elsewhere. Often we think about, how can I pray for them? What are they doing so I can, again, bless them? But one of the things, the desires that they have, our members on the field, the desires they have is to know us better. One way to do that is when we are going through a praise or a trial is to send a brief email to them and say, "Hey, please pray for me," and send a picture so they can associate a face with a name, because when you're gone here from five or six years, our body changes, and so it'd be great for them to know us that way. 

Also, strive to know the people group that they are serving. We have, as you know, we have Adam serving South Durham, we have Yann serving a church planning in Boston. We also have our members that are serving a people group overseas. You've heard us mention before that we've adopted as a church body, the Northern Bai, and so one of our responsibilities is not just the Northern Bai, but to really focus on the Northern Bai, who are they? How can we pray for them? Or ask other individuals, "Are there other members? How can we pray for the people group that you're targeting?"

Fifthly, is to schedule a time to use technology. There's Google+, FaceTime, Skype. There's multiple ways that now technology, we can see someone face-to-face that are miles away. You better believe that Elisa and I, and I know Kyle and Margy, took advantage of that technology, it was great. But we can do that as well with our FBC members. And so just look forward to doing that. Some of the home fellowships have done that, and we've been encouraged to continue that from our members overseas. 

Sixthly is to invite them over to your home when they are on state side. Many times, often our members will come back, sometimes they'll be here passing through Durham for two weeks, other times they'll be here for up to three months to sometimes even six months. We've got to know when they're coming and rearrange our schedule to go out of our way to invite them over at our home, to have them over for dinner. Because here, those three months, six months are incredible for them to be re-acquainted with our body, and so specifically make time for that. 

Seventh is express interest or availability of your schedule if you sense God moving you and wanting to use you to serve overseas, maybe it's a short-term trip. Express that interest to the elders. As you know, we have a very limited number of trips and limited purpose, but still what we can do is when we hear from you that you are interested, or when we hear of available time, we can really work hard at matching some of the needs that we are hearing from those of our members that are serving, we can match those needs up with the members' needs that are interested in actually going on a short-term trip.

Eighthly, you might be thinking, "Well, two weeks is okay, but I actually have a semester." Maybe you're a college student, maybe you have a semester that you can use and serve overseas for two to three, four months. That has been, we've done that several times. Maybe that's your situation, maybe you have time where you can invest in the summer, for those of you that your schedule, your work schedule will allow that. Let us know that. For some, it might be serving one to two years, and so those are also great needs. And as Andy mentioned, Kyle and I, there are specific needs that we've heard of our members could use someone that would go for up to two years.

Ninthly, as we talked about, Andy mentioned, is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. And so just continue to pray for what would the Lord be having us to give and how much and how faithful, and how can we pray? And so, just utilize that. One of the things that Kyle and I heard while we were there just this last few weeks, they reminded us of how important those Lottie Moon dollars are for keeping our family units overseas, and our individuals overseas, so be mindful of that. And lastly, and by the way, we can unpack that, your home fellowship leaders have more detailed application points that you can discuss tonight, but lastly, Amanda Halbrooks will be leaving, Lord willing, in about a few weeks to go training, to training in January. And then, in a few months later, to go overseas to invest up to two years of her life. We want you to know that, we want you to take advantage of getting to know her, asking how we can pray for her, and we'll have the privilege of commissioning her in a few weeks. But these are just the beginning of specific ways that we can be involved in what we heard this morning.

[PASTOR ANDY DAVIS] Thanks. Let's close in prayer. Father, we thank you for the power of your word. We thank you for Isaiah 49 and for the richness there is there. Help us, O Lord, to go over it, to look again at its phrases and to see the glory of God, and to do what Paul and Barnabas did, to take very personally that these are our marching orders. The Lord has commanded us to make Jesus a light for the Gentiles. It's really something only God the Father can do through the Spirit, but Lord, help us to be available. Thank you for each of these practical points that Andy's done a great job expressing to us. Help us to choose one of them and just do it for your glory. In Jesus name, amen.

Other Sermons in This Series

God With Us

December 17, 2006

God With Us

Matthew 1:18-25

Andy Davis