Today message text of Sunday, September 23, 2018 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:
God has provided salvation to all through the Abrahamic covenant.
As I was thinking about the introduction of this sermon, all thought about was the doctrine of soteriology—that is the doctrine of salvation. What are the means of God saving sinners? Why does God choose to grant salvation to sinners? We discussed the first part of Zechariah prophecy and we learned that he is speaking about God’s overarching plan of salvation.
As we continue with Zechariah’s prophecy, notice in Luke 1:72, he highlighted one of God’s qualities, which is mercy. Zechariah said, “To show the mercy promised to our fathers.” His words are comparable to Mary’s words. In Luke 1:50, is Mary’s song of praise: The Magnificat, she said, “And his mercy is for those who fear him,” and according to verse 54 she adds, “[God] has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.” To have mercy is to have leniency and compassion towards something or someone; and to have pity upon the undeserving.
It is Luke’s desire that readers understand how God interacts and has interacted with his people the patriarchs, Abraham, Issac and Jacob. God chose Moses to save Israel from the Egyptians, he spoke to him through the burning bush telling Moses to be his prophet and to deliver the people of Israel from enslavement. What I want you to understand from this story in Exodus 3:6, is how God referred to himself at the time he was speaking to Moses. God said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” There are other places in Scripture that makes this kind reference of God (Deuteronomy 9:5; Acts 7:8). For example, Jesus referred to God the Father in the same manner when he was speaking to the Sadducees about the doctrine of resurrection, he said,
You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God . . . And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Matthew 22:29, 31)
Have you wonder why God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob? The answer: it is a reminder for all generations that God has made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and the beneficiaries of this covenant is the nation of Israel and for those who are grafted in—that is, adopted by faith. These names Abraham, Issac and Jacob represents three generations and God has repetitiously reminded Israel of the mercy that started with Abraham—the Abrahamic covenant and those who have received the inheritance of this covenant have also received God’s mercy.
To understand how God’s mercy was extended to his descendants, we must think about the progression of Abraham’s life for demonstration.
In the first progression of Abraham’s life, God chose Abraham by calling him out of the land of Ur of the Chaldeans, and God made a promised to him that his descendants will possess the land of Canaan which is where the state of Israel currently reside since year of 1948 (Genesis 12:2, 7).
In the second progression of Abraham’s life, God reaffirmed his covenant with Abraham by establishing the covenant of circumcision. Take note of Genesis 17:6-8.
In Genesis 17:6-8, God said to Abraham,
“I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning’s, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
And in the following verses in Genesis 17:10-13, God said,
“This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you . . . So, shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.”
For the third progression of Abraham’s life, God established his covenant with Abraham by confirming that Abraham would not go to the grave childless and when Abraham was 100 years of age God blessed him and Sarah to conceive their son, Issac.
Let us pause here because theses covenants are profitable for us to understand. Again, notice in verse 72, it is clear Zechariah understood these covenants because in his prophecy he said, “to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.” God made two everlasting covenants: the Abrahamic covenant and the covenant of circumcision, but how it was possible for any human to accomplish these covenants? It wasn’t possible. Abraham and his descendants could not fulfill these covenants wholeheartedly. For example, after the Jewish people finally completed their conquest by conquering their foes and inheriting the land God promised them; they rebel against God by worshiping idols, God punished them by allowing the Syrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans to rule over them. Therefore, Zechariah repeatedly said in his prophecy that [the Lord] will rescue them “from the hand of our enemies” (Luke 1:71, 74).
Furthermore, if you travel to Israel now to visit the wailing wall you will see on top a Muslim Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, which is where the Jewish temple stood before the Romans demolished it in 70 A.D.; this demonstrates that God has not yet fulfill this everlasting covenant for the Jewish people. And even though they do not possess all the land now, one day Jesus will establish his millennial kingdom on the earth and in Jerusalem, he will rule for a thousand years as Israel sovereign Lord and bring Israel to a state of dominance.
Every Jewish person did not uphold the covenant of circumcision that God gave to Abraham and to his descendants; for example, the Lord was going to put Moses to death because he failed to circumcise his own son until his wife Zipporah did it for him (Exodus 4:24-26). The covenant of circumcision distinguishes Jews from Gentiles and if a Gentile converted to Judaism he must be circumcise (cf. Matt. 23:15; Acts 2:11). Eventually the covenant of circumcision presented problems for Gentile Christians because Jewish believers wanted to make them follow the Mosaic Law and heed to circumcision (cf. Acts 15:1).
God’s original intention about circumcision wasn’t a matter of cutting the foreskin but it was a matter of the heart. Moses said, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deuteronomy 10:16). The apostle Paul reaffirmed God’s original intention about circumcision. Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Circumcision is an outward expression of what God had done in your heart; just as much baptism is an outward expression of what God has done in your heart by faith in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, God made unilateral covenants with Abraham—the Abrahamic covenant and covenant of circumcision, because God knew that these covenants was to be ultimately fulfill in the Messiah Jesus. In Luke 1:73, Zechariah’s said, “The oath that he swore to our father Abraham.” The oath is the Abrahamic covenant which is foundational for salvation because it is not covenant of works but of covenant faith. Earlier, Melvin read Genesis 22:1-19. This passage illustrates how God would accomplish the everlasting Abrahamic covenant. God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). When they arrived at their destination Abraham took his only son, tied him to the alter, grab a knife to kill his son until the Lord told him not to. Why would God give Abraham a son and then tell Abraham to slaughter his son? Issac was the next person to receive the Abrahamic covenant, so for Abraham to kill his son would be an unthinkable act. I ask a Christian friend, if God told you to take your only son and kill him, would you do it? He said, “No”. Would you take your only child or one of your children to kill them? I hope that your answer is no. Abraham’s answered God with a yes. Abraham knew that if he had kill his son Issac, he had faith in that God would resurrect Issac from the grave.
According to Hebrews 11:17-19,
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Issac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Though Isaac shall our offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.
And some of us may think that the events in Abraham’s life and the covenants that God made with him has no bearing upon our lives which is entirely untrue. What we need to understand is that principle from Genesis 22:1-19, was a foreshadow of God sacrificing his only son, Jesus. Scripture says, “For God so love the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God has slaughtered his Son Jesus to extend mercy upon the underserving—us; You and I deserve hell but received mercy from God. According to Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
His name before was Abram which means the exalted; however, God made a covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham, which means father of many or a multitude. God was merciful to Abraham and to each generation that followed him.
In Micah 7:18-20,
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. ‘You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.