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Give Us a King! December 21, 2014

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Ezekiel 37:24-28

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 21, 2014

 

Focus:  God gives us a better king.

Function:  That the hearers live in the kingdom of God.

Structure:   This is the problem…this is the response of the gospel…these are the implications.

 

Give Us a King

 

Have you ever noticed how bad we are at ruling ourselves?  Rome had an emperor named Commodus who was so obsessed with his own physique and having sculptures made of himself all over his empire, that he missed all the plotting in his own court to overthrow him.  Many even blame him for the fall of the Roman Empire.

Then there was King Edward II of England who so alienated his wife that she partnered with France and led an army against her own husband.  And Charles the Simple of the Carolingian Dynasty had his army turn on him after he abandoned them in battle.

The Scriptures are filled with kings doing foolish things.  Jeroboam of Israel didn’t want his people going to worship God in Jerusalem, which was outside of his country, so he commissioned the sculpting of two golden calves and set them up as idols for worship in the cities of Dan and Bethel.   Because the first golden calf had gone so well that we needed two more.

Queen Jezebel is famous for her evil ways.  She led the people to worship false gods, killed a man simply for not selling her his vineyard, and killed or persecuted the prophets sent by God.  She met her untimely end when she was thrown out of a window by the members of her own court.

And I’m not sure if I want to get into all of your political opinions about our own government in the last few decades.  Things might get a little heated.  But for all of this trouble with poor leadership, the truth is, God told us it was coming.

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”  1 Samuel 8

 

And so God gave them a king, Saul, and he did all the wicked things that God warned them he would do.  But God again had a plan.  A plan to deliver us from the incompetent rule of sinners.

That’s the message that Ezekiel is delivering to God’s people in our Old Testament reading today.  He’s promising a king, but not just any king.  He uses the name of David.  David is a king that went down as a hero in Israel’s history.  He was a military champion, saving them from Goliath and the Philistines as well as many other nations.  The people sang songs rejoicing about David their king.

But that’s not the only reason that Ezekiel used David’s name.  God had also promised King David a couple of centuries earlier that someone would always reign on his throne.  “David My Servant shall be their Prince forever.”  Ezekiel’s not talking about David.  He’s talking about David’s heir, his descendent.  He’s talking about the Son of Joseph, a carpenter from Galilee.

God knew that a king was not what we needed.  But in our faithlessness, we rejected God and asked for one anyway.  And so God allowed it, much like a parent might allow their child to do something foolish, like staying up all night, or gorging themselves on candy at Halloween or cookies at Christmas.  We allow it so that our child learns a lesson for themselves, so that they learn from their mistake and so they learn that they shouldn’t do it again.  It’s a form of discipline.  And God did it with us.

In our sinfulness, we’re still tempted to be like Israel.  We’re still tempted to ask God for a king rather than allowing Him to lead us.  We are so quick and ready to look for solutions to our problems elsewhere.  We’re quick to put our trust in the things of this world.  We’re quick to think that we can do it on our own or that we’ve earned it on our own.  But whenever we do these things, whenever we put something else before God, we’ve created another golden calf, another idol, another king in God’s place.

But as He always does, God provides the answer.  He gives us a better King, a perfect King.  Knowing our needs, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be our King, to be the “David” Ezekiel is talking about.  To be our one Shepherd who unites all people.

The New Testament is full of that language, of Christ as our Shepherd, or of how we’re all one in Christ.  “I am the Good Shepherd.”  “So in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  After all the fighting and the divisions and the disgust with one another, God has reunited us in this King, His Son.

And then Ezekiel also tells us that God has created a new covenant, a covenant of peace.  This is the same as the new covenant Christ mentions in the Lord’s Supper, “this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”  That forgiveness is what brings us peace.  Sin is our great enemy, it’s what separates us from God, and Christ’s death on the cross has defeated it for us.  In His death, He granted us peace through forgiveness.

But more than that, He also rose again.  His death wasn’t permanent, but His victory was.  God raised Him from the dead so that our King will continue to be our King of Peace forever.  His forgiveness for us is never-ending.  His love and peace that He gives us are never-ending.  The way that He leads us, protects us, and cares for us is never-ending.

Christ as our King does mean we have to follow and trust Him, rather than our idols and temptations.  Ezekiel said, “My Servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one Shepherd.  They shall walk in My rules and be careful to obey My statutes.”  That’s the purpose of God’s law in the first place, to show us the way, to help us to live as God designed us to live.  It was meant to help us live healthy and full lives.

This covenant of peace, this King that God gives us, is here to lead us, is here to show us the way.  Our King Jesus forgives us when we fall short of the law.  He teaches us how to live the life God has given us. He guides us and shows us how to love our neighbors so that they too might call Him King.  And He protects us from our enemies, from the evils of sin, death, and the devil.

God gives us the solution to poor earthly kings, He gave us the greatest King we could ever imagine.  He gave us His Son Jesus Christ that our sins might be forgiven, that our relationship with God and with each other might be restored, and that we might trust in Him to lead us.

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