Advent Week One: The Lion King

Advent sermon number one
The Lion King

There are some very interesting things in Heaven. I think anyone who has ever had the tiniest glimpse of Heaven will agree to this. Here are just a few of the most interesting things from the people who have had visions of Heaven.
The streets are paved with pure gold. It is so pure that it doesn't even look like metal. It looks like glass.
The gardens are breathtaingly lovely, and naturally, nothing ever dies in them.
There are cars there. They aren't needed, of course. They're just toys for people who like cars.
The music is astounding. Some would find it offensive because composers seamlessly blend classical and modern music.
There are computers there, as well as electronic music.
There are more people there than one can easily count. Since John didn't know about millions or billions, he described them as "ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands." In reality, there are billions.
And surrounding the throne of God, you may find four very unusual animals. In John's vision, here is what he saw...

Revelation 4:6-8
6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Now this is not the only place we see these creatures associated with God's throne. In Ezekiel, there are four creatures which have four faces each. One human, one leonine, one bovine and one avian.

Why these four creatures? If it were me, I probably would have gone with some very different faces. I certainly wouldn't have given one a human face. Good thing I'm not God, eh? Because these faces are not simply for aesthetics. They mean something. These creatures are living symbols of God. The eyes represent His omniscience. The wings represent His power. And the four faces represent the four natures of Jesus. Each face also matches up with one of the four gospels, which describe one of these four natures. Matthew focusses on the kingship of Jesus as represented by the lion. Mark proclaims the Lord's godhood, as represented by the Eagle. Luke describes Christ's humanity, as represented by the human, and John explains how the Messiah is a sacrifice, as represented by the ox.

This evening, we'll concentrate on the first- The lion of Judah, King of the Jews.

First of all, why do we need a king? God himself told Israel that having a king was a bad idea. To prove it, He gave them King Saul. When it comes to earthly governments, we face a paradox. We need a government for several reasons. Take a look at the preamble of the US constitution and you'll see six of them.

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America."

The problem is that no matter what form of earthly government we have, it is run by humans, and humans are by nature sinful creatures. a dictatorship is run by one person, with no guarantee that that one person is good. Socialist governments quickly become mired down with those who are supposed to be administrating the system sponging off of it. Even democracies are flawed because control is ultimately spread out among millions of imperfect humans. The only form of government that can truly be relied upon is a true theocracy with the one real God at it head.

Jesus is that one true God who can perfectly administer the six functions of government. His record speaks for itself. As our Lord, he has fulfilled each of these functions among us, His people. He has created a single people for Himself out of many seperate and diverse nations. (Galatians 3:28) He administers justice, rewarding the faithful and punishing evil. (Romans 12:19) He helps us to maintain peace within. (Philipians 4:7) He protects us from external threats. (Psalm 91:14) He looks after our welfare (Romans 8:28) and He sets us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) Who better to be our king?

Now this is, of course, not to say that we should oust parliament, fire congress, give our judges the pink slip and set the queen on a train to nowhere with ten bob and half a chicken sandwich. By no means. Jesus will rule the world when He is ready, not before. Until that time, he has ordained human governments for our benefit and asks that we obey those in authority untless and until they directly oppose Him. And yet, even when Jesus was arrested, He did not instruct his disciples to fight for Him. He told them "My kingdom is not of this world". Now He did not have to do that. Jesus could have seized the throne of Israel at any time. He was of royal blood. He was a direct physical descendant of the kings of Israel and Judah. If it were not for the fact that Israel's conquerors had installed the king THEY wanted, Jesus might have already been on the throne.

From the moment of his conception, Jesus was recognized as king. The magi of the east correctly understood from the prophecies of Daniel and the signs in the heavens that Jesus was king of the jews. and we know that He was the one who fulfilled God's promise to Abraham and to David, that from them, the Messiah, the king, would arise. At his triumphal entry, the people of Jerusalem recognized him as the legitimate heir of King David, shouting "Hosanna!" They were echoing Psalm 118:25 (Usually translated "Save us, O Lord"), in which King David makes a similar procession to the temple in Jerusalem. Even Pilate, who pronounced Jesus' death sentence, declared that His only crime was being King of the Jews.

Yet Jesus never took the throne of Israel. And why not? Because he wanted what was behind door number one. The door, in this case, being the veil of death. Had the jews accepted Jesus as king, that would have been the height of His political career. While that would be an awesome thing for any one of us, it would have been a miserable failure for one of HIS potential. By giving up the throne of Israel and allowing Himself to be put to death instead, Jesus became the foundation of the church. And not the church only, but to every believer from Eden to the end of the Millenium. Then, as a reward for His actions, God will eventually turn the entirety of creation over to His Son. Evil will be bound up and cast into Hell. Then Jesus will ascend to the throne to be ruler of everything, everwhere.

The Chinese have a special name for God. "Upper Emperor". This signifies that He is greater in authority than any human ruler, no matter how many shiny buttons are on the king's coat. No matter how many jewels are in the queen's crown. No matter how many votes the president won by.

So take comfort. Jesus is our king. He is the lord of al saints both on Earth and in Heaven. But the day will come when He will wear the crown of Upper Emperor and do for the world what He does for us.

Then, we will be able to sing as current fact what we now sing as a cry of hope yet unfulfilled...

"Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare Him room
and Heaven and nature sing!

Joy to the Earth, the savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy!

He rules the Earth with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of is love!"

This Christmas, my father will be preaching one of our favorite sermons. Because there are those for whom Jesus is still a baby in a manger, his message is "Get Jesus out of the manger!" My challenge to you, saved and unsaved alike, is to get Jesus out of the manger and onto the throne! Not a political throne. That will come in time. But the throne of your heart. Make every effort to follow Jesus on a personal level and make him Lord of your Life. Allow him to do for you the things a king is supposed to do- creating peace, protection, liberty, blessing and life. And then let us give him praise for the wonderful things He does for us.

Pastor Oren Otter
December 2, 2006

Today's reading: Isaiah 9:6,7

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.