A King for the Nations

Steve Viars February 21, 2016 Matthew 2:1-23

→ Click to view the Sermon Outline

Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

3 principles to help you determine your place in loving the world like our great king

I. Thank the Lord for a King Given to the Nations

A. The importance of the Abrahamic covenant

Genesis 12:1-3 - Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 17:4 - “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations.

Genesis 22:18 - “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

B. The surprising figures in the genealogy

1:3 –Tamar – Canaanite

1:5 – Rahab – Canaanite

1:5 – Ruth – Moabite

C. In view of the purpose of this gospel

“Matthew crafted his account to demonstrate Jesus’ messianic identity, his inheritance of the Davidic kingship over Israel, and his fulfillment of the promise made to his ancestor Abraham (Matt. 1:1) to be a blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:1-3). Thus in large part Matthew’s Gospel is an evangelistic tool aimed at his fellow Jews, persuading them to recognize Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. At the same time, the Gospel reveals clearly to Gentiles that salvation through Jesus the Messiah is available to all nations. For Jewish Christians, Matthew’s Gospel provides encouragement to stand steadfast amid opposition from their own countrymen, as well as Gentile pagans, secure in the knowledge of their citizenship in God’s kingdom. Against the backdrop of such opposition to Jesus’ message, Matthew establishes the identity of Christ’s church as the true people of God, who now find their unity in service to Jesus despite previous racial, class, and religious barriers. His Gospel provides necessary instruction for all future disciples, Jew and Gentile, who form a new community centered upon devotion and obedience to Jesus the Messiah amid significant opposition. Many scholars have suggested that the prominent church in Antioch of Syria, whose members included both Jewish and Gentile Christians (cf. Acts 11:19–26; 13:1–3), was the intended audience of Matthew’s Gospel. They point to the Gospel’s influence on Ignatius, an early bishop of Antioch. At the same time, Matthew’s message spoke to all of the fledgling churches of his day, and the Gospel appears to have circulated rapidly and widely.” Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible - Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008 – p. 1816

II. Be Amazed at the Way Scripture Finds its Fulfillment in Our Great King

A. The specific prophecies mentioned in chapter 2

1. v. 5-6 - Jesus’ birthplace

Matthew 2:56 - They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Matthew 2:2 - “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

2. v. 14-15 - Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt

Matthew 2:14-15 - So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

3. v. 17-18 - The mourning because of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents

Matthew 2:17-18 - Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.”

4. v. 22-23 - Joseph taking the family to Nazareth

Matthew 2:22-23 - But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Isaiah 60:1-3 - Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

B. The larger biblical themes

“Matthew did more than simple proof texting in his use of the OT.  He synthesized previous redemptive history in his attempts to present Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of OT revelation and history.  Michael Knowles states, “Matthew sees in Jesus the fulfillment not just of specific texts but also of historical resonances of type to antitype. Not just the texts themselves but larger thematic and historical patterns suggested by them come to fruition and fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.” Aucoin, p. 18

“The good news confronts us with the reality that heart-changing help will only be found in the Man, Christ Jesus. We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change. This is what separates believer from our culture’s psychology. Because it has fundamentally turned its back on the Lord, the world can only offer people come kind of system. It reduces hope to a set of observations, a collection of insights, or steps in a process. We, on the other hand, meet people and gently and joyfully turn them to the Man, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of personal ministry. But our inclination to replace the King with a thing does not die easily. It rears its ugly head even when we search for answers in Scripture. We approach the Bible with a “where can I find a verse on ____” mentality. We forget that the only hope the principles offer rests on the Person, Jesus Christ. And we forget that the Bible is not an encyclopedia, but a story of God’s plan to rescue hopeless and helpless humanity. It’s a story about people who are rescued from their own self-sufficiency and wisdom and transported to a kingdom where Jesus is central and true hope is alive. We cannot treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change. If a system could give us what we need, Jesus would never have come. But he came because what was wrong with us could not be fixed any other way. He is the only answer, so we must never offer a message that is less than the good news. We don’t offer people a system; we point them to a Redeemer. He is hope.” Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, pp. 8-9

III. Examine the Various Responses to the King

Matthew 2:1-2 - Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

A. Indifference on the part of the chief priests and scribes

Matthew 2:3-5 - When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

Matthew 6:10 - Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

B. Hostility on the part of Herod

C. Worship on the part of the wise men

Matthew 2:10-11 - When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

“…the gifts of the magi are not given by way of assistance or need-meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages. Nor are these gifts meant to be bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17 says that God takes no bribe. Well, what then do they mean? How are they worship? The gifts are intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way that fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it’s a way of saying, “The joy that I pursue (verse 10!) is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things, but for yourself. And this desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things, in the hope of enjoying you more, not things. By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.’ ” I think that’s what it means to worship God with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And so may God take the truth of this text and waken in us a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart, “Lord Jesus you are the Messiah, the King of Israel. All nations will come and bow down before you. God wields the world to see that you are worshiped. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you, and bring my gifts to say that you alone can satisfy my heart, not these.” Sermons from John Piper, 1990–1999, Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007 “We Have Come to Worship Him.” Sermon preached in December 21, 1997, Minneapolis.

1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 - …you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.

Manuscript

Our annual theme this year is, Loving our World. I appreciate the many comments I've received about how helpful and challenging these various passages we've studied from God's word have already been to us. It might be recognized that somewhere along the line there is a fundamental question in the hearts of many in our church family that really needs to be addressed in order for these truths to be of maximum benefit to us this year. That is, how does all of this apply to the average person in our congregation in loving our world.

Without a doubt it's a reason for great celebration that the Lord loves the nations. We agree with that. He's certainly doing tremendous things in countries and cultures around the world but what's my place in that? I think many in our church family would have reason to ask, "Well, what does loving the world look like when I'm on the way to the factory every day? How do I participate in this emphasis practically and personally in between changing the ninth and tenth dirty diaper that I'm going to change today? Loving our world, really. What does this look like when I'm at the lab, working on my degree."

I honestly believe, there are many men and women here who are carefully thinking about some variation of that question. I'll just tell you, your pastor's love the fact that that's true. The average person who comes here doesn't show up and just put in their time and then walk away unchanged. We would say with the Psalm, if your lamp is to my feet, mine, right now. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. You realize that's an everyday thing right? That's a Holy Spirit please help me apply this biblical truth specifically and practically to my life situation right now kind of thing.

Today we have a passage that provides a marvelous opportunity to have that discussion. I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time. With that, might open your Bible to Matthew chapter two. That's on page one, of the back section of the bible in the chair in front of you. So, Matthew chapter two, or page one of the back section of those Bibles in the chairs. They reset the page numbers in the New Testament, so turn to the back section, the New Testament, to page one and that will get you to Matthew, chapter two.

We're beginning a brand new series today that's going to take us right through to Easter Sunday. If you've checked your calendar, you know that Easter comes fairly early this year. March chapter ... I said that in the previous service. March twenty seventh ... I don't know why I have that in my brain. Between now and Easter we want to focus on Jesus and the nations. Jesus and the nations. This is going to be a survey of several key passages in the Gospel of Matthew that connect the key teachings of the life and ministry of Christ with God's overall plan to glorify himself by redeeming men and women from every tribe. You're glad for that right? Every tongue, every nation.

We also have some special things planned between now and Easter. For example, Lord willing, next Sunday morning, we'll actually be observing the Lord's table together as part of our study. That will help us be just like the wise men. That comment will make a little bit more sense a few minutes from now. I'm also glad to tell you that our friend, Dr Charles Weir, is going to be speaking hear on March the thirteenth. He's going to be talking to us about racial reconciliation where loving our world fits into that topic. I can't think of a more relevant conversation to have given all that's been going on in this town in the last month. Frankly, anytime Dr. Weir is in the house it's going to be a good day. That's March thirteenth. I want to encourage you to especially invite friends and coworkers and neighbors to that special service for sure.

We’re going to be looking particularly at Matthew chapter two, today. You might want to just glance over chapter one to be sure we have the context for a minute. You may remember we studied the genealogy or the birth line of Christ back at Christmas time. We were talking about that as it alludes to the matter of grace. The four of the five women who are actually mentioned in the line of Christ. What I'm talking about right now ought to be somewhat familiar. I don't have to say a whole lot about it. If you look at that genealogy, you see in verse one of Matthew one, David and Abraham prominently listed. Then the genealogy goes, if you survey the chapter all the way through verse seventeen. Then have after that, you have the announcement to Joseph by an angel in the later part of the chapter, focused especially on the virgin birth or maybe or more accurately, the virgin conception and it's connection to specific Old Testament prophecy.

Sense Matthew's writing to a Jewish audience to present Jesus as the promised Messiah of Israel, that would all make sense. You have an extended genealogy. You have an event but it's especially focused on a fulfilled prophesy, all that would make sense. One question you might have as you leave that chapter would be, "Well, how are the various people in the nation of Israel going to respond to this news about Christ? What are they do with this?" Secondly, "Where do the other nations fit into this conversation?"

Well all of that's going to be answered specifically and surprisingly in Matthew chapter two. Please follow along as I read Matthew two beginning at verse one:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea the days of Herod the king, Magi from the east, the wise men arrived in Jerusalem saying, "Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?" For we saw a star in the east and have come to worship him. When Herod, the so called king, heard this, he was troubled in all of Jerusalem with him, gathering together all the chief priests. This is the third group of people in the story. And he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet. Here is the first of four prophecies in this chapter.

You, Bethlehem, land of Judea by no means least among the leaders of Judea, for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people, Israel. Then Herod secretly call the Magi, and determined from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said go and search carefully for the child and when you've found him report to me so that I may come an worship him too. Liar. After hearing the king, they went their way and the star which they had seen in the east went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, please notice that. After coming into the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother and they fell to the ground and worshiped him.

Unlike the chief priest, unlike Herod. They fell to the ground and worshiped him. Then opening their treasures they presented him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Having been warned by God in a dream, not to return to Herod, the Magi left for their own country by another way.

Now when they had gone, verse thirteen, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said. Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him. Joseph got up and took the child and his mother, while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord, through the prophet out of Egypt that I call my son. For anybody who is worried, now how are those two prophecies going to come together. Well they just did, verse sixteen.

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi, he became very enraged. He sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity from two years old and under. You realize some people have no value of the sanctity of human life. According to the time which he had determined from the Magi, then would have been spoken now through a third prophet. Through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled the voice was heard in Ramah weeping in great mourning. Rachael weeping for her children and she refused to be comforted because they were no more.

But when Herod died, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Egypt and said, get up, take the child and his mother and go into the land Israel. For those who sought the child's life are dead. So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother and came into the land of Israel. The way Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophets. This is the fourth fulfilled prophecy in this text. He shall be called a Nazarene.

We're talking this morning about how a king is born for the nations. Every one of those words is very, very important for what we're talking about this morning. A king. Born. For the nations. With the time we have remaining let's look for three principles to help you determine your place in loving the world like our great king!

Whether you're heading off to the factory, whether you're changing dirty diapers, whether you're doing research in the lab. Three principles to help you determine your place in loving the world just like our great king. First of all, thank the Lord for a King given to the nations.

I. Thank the Lord for a King Given to the Nations

It's not surprising that we would read about Abraham at the very beginning of Matthews genealogy in chapter one. It's always important for us to remember the critical nature of the Abrahamic covenant. Some people and concepts are just foundational to understanding the overall message of the Bible. Abraham and the covenant God made to him certainly fall into that category. I'm sure if I asked anybody here to just stand up and give the three provisions of the Abrahamic covenant, anybody could do that, from either faith west, faith east, Boom you could do that right?. Three provisions of the Abrahamic covenant.

In fact I would like to do it together, want to. Let's say it together. I'd like to hear it from faith west. I want to hear if from faith east, simultaneously. The three provisions of the Abrahamic covenant are: land and seed and blessing. Isn't that marvelous, just music to our ears. Well think about that last one for a moment. That's very important. Blessing to whom? Blessing to whom, well blessing to all the nations. Don't forget that. Even in Genesis twelve when this promise began, now the Lord said to Abraham, go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you and I'll make you, here it is, a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great, so you shall be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you. The ones who curse you I will curse. And in you, oh, here it is, all the families of the earth will be a blessing.

Even more clearly in Genesis seventeen, four: As for me, behold, my covenant is with you and you will be a father of a multitude of nations. Then in Genesis twenty two, eighteen: in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you obeyed my voice.

That's just a quick survey. In fact, if you're thinking, "Hey what have I got to do this afternoon? There's no football games on." Well, here's an idea. Maybe a little assignment. Chase around the word "nations" in your Bible. Pull out a concordance and just find all of the uses of the word nations and survey them. It comes up all over the Old Testament. Clearly, here's the point of that. The seed of Abraham. The person that Matthew affirms as the Lord Jesus Christ, was given to be a blessing to the nations. I'm hoping that one of the responses to our study this morning is just a genuine heart of thanksgiving that God cared about and God still cares about the people of the world in this way.

You also see this emphasis in the surprising figures in the genealogy. Again, we hit this at Christmas time so I just need to mention it quickly right now. Even in a book like Matthew, written to a Jewish audience, emphasizing Christ's place as their promised messiah. The theme of him being a blessing to all the nations is never far away. In fact, you could make the argument that because of the women who are specifically named, that theme is actually given strong emphasis even in chapter one. You have the mention of Tamar, who was a Canaanite, along with a lot of other things. She is mentioned in the line of Christ. Then Rahab, who also was a Canaanite, a Gentile along with a lot of other surprising things. The mention of Ruth, who was a Moabite.

I'm simply saying this matter of the king being given to all the nations, by a God who loves the world is never far away from Matthew's mind. We should also mention this in view of the purpose of the Gospel. Sense we're going to be in the Gospel of Matthew now for several weeks, let me just read a quote from the introduction of the Gospel of Matthew in the English Standard Bible. This is actually going to summarize this a lot faster than I think I could. Pay attention carefully if you would to help us understand this book. This writer says:

Matthew crafted his account to demonstrate Jesus's messianic identity, his inheritance of the Davidic kingship over Israel and his fulfillment of the promise made to his ancestor Abraham to be a blessing to what? To all the nations. Thus in large part Matthew's Gospel is an evangelistic tool aimed at his fellow Jews persuading them to recognize Jesus as their long awaited messiah. At the same time the Gospel reveals, clearly to Gentiles, that salvation through Jesus the messiah, is available to all nations. There it is. For Jewish Christians, Matthews Gospel provides encouragement to stand steadfast in the opposition from their own countrymen as well as Gentile pagan, secure in the knowledge of their citizenship in God's kingdom.

Against the backdrop of such opposition to Jesus's message, Matthew establishes the identity of Christ's church, there it is, as the true people of God, who now find their unity in service to Jesus, despite previous racial class and religious barriers. It doesn't matter what nation you're from. This Gospel provides necessary instruction for all future disciples, Jew and Gentile, who form a new community centered upon devotion and obedience to Jesus the Messiah amid significant opposition. Many scholars have suggested that the prominent church in Antioch of Syria who's members included both Jewish and Gentile Christians was the intended audience of this Gospel.

They point to the Gospel's influence on Ignatius, an early bishop of Antioch. At the same time, Matthew's message spoke to all the fledgling churches. People like us, of this day and the Gospel appears to have circulated rapidly and widely. That was a lot. The point is this. Even the story of Christmas ... I realize where we are in the Bible right now we usually get to around Christmas time. Even this has a strong emphasis on God's love for the nations. I realize we haven't answered our introductory question yet. What does that actually mean to me with the diapers, I understand that. It does say this, it tells us how important that question is.

How do we still love the world? Now think about where we are. Think about chapter two and what's remaining. What are the two emphases? Well, there were those four very specific prophecies that are mentioned in the text. There's also very three distinct ways people responded to the news of the kings birth. Let’s just take them in that order and try to find an answer to the question that we started with this morning. If anybody from any nation at any time would ask, "Why should I believe in and why should I bow my knee to Christ as my King?" Well, this chapter provides a really strong answer. It's be amazed at the way scripture finds its fulfillment in Christ.

II. Be Amazed at the Way Scripture Finds its Fulfillment in Our Great King

Every person from every nation. You say, "Would that include me?" Yeah, yeah. It has to do business with this issue. It's the overwhelming evidence of fulfilled prophecy. When we talk about submitting ourselves to Christ as King. We're not talking about believing in some fairy tale. The deal with fulfilled prophecy, like the four that are mentioned in chapter two, there is for example, Jesus's birthplace. When Herod asks where the Messiah is supposed to be born. Which by the way is a rather interesting question, that he wouldn't know already. He was half Jewish, which shows that some political leaders act religious when it suits them.

Matthew two, five, he said to him in Bethlehem of Judea. For this is what has been written by the prophet. You, Bethlehem land of Judea, are by no means least among the leaders of Judea, for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people, Israel. He's going to be born in Bethlehem. That's why the wise men emphasize the issue of where the Messiah was to be born. Don't miss that. Born. That was their question. Where was he who was to be born king. Not elected king. Not made king. Born king of the Jews. We saw his star on the east and have come to worship him.

See, there were all sorts of people in that culture claiming to be a Messiah of some kind. As an adult it would be quite easy to get ahold of some religious documents or prophecies and then act like you were fulfilling those. You can't play that game with the place you're born, right? You don't have a whole lot of control over that. It'd be like me bragging about how special I am because I was born in Gary. It's special, no question about that, but I didn't have a whole lot of control over that actually occurring in that place.

He was born there. Combine that with the fact, that Bethlehem was so small. See the odds are not very high that that's going to happen. Remember, the only reason Mary and Joseph were there to begin with was because of a God ordained census. The fact that Micah the prophet uttered that prophecy in the eighth century BC, and it came to pass perfectly ought to take our breath away. Regardless of what nation you’re from.

Matthew talks about Joseph and Mary's flight to Egypt. Verse fourteen: so Joseph got up and took the child and his mother while it was still night and left for Egypt to remain there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet. Out of Egypt, I will call my Son. That's a specific prophesy from Hosea, chapter eleven. Buy the way, that illustrates why people like you and me can have great confidence in the promises that are in the Bible that are yet to be fulfilled. You look at these two and say, how in the world could that happen! How in the world, on one hand could the Messiah be born in Bethlehem and on the other hand he's called out of Egypt. How in the world do you possibly put those two things together.

Just sit back and believe. If God says he wants his Son to come out of Egypt even if he said somewhere else he's going to be born in Bethlehem. When the dust settles, that's exactly what's going to happen. Which means, if you're latching on to, your rock is based on promises in the word of God that have been yet to be fulfilled, you have chosen a very wise rock.

There is this sad issue of the morning because of Herod's slaughter of the innocence. Matthew reminds his readers that Jeremiah talked about that. That would have been spoken through Jeremiah, the prophet. A voice was heard in Ramah weeping in great mourning. Rachael weeping for her children and she refused to be comforted because they were no more. Now you've got Micah, and Hosea and Jeremiah, and at the end of the chapter, Joseph taking the family to Nazareth.

By the way, Matthew doesn't even exactly say which prophesy he's thinking about there. It might have been Isaiah chapter eleven we're not sure. We know this. It was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets he shall be a Nazarene. Now I hope this part of the emphasis is coming through loud and clear. The evidence for Jesus truly being the nations rightful king is overwhelming. Note the word "nations" plural. The evidence for Jesus being the nations rightful king is overwhelming.

You just might also have this passage rattling around right now, it's beautiful text, Isaiah sixty: Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples but the Lord will rise upon you His glory will appear upon you. And what will happen? Nations, there it is, God loves the nations, Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness to your rising. God accomplishes that in many ways including through the bright light of fulfilled prophesy.

In fact, do you know how many specific Old Testament prophesies are fulfilled by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? Three hundred and thirty. We've talked about four so far so we've got to get busy, right? Number five ... I hope you don't have lunch in the oven ... just think about that. For those mathematicians among us, what is the mathematical probability of that being fulfilled coincidentally. That's why if you're here this morning and you've never trusted Christ as Savior and Lord, do you realize what just happened to you? You know those few lame excuses that you've been using to not become a follower of Christ? Welcome to you were just steamrolled with fulfilled prophesy. My question for you is, and I don't mean it in some kind of adversarial way of course. My question for you is what are you going to do with that?

They're facts. They're facts. If you take the time to study them, they are clear facts. That's part of the grace of God. He's not asking you to believe in a myth. He's not asking you to believe in a fairy tale, nor is he asking you to define your raw, shifting sand of emotions. He's giving you fulfilled prophesy as absolute fact. I would encourage you if you don't know, that you know, that you know that you're on your way to heaven, to run not walk to the cross. Embrace the Savior that whom these prophesies are concerning.

There's also the issue of the larger biblical themes here. Our own Dr. Brent Oakland dealt with this in his PhD dissertation. I know some of you have been busy with other things, you haven't read Brent's dissertation recently. What were you thinking? The question of different kinds of fulfilled prophesy, how New Testament events actually fulfill those predictions, that's a lot more detail than I'm addressing right now. Let me just quote from some of his research for a minute. If you want to talk with him about this more, he would be more than happy to do that.

He's talking in this section of his paper about Christ being presented as the ideal Israel, or Isaiah's ideal servant, or the righteous son that Israel could never be. In other words, what they failed to be as a nation, Christ was as a son. He said this, he said Matthew did more than simple proof texting in his use of the Old Testament. He synthesized previous redemptive history in his attempts to present Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of Old Testament revelation and history. Then quoting Michael Knowles, Matthew sees in Jesus the fulfillment of not just specific texts, but also of historical residences of type anti-type. Not the texts themselves but larger thematic and historical patterns suggested by them, come to fruition and fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.

A lot more to that, but the point for our purposes this morning is this. Matthew wasn't wanting his readers or the nations to simply fall in love with and submit themselves to a whole list of principles or proof texts. Instead, with a Messiah and Savior who was their rightful king, to whom those prophecies pointed.

I kind of took a swipe at that last week when we emphasized that while we love the Bible, and we do don't we? It's not an end in itself. The Bible is not the fourth member of the Trinity. We say that because we don't want to fall in the trap of just substituting one system of change, namely a secular one, for a different system of change namely a religious one. Paul made that point in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands. Here's how he said that.

He said the good news, confronts us with the reality that, hard changing help will only be found in the man, Christ Jesus. We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer, is that right? A person to whom all of this points. In his power we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope for us in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change. This is what separates the believer from our culture of psychology.

Listen to this carefully. Because it has fundamentally turned its back on the Lord, the world can only offer people some kind of system. It reduces hope to a set of observations, a collection of insights or steps in a process that we, on the other hand, meet people and gently and joyfully turn them and ourselves to the man, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of personal ministry. But, I wish there wasn't a but in this but there is. Our inclination to replace the king with a thing does not die easily. It rears its ugly head even we search for answers in scripture. Really? We approach the Bible with a, "where can I find a verse on blank" mentality. We forget that the only hope the principles offer rest on the person Jesus Christ. We forget that the Bible is not an encyclopedia but a story of God's plan to rescue hopeless and helpless humanity.

It's a story about people who are rescued from their own self sufficiency and wisdom, and transported to a kingdom where Jesus is central and true hope is alive. We can't treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change. If a system could give us what we need, Jesus would have never come. But he came because what was wrong with us could not be fixed any other way. He's the only answer so we must never offer a message that is less than the Good News.

I'm not sure I got all that, this sentence summarizes it. We don't offer people a system. We point them to a Redeemer. What I'm saying is, what is being offered in Matthew's Gospel to the nations was not a religious system. It wasn't a set of regulations or duties. It was a person. It was a Emmanuel. God with us. The fulfillment of hundreds of prophesies for all the nations to see. The culmination. He was. He is the culmination of all of redemptive history.

Then the question becomes, what are the various responses? What should I do with all of this.

III. Examine the Various Responses to the King

Well, in our story there are three. The facts are clear enough. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem. Where is he who has been born King of the Jews. We saw his star in the east and we have come to worship him.

You realize that just screams the very message we're talking about this morning, that God loves the nations. The Magi are the ones who receive this news. They wouldn't have had direct access to all the prophesies the people of Israel had been given. God wanted them to be blessed too. You hear that? God wanted them to be blessed too. This is the Abrahamic covenant with skin on it. This is the Abrahamic covenant on display in the night sky, through the star. This is the Abrahamic covenant in an animal's feeding trough. The manger.

What would you have expected to read next? The answer is everybody involved, chief priests, scribes, Herod, wise men. Everybody hightailed it to Bethlehem to share in the blessing of God to the nation. Right? That's not exactly what happened. There was indifference on the part of the chief priests and the scribes. From all appearances, by the way, they knew the answer to Herod's question without even looking it up. I don't know that for sure but the text said, when Herod the king heard this, that is their question, he was troubled. All of Jerusalem with him, gathering together the chief priests and the scribes and the people. He inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said, in Bethlehem of Judea.

If they knew that, then why wouldn't they also say, and by the way we have one of our guys stationed there. We have for hundreds of years, and as soon as anything unusual happens there, he's going to send us a text. That's probably a stretch. That is probably a stretch I realize, but now they have the news. Now they have the news, don't you think a few of them would have wanted to make the journey? Do you know how far it was from Jerusalem to Bethlehem? Five to six miles. We're talking about a stinking ten K here. They could have jogged the thing in less than an hour. Here's the point, there were people everywhere who had responded to the news of Jesus with indifference.

Some of them will be sitting in church houses today. They're not moved by what I'm talking about at all, and here this. They will never be able to love their world. They'll never be able to have the impact on the world that God desires because of their indifference to the King. You're never going to find them praying things like, "Your kingdom come!" Instruction in just a few chapters from the one we're reading this morning. "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." I'm saying people who are indifferent to the King are never going to make a difference in the King's world.

If what we're talking about this morning with all of these fulfilled prophesies, finding ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. If that doesn't light your wood, then your wood is wet. If there's not a fire in your heart over the fact that God has put scripture together in this way, the problem isn't, he didn't give you enough evidence. The problem is you have been like the chief priests and the scribes. Oh, there was hostility on the part of Herod. Herod already had a king, and it was himself. That's why a number of people in America will certainly not ever come to Christ. They already have a king, thank you very much, and it's them. They have zero interest in submitting themselves to a king, they have zero interest in acknowledging they're need of a savior.

What's especially scandalous is in both of these categories, the chief priests and Herod, they were the ones who were closest to all of the prophesies. Don't confuse, I've heard the truth or I've been around the truth, where I've been personally impacted by the truth.

This whole story is counter intuitive. You would have expected the people who were furthest away from the truth to respond with the greatest indifference and vice versa. The polar opposite actually occurred. Star gazers embraced what students of the scripture didn't. That's a frightening possibility for every last one of us. Especially those of us who've been around the Bible for a long, long time.

Well what I want us to especially focus on, especially if we're going to answer this original question we posed, was the worship on the part of the wise men. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. That's what they did! After coming into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell to the ground and they worshiped him. Then opening their treasures, they presented him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

I love what John [Piper 00:34:18] said about their gift. He said, the gifts of the Magi are not given by way of assistance or need meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care packages. Nor were these gifts meant to be bribes. Deuteronomy ten, seventeen says that God takes no bribe. Then what do they mean, how were they worship. The gifts were intensifiers of desire for Christ himself much the same way fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it's a way of saying, the joy that I pursue is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I've not come to you for your things but for yourself. This desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things in the hope of enjoying you more, not things. By giving to you what you do not need and what I might enjoy I'm saying more earnestly and more authentically, you are my treasure, not these things. I think that's what it means. [Piper 00:35:13] says to worship God with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

May God take the truth of this text and waken in us, a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart, Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the King of Israel. All nations, there it is, will come and bow down before you. God wields the world to see that you are worshiped. Therefore whatever opposition I may find I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you and bring my gifts to say that you alone can satisfy my heart, not these.

How does all this answer the question that we originally posed? Well, when you choose to progressively live a joyfully worshipful lifestyle, just think about that, be like the wise men. When you choose to progressively live a joyfully worshipful lifestyle in whatever setting the Lord has placed you today, as a purposeful fulfillment of the purposes of the Abrahamic covenant, you can potentially have an impact on your world a powerful as these wise men.

I must say, that was a mouthful. That was a mouthful. Let me mention just three specific ways that's true. One is in the power of your prayers. That's part of the beauty of this being a personal relationship with a living Savior. You can exercise it anywhere at any time. For example, you're driving to work at the factory. Maybe a lot of people in this town are still asleep. Well, there's nothing stopping you from pausing and praying for Seth and Darla [Curtis 00:36:49] serving in the Congo as you drive. Focusing your heart on what's happening at another part of the world. Especially if you have taken the time to read their update so you can pray meaningfully and intelligently, rejoicing in what God is doing in that nation, you're like wise men.

See, what's more important. Seth and Darla serving there or you faithfully praying for Seth and Darla while they serve there. The answer is, they're both important. You are loving your world, you're loving the nations when you do that and you don't even have to leave the county.

Or this, the impact of your changed and changing life. I realize you might say, "Look, I seldom get out of Indiana. What impact am I going to have on this great big world?" Can I encourage you not to minimize the value and importance of living faithfully for the King, and how God may use that in places you'll never go.

In the scripture, God uses churches to be an encouragement and a help and a model to other churches. Did you know that? Like for example, in First Thessalonians, one, seven. Speaking to that great church you became an example. Whether you wanted to or not, that's not the point, you did become an example to all the believers in Macedonia, and in Achaia. The word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only there but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth so that we may have no need to say anything. Nobody around this church ever asked to be a leader in anything. In fact pastor Goode and Dr. Smith used to regularly say, we're just going to work on the depth of our ministry. We'll trust God for the breadth while we've tried to do our part, all be it imperfectly. The Lord has certainly done his.

Do your realize what happens in this church? This church, Tippecanoe County, Lafayette, Indiana is talked about in places I would have never believed. Not to our glory but to the Kings. It's amazing how many times I go to a different country and people say to me something like the news of what is happening in Faith Church in Lafayette has already reached us. That's why we asked you to come and talk to us about it more. When you say, "I'm going to let my worship of the King cause me to do my research with excellence today, if that's what I'm called upon to do." Or to, "Practice the highest standards of ethics in my accounting work, if that's what God has called upon me to do." You're wise men like approached to your task today could cause somebody else on the other side of the world to kneel right next to you and worship the King. You may never meet that person this side of eternity, but please don't ever minimize the impact that our King can have through you.

That's why I was so glad to read a Facebook post this morning from pastor Johnny Kjaer who is talking about sixty one of our teenagers who have already signed up to go on one of our mission trips this summer. One of those trips to Albania. People in Albania asked us to send some teenagers there. Can you believe that? So that's that group. Also a series of mission trips in downtown Lafayette. They're taking Vacation Bible School to the city. What's happening there? There's teenagers loving the world. There's teenagers who care about the nations just like our God who loves the nations.

One more is the significance of your service. When you say I love serving my King and I love my life being used by my King, it's amazing the impact that can have. We had a director of a camp here in the US, who was here for our conference a couple of weeks ago who said to one of our moms, "I love it when teenagers or young adults from faith come here. When they come to camp or they come and work here, there's just a difference there that helps us accomplish-" Do you see what's happening? Teenagers making a difference in the world. I cannot tell you how many countries I go to where pastors say to me, "I just can't get the people here to serve!" For me just to say, in praise to our King, my, my oh my. The people of Faith, they love to serve, they absolutely love to serve in all sorts of ways. We're able to accomplish what we accomplish because of that. You see what that says? There's people who love their King, and in turn have a great impact on their world.

Let's stand together for prayer, shall we. Father in heaven I do pray for those who might be here this morning who have never placed their faith and trust in Christ. I pray that right now they would do that. For many reasons. For the joy of knowing you personally, but also on reliable power of fulfilled prophesy. I pray for others who may be struggling with some sort of a trial right now and just feel they're in a hurricane. Lord I pray they grab on to the post of fulfilled promises pointing to a marvelous Savior. I pray that they will be able to find the rock, to find stability in this time of trial. Lord I pray for that mom that's faithfully changing those diapers but with joy in her heart because of her knowledge of the King. I pray for all of us that we would never, ever minimize the way that you can use someone who is functioning like one of the wise men. Lord, wherever we find ourselves I pray that we would joyfully worship our King. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video