Allen Jackson - Appearing Before The Judge - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you again. We're working through this series on how we establish a foundation so that we can flourish in the midst of turmoil. We live in a very unique season in history. Lawlessness is exploding. Violence is exploding. There's economic turmoil. Propaganda is more common than the truth. It's disorienting. Well, from a biblical worldview, we find a foundation that gives us the stability to flourish in the midst of all that turmoil. In this particular session, we're gonna talk a bit about the Jewish people, the debt that we owe as Christ followers to the Jewish people, and how we can stand with them in seeing God's purposes fulfilled in this most unique generation. God is watching over us. You don't have to be afraid. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.
For years, I walked around with that saying, "Lord, I don't want to leave any gift you have for me". And I thought of gifts in terms of gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament. I've done multiple studies, making them all in lists 'cause there are different passages, and trying to understand, I said, "Okay, God, anyone of the... I'm, you know, here". Is that was... I was limited in that, and then I watched God begin to change, open doors in my life, and push me to places I really didn't wanna go, places I didn't wanna stand, in front of groups of people I really didn't want to stand in front of and say things that I've just've been happy not to say, and one day when I was praying, you know, I real, I heard that voice again. "I have gifts for you". I thought, "Oh-ho". "I wouldn't ask if", "I know, it's my gift".
Well, then I understood the responsibility: either you accept the gift and you maximize what the Lord puts in front of you, or you ignore the gift and you have to give an account for that. So all of a sudden, my attitude had to change. Lord, thank you for that gift. I'll take that. God may have put you in an office where you're the only Christian. "I didn't ask for that". No, it's a gift. You may live on a block where there's no other Christian families and neighbors are grumpy and mean. "I didn't ask for that gift". No, God gave it to you. "I didn't want", no kidding, yeah, I got that. See, we've thought of gifts of something that we were looking for, seeking, pursuing, when it occurred to me, I thought, "Oh, Lord, thank you for that". Not to use your talent to do nothing. It's not a good place. I think it's also worth noting the commendation is exactly the same regardless of the amount.
Here's the good news. God knows what you're capable of. I mean, that part about the judgment seat of Christ, this is all under that judgment. Remember everything will be made manifest? God knows what you're capable of. God knows. I'm not right now, but there have been times when I would, I have worked out with coaches when I was in school or trainers later on, you know, and people trying to help you get in, but I've found that if there's some accountability, it changes the whole equation, right? But I have this little habit, just a little personal habit. If you're the one doing that, I'll sandbag. "Is that all you can do"?
Yep, that's all I can do, 'cause I figured in case of an emergency, I ought to have a little reserve. Probably shouldn't tell you that, but I'm guilty of that 'cause I know there's time and places where you wanna have that little extra something something that maybe everybody thought wasn't there, and I like that opportunity, but you can't sandbag the Lord. You can't sandbag him. He knows. And so what we wanna do is do the best with what God has given us. God knows what we're capable of. He says he won't put more on us than we can bear. Remember Mother Teresa said, "Sometimes I wish God didn't have as much confidence in me as he does". It's also worth noting from this parable that laziness, in verse 26, is equated with wickedness.
Now, we don't like to use the word "lazy". We'll use other words on behalf of that: "boundaries". But boundaries are important. They're necessary. You need healthy boundaries, but you can use the language around those just to disguise your laziness. "Amen, Pastor, that's a really good idea". There's one more category in there that I think is worth taking a minute with: the weeping and gnashing of teeth. It says, "Throw that worthless servant outside", in verse 30, "into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". That's a phase that's used in kind of a specific context. For those who are standing close to the things of God, I mean, they're adjacent to them. They're within reach. They're available to them, but because of their choices, they forfeit their opportunity, and when that point of awareness is made evident, the description is that there's weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There's an extraordinary regret. There's a torment that comes. It was so readily available to me, and I just refused. I brought you a passage. It's in Matthew 8. "When Jesus heard this, he was astonished, and he said to those following, 'I tell you the truth. I haven't found anyone in Israel with such great faith.'" He's talking about a Roman centurion, not a priest, not a Sadducee. He's talking about one of the hated Roman soldiers, a leader of Roman soldiers. He said, "I haven't found such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast of Abraham, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven".
They're gonna come over all over the earth to that feast. They're not just gonna be the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. They were keeping the rules. They had the right genetics. They knew the story. They had access to the scriptures, but the people who didn't have those things are going to be invited in, and they're gonna be left on the outside, and their response is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It's a very sobering statement. I don't wanna be in that group. I don't wanna treat the things of God shabbily or lightly or casually or with indifference, ambivalence. It's a fancy word for "indifferent". We will take it or leave it. It will be available when I want it.
If COVID awakened me to anything, is it's I refuse to be indifferent about the privilege of being with God's people. It's a gift, and to be together in a comfortable space, in a convenient space where our children have classrooms and teachers to come in and help them. What a gift. We lost that, and it's been restored to us. We should be thankful for that, and while we're talking about that whole thing around laziness and effort, lot of confusion in our culture today around this. We're entitled to this. 1 Timothy chapter 5, there's two presentations here. They're both on point. "If anyone doesn't provide for his relatives, especially for his immediate family, he's denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever". Wow, I mean, how do you get worse than an unbeliever? That's pretty, that's a low spot.
So we're given an assignment for that. Not always easy. It's not always fair, but then it talks about widows. How many of you heard that we have a responsibility to care for widows and orphans? Me too. I've delivered some rousing messages on the topic. It's biblical. There's some condemnation for those who ignore the widows and the orphans, but did you know there are some responsibility. There's some boundaries put around that? We don't talk about it as often.
Look at verse 9. "No widow may be put on the list of widows unless", just being a widow doesn't mean you get on the list, wow, "unless she's over sixty", and in that particular point in history, that's an exceedingly old person. Not anymore. That's a very young person. "Less she's over sixty", do not laugh, "has been faithful to her husband and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble, and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds".
Really, by means of identifying as a widow didn't qualify you. Your character's involved. Why was that uncomfortable? Again, back in the context of the parable, the choices we make, the character we build, the life we lead creates opportunities for us or separates us from those opportunities. We don't wanna earn our way to heaven. It's a gift. It's an expression of God's grace. It's available to everyone. It has to be received, but once you've received the gift, what do you do with it? We're all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Not a threat. It's a promise. There's nothing you give, serve, yield, invest, or you cooperate that won't be responded to exponentially, so live that way. It's the ultimate open-book test.
The Jewish people have a very unique place in the purposes of God, and in fact, in your notes in John 4:22, it says, "You Samaritans", this is Jesus, "worship what you know, what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews". Without the Jewish people, we have no Messiah. Without the Jewish people, we have no scripture. Without the Jewish people, we have no covenants. Without the Jewish people, we would have no prophets. Without the Jewish people, we wouldn't have hope. We're indebted to the Jewish people. Doesn't mean they're all perfect. It doesn't mean they always do the right thing, but it does mean we're in their debt, and the greatest persecutor of the Jewish people throughout history, without question has not been the Nazis or the Muslims. It's been the Christians.
We're responsible for the death of far more of the Jewish population than any other group. We're not very aware of that part of our history, but I assure you the Jewish people are. I wanna give you one simple example. I wanna give you a couple. The Spanish Inquisition, you ever heard of that, 15th century Spain? They drove the Jews out of Spain, the ones they didn't torture to death. If they wouldn't convert to Christianity, under the threat of torture, they could be expelled.
The Holocaust, from the Jewish perspective, was carried out by the Christians, and you and I will say, "Well, not by good Christians". You'll forgive them if that subtlety is lost upon them. It was Christian Europe, Europe that was filled with churches, Europe that was filled with people who attended church that helped round up and watched either actively or passively while the Jewish people were, the attempt was made to totally eradicate them. They're very aware of that history, and I can give you very many more examples. Salvation is from the Jews, but God will deal with the Jewish people. They'll have to deal, they're going to give an account for their response to the Messiah the same way you and I will. There's a little expression. It's not original with me by any stretch of the imagination, but it's worth tucking in your heart.
It said God blesses the Jewish people directly, but he blesses the Gentiles, "Gentile's" the New Testament word for anybody that's not Jewish. Those are the categories in the New Testament: the Jews and everybody else. He blesses the Jewish people directly, but he blesses the Gentiles through the Jews. God judges the Gentiles directly, but he judges the Jewish people through the Gentiles, and even a casual reading of history would support that. I think I put one passage in your notes on this topic: Joel chapter 3. One of the things God will deal with the Gentile nations for is how they have dealt with the Jewish people. On many occasions here, we've prayed for our nation that we wouldn't make decisions with regard to the nation of Israel, that would bring the judgment of God upon us. It's a very real thing.
In Joel chapter 3, it says, "In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem". I think it's safe to say that we are witnesses to God restoring the fortunes of Jerusalem, okay. He said, "I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and they divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes, and they sold girls for wine that they might drink". There is no human authority that has the right to divide up the land that God has given to the Jewish people, and yet there is enormous effort made by the international community to do exactly that.
We know the modern state of Israel pretty well, but by a stroke of the pen, Winston Churchill took an area in the Middle East, the majority of which was really biblical Israel. He gave 78% of that was identified into a nation that we know today as Jordan. The remaining 22% was divided between the Arabs that were living in the land and the Jews that were living in the land, and until this day, the international community is still squabbling about the land that the Jewish people can have. It's not their decision. It's not their decision. I have a friend that lives in Ma'ale Adumim, or he did live in Ma'ale Adumim. They call it a settlement. It's a town of more than 30.000 people. It's a suburb of Jerusalem, and my friend that lived there said he got up one morning and President George Bush had issued an order that nobody that lived in his neighborhood could add on to their home.
Imagine if President Xi in China said you couldn't add onto your garage or if Putin said, "Nobody in Murfreesboro can put a sun porch on the back of your house". We snicker because we know we wouldn't tolerate such a thing. We'd all be, if we didn't want one, we'd go build one. "What's this"? But it's the attitude of the world, and I believe what God said. He said, "I'm gonna enter into judgment for the way you've treated my people". Tiny Israel, tiny, tiny Israel. I mean, they have the IDF is celebrated, and they have a lot of capabilities, but the truth is Israel cannot defend themselves. They're vulnerable to the nations. They know that. They broker all kinds of deals. They make all kinds of accommodations. They suffer all sorts of humiliations and injustices. They're accused of all kind of things. They're incapable of defending themselves and seeing that they're treated justly in the community of nations, but I promise you that sooner or later, God will see to them. God will see to them.
There's one last judgment, and I'll just tag it. Our time is up. It's Revelation 20. Says, "I saw a great white throne", it's a different seat of judgment. This is different than the judgment seat of Christ. "I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it, and the earth and sky fled from his presence. There was no place for them, and I saw the dead great and small standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books".
See, the resurrection of the dead will be for the believer and unbeliever. "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and the death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them", death and Hades are spirits, not just places, "and each person was judged according to what he had done. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, and the lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire". For those who aren't believers, for those who have rejected the grace of God, refused to accept his mercy, that is the judgment that is awaiting. Why do we make efforts to share our story with people? Why are we willing to share the places within our brokenness we've found the strength of God and the mercy of God, and the grace of God? Because we don't want any person that is in your sphere of influence or in your realm of association to step out of time, into eternity unprepared.
You don't want anybody with whom you are associated. That would be far more, if I knew the bridge was out over the river tonight and you were headed back towards town and I didn't tell you and I let you drive off the bridge into the river, I don't think you would consider me a friend. Well, if we interact with people, if we sit at the ball games with people and we take our kids to the soccer fields or wherever you enter, if you buy gas at the same place or shop in the same grocery store and you're reluctant to let your faith be a part of that or to extend an invitation to them or to share something with them so that the hope you have is something that you can communicate to another person, it's very difficult to argue that we're friends. Judgment's real. It's not a surprise. It's a real thing. It's not a threat. It's a promise. We can be prepared for it, to step into a reward.
Paul said, "I'm looking forward to it. Let's go". In fact, he said, "It's better for me to depart. If I'm gonna hang around here for a while, I can help you". Judgment's not a threat. It's a wonderful promise, but with the awareness of that promise, there should be, there should grow within us a desire to say to other people, "Come be prepared. Come be prepared". So in a season of turmoil and great shaking and quaking and realignment, and you see the things in the world plummeting and we have a hope beyond that. There's a reward beyond that. There's a faithfulness that we're serving and we're striving for something other than this present world order. It'll help you overcome fear and anxiety and worry. There's something better for us. There's a crown of righteousness awaiting us. Hallelujah.
"Well done" was said far more times than "You wicked, lazy servant". Don't focus on the "wicked, lazy" part. Go get in the "well done" line. Amen, I'm done. Stand with me. Just don't ignore it. Just don't ignore it. "Do I have to volunteer"? No, but you can. "Do I have to give my money"? No, but you can. "Do I have to be kind"? No, but you can. "Do I have to forgive"? Yeah, you have to forgive. That's not on the options list, but it'll be rewarded. The way you forgive you'll be forgiven. The way you give will be given back to you. Hallelujah. Don't let the secular system determine your outcomes and your decisions and your choices. You're comparing yourselves to the wrong things.
Father, I pray you'll give us understanding hearts. Those places where we have been deceived or confused or we haven't understood the objective, I pray you'll bring clarity to us. Holy Spirit, you're our teacher. The promise is that you would guide us into all truth, that you would help make known to us what is ours through Jesus's redemptive work, and we ask for that tonight. We come in humility. Deliver us from this present world order. Teach us to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness. May there be a joy in our hearts around the privilege of serving you, worshiping you and yielding to you. Forgive us when we've grumbled and complained. Forgive us for our reluctance and hesitancy. We thank you that you love us. I thank you for the good things you have ahead for us, for the plans you've made for us, for our good and not for our harm. Thank you for your patience with us, and when each of us has spent our strength that we hear you say well done. This we ask in Jesus's name, amen.