Allen Jackson - The Eyes of a Prophet
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It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is "The Eyes of a Prophet". You know, in the Hebrew Bible, there were three offices that God put in place. The king, it's an administrative role, the priest who represent the people to God. You brought your offerings to the priest, they presented them to God on your behalf, and then the office of the prophet. The prophet was God's perspective upon the people. The prophets weren't so much future tellers, is they were helping the people understand God's attitude towards their world and themselves. I would submit to you we desperately need to live with the eyes of a prophet. Grab your Bible and a notepad, ask God for an understanding heart, I trust he has something for us today.
So I wanna ask you a question, it's a rhetorical question I don't want you to answer, but you can reflect on it certainly far beyond the time we have in this session. What do you know about this present order? The present world order, biblically, what could you say about it? When I started to answer that question, I started filling pages with scriptures and I knew it was beyond the scope of what we could do. But the Bible has a great deal to say about this current world order and particularly the current season we're in. Matthew chapter 24, many of you know it's Jesus's most lengthy prophetic discourse, I just gave you one verse, he said, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places".
In the language of the New Testament, when he said literally is there'll be both national conflict and escalating ethnic conflict. So what's one thing we can count on in this present world order? There's gonna be increasing conflict between people, groups, and nations. So when I hear people yammering on about how we're a global community, and we're all gonna work together, God said something else will happen. I know there's a world leader coming, but the only person that's gonna unify this place before the prince of peace comes, is the antichrist. You need to pay attention, you need to think, you need to look at the world through your biblical filter.
Don't just look through your naive glasses. Jesus said not only that, but he said there would be disruptive disasters that would continue. He said, this isn't the end, he said this is just the beginning the end is yet to come. But he said, these things will increase, there will be increasingly disruptive disasters. Isn't that happy news? Romans 1 gives us a little different perspective, but it's a description of this present order. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and the wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness". And he's gonna describe a downward progression of human character. "Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse".
Every human being knows there's a God. I know some deny it, and some prefer to talk around it, and some prefer not to acknowledge it, and some pretend to be too intellectually sophisticated to believe in a creator. God said, everybody knows there's a God. "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. And although they claimed to be wise, they became fools". If you, if you looked for kind of a description of what we're watching through the windows of our lives these days, that's pretty close. Talks about the godlessness and the wickedness of men, the suppression of the truth.
Did you know that when you refuse to acknowledge the truth that you side with wickedness? Please don't practice that. There's consequences for standing for the truth, I understand that, but it's worth it. It says that a revelation of God is plain to all. That everybody has had a revelation of God. Now we'll be responsible for the revelation that we have. If you speak English, you have access to more information about God than in any people group that have ever lived. There'll be a higher standard of expectation for us. It says that we're aware of God, but we refuse to glorify him. We refuse to give glory to him and honor to him, we wanna act as if we can solve our problems. I hear these discussions so frequently that we're going to solve global problems. The hubris, that's a fancy word for saying you're just arrogant and uppity.
Folks, we've been here for millennia. If we're good enough to solve the problems, what have we been doing? There is no solution for humanity apart from the prince of peace and the redemptive work of the cross and the transformation that comes to our hearts. The church has a message that the world desperately needs. And I hear these discussions and the arrogance with which they deliver their pronouncements, and they're willingness to crush anyone who gets in their way. It's not a spirit that you wanna entrust your future to. We're aware of God, but we refuse to give glory to him or even to be thankful to him. And then God says because of that, he hands us over to something. Futility is the word that's used. They become futile, which means your effort doesn't bear fruit. Lots of effort, lot of expenditure, lot of energy, lots of resources, but fruitlessness. Futility, foolishness, and limited awareness, the phrase is, "Their foolish hearts were darkened".
When you're in the dark, your awareness is significantly diminished. Things are not clear to you, that are very clear when the light is up. And when you refuse to glorify God or to be thankful, that is the downward progression. There's a futility that comes to your life, you behave in ways that are foolish to people that can see with clarity, and you have increasingly limited awareness. And their last expression of that downward progression is that they'll claim to be wise, while they act in the most absurd ways. You are watching that happen. To the point it's the theater of the absurd on a daily basis. And people with letters after their names and great influence and great power and celebrity are saying these things to you as if it's the expression of wisdom, and they've stepped so far away from God refusing to glorify him or to be thankful to him. I thought I would just, the examples are so abundant.
One of the lines that we have heard for decades, and this is not about current parties, your politicians, folks, this is much deeper. This has been happening to us for a season now long time. The difference in our attitude towards first responders in 911 and today is staggering to me. If you had told us the week after 911, we would have the attitude that's currently in vogue, it was impossible. There's another line that's been repeated over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, for years now, and it's men and women are the same. We're just the same. We look at our daughters and say, "You can do anything that anyone else can do". We have hammered that into their minds, and their hearts, and their soul, and their spirit. "You can just do anything". "Well, I wanna play football with the boy". "You can do it".
Last few days Kathy and I have had an opportunity a couple times to watch a little bit of the tennis tournament in New York, US Open. Wow! I didn't think of myself as a couch potato, but when I watched them, I clearly am. And we watched a bit of the men's bracket and the women's bracket, they're both entertaining, they both demonstrate tremendous talent, incredible athletic ability. But it's very apparent, they're different. They're different in the rules, what's necessary to win the match, in the requirements. There are measurable differences in their play. One's not better, one's not less, they're just different. If they're not different, why do we need a men's bracket and the women's bracket? Let's just play tennis. But we watched that and we can't process the statement that we've been pounding into the heads of our kids. No wonder they're confused. No wonder there's confusion in them. We should stop saying to them we're the same and that you can do anything else someone else can do. We're the creators of the confusion.
Again, not better or worse, it's not about weakness and strength or ability or lack thereof or opportunity. I wanna offend everybody equally, I'll pick a different topic. But there's some enormous gaps in what we say and what we watch, and we're not reconciling them and we're just being swept along with the narrative further and further into ungodly places until we get to the point that, well we don't know who should compete with whom for whatever, 'cause our language and our practice doesn't match up. And we get to the point where it's so absurd and we don't know what to say, 'cause we've left the truth so far back down along the road. Different topic, equally insane.
I can't tell you how many times you hear in the course of the week, "Our economy is in really good shape. We're doing good". And most of us don't say much 'cause we're making money. Our houses are worth more, we're just stacking the cash someplace. Yay yes! Well, in just round numbers, my rounding is not huge but the annual revenue for the US Government, Government doesn't make money, they collect ours. But the annual revenue is about $4 trillion, that's a lot. I started to bring some things to demonstrate how much a trillion was, but never mind $4 trillion, that's a lot of money. The government spends on an annual basis about $7 trillion. If you're doing the heavy lifting on that, that's a $3 trillion a year deficit, okay. Our current debt just in round numbers exceeds $30 trillion.
You know, just reduce the trillion to a 10,000 and put that into your home and you behave in that way, the description for you financially is bankrupt. You're in a hole that's too deep to come out of. And yet the people talking at us going, "Things are great, just awesome, cherry, rosie, sunny, wonderful. Nothing to see here". And those of you that are in the midst of this, if you're managing people or working in an office or working in somewhere in the public square, you recognize there's changes in the workforce, changes in work habits, there's inflation that is so dramatic, really, it's unsettling. There's supply chain problems. Once upon a time we use to order things and have them delivered.
Now we order things and we begin to pray and we start to plan for what it might look like six months from now. It's become normative and it's not addressed, nobody's really talking about it. We have international competition, we're told what we have is international aggression. Other nations doing their very best to steal whatever opportunity they can gain from us, while we act rather naively like we don't notice. I mean, it can be the forms of entertainment we use, we we're watching them through a worldview that doesn't come to us biblically or it's the way we handle the resources that we're entrusted with, where we're not really paying much attention to what's being said or done. The idea that I've handed you for months and I'll give it back to you again, is you need to on a regular basis, watch and listen, think, think and then act upon listening.
Those are the old things, there's some new things coming. This is really fun. Revelation 21, "And He who sits on the throne said, I'm making all things new. Write these words are faithful and true. And then he said to me, It is done, I'm the alpha and the omega". The A and the Z, the beginning and the end. "I will give to the one who thirst from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son". Please note that the outcome is to the one who overcomes. You're gonna have to overcome some stuff, just decide. Just, I'm gonna be an overcomer, I'm not gonna be an over looker, I'm not gonna be an underwhelmer, I'm gonna overcome. Your journey through time comes with challenges. Some are just, some are unjust, some of our own making. Some come to us because evil exists, the menu is diverse, but the challenges arrive.
We're gonna have to determine to be overcomers church. Prior to Covid, we used to define overcoming as "Somebody was sitting in my seat and I'm just trying to overcome that and manage to make it through worship without emotional disruption". 'Cause you know, unsettling that can be, "I'm used to watching the service from that vantage point and on the other side of the room, I'm not quite certain that the Holy Spirit ever visits there because I sat with those people and then I was almost confirmed that he doesn't visit there". We have a little different perspective now I thank God we're growing up a bit. Now there's some new things I told you, I wanna give you just two or three examples. I'm gonna touch them really quickly, I'm gonna do my best not to dwell on them. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, "If any man is in Christ, he's a new creature; old things have passed away, all things are become new".
To be a Christ follower, it's very important to understand, we invite people towards the redemptive work of the cross. We're not inviting him to join a church, to be religious, to change their vocabulary words, or their dress code. Those things may happen, but those things happen from the inside out, they don't happen from the outside. What happens to us through that profession of faith and that simple expression of faith and acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as Lord of your life, is a miracle of supernatural proportions, there's a new creature brought to life in you. And because of that, everything becomes new. New futures, new possibilities, new hopes, new opportunities, you're no longer defined by your past or the failures or the evil that has buffeted at you.
See we're not just improved, and updated, and repaired, and restored, and refreshed, we're not just version 2.0, we're a totally new creation. Don't you wanna know my Jesus? "I don't know if I wanna go to church". I'm not asking you to go to church, I'm not sure we'll let you come to church. Church is for people that wanna honor the Lord and give their heart to him and learn about him. If you don't wanna do that, it probably wouldn't be a good fit for you, we'd make you miserable. "Would you like to talk about Jesus? He's changed my life, I think he'd changed yours". I used to think he was gonna take things away from me. Take away a good time, or take away pleasure, or take away happiness, or he wanted my money, like he needed my money. He's brought something new to my life, he would bring something new to your life. You're a new creature in Christ.
Revelation 2 says you get a new name. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it". A new name. I smile, when I hear us stumping our chest and talking about, you know my people. You know a lot of times we define our faith in terms of my people. "You know, my people just don't believe that way". "Yeah, I've seen some of you people, you go to church and you're a little emotional. Well, my people we're not like that". Or my people do this or my people did that. Folks, if you're a Christ follower, you got a new name and if you're more proud of your people than you are the name God's given you, you're confused. "Is he talking about our family in a bad way". No, I'm not. Don't send me a note. I give you a couple of examples.
Saul of Tarsus, you know him as the Apostle Paul, he got a new name. But with a new name came a new assignment, a new set of friends, a new set of enemies, a new set of adversaries, a new set of sacrifices. So you think in terms of a new name and it just comes with, 'cause the new name's got a bigger bank account. Now that's true, there are certainly more resources with the new name, but it comes with some responsibilities too. But in 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul is talking a bit about his past, he's reminiscing a bit. He said, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service".
Please note that the expression of authority there, he said, "I was appointed to service by the Lord. I didn't choose this, I was appointed to this place. I accepted the assignment, but the appointment came from above". I hope you live with the notion you've even been appointed to this place in history. "Well, I don't like it". Wow, when you see the boss, if you want to, you can take it up with him. You spend too much time taking it up now, you may not see the boss in the way you want to. "He's given me the strength that he considered me faithful, appointing me to a service for even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief". Paul just said in the book, I mean, he got put in the book that "I was a blasphemer and a violent man, and I persecuted people that believed in God".
Most of us just like to let bygones to be bygones. We didn't wanna tell those chapters of our story. Paul said, I got a new name. I have a new assignment. Slightly different context, but equally dramatic in John 20, it's resurrection day. Jesus has appeared to his disciples and Thomas wasn't there, and you know the report. So what's the label we give Thomas? Doubting Thomas. For two millennia, we've been calling old doubting Thomas, Knuckle-headed doubting Thomas. None of the other disciples would believe until they saw Jesus. They went to the tomb and it was empty, Jesus told them more than one time, "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna be buried, three days later, I'll rise again". Mary, the women go to the tomb, they came back and said, "We, talked to the Lord, he's not there, but he's okay".
We don't believe you, we don't call him doubting Peter and doubting James and doubting John. But old Thomas, we just tattooed that right over his forehead. Old doubting Thomas. Well, "A week later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, and Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.'" How did he do that? I don't know. Don't care, he got in. "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands and reach out your hand and put it into my side.'" It's important that you understand Jesus is not offering anything to Thomas that he hadn't already extended to the other disciples. And there's no record whatsoever in scripture that Thomas broke faith with Jesus at that point. Jesus had stopped doubting and believe, and Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God".
I think you ought to be believing Thomas, faithful Thomas. I've been to India, there was a computer crash and they lost all the video evidence, but there's a monument there where Thomas had gotten as far as the coast of India with the gospel. And at least by tradition, he was killed with the spear. Like I said, they lost the video it must have been a failure in the cloud. But tradition says, that old believing Thomas made it all the way to India, a new name. You see, when Jesus comes into your life, it should write a different kind of a future. You shouldn't be a more polite secularist. You shouldn't just be a kinder person. You shouldn't become a person with just kind of a little better general morality. There's a total new authority in your life, you're a new creature. Whole new set of parameters, a whole new set of objectives, a whole new set of goals, a whole new set of values, a whole new set of authority over your life. Folks, we've lived too far in the world.
Our God is not a God of condemnation, quite the opposite, he is a God of redemption and restoration. So we begin to talk about God's justice and his judgment, we need to understand that every one of us needs mercy and forgiveness and grace. That's not an excuse for sloppy living. If you're intentionally practicing ungodliness, stop it it'll destroy you. But it also means I don't want you to carry the burdens of guilt and shame, that's the purpose of the cross. So I wanna pray to prayer with you before we go, we're gonna give that pass to the Lord, so that we can stand uprightly before him.
Father, I thank you that through the blood of Jesus, we have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil. That we've been justified, sanctified, made clean before you. We receive that now in Jesus's name, amen.