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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Israel, Lessons In Restoration and Judgment - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Israel, Lessons In Restoration and Judgment - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Israel, Lessons In Restoration and Judgment - Part 2
TOPICS: Israel, Restoration, Judgment

Well, I want to follow this through, because I'm thinking if Jesus has pronounced judgment on the land that the future is bleak, that there are storm clouds on the horizon, you can see the lightning, there's a storm warning on everybody's television set that keep interrupting your program. Surely, nothing good's coming. Well, in Acts chapter 1, some of you remember in Acts chapter 1 Jesus goes back to heaven. He ascends back to heaven in full view of his friends. Well, the last thing he says to them, I put in your notes, it's Acts 1, verse 8, he said, "'You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, into the ends of the earth.' And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight".

Now, last words have unique significance. Can we agree on that? That those last words are weightier than your hellos. This was the last thing Jesus said. It's the last thing recorded in the Scripture that Jesus said before he ascended back to heaven. He said, "You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me when the Holy Spirit comes upon you in Jerusalem, Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth". Those are expanding concentric circles until they reach the whole world. "You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me". He's describing the harvest. And what's going to initiate the harvest is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that latter rain. We referenced it a moment or two ago.

Well, in Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit's poured out. Peter stands up and preaches. He uses a text from Joel and he said, "This is what Joel talked about in the last days: 'I'll pour out my spirit on all flesh.'" And Peter preaches that day, the same bungling Peter that cut off somebody's ear and denied he knew the Lord. Peter stands up with the most remarkable presentation of Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem where just a few weeks earlier he denied he knew him. He stands in those streets. You can read Acts 2. I spared you the... I didn't have the room in your outline. I need a four-page outline. I made the font so small, even I couldn't read it on my computer, and I thought maybe that wasn't going to help. But Peter says to them, "You killed the Messiah".

I'm telling you that's fighting words. We are afraid to stand in the public square and say God ordained marriage between a man and a woman. Our knees buckle. Our voice gets weak. We don't have the courage on the introductory chapters of the Bible. And Peter stood in the streets of Jerusalem and said, "You killed the Messiah". What happened to him? Where did he find that courage? The only line of demarcation between the bungling Peter of the gospels and the Peter who's going to be the anchor of the church in Jerusalem is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We need his help, folks. I gave you the conclusion of his message. It's Acts 2, verse 40. "With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'" He pleaded with them. "And those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day".

Can you imagine what that would do in the streets of Jerusalem, 3,000 people being baptized under the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth as Christ and King? That would shake the city of Jerusalem today. I promise you it rattled the foundations of the city that day. Now, in my original outline I put all the passages, and I had six pages. So I gave you the chapters. And I'm just going to walk you through them real quickly. You can check me, for you overachievers, you can check the veracity of what I'm going to share with you.

But Acts chapter 2 is Pentecost. We read that. Pentecost is not about Pentecostals or a denomination. It's a Jewish holiday 50 days after Passover. And it was on that Jewish holiday when the Holy Spirit was poured out in fulfillment of Jesus' promise and 3,000 people believed and were baptized. In Acts chapter 4, two chapters later, the city has been stirred enough and moved enough that the Sanhedrin, the religious rulers, have become jealous of Peter and John, and for the first time they're arrested. It's the first inkling that there's going to be a push back. Remember Jesus told them, we read it now in John 13, 14, 15, "They've hated me. They're going to hate you".

And by Acts chapter 4, on the heels of thousands of people saying, "We believe in Jesus," Peter and John are arrested for the first time. They're not physically abused, but they're arrested. And Luke slips into that chapter that the number of men who believed has grown to 5,000. Hello. In Acts chapter 7 the church has continued to grow, the miracles have increased, the surrounding villages have been included. They've outgrown all of the facilities. The numbers have outgrown the ability of the disciples to minister. They're having to change their processes. Peter can't pray for the people individually anymore. There's just too many people.

So they lay them in the streets, and when he walks past his shadow brings healing to people. You know how easily that would be to have been offended by that? "What do you mean he can't pray for me? I remember when he prayed for everybody". They have to change how they're helping other people. They recruit some helpers. One of them they recruit is Stephen. And Stephen is engaged in a debate. In the end of the debate is we have our first martyr. Stephen is murdered in the streets because of his faith. In Acts chapter 8 it opens with this little statement that the believers are scattered by the persecution. The hatred expressed towards Stephen is more systemic in the community. The community is being polarized.

There's thousands of people believing that Jesus is the Lord, but there's enough anger, and animosity, and jealousy, and hostility that when one of the believers in Jesus is murdered, it's not safe for the other believers to be there anymore. How can you be having a revival with thousands of people being born again, baptized, miracles taking place, and that kind of violent opposition exist? They're scattered in Acts chapter 8, but it says Philip went down to Samaria.

Now, we've broken out of Judea. We've gone beyond that original. Remember what Jesus said? In Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria. Now, Phillip goes to Samaria, and they get the same results. The whole region is stirred, the city is stirred with miracles, and hundreds of people are acknowledging Jesus as Lord. In Acts chapter 9 Jesus steps back into time. Acts chapter 1 he left. In Acts chapter 9 he's back on the road to Damascus face to face with one of the most violent persecutors of the people who believe he's the Messiah. He's got Saul of Tarsus, an angry, murderous, violent man. He's been looking for men and women to put in prison who will say Jesus is the Messiah. And Jesus steps onto the Damascus Road and just says, "Who do you think you are"? Living Bible.

Jesus recruits the vilest adversary. Don't you love the Lord? 'Cause we've been him. We can all give testimonies about how badly we hated Christians. Self-righteous, smug. I had a real problem when I had this sense the Lord was inviting me to ministry, because I didn't like Christians or churches. That's going to make ministry difficult. And it took some real changes in my heart. What I had to grapple with was the reason I didn't like Christians or churches that much is there wasn't that much Jesus in me, and I had to change. I had to become different. Saul of Tarsus had to become different.

It's Acts chapter 9. We're not very far into the story. I put two verses. You know the story. He's blinded and he goes on into Damascus. And God recruits somebody to go pray for him. And Ananias doesn't want to go. I gave you the recruitment speech. "The Lord said to Ananias, 'This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the non-Jews and their kings and before the people of Israel. I'll show him how much he must suffer for my name.'" I mean, I know it's in the Bible and it's inspired by the Holy Spirit, but that feels like a bizarre last line. I would have ripped. I'm recruiting, like, if I want to recruit you to work here, I'll show you how wonderful it'll be.

"Let me tell you about the benefits. Let me tell you about the wonderful people you'll get to serve". I wouldn't say, "Let me tell you how miserable it's going to be". "Ananias, you go show him. You go tell him. I will show him what he's going to have to suffer with this assignment". Hello? Remember our topic. Remember what we're talking about, what we want to understand, the lessons we want to become better with, are restoration and judgment. Acts chapter 10 the narrative changes again dramatically. This time it's Peter just taking a little break over on the beach. He's in Jaffa, but on the Mediterranean coast it's the town where Jonah went when he was running from God.

Then God sends Peter to Caesarea. And the events of Acts chapter 2 are duplicated this time in a non-Jewish setting, and it rattles the foundation of the church in Jerusalem. They didn't understand that the non-Jews were going to get to play at the party. Then Peter said, "No, I was there, it was God, and I've got witnesses. They were with me". And now the narrative is changing. Jesus told them in Acts chapter 1, we read it in verse 8, "You'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth". He told them, but they're still pedaling really quickly trying to catch up with what he said. Acts chapter 11 we're told the church makes it all the way to Antioch. Now, we're outside of Israel. Now, Christianity is taking root beyond the borders of Israel in the hearts of non-Jewish people.

In Acts chapter 12, back in Jerusalem, James is beheaded. Herod's son has come to the throne. He was arrested and beheaded. And it says when he saw that it pleased the people, his poll numbers went up. "Kill a high profile Christian leader, your poll numbers will get better". So he arrested Peter. And it was a holiday. So he just held him until the holiday was over. It's kind of messy to behead people in the middle of a holiday. It's bad PR apparently. Some of you know the story. The angels come and let Peter out of jail the night before he's to be beheaded. I don't know why they didn't let him out the first night.

There's other scenes in the Book of Acts where he and John are let out the evening they're arrested, but this time Peter spends more than a day in jail to the point that he'd resigned himself to his fate; because when the angels came to get him, he thought he was dreaming; he didn't know it was real. And I think the other believers had resigned themselves, as well, because he went to the house where they were praying and he knocked on the door, and the girl that went to the door, he said, "I'm Peter," and she said, "No, no, we're having a prayer meeting for Peter. He's in prison". He had to argue with her to get in the house. See, I think it's safe to say the despair had overwhelmed their hope or their faith. Nevertheless, they were praying. Acts chapter 13 Barnabas and Paul are sent off from Antioch. They're launched into the non-Jewish world from the church at Antioch. By the time we get to the concluding chapter of Acts in Acts chapter 28, Paul is in Rome.

Now, it took him 3 years to get there. Two years in his prison in Caesarea. But by the end of the Book of Acts Paul has made it to Rome. The gospel has made its way into Caesar's household. Look at the concluding verses. "For 2 whole years, Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ". Within a generation of Jesus ascending to heaven the gospel had spread thousands of believers in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria. It had begun to spread around the Roman world and it made it all the way to Rome and it invaded Caesar's household. It's renewal. It's an outpouring of the Spirit of God. The miracles of Jesus' ministry had been duplicated in the lives of the disciples in one city after another. The persecution that Jesus told about has been ramped up.

Our nation was called into existence, I believe, by Almighty God. If you read our founding documents with just a little bit of an open mind it's very clear that they believed in a Creator God. In their words, that all men were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that they were bringing forth an experiment, a new kind of government, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. There are more than one outside observers of this experiment in self-government that wrote back at the beginning of our nation that the reason this experiment might succeed is what bound us together. It was our worldview, our faith, that while we had come from many nations and we have many backgrounds, that we shared a common faith.

Well, we find ourselves about 250 years later and we have walked away from much of that faith. I mean, we still have churches and we still have some expressions, but the idea of a biblical worldview or a Judeo Christian morality is mocked as out of date. It's out of fashion. It hasn't kept up. Technology has made it irrelevant. In the church we haven't done a very good job of holding biblical values around morality or human sexuality and we find a reluctance to even express those opinions any longer into our culture. We have a very difficult time having those conversations around our kitchen tables. We've capitulated generation after generation. We've winked at sin and ungodliness and immorality. After all, we didn't want to have those awkward conversations.

"What? Do you want us to ostracize people? What should we do"? Until we find ourselves, and we've plunged headlong into perversion and immorality and debasement to the point that it's so shocking it's difficult to even look at, so most of us try to distract ourselves. We're mutilating our children and calling it healthcare. Folks, this isn't confusing. Our response is far more confusing than the malady that's being presented to us. I think it's safe to say, I think it's appropriate to say that we see judgment beginning in our nation. Our leaders who have the assignment of protecting the citizens don't do that. I mean, they have fundamental assignments that are given to them in our founding documents and they ignore them. I don't know a way to understand what we're watching apart from the description of God's judgment.

It isn't immediate. It doesn't mean that our homes have been snatched from us or that there's no food in the grocery store. And I think it's entirely plausible that God could once again look upon our nation with mercy and pour out his blessings. We talk frequently that we are free still to humble ourselves and repent and to seek his merciful responses to our sinful choices. I do believe that it's true that we cannot continue to embrace ungodliness and immorality and ignore the counsel of Scripture and imagine that we can maintain our abundance and our freedom and our liberty and that our children will know lives similar to our own.

So there's almost this creeping sense of despair, and that's really what I wanted to do address. I've said all of this to get to this point. Our assignment is not really linked to God's response to our nation any more than our friends in the Book of Acts imagined that their assignment was linked to the circumstances of Jerusalem. Jesus said, "You'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth. They're going to hate you. They're going to hate you locally. They're going to hate you when you get beyond the local setting. They're going to hate you universally. But I'm sending you a helper. He'll teach you everything you need to know".

Our assignment isn't linked to God's response to our nation. We are tasked with taking the good news of the gospel into our world. We're here for a harvest, because it's the harvest that will bring back the King. And I think we get co-opted sometimes by imagining that the outcome of the elections is what's going to determine our future. And our commitment to the kingdom of God is far more significant. Our elections may become fair again, or they may continue to be manipulated. The FBI and the justice department may once again be expressions of righteousness and even handed justice, or they may deteriorate further into even greater partisanship. Our economy may recover or the dollar may fail, and the economy, as we've known it, could unravel. Supply chains, they could get better than what we're watching, or they could crumble.

We might see a restoration of freedom of speech or censorship could grow and free speech be silenced completely. We may see an awakening in the church or we may see apostasy and deception and a falling away in unprecedented ways, but our assignment is our objective. God's assistance is assured. If we will pursue his purposes, he will help us. And I would like to unlink this notion that we'll be good Christians so we can have our way, so we can get a bigger blessing, and our retirement funds will grow even greater.

Folks, we have an assignment beyond the immediate to stand up for the truth, to be men and women of integrity, to cultivate righteousness and holiness and purity, and to teach our children and our grandchildren. That's our assignment. Everything else is temporary and transient. We want to be effective in the world in which we find ourselves, but we don't want too much of the world in us. Now, we will do it in halting ways and imperfect ways, but we cannot turn loose of the assignment. Restoration and judgment go hand in hand. But I don't know just yet what the outcome is going to be for us. It isn't clear to me. I know what the momentum looks like, but I trust God, but I'm still willing to cry out to him in humility on a regular basis and say, "Look upon us with mercy, please".

But if he chooses not to, it does not lessen our commitment to the messaging of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the earth. It's the only hope of humanity. But I want to encourage you to look at your family, and your neighbors, and your children's classmates, and now your co-workers and understand that the gospel is the assignment. Not everybody will embrace it. Some will be offended. Some will be angered. There'll be some consequences from time to time for some of us, but the gospel is enough. It changed the world, and it's still changing the world, but every generation has to make a decision for themselves. We have lived on the sacrifices of those who preceded us.

I know I can give you an invitation, but I'd rather pray for you 'cause I want to pray for those of you that are watching, too. This is more than an emotional response right now. I want to hand you a prayer to go away and begin to say to the Lord, "I want to make that commitment. I want to make that commitment". You want to stand with me? My time's up. Oh, yes, my time was up.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for those who've preceded us. I thank you for Josiah and the story of his faithfulness, and I thank you for our friends in the Book of Acts who took their place in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, into the uttermost parts of the earth, and I thank you that you're still calling men and women to honor you. And as we stand in your presence tonight, Lord, we turn our hearts to you and say we want to follow you not in part, not in portion, not just for some eternal place, but for today. I thank you for it. Holy Spirit, help us.

Help us to see the things that we need to leave behind, the things that we can lay down and help us to turn our hearts to you with a fullness beyond anything we've ever known. And, Lord, as we do that, we ask you to look upon us as a people with your mercy and to once again pour out your Spirit upon us as a people. Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. May we walk uprightly before you with integrity. May we choose the truth. May we be people of honor. May we be people who choose purity. May we accept our responsibilities before you and stop demanding our blessings. We thank you for what you will do, in Jesus' name, amen.

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