Rabbi Schneider - Hard Times and God's Process
As I begin today, I want to briefly review one concept with you and that is the three primary covenants of scripture. Beloved, the foundational covenant of scripture is the Abrahamic covenant. Abraham entered into a relationship with the Lord, that was based on grace and faith. Abraham was an idol worshiper, he did not know God. And the Lord, the God of heaven appeared to him no fewer than three times. When God appeared to Avraham, for example at the Oaks of Mamre, faith sprang up in Abraham's heart. When the God of heaven appears to you faith will erupt, the power of God will just automatically flow into your being, and faith will arise. The God of heaven appeared to Abraham, the result of that is faith burst forth into Abraham, and he was instantly connected to the Lord through this faith relationship. Faith is a substance.
Now, sometime after Abraham's life, approximately four five hundred years after Abraham's life, we receive beloved, the law. The law is a works-based system of righteousness, that is not based on faith. The law is based on wages. "If you do this, I'll reward you. If you don't do this, I'll take away from you". The law was added to this foundational Abrahamic covenant for two purposes: number one, to put temporary boundaries around the nation of Israel, and secondly to eventually bring Israel to their knees in recognition that they couldn't keep the mosaic law.
Now, unfortunately it is true that many fall into the category of thinking that because they have the law they're righteous based on the virtue of the fact that they have it. And Jesus warned against this, Paul warned against. This it's not those that possess the law that are righteous, but the doers of the law that are righteous. Yeshua came against racial or ethnic pride in his day. But God's purpose in giving the law was not to create pride because they had the law, but rather to bring them to a conscious awareness of their sin. They would recognize that they didn't love God with all their heart, strength, soul and mind, and in doing so, and in reaching a place of desperation within themselves of recognition that they couldn't keep it, they'd be prepared to receive the gospel which means the good news of Yeshua.
So, the foundational covenant is the Abrahamic covenant. A covenant that's based on grace and faith. Remember that when the covenant was ratified with the Lord, the Lord told Abraham to take an animal, to cut the animal in half, and to lay each half of the animal opposite each other. And then Avraham went into a trance, and the pillar of fire himself, God himself moved through the animal in both directions. What's interesting about that is that when God ratified the covenant with Abraham, and Abraham took the animal, cut each animal in half, opened the animal up, and then Abraham went into a trance, and the fire of God moved through the pieces, and move through both halves, Abraham didn't walk with God through the two pieces. Rather Abraham was in a trance and God alone did it.
This is to show beloved the Abrahamic covenant is based on God's grace. His sovereign initiative, and his power to perform it it's unconditional, it's based on the Lord alone, rather than man having to do his part. Man didn't walk through the halves of animals with God in the ratification of the Abrahamic covenant, but rather God in his fire moved through the two pieces of animals by himself, showing that God himself was the author and the finisher of the Abrahamic covenant.
The Mosaic Covenant again was added to it to hold Israel in place before the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, who is Jesus came. Remember the Lord said to Abraham, "Through your seed, Abraham, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed". The seed is Jesus. So, before Jesus came, who is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, God is temporarily adding the Mosaic Covenant to hold the Abrahamic covenant in place. The Mosaic Covenant, beloved, as I've been mentioning is a covenant of workspace righteousness. God says to Israel, "You do this and I'll do this. You don't do this, and I'm going to do this". It was something, beloved, that required Israel's ability to live up to the covenant.
Israel could not live up to the covenant. That's why God said to Israel through Jeremiah, "Behold days are coming, saith the Lord, when I'm going to make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with you at mount Sinai, that covenant where I was a husband to you, declares the Lord, but you were not faithful to me". So the Lord told the children of Israel after they had broken the Mosaic Covenant, that he was going to make a new covenant with them because he said it was necessary, because they broke the Mosaic Covenant.
Finally when Jesus comes, he institutes the third major covenant in scripture which is the new covenant. Jesus lifts up the Passover juice and he says, "This is my blood in the covenant". So the Abrahamic covenant finds its fulfillment in Jesus who instituted the new covenant, and the Mosaic Covenant is sandwiched in between the two to hold things together before Jesus came.
The book of Romans is about bringing clarification to these relationships between the covenants. So in the book of Romans Paul is clarifying, that the foundational covenant is the Abrahamic covenant, and that it was based on faith. That Abraham was called righteous before God apart from the works of the law, that the law had not been given. And not only that, but Abraham was called righteous before God before he was circumcised, so that his righteousness was not based on circumcision, but that circumcision was just a symbol of the relationship that he had. And notice that Abraham entered into this righteous relationship with God before being circumcised, before being circumcised, so that Abraham could be the father of all those that believe: both the uncircumcised that believe, and the uncircumcised that believe. Avraham, the believer, hallelujah, has become the father of us all.
And so, as we continue on now we're going to pick up in chapter number 5, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, through Jesus, we have peace with God through Yeshua HaMashiach", and let's continue on, "Through also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand: and we exult in the hope of the glory of God". So it's important now, Mr. and Mrs. believer, that you get fear off you, and that you get condemnation and self-judgment off you, because Jesus has taken all that away. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus", and Messiah Jesus says over and over again, "Fear not. Fear not. Fear not little flock, it's my father's pleasure to give you the kingdom".
Now, the point that that Paul is making here is: if Jesus died for us, while we were yet sinners, if Jesus died for us while were we at sinners, why we should have such expectation and such hope for his goodness to be mirrored to us now? So he says that you exalt in hope, that you should have a great hope of God's goodness, and God's favor, and his activity at work in your life right now, that we should be expecting good things to happen to us. If Jesus died for us when we were dead in our transgressions and sins because he loved us, how much more goodness should we expect to be merited unto our lives today now that we're brought into a relationship with him?
And that's the point that Paul makes in chapter 5 verse 2, "That we exalt in the hope of the glory of God". And Paul says, "And our exaltation should be so strong, and so firm that we should even be exalting", Paul says. In other words, "Having a victorious spirit even when we're going through tribulations". So he speaks about this in verse number three, "Not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance: perseverance proven character: proven character hope: and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us".
And Paul was saying to us, "You should have confidence in God. And even when you're going through a hard time, you should still have exUberance and a note of victory knowing, that the hard time that you're going through is not for naught, it's not that you're going to lose something through going through this hard time", but Paul instead says that this hard time that you're going through is producing a rock of in you, that is producing perseverance in you, that you're getting established in the Lord, by clinging to the Lord through this hard time. Much like the Lord said to Paul, when Paul had the thorn in his flesh, and the Lord said to him "Paul, my grace is sufficient, for you for my power is going to be perfected in your weakness".
So, Paul says, "I want you even to exalt in God when you're going through tribulation, knowing that going through this tribulation is going to produce perseverance, and this perseverance character or maturity or being established, and that you're not going to be disappointed, because Jesus is doing something great, and will do something great for you, because God's love is upon your life".
You know, beloved, we should really thank God when we're going through hard times, because many of the things that we receive from God that are the richest, that yield the most fruit, that are going to deliver the most satisfaction are things that we cannot receive when we're going through good times or easy times. We receive, beloved, more of God's grace on this side of glory on planet earth oftentimes when we're going through hard times. You see, the Lord told us that his power is perfected in our weakness. So, there's nothing that's lost. That's one of the awesome things, beloved, about living for Jesus: nothing in life is lost. Whether you're going through a time when you're feeling really good, or you're going through a time when you're really hurting, where you've run into difficulties and circumstances are hard, either way, beloved, all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose.
And I'm so thankful in my life that even when I'm going through hard times it's not as though the time is lost, it's not as though I'm just going through a hard time and there's nothing to be gained from it. But the hard times, beloved, produce something in our lives. One of my favorite sections of scripture is in 2 Corinthians. And in 2 Corinthians Paul says, "I would have you know brethren, that I am burdened excessively beyond life", he says, "That I despair", he says, "I am burdened excessively", he says. Let me start again, Paul said, "I would have you know, brethren, that I am burdened excessively, so that I despair", he said, "Even of life". In other words life was so painful, he despaired of it, but he then he went on to say, "But this happens to me that I would learn to trust in God that raises the dead, and put no confidence in the flesh".
In other words Paul was going through such a season of difficulty, that he said it was heartache for him even to live it was so painful, he was despairing of living, but it wasn't that he had no hope, because he realized there was purpose in what he was going through. He said there was a reason in what's going on. He says, "This happens to me that I would put no confidence in the flesh", and he said, "And learn to trust in and cling to God that raises the dead". You see him going through this hard time and clinging to God, beloved, was building him up and establishing him in his confidence in God's sufficiency for him in every situation, so that Paul could say in his life that he had learned the secret of learning how to be happy, content, satisfied in every situation.
He said he learned how to be content when he had a lot, and he learned how to be content whether he had a little. He said whether he was living in abundance, or whether he was living in very meager means, he had learned the secret, he said, of being content in every situation, because he had come to the place where Jesus was his portion. But he didn't get to this place without going through difficulties, without having to persevere through these difficulties.
Once again, beloved, when when God sent the messenger of Satan and Corinthians to Buffet Paul in the flesh, it was hurting Paul, it troubled Paul, it was a heartache. Paul prayed a number of times, "Take this burden away, Father God, remove this pain. Guess this source of hurt out of my life", and finally he says, the Lord spoke to him and said, "Paul, my grace is going to be sufficient for you. I'm not going to remove this thing from you, because my power is being perfected in your weakness." and so Paul says here in Romans that we should exalt in the Lord, that we should be thankful in God, that we should have hope in God, that we should praise God even during the difficulties, knowing that God is making us steadfast, immovable, filling us up, beloved, making us like a rock, as we continue to trust him and cling to him through the difficult seasons in life.
So regardless, beloved, if you're going through a difficult time right now, now is your opportunity to thank God for it. Don't curse God for having a difficult season in your life now. This is an opportunity for you to exercise faith, to show God that you love him, to do what Paul said here, to exalt in the Lord even in your tribulation. Let me tell you, beloved, you'll never have an opportunity to take this moment back. The Bible tells us that we should love the Lord even when things even to our heart. Job said, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord". We need to learn how to bless the Lord, beloved, not just when things are going great.
I want you to hear right now: if you're going through a difficult season in your life right now, you have an opportunity right now to bend the heart of God, because when we're in heaven we're not going to be able to stop praising God. We're going to be like the host of heaven, beloved, the Bible describes them for us in the Book of Revelation "Day and night the host of heaven don't cease crying out, day and night, 'holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory'". In heaven, beloved, everything praises God ceaselessly. And in hell, beloved, no one can praise God. In hell no one is praising God. The only sounds that are heard in hell are cursings, beloved. So in heaven all we can do is praise God, it's involuntary, it's going to be our only response. In hell all you can do is curse God, it's involuntary, it's all that you can do. But right now, beloved, on planet earth we have a choice.
And when we're going through a hard time and we have a choice to either shut up our hearts to God and get bitter, or we make the choice to say, "Lord, I love you, and I thank you that you're working something in my life during this time. Father, I have faith in you that this temporary trial that I'm going through is working within me, an eternal weight of glory that far exceeds this temporary pain, and isn't even worthy to be compared with it. So father, I want to tell you: I love you. And even though this hurts me, I want to thank you, Father God, even for this that I'm going through right now. And I thank you that you are with me, that you will never leave me or forsake. I love you and I bless you, Lord".
And so again, beloved, we have a choice now while we're on earth to thank the Lord at all times. And so, Paul tells us here "That we exult", in verse number three, "We exult also in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance: perseverance proven character: and proven character hope". And that this hope that it produces, beloved, we're not going to be disappointed. You know, some people can hope in things and be disappointed, you know, they go to a racetrack, and they they bet on a horse, and they hope the horse wins, and if the horse doesn't win they're disappointed. But Paul says: everybody that puts their hope in Jesus will not be disappointed.
And so Paul says this hope that we have we can trust it, "Because the hope that we have as a result of the love of God", in verse number five, "That's been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit". And you know what? We can trust God's love for us, that he'll never leave us or forsake us, that this hope we have is trustworthy, that God's love for us is not fickle, that he's not going to withdraw from us, because look what the next verse says, in verse number six, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Messiah died for the ungodly", in verse number eight, "For God demonstrates his own love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us".
That's how much the Lord loves you. He loves you and i, beloved, so tenderly. While we were yet sinners he died for us. He loves us, beloved, with the perfect love. Look what he says in the next verse, verse number nine, "Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of a son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life".
In other words, if God reconciled this to himself, beloved, when we didn't know him. If Jesus died for us when we weren't thinking of him. If Jesus died for us when we were running from God, doing our own thing, and yet he came and died for us because he loved us, even when we were running in opposite direction from him, God tells us how much more should you expect to be saved. And that word "Saved", beloved, means wholeness, spirit, soul, mind and body. How much more than should we expect to be saved? How much more than should we expect the goodness and kindness and favor of God to be manifest in our life now that we've been reconciled to him, that we should expect good things from God?
We need to learn how to pray, beloved, in faith. We need to stop being trapped in doom and in gloom, and we need to instead, beloved, start having faith, start having courage, start having confidence, and start thanking God in our prayers. Not begging him out of fear, but thanking him for what he's going to do, expecting that he's going to do good for us. Expecting, beloved, that good things are going to come, because the Bible tells us in the book of Ephesians that we've been saved, so that through the rest of time God is going to show the riches of his goodness and kindness towards us. To God be the glory, beloved, there is good things, hallelujah, in store that are coming to us.
And the father wants us to understand this: if he loved us so much, and that while we were yet sinners Jesus came, then died for us, how much more should we anticipate his love being manifested in our lives now that we've turned towards him, and are walking with him, and fellowship, to God be the glory, amen and amen, praise the name of the Lord.
Let's continue on then in verse number 12. Now, we're talking about another theological concept that's really going to simplify how you can receive the grace of God as unmerited. In other words: you don't have to qualify to receive God's grace. A lot of people think, beloved, you know, "I can't get healed, because I don't believe enough". They've made faith a work or they think, "You know, God can't bless me because I haven't been good enough". Again they make God's blessing a work. But what Paul is trying to tell us here is that his goodness and kindness comes to us as a free gift through Jesus Christ apart from the works of the law - it's grace. It's not given to us as something that's due, that would be a wage that is earned. It's coming to us, beloved, as a free gift.
You see, beloved, I want you to understand this: many of the people that Jesus healed didn't even believe in him. Their lack of faith did not disqualify them from receiving his goodness. Jesus's goodness and his sovereignty is not hindered by our lack of faith, it's not hindered by our lack of righteous deeds, beloved, Jesus loves us and he wants us just to receive it and to trust, hallelujah, in that love. That's why he said, "This is the work of God: believe in him, whom he has sent".
Now in tomorrow or next week's broadcast we're going to talk about the same concept, and even bring further crystallization to your understanding. My goal is to help you to get focused on Jesus, not on your own merits, not in your own works. Stop looking at yourself, stop holding some works righteousness mentality over your life that your church has put on you, or your parents have put on you, or the Christian cultures put on you. Instead just look to Jesus that died for you while you were a yet sinner, and he's just waiting to release unto you his unmerited, undeserved favor, undeserved blessing, undeserved love. Not because we earned it, not because we deserve it, but because he loves us. And all we have to do, beloved, is open our heart and trust in his love.