Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Anticipating the Return of Christ’
© January 1, 2017, by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship:
Responsive Reading #645: Christian Conduct (Galatians 5 and 6); Prayer
Opening Hymn #126: Amen, Amen!
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Scripture Verses: Matthew 2:1-15, Jeremiah 23:16, 1 Peter 2:1-11
Let us pray…
Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s first Sunday Praise and Worship Service for 2017, which happens to be Communion Sunday.
That said, I would like to wish everyone in the congregation, a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2017, blessed by our loving Lord.
Over the holidays, I watched a documentary on Noah’s Ark which began by stating that since the people of Israel did not have a written language, they adopted a Cuneiform language adapted from that used by the Babylonians. While Daniel and others were captives of Babylon, they were taught Babylonian. The show takes a leap to an ancient scroll written in that same language, apparently by a student regarding a Great Flood, where a Babylonian was inspired to build a great ark that contained two of every available animal. In other words, Daniel or some other scribe apparently took the Great Flood story from his Babylonian teachers so that it ended in the Book of Genesis.
The documentary jumped to India, where another individual had a team both engineering and building an enlarged Babylonian vessel, but according to the build of materials described by Noah used in Genesis.
It seems strange that credit for the ark described in the Scriptures was taken away from Noah and given to an unknown Babylonian, and yet the linguist does not deny whether or not there was a flood. It seems that he is more determined to show an inclination to believe that a Great Flood did occur and the ark was built by a Babylonian implying that Noah was a fictional character created in a Jewish retelling of a Babylonian historical event. Even Hollywood attempts to change the Bible’s account of Noah and the ark.
Regardless of whether the ark was built by Noah or some Babylonian, the “giant elephant in the room” is an acknowledgment that an ark was built, populated by the last of humanity and a large assortment of animals.
We may conclude from either the Genesis account or the Babylonian scroll, that a Great Flood took place destroying all life and humanity, save for those who survived the deluge inside a giant Ark built especially for that purpose.
Considering the fact that the people of Babylon attempted to elevate themselves to God and heaven, by building a tower, (sounds like when Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil to acquire the knowledge and understanding of God by eating forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), I would be more inclined to accept Holy Scripture over a Babylonian student’s notes inscribed on a scroll.
Both the Babylonians and the People of Israel, (as the rest of humanity), can trace their lineage to Noah’s sons, who survived the Great Flood aboard the ark, as described in Genesis 9:18-19 (ESV):
18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.[a]
Footnotes: a. Genesis 9:19 Or from these the whole earth was populated
What impressed me with this documentary was the author by giving credit to a Babylonian over Noah based on an ancient scroll he ignores an array of alternative explanations.
While the Cuneiform language used by the Babylonians may predate the Hebrew language used to write Genesis, the Babylonian account could have been dictated by a Jew to a Babylonian scribe, where the latter changed the name of the main character from Noah to some Babylonian, rather than the other way around. If the Jew who dictated the Noah account could not read Babylonian, he would have no way of knowing that his account had been altered.
Unfortunately, this Noah documentary seems to be one of the numerous documentaries that crop up every Christmas and Easter, filmed with the sole intention to debunk the existence of God, his son Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, and therefore negate that the Bible is the inspired Word.
Today’s Bible lesson, ‘Anticipating the Return of Christ’, and today’s Communion observance will give the opportunity to celebrate the promise of the birth of Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy, the Nativity of Jesus, completing one Advent and our Lord’s return, the Advent that Christians observe.
The tough part of challenging the birth of Jesus associated with the Magi is the fact that in this account Jesus’ birth is expected by Magi who comes from other nations and is not of the People of Israel. Such is the case in the account described in Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV), entitled:
The Visit of the Wise Men
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
The Flight to Egypt
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9
King Herod, like some rulers today, are so insecure of their own authority that they resort to extreme measures such as genocide to remove perceived threats. Herod’s mistake was a lack of faith in the manifestation of prophecies from the mouth of only true God.
Whether listening to false prophets or defying the Word of God, there is a great danger the body and soul of those who seek in vain to change the visions that come from God, a warning expressed in Jeremiah 23:16 (ESV);
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.
But what motivates King Herod, as well as all the false prophets today, who seek to displace God’s visions with their own self-serving theologies? We get some idea of the answer to this question and how to keep God at the centre of our faith in 1 Peter 2:1-11 (ESV):
A Living Stone and a Holy People
2 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”[a]
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Footnotes: a. 1 Peter 2:7 Greek the head of the corner
The Holy Spirit helps us to recognize and to understand God’s word which is the testimony of His only Son, Jesus, John 3:31-36 (ESV):
31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Let us pray…
Communion Observance: Responsive Reading #663 (1 Corinthians 11)
Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding
Benediction – (Romans 15:13): May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.