Sunday, December 24th, 2023

David’s Promised House


Grace, mercy and peace are yours from God our Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Let us pray. O Lord send forth your word into our ears that it may bear fruit in our lives, in Jesus’ name, Amen. The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Old Testament and even though there’s five books, there’s really only one story, the story of how and why God dwelled among His people in the Tabernacle, in the Promised Land. In fact, if you know the Hebrew names for each of the books you know exactly what part of the story you’re in. Genesis basically means origin, and it tells us not only the origin of creation and of sin, but also the origin of God’s promised first Savior, and the origin of Israel, God’s people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Exodus basically means exit, and it tells the part of the story where God’s people are led by the Angel of the Lord out of slavery in Egypt, brought to Mount Sinai, where God gives them the Law and over sees the construction of the Tabernacle. Leviticus has to do with the Levitical codes and laws that would govern Israel’s worship life. Numbers is actually a pretty poor English translation, based on the first word of the book. The Hebrew title has to do with the wilderness wandering. It’s called In the Wilderness It’s that part of the story where Israel fails to enter their inheritance and instead is sentenced to 40 years of wandering for their lack of faith. And then it ends with Deuteronomy, which basically means Second Law. It’s not a giving of a second law, it’s the second giving of the same law, the part of the story where Moses gives God’s law to the Israelites the second time. This time to a new generation of people. People who had been raised wandering in the wilderness. And on the doorstep of the Promised Land, more or less on the eve of his own death, Moses delivers God’s word to the people one last time. And part of Moses’s words in Deuteronomy include a promise, a very specific promise, a promise that the day would come in Israel when they would be given rest from all of their enemies, rest in the land that they were about to inherit. And when that day arrived, the people were to build a place in the Lord’s land where the name of the Lord would dwell. They were to build a temple for Yahweh. Fast forward 500 years to the life of David, to the story that we heard just a few moments ago. King David sat comfortably in his house. The Lord had given him a rest from all His enemies. He looked around at his circumstances and said to the prophet Nathan who am I that I should live in a House of cedar while God lives in a tent. I will make a house for the Lord. You see David thought he was living in the fulfillment of Moses prophecy. He thought it was time to build the Lord a temple. He wasn’t entirely wrong. There was general peace in Israel. The temple would be built one generation later by David’s yet to be born son Solomon. So, he wasn’t entirely wrong. It wasn’t really right either, so the word of the Lord came to Nathan, the prophet, and said, “I have lived in a tent since the days I brought Israel out of Egypt, and I didn’t tell any of the judges or priests or prophets to build me a palace did I, so go tell David, I don’t need you to build me a house, I don’t want you to build me a house. No David, I will build you into a great house, into a place where my people can dwell in safety. From you, will come the one who is the place where my people will live in peace. When your days are ended David, I will raise up your offspring who will come after you. I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to Him as a father and he will be my son. I will discipline him with the rod of men when he commits iniquity, but my steadfast love will never depart from him.” On the one hand that prophecy was partially fulfilled in the life of Solomon, and the line of kings that came from David, and ruled in Jerusalem for generations. Solomon did build a house for the Lord and the Lord did establish the line of David for nearly 20 kings in Jerusalem, but none of that was eternal. The line of David was cut off by the Babylonian captivity. Solomon’s temple was destroyed, and the people of God did not ultimately have rest from their enemies. So fast forward 500 more years to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man from the line of David, a man whose name was Joseph. The Angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Do not be afraid Mary. You have found favor with God. Look you will conceive in your womb and you will bear a son and you will call His name Jesus, and He will be called the son of the most high and the Lord will give to him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the House of Jacob forever and of His Kingdom there will be no end. An eternal throne, the son of David. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy that God first made for the people of the 1st century as well as for us today. The story of the Pentateuch is actually our story. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, they are all our spiritual ancestors in the faith. We are the spiritual descendants of the Kingdom of David, and the son of David is our King, and He gives us rest from our enemies. He is the House of the Lord where we dwell in safety. Just think about the way the New Testament talks about baptism. It emphasizes the change of location. The phrase that we translate baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, almost always includes the Greek preposition eis, which means into just like you walk into a room and because you have walked into the room now you are in the room so also the New Testament says we are baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and are now therefore in Christ. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ Jesus have now put on Christ, covered yourselves with Christ, like crawling into a tent and being covered from the rain by the canvas. All who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death and there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and Jesus himself says whoever abides in me bears much fruit. In the New Testament one of the gifts of baptism is the gift of location, of being brought into the name of God so that now we live our lives free in Christ. I could promise you when the hurricane is raging outside, inside is where you want to be, in a strong and stable structure, one with hurricane windows, one with hurricane straps fastening your house down to the slab. Inside is where you want to be. But inside is exactly where you are. Jesus is your protection. Jesus is your fortress. Jesus is David’s promised house, the place where the people of God will rest securely from their enemies. And He’s also the one who was disciplined with the rod of men for His iniquity. That sounds strange. I mean Jesus didn’t commit any sin, but yet again, one of the gifts of baptism is that Jesus in His baptism stepped into the water made dirty by our sin and soak it all up into himself. Jesus did not commit sin, but like the scapegoat on the day of atonement the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all. Your sin has been judged in the stripes of Jesus. My sin has been judged in the stripes of Jesus, but the steadfast love of the Lord did not depart from Him, and therefore will not depart from you. You are in Christ, so you are at peace. Today we lit the 4th candle on our advent wreath candle, the candle we call the peace candle. And like last week’s joy candle, peace is listed as fruit of the spirit and like joy, peace is not something God demands from you, something God gives to you. But it’s not simple serenity, it’s not just the absence of nuisance, it’s not just a quiet evening by the fire while the snow slowly falls outside and muffles the din of the outside world. No, the peace that God gives you is rest from your truest enemies.  It’s a rest from sin. Rest from death. Rest from the devil. None of these can harm you for you dwell securely in Jesus. Sin can still tempt you, and we’ll certainly still fail, but our sins do not condemn us any longer. Our sin has been forgiven on the cross. It’s already been judged in baptism; we are in Christ. We have peace and death will still come knocking at our door, and it will still bring grief, but we do not grieve as if we have no hope. Our sin has been judged in baptism, by being united with Jesus, but so also, we have the hope of resurrection, of knowing that our Lord’s taken away the sting of death, and given us peace. And the devil will continue to rage, and froth, and foam, and hiss all He wants. We remain safe in Jesus. Yes, our lives will still have struggles and difficulties, and yes we will still sin, and yes death will still show up uninvited. The peace of the Lord is not an absence from all strife in this fallen world. It is the peace of knowing the big battles have already been won. When David’s Israel had rest from her enemies, they still had courts and judges to settle property disputes. Every nation that’s at peace still has police and people who still have long days at work, but the true peace that our Lord gives us is the peace of knowing that the great enemies, the great battles are not ours to fight. Those belong to Jesus and He has already won victory over them. We are safe in Him who is our house, the one who sits on the eternal throne, to lead and to protect His church. So, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation” and also hope, and faith, and joy, and peace for you. For you belong to him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.