Sermon Transcript – Preparing for the Advent of Christ

Series B – Second Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 6, 2020 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:23The holy gospel according to saint mark
0:30the first chapter [Music]
0:40the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the son of god as it is written in isaiah the prophet behold i send my
0:46messenger before your face who will prepare your way the voice of one crying in the wilderness prepare the way of the lord
0:53make his paths straight john appeared baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance
1:00for the forgiveness of sins and all the country of judea and all jerusalem were going out to him
1:06and were being baptized by him in the river jordan confessing their sins now john was clothed with camel’s hair
1:13and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey and he preached saying after me comes he who is
1:20mightier than i the strap of who sandals i am not worthy to stoop down and untie i have baptized you with water but he
1:27will baptize you with the holy spirit this is the gospel of the lord in the
1:32name of Jesus all flesh is like
1:38grass that’s a terrible thing have you noticed that summer just kind of went so quick this
1:43year and now all that green grass is well it’s brown it’s dead and we have no snow
1:51on the ground which i’m not complaining about i want to make that very clear i’m not complaining about the fact there’s not snow on the ground but the text
1:56from isaiah says all flesh is like grass all its beauty is like the flower of the
2:02field the grass withers the flower fades and when the breath of the lord blows on it surely
2:08the people are grass and so this advent today’s message really our text focuses
2:15on how do we prepare to meet and to greet the lord at his coming
2:21and you’ll note that the first advent oftentimes invokes the second but in that let me kind of put it to you
2:27this way the idea that all flesh is like grass i had a conversation with one of my former
2:32pastors not too long ago and it was a kind of a disconcerting
2:38conversation because he asked me how old i was now you know he had kind of forgotten it’s been a while
2:43since we’ve been together and i said well i’m 52 and he says ah you’ve entered the third trimester of life
2:51what a terrible thing to say the third trimester of life and so he asked
2:56so have you picked up any hobbies and i said well yeah you know i’ve been
3:01applying myself to photography is oh good good you need to keep yourself busy while you’re in the third trimester of life now let
3:08me kind of explain how this all works first trimester of life the whole goal is to grow up get educated you know
3:14to get beyond living at your parents house and i remember as a kid first trimester
3:20of life just took for ever i couldn’t wait to finally be an adult
3:26second trimester of life involves a wedding diapers
3:33it involves homework disciplining your children meals family fun time together
3:40ah the whole nine yards second try second trimester was the best but the thing is it’s a blur
3:46it’s an absolute blur they used to call my house the loud house and we were called the loud family now my house is well
3:54a museum or a library when i go downstairs and i say morning honey she goes shh
4:01no not really she doesn’t do that yeah but you get the idea it’s a very different thing in fact being the parent
4:07of adults yeah that’s uh that’s not as fun
4:13it’s not as challenging um it’s different all together it’s just when you you’re
4:19so used to you know making sure your kids don’t crash into things and kill themselves as toddlers
4:24you know that all the stuff that goes along the the just the pandemonium of the second trimester
4:30gives way to the third trimester which is well definitely at a different pace
4:36but the thing is is that it all happened so fast it all happened so fast and that’s kind
4:42of the point so all flesh is like grass and that being the case we must consider the fact
4:49that in preparing for the advent and preparing for meeting Christ that we
4:56need to hear what isaiah the prophet has to say to us today in fact john the baptist is referenced
5:02here in our isaiah text but i’m going to apply the three rules for sound biblical exegesis
5:08because as great as isaiah 40 is there’s a context to it
5:13and it has a lot to do with our lives being like grass so i’m going to back up i’m going to back up into isaiah chapter
5:2138. have you heard the story about how hezekiah king hezekiah was nearly died
5:28from a boil he had a staph infection we know that medically now he almost died from a boil
5:34kind of in the prime of life he was almost cut down in in what would be considered the second
5:40trimester of his life not the third and so we read in isaiah 38 in those
5:46days hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death isaiah the prophet the son of amos came
5:52to him and said to him thus says yahweh set your house in order for you
5:57shall die you shall not recover
6:02well that’s some good news right there all right now a little bit of a note here if prophet isaiah were to knock on my
6:08door today and say get your affairs in order you’re going to die i would do a napoleon dynamite yes
6:14finally i’m going to get out of here be done with sin done with the temptations of the world done with the temptations
6:19of the devil and i’d be sure to say the appropriate goodbyes and farewells to all my family
6:26and it was a it was a mercy that god let him know that he was going to die and that’s the thing that is the
6:32consequence of all of our sin the wages of sin is death
6:38so we all have a payday coming some sooner than others but hezekiah
6:44turned his face to the wall and he prayed to yahweh and he said please oh yahweh remember how i have walked
6:50before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart and have done what is good in your sight
6:56and so hezekiah he wept bitterly and the word of yahweh came to isaiah go and say
7:01to hezekiah thus says yahweh the god of david your father i’ve heard your prayer i’ve seen your
7:07tears behold i will add 15 years to your life and i will deliver
7:12you and the city out of the hand of the king of assyria and will defend this city 15 years
7:20it goes like this it just fits 15 years you know i’m kind of hoping to
7:26live a little longer than 15 years but here in the types and shadows this is an example of how god extends
7:33out our life not in this life but in the life to come so god then says this this shall be the
7:39sign to you from yahweh that yahweh will do this thing that he has promised behold i will make the
7:45shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of ahaz turn back ten steps
7:51so the sun turned back on the dial and the ten steps by which it had declined now you’re going to note this
7:58is an interesting miracle this is an interesting sign for the sun to go backwards that’s a big deal yeah you
8:05think about in the stories of joshua and the conquest of canaan at one point
8:11joshua actually told the sun to stand still and god heard him and the sun stood
8:16still so that they can finish the battle but keep in mind at that when joshua did
8:21that he had a firm word from god that they would win that battle and they needed daylight to finish it so based
8:27upon the promise of god it seemed like a reasonable thing to tell the sun to stand still now if you are familiar with
8:33evangelicalism there was a book that was written a decade ago maybe a little more than a decade ago now by
8:40steven furtick called sun stand still and it was miserable theology and the big question was are you praying
8:46audacious prayers like like joshua and are you praying sun stand still prayers
8:52what a miserable thing to say it’s absolutely ridiculous all right so at the time when he
8:57published that book i came up with my own parody book and i called it shadow go backwards are you praying shadow go
9:04backwards prayers you know it’s silly when you think along these lines that’s not the point
9:09of the sun standing still it’s not about that in fact the sun going backwards the sun standing
9:15still it reminds us and points to the fact that Christ bled and died for all of our
9:21sins and he did so in the dark at noon on the day that Christ was crucified the sun
9:27could not give its light anymore and it stopped it was dark on planet earth for three
9:33whole hours while our great god and savior bled and died for our sins so that we can be
9:39reconciled to god and once he had given up his life and said that it is finished and father into
9:46your hands i commit my spirit it was then that the sun began to shine
9:51again and so these these miracles where the sun is involved
9:57all point us to the miracle that Christ did for us in dying for our sins
10:03so after this after hezekiah was given the sign hezekiah the king of judah after he had
10:10been sick and had recovered from his sickness he said in the middle of my days i must depart
10:15i am consigned to the gates of sheol for the rest of my years i said i shall not see the lord the lord
10:22in the land of the living i shall look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world my dwelling is
10:28plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd’s tent like a weaver i have rolled up my life
10:33he cuts me off from the loom from day to night you bring me to an end i calmed myself until morning and
10:40like a lion he breaks all of my bones and from day to night you bring me to an end and you’ll note that although god
10:47did not bring hezekiah to an end for 15 more years but when those 15 years were
10:52up god did bring hezekiah to an end and if Christ continues to tarry he will
10:58bring each and every one of us to an end and we don’t know
11:03when our lives will come to an end at the moment as a pastor i can say i
11:10have yet to bury somebody younger than myself but there’s no guarantee that i
11:17won’t and so we recognize that each and every one of us our days can be cut short i was a little
11:25disturbed to hear of the death of a very famous pastor in the missouri synod on thanksgiving day
11:31pastor paul mccain turns out he was 58 years old six years older than me
11:39six years and he was cut down early in the third trimester of life and
11:46there’s no guarantee that you will not be cut down now i always like to say
11:51i’m one banana peel away from the grave you know you just never know when you’re gonna slip on it
11:58so hezekiah then goes on it says like a swallow or a crane i chirp i moan like a dove my eyes are weary with
12:05looking upward oh lord i’m oppressed be my pledge
12:10of safety so what shall i say for he has spoken to me and he himself has done it
12:16i walk slowly all my ears because of the bitterness of my soul oh lord by these things men live and in
12:22all these is the life of my spirit oh restore me to health and make me live and is that not
12:30all of our prayers that god would restore us to health and to make us live but the thing that
12:37we yearn for the thing that we long for is not that we would have restored health and be made to live 15
12:45more years in this life but the thing that we long for is to not die to be restored
12:52completely and to live forever and these are the promises that god has made to
12:58each and every one of us who trust in Christ that we will be restored that we will
13:04live forever even if tomorrow we bury your body in the grave hezekiah
13:12continues behold it was for my welfare that i had great bitterness but in love you have delivered my life
13:18from the pit of destruction for you have cast all my sins behind your back
13:23and it’s here in verse 17 that we recognize that hezekiah understands that although he was granted
13:3015 more years on this cursed planet
13:35that the reality of the situation is is that god has delivered his life from the pit of destruction
13:42because he has forgiven him of all of his sins pit of destruction it sounds like a place mentioned in the uh in the story of the
13:50princess bride welcome to the pit of destruction don’t even think about getting out of here you know i know i know i know it’s
13:57despair i get it you know but you know me i have to twist and turn and manipulate things just a little
14:04bit here but the reality is this is the pit of destruction is none other than hell itself and anybody who finds themselves
14:10in the pit of destruction there is no way out the only way out is now
14:16the only way out is be being truly prepared to meet Christ in a second advent the
14:23only way out is to have your sins forgiven and that
14:28you can trust that god has cast all of your sins behind his back and he will not turn around to look at them anymore
14:35sheel does not thank you death does not praise you those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness
14:41the living the living he thanks you as i do this day the father makes known to the children
14:46your faithfulness and the lord will save me and he will play my and we will play my music on stringed
14:52instruments all the days of our lives at the house of yahweh now isaiah had
14:57said let them take take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil that he may recover
15:02and it’s in verse 21 we recognize what it was that nearly cut hezekiah down so early in life
15:09he had a boil and it had gotten into his system he had a staph infection but god
15:15allowed him to recover what follows next is an unanswered question in the text
15:20at least an unanswered question directly hezekiah had also said what is the sign that i shall go
15:26up to the house of the lord and here’s the thing go up to the house of the lord he doesn’t need a sign that he’s going to
15:32be able to worship in the temple again this has greater implications and it is
15:37the answer to this question that follows and what sets the stage for our old
15:42testament text today so chapter 39 then continues at that time merida baladan the son of
15:50balodin the king of babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to hezekiah
15:56for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered now it’s important to note babylon is
16:02the kingdom by which god will punish judah for their impenitent idolatry in the generations following hezekiah
16:10and one has to wonder if meredith baladan and his envoys were not well jealously looking
16:18at the things that they were being shown by hezekiah in preparation for a
16:25well a war that will come later so hezekiah welcomed them gladly he
16:30showed them his treasure house the silver the gold the spices the precious oil his whole armory all
16:37that was found in his storehouses and there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that hezekiah did
16:44not show them then isaiah the prophet came to king hezekiah and he said to him what did these men say and from where
16:51did they come to you hezekiah said well they have come to me from a far country from
16:56babylon he said what have they seen in your house hezekiah answered they’ve seen all
17:02that’s in my house there’s nothing in my storehouses that i did not show them
17:07and now comes a very ominous prophecy and one that is
17:14fulfilled later but not in the lifetime of hezekiah isaiah said to hezekiah hear
17:19the word of yahweh sava oath the god of armies that’s what hosts mean behold the days are coming when all
17:26that is in your house and that which your fathers have stored up to this day shall be carried to
17:32babylon nothing shall be left says the lord and some of your own sons whom
17:38who you will who will come from you whom you will father shall be taken away and they shall be
17:44eunuchs in the place of the king of babylon then hezekiah said to isaiah
17:49the word of the lord that you have spoken is good for he thought there will be peace and security in my
17:55days kind of a strange way to react i mean what if i were to tell you
18:00that the prophet isaiah has said that america will be invaded by the chinese and that we are
18:06going to become a communist nation in the days right after your death
18:13would you sit there and go well at least i don’t have to experience that would you not have concern great concern
18:20for your own children and grandchildren and your community that they would lose
18:26their freedoms and be under a communist regime so you’ll note that hezekiah’s response
18:33seems to be singularly focused on himself with no compassion even for the sons
18:39that isaiah said that he would that would be born to him that would be taken off into babylon
18:46when you read the writings of the church fathers the sermons that the church fathers give on this text they
18:53condem they rebuke hezekiah because he only is thinking
18:59about himself and i want you to consider then that in the ancient world that when one
19:06nation conquered another nation because they all worshiped they were like national
19:12deities that the idea that judah would be
19:17destroyed by babylon anybody who went through that they would have felt like
19:24the gods of babylon marduk and others had conquered yahweh and it would
19:31have been very tempting for them in the midst of this to say well what good is yahweh he
19:36wasn’t able to stop the gods of babylon and so god himself
19:42at this point has to fill in a little bit of information for us
19:48so that the people who went through this terrible judgment of god the destruction
19:55of jerusalem by the king of babylon and the carrying away of those who survived nine in ten people
20:02died in that campaign by the way and here isaiah is prophesying it and so
20:07while hezekiah is focusing on himself now god through the prophet isaiah
20:12says listen comfort comfort my people
20:18and that’s the context of those words comfort comfort my people says your god
20:25and here are tender words of comfort given in advance by the prophet isaiah
20:31to those who would survive the babylonian captivity comfort comfort my people says your god
20:39speak tenderly to jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare has ended that her iniquity is pardoned that she
20:46has received from yahweh’s hand double for all of her sins
20:52now let’s unpack this just a little bit these are words that can are only provide comfort to those who
20:59are penitent god does not speak tenderly and kindly
21:04to those who persist in sin and unbelief and the idea here is is that the babylonian captivity
21:12would humble israel would humble judah and humble them to the point that
21:18they recognized once and for all that the misery that they were in was their own doing because they refused
21:26to hear the voice of god persisted in their idolatry and so to those
21:31who are penitent who are now reading the prophet isaiah god speaks to them and says your warfare
21:37is over and i assure you that your iniquity is pardoned have you ever thought
21:43that for a second maybe even longer how is it that god even puts up with me
21:49have you ever thought for a second you know i seem to can’t get my act together haven’t figured out how to stop
21:55sinning yet i wonder if there is a limit to the forgiveness of sins won by Christ
22:01it’s a tempting thought and here isaiah says that we have received from
22:07the lord hand lord’s hand double for all of our sins not double condemnation
22:13but literally what’s being described here is double pardon double grace it’s almost as if isaiah
22:20is saying that when Christ finally goes to the cross in three hours he atoned for the sins of
22:25the world but he stood studded took it out for three more hours so that we would be forgiven double for
22:33what we’ve done so that we would never have to worry that we have outstripped the grace of
22:38god and it’s in this context then we hear this great prophecy of john the baptist a voice cries in the
22:46wilderness prepare the way of the lord make straight in the desert a highway for our god
22:51every valley shall be lifted up every mountain and hill made low the uneven ground shall become level
22:58the rough places a plane here the mountains the valleys and the rough places and the uneven and the
23:05crooked are a description of our sin and the impact that it has on us the
23:12glory of the lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the lord has spoken and
23:19so here then in this context a voice says cry what shall i cry all flesh is like grass
23:25all of its beauty like the flower the field the grass withers the flower fades when the breath of the lord blows on it
23:31surely the people are grass the grass withers the flower fades
23:36but the word of our god will stand forever brothers and sisters this is absolutely
23:42true that all of our lives are like grass but understand this the promises of god
23:47for those who trust in Christ and have received and are confident that
23:53their sins are forgiven in Jesus that in the new world we are not
23:58described as grass we are described as trees
24:04deep roots large trunks long life long branches no longer grass
24:12and so how does one then prepare for the advent of Christ well
24:18our epistle text says it so well do not overlook this one fact beloved
24:24that with the lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day the lord is not slow to fulfill his
24:30promise as some count slowness he is patient towards you not wishing
24:36that any should perish and any means any god does not wish that
24:41any human being would perish not you not me not the most ranked sinner that
24:47you know not any of us but his goal his desire
24:53is that all should reach repentance but the day of the lord will come like a thief and the heavens will pass away with a
24:59roar and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and they will be dissolved and the earth and the works that are done in it will finally be exposed
25:07so the way we prepare is repent repent
25:13and repentance is recognizing your sin and even dare i say
25:20feeling sorry for your sin but that’s not enough judas felt sorry for his sin
25:27but what was lacking in judas that we have repentance also includes confidence that
25:33god has pardoned you and forgiven you because of and for the sake of Christ so that we
25:39may say that our sins have been forgiven and this is not our
25:46own doing this is all because of the great mercy and grace of Christ and so you’ll note that true
25:51repentance kind of has two streams to it emotionally if you think about it
25:57one is true sorrow for sin but also great hope
26:04and happiness and joy in anticipation and expectation
26:09of the mercy that we receive from god it’s kind of a weird two faucet thing
26:15the two streams flow together so that being the case our gospel text is so appropriate here the
26:23gospel text begins with these words the beginning of the good news of Jesus
26:28Christ the son of god and that’s what gospel means as it is written in isaiah the prophet behold i send my messenger before your
26:35face who will prepare your way the voice of one crying in the wilderness prepare the way of the lord make his
26:42paths straight what is the sign that you will worship in the temple of god in the
26:47house of god the sign is that john the baptist has come and told each and every one of us
26:53to repent you’ll note that john the baptist his message applies to us today he’s not speaking to them
26:58he’s speaking to me he’s speaking to you he’s the voice of the one crying in the wilderness prepare the way of the lord
27:05and so john appeared baptizing in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism of repentance for
27:10the forgiveness of sins and we’ll note that true Christian baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and all
27:17the country of judea and jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river jordan and they were confessing their sins
27:25brothers and sisters you’ve been baptized and today i heard you confess your sins
27:30john was clothed with camel’s hair wore a leather belt around his face around his waist and ate locusts and
27:36wild honey and he preached saying after me comes he who is mightier than i
27:42the strap of who sandal i am not worthy to stoop down and untie i have baptized you with water but he
27:47will baptize you with the holy spirit and indeed Christ has baptized you with the holy spirit
27:53and he through the powerful preaching of his word has worked in us true contrition of our
27:59sins where we have confessed our need to be forgiven and we have also heard from god that we
28:05are forgiven the one who we are not worthy to stoop down and untie is the one who serves us today with his word
28:12he is the same one who in humbling himself rather than saying ah you’re not worthy to stoop
28:18down and untie my sandals he himself took on the form of a servant and even washed
28:23the feet of the disciples what a great god we have so brothers and sisters that being the
28:29case i can think of no better way to end this sermon in reminding us of our need to be
28:37ready for the appearing of Christ then to note that you are well ready for
28:43his advent because of what he has done for you and although right now we are like grass
28:50there is a day coming when we will be restored and i am looking forward to
28:56that day the assigned psalm for today is psalm 85 and hear the words of the psalmist lord
29:04you were favorable to your land and you restored the fortunes of jacob
29:10you forgave the iniquity of your people and you covered all their sins you withdrew your wrath
29:17and you turned from your hot anger so restore us again o god of our salvation
29:23put away your indignation towards us will you be angry with us forever will you prolong your anger to all
29:29generations will you not revive us again so that your people may rejoice in you
29:36show us your steadfast love o lord and grant us your salvation and you’ll note the
29:41prayer hears a prayer of restoration and i assure you that god answers this
29:47prayer for all of his saints in the affirmative he will restore us he will revive us
29:53and i can tell you right now as somebody who’s just embarked in the third trimester of life
29:59oh lucky me that there is a day coming when each and every one of us
30:04having been restored and revived in the resurrection will see each other not as we are
30:12now in mortal flesh that dies and withers but we will see each other
30:18clothed in the glory of god and the righteousness of Christ in a world without end with bodies that do
30:24not suffer or die and so you haven’t seen anything let yet i know that i look
30:31terrible now but there’s a day coming when i won’t and don’t worry you young kids you’re going to be
30:37looking like me in just well a couple of hours i’m sad about that for you but don’t worry
30:43Christ will be here soon so restore us oh lord in the name of Jesus amen
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