Matthew Series: Do You Hear What I Hear?

January 26, 2014

Audio broadcasts of Messages are available here: https://sites.google.com/site/firstwallingford/sermons

  • Matthew Series: The King and His Kingdom
  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
  • Matthew 2.13-23

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 SO HE GOT UP, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, HE WAS FURIOUS, and he gave orders to KILL ALL THE BOYS IN BETHLEHEM AND ITS VICINITY WHO WERE TWO YEARS OLD AND UNDER, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, BECAUSE THEY ARE NO MORE.”

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19 AFTER HEROD DIED, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 SO HE GOT UP, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

LISTEN – Do You Hear What I Hear?

· What Sounds do We Love To Hear?

· What Sounds do We Hate to Hear?

Last week on the way home our overly tired grand-daughter cried and screamed much of the way. That was a sound I didn’t like to hear.

· What Sounds Hurt Us to Hear? What Sounds Haunt us?

  • Soldiers are sometimes haunted by the sounds of war
  • Victims are pained by the sounds of hurtful memories
  • The grieving may ache for the sounds of loved one’s voices

Coming off the Christmas season and our look at the Christmas Narrative we have considered and heard a variety of sounds related to the majesty and wonder of Christ’s birth.

What are some of the sounds you have heard or thought about this Christmas? (List)

We probably have not thought about sounds of Anguish in this process, but that is the sound that immediately follows the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew.

17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So…we hear

  • The soft coos of the infant Savior
  • The gentle lullaby of Mary
  • The songs of glory from the heavens
  • The excited chatter of the shepherds
  • The soft sounds of the stable

But we also hear…

  • The angry shout of a lunatic king
  • The tromping of soldier’s feet
  • The smashing down of doors
  • The screams of grief-stricken parents
  • The silence of a murdered child

And the question is whispered: Where is God in the midst of this?

LOOK – Do You See What I See

The Depravity of Humanity

We see this as Herod Does Unspeakable Things Against Innocents

  • His throne is threatened by a Toddler King
  • To Eliminate the threat he tries to eliminate all boys under two years old.

We see this as Humanity Continues to Harm Innocents

Has the way that people view children changed in the past fifty years? How?

  • Abortion—as a means of birth control—is out of control
  • Child abuse and Neglect are the highest they have ever been
  • Violent crimes against children increase exponentially

So…we see

  • A peaceful nativity and precious swaddled infant
  • A star shining in the heavens
  • Angels winging their flight o’er the earth
  • Shepherds with their flocks
  • Wise men with their gifts

But we also see…

  • The crazed look of the mad monarch
  • The swift shine of a soldier sword
  • The broken mothers and fathers weeping on the floor
  • The lifeless little ones lying on the ground

And the question is whispered: Where is God in the midst of this?

LOVE – Do You Know What I Know

· The stories of Scripture and our history are not all peaceful and serene.

· Jesus entered a world that was vicious, sinful, and suffering.

· But, there are some things we can know and believe…because He Came

THERE IS SUFFERING – BUT GOD CAME TO BEAR IT WITH US

  • Christmas is a time of joy and celebration—“The Most Wonderful time of the year!”
  • But Christmas comes, as Jesus did, to a fallen and hurting world.
    • How many suffer through the holidays?
    • How many grieve for the past?
    • How many are lonely, and longing for love they can’t find?
    • How many sing “Joy to the World” but find no joy themselves?

Anguish is still a part of the Human scene…the Christmas scene today.

But…Christmas does come…Jesus does come, and He doesn’t promise to take away our suffering, but instead to be with us through the hurt and heart ache. After all…He is, in fact, Emmanuel, God with us.

Illustration: “Where is God?”

Eli Weisel, a Jewish author, who wrote the book entitled, “Night,” was a slave laborer in a WW2 German concentration camp. He writes about the Holocaust & the things that happened to him during the war.
One evening they returned after a day of slave labor to discover that 3 gallows had been erected in the center of the camp. Three prisoners were going to be executed, & the guards had orders to force all the other prisoners to stand & watch the executions. Two of the victims were men, but to their horror they saw that the third was only a small boy. Nooses were put around their necks, & all 3 were made to stand up on chairs. Then the chairs were kicked out from underneath them.
The 2 men died instantly as the weight of their bodies broke their necks. But the little boy was so light that his neck did not break. And there he hung, gasping for breath, dangling at the end of the rope. And the prisoners were forced to stand there & watch him for more than 30 minutes, until finally he died.
In the terribleness of that time, one of the men behind Weisel cried out, “You say that there is a God? Then where is He? Where is He now?”

THIS IS THE QUESTION THAT ECHOES THROUGH COMMUNITIES WRECKED WITH SORROW AND GRIEF IN THE MIDST OF LOSS.

Weisel said, “I turned back & looked at him & said,

“There He is. He is hanging at the end of a rope.”

EMMANUEL – God with us…even in the agony of life.

Not only is there suffering in the world that God has come to bear with us…

THERE IS UNCERTAINTY, GOD CAME TO LEAD US THROUGH IT

Certainly, there was tremendous sorry and agony as Herod’s soldiers carried out their gruesome orders and executed the baby boys throughout the land.

For Mary, Joseph, and their baby—though they had escaped—there was uncertainty ahead.

· Where would they live

  • When Andie and I left New York to go to West Virginia we weren’t sure where we would live. We had only been there once, and all we could base anything on was an inner sense that we needed to make this change in our lives. It was a time of great uncertainty for our young family.
  • When we answered God’s call and followed His leading to go to Bible college in Florida it was again a time of uncertainty. We only had the first couple of months managed, beyond that it would be totally up to God.

· What would they find when they arrived there?

When I went on mission to Barbados I went with someone who had been there numerous times before. I felt some sense of security knowing that he knew what to expect. Joseph and Mary went alone, with only the word of an angel in a dream to go by.

  • It’s interesting that centuries before God had lead his people out of Egypt in hope and promise. Now, The Hope and Promise of the world was going into Egypt.

· AND THE BIG QUESTION: How do They Raise this Heaven-Sent Son?

· WHAT ABOUT OUR UNCERTAINTIES…

  • Graduation….College
  • Family…Marriage…Kids
  • Job/Employment…Economy…Social Security…Debt…
  • War
  • This pain in my back…spot on my arm…

EMMANUEL – God with us, even in the uncertainty of life.

So, God is with us in times of Agony, and in times of uncertainty.

THERE IS DEATH – BUT GOD CAME TO OVERCOME IT

  • Jesus is Born! We celebrate this new life with Angels, Shepherds, Wise men.
  • But, as if splashed by cold water, we are reminded that death is still part of life.

Consider this…

  • That night many children would die because of one man’s sin.
  • Thirty years later, one would die for all man’s sins.

The child who escaped death that night would one day die so all who would believe in Him could escape death forever.

We Still Face Death –

We have been reminded of that many times as we have seen loved ones go on to their eternal reward. We miss the sound of their voices & the touch of their hands. We miss their company & their friendship. And there is an emptiness & a scar in our life that will probably never heal because death is real.

And God doesn’t come to take it away. It will always be here, just as suffering is here, & uncertainty is here. But here is the message of Christmas, “God takes away the sting of death, because Jesus Christ has conquered & given us victory over it.”

This world is not our home, & the grave is not our goal

EMMANUEL – God with us, promising victory over death.

Conclusion

Even in the midst of the Joy and Celebration of Christmas, there are shadows…suffering…sorrow…that threaten to creep in and crush our joy in its jaws.

We can’t discount or disregard the suffering of the parents of Bethlehem…or Columbine…or Newtown…or wherever…when evil and violence rob them of their children. But…there is hope for them…for us…for all the world.

Jesus is EMMANUEL – GOD WITH US…

in Suffering…

in Uncertainty…

and in Death.

  • To Comfort Us
  • To Bear the Weight With us
  • To Lead us through to Something Better

He offers Himself to them…and to you…as a gift.

He waits for you to respond to His invitation.

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About bigdbentley

MEET DAVE "BIG D" BENTLEY - A MAN OF MANY HATS I wear a lot of hats in the course of my life. I wear the "husband hat" with my wife, Andie, whom I have been married to for 26 years. I wear the "daddy hat" with my children, Danielle and David, and their spouses, Micah and Tracie. I am privileged to don my "Papa hat" with my two gorgeous grand-daughters, Amaria and Jaydan, and my energetic grandson, Jethro. I wear the "pastor hat" with my church congregation in Wallingford, Vermont. I have served churches in West Virginia, Alabama, Florida and Vermont. In December of last year my wife and I accepted the call to serve in Wallingford, Vermont. In addition to this variety of caps, I am a student, attending Liberty University to receive a Masters in Teaching in Elementary Education as well as secondary Language Arts. My hobbies tend to revolve around my family, so they include, camping, traveling, playing board games, and spending time with them. In addition I enjoy reading, rainy days, listening to and playing worship songs, and cooking.

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