April 5, 2019

“The Church United by Love”, Class 1, “Rebellion and Reconciliation”: Chris Birtles

Passage: Revelation 21.1-2
Service Type:
God with us
  • God’s desire to dwell in Creation alongside humans – created to bear God’s image
  • Eden  - the first temple
  • Rebellion and expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Themes: Genesis-Revelation
  • Revelation 21:1-2 NIVUK - Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Creation and new creation
Order out of chaos
  • Cities of men: city of God
Cities of men: City of God
  • Rebellion against God leads to Flood – return to chaos
Re-population: The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, Japheth
  • Genesis 10: The table of nations
Ham – Cush
  • Genesis 10:8-10
Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to become a mighty warrior. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.
‘Babel, Erech, and Accad’
See picture in pdf attached
Sumerians – Southern Mesopotamia
See picture in pdf attached
Sumerian King List
See picture in pdf attached
Nimrod the Rebel
  • David Rohl: Sumerian king-list - Enmerkar
  • Enmer-Kar: Enmer the Hunter
  • Hebrew no vowels – ENMAR - NMR the Hunter
  • NMRD – ‘He who rebels’
Rebellious Babylon
  • ‘He also said he would be revenged on God, if He should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.’      Josephus, Antiquities Book 1, ch1
  • Babylon becomes the symbol of rebellion against God
  • Revelation 17:5 - "and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.”
God’s Plan of Redemption
  • God reveals His plan of redemption started through the birth of Seth
  • Genesis 12 - Abram called out of the city of ‘Ur of the Chaldeans’ to live in tents
  • Isaiah 13:19 - And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
the splendour and pride of the Chaldeans,
Sumerians – Southern Mesopotamia
See picture in pdf attached
Sumerian King List
See picture in pdf attached
The City of God
Hebrews 11:10
For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
  • Revelation 21:2
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
Trusting or Building?
  • The Fall: Rebellion in Eden – Adam and Eve seek to define good and evil
  • The city-builders seek to create what is good in their eyes – without God
  • Genesis 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves;
  • God wants to bless humans and provide what is good for them
  • Genesis 12:1-3 - Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abraham’s Family: Israel
YHWH leads the Hebrews from slavery
  • Faithlessness
  • Compromise
  • Lack of trust
  • Examples?
    • Golden calf
    • Promised Land not fully conquered
    • Imitating the world:
    • Asking for a king
    • Idolatry
  • Even the covenant people are in rebellion
  • Where does Israel end up?
Israel in Babylon
  • Israel rebels against God and is exiled to the symbol of rebellion
  • But God still has a plan for Israel
  • In Babylon, Daniel has two visions of successive kingdoms
Israel in Exile
  • Daniel explains his vision to Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel 2:39,40 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these.
  • Current kingdom: Babylon
  • Second kingdom: Persia
  • Third kingdom: Greece
  • Fourth kingdom: Rome
The Fifth Kingdom
  • Daniel 2:44 - And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever;
  • So during the fourth kingdom (Roman Caesars) the exile will end and a new kingdom arise
Israel in Exile
  • Daniel prays for exile to end – Jeremiah’s prophecy (70 years)
  • Daniel 9:24  God’s response through Gabriel - Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
  • True exile will last not 70 years but 70 weeks of years - 490 years
Daniel’s Vision’s
  • Exile – 490 years
  • Four kingdoms – Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome
  • 5 centuries later both boxes ticked
The Kingdom of God?
  • Jesus announces the coming of a new kingdom
  • The people listen but Jesus is not the Messiah they are waiting for
  • Even John the Baptist appears confused
  • Luke7:19 - “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
A Different Kind of King
  • James and John look for positions of honour
  • Mark 10:42-44 “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them…For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
  • Even the twelve don’t understand
The Kingdom
  • The main point the gospels are making is that in Jesus, God is at last becoming king
  • But a very different sort of king
See picture in pdf attached
Faithful Obedience 
and the End of Exile
  • Deuteronomy 30:1-4 - When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the peoples among whom the LORD your God has scattered you.
The Rebels Unite
  • ‘We have no king but Caesar’
  • Unfaithful Israel and ‘Babylon the Great’ conspire to kill Jesus
  • Jesus embodies faithful obedience and suffers a rebels death
  • Rather than kill the Romans Jesus allows the Romans to kill Him
  • Another way of being king, another way of being human
Simply Good News - NTW
  • Gospel – ‘good news’
  • What was the good news?
  • Good news - not good advice
  • The resurrection demonstrates that the kingdom of God has arrived in a most unexpected way
  • The good news: God is king in Jesus
News That Demands a Response

  • Herod responds to news of a new king:
  • Octavian
  • Jesus
  • Faithful obedience to the new king
A Different Kind of King
  • Luke22:28 “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom
  • Jesus is king and has reconciled us to God
The Ministry of Reconciliation
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 - So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself
  • The church is the demonstration of new Creation to the world
  • In Jesus Heaven and earth came together
  • The church is in Jesus and therefore expresses this relationship
New Kingdom – Context and Continuity
  • For the Jews the new kingdom was a future hope
  • For the followers of Jesus it had already happened
  • In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus they believed God had fulfilled His promise
  • A new kingdom had arisen that would never be destroyed
New Creation
  • The good news of what had happened pointed towards what will happen
  • As Jesus was renewed so too all Creation will be renewed
  • Until then the church lives between what happened and what will happen
  • Christians must live in recognition that Jesus is now king
  • The church must show the world a new way of being human
  • No longer in rebellion to God
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God bless,

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