Monday 25 December 2023 Christmas Day
God is here: in speech
Hebrews 1:1–6; John 1:1–18
Context: Pentecostal church (NTCG) morning service. Vibrant worshipping congregation, comprising students from the city university, professionals, academics and church practitioners, that enjoy preaching that is biblical, theological and applicable. The majority of attenders are middle-aged
Aim: to see – in the Old Testament and in the New Testament (in Christ) – how God uses dialogue to show his greatness
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
The text before us this morning allows us to see that God is a conversationalist. He is present through conversation and dialogue. He enjoys conversation. His conversation often concerns his faithfulness, forgiveness, rebuke, and provision. The writer to the Hebrews lets us know in this letter that God spoke in times past through the prophets of the Old Testament, but in our present age he is speaking to us through his Son. The writer of this epistle understood that God had had dialogue with the prophets in the Old Testament. Those prophets acted like mediators between God and the children of Israel. However, as John Calvin stated, ‘God is not confined to mediation.’ There are times in the Old Testament when we see God acting alone, and at other times he is working in collaboration with his chosen prophet or leader.
GOD ACTING ALONE
God can act alone for he is omnipotent. He then chooses to enter into dialogue with Moses to reveal His greatness, so that all may know that he, God, is omnipresent. In Exodus 3:8 we read these words, ‘So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey – the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.’ In this verse we see God acting alone – it is God who is spoken of as the one who is coming down to destroy the Egyptian army and to lead the children of Israel to a new land: a place of prosperity, wealth, and peace.
GOD IS MEDIATED
God uses dialogue to show his greatness. He has a dialogue with Moses and gives Moses a message to relay to Pharaoh. God is present through the speech of Moses. When Moses speaks to Pharaoh, God will act on the words of Moses, showing God’s greatness. This is God working with human personality – human voice – human intellect – human frailties – human doubts. Let us listen again to the text. Exodus 3:10: ‘So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ And Exodus 9:1: ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, this is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me.”’
GOD IS FIGHTING
The frightened Israelites are at the Red Sea, but they are told to be still, because it is God who is fighting for them. Exodus 14:13-14 says: ‘Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’
GOD IS MEDIATED
We then see God acting through Moses. God is not acting alone. This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews tells us: that God spoke in times past by the prophets, and here now we see God speaking directly to Moses. Moses is commanded to act with God to mediate God’s greatness, to reveal God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. We read in Exodus 14:16 ‘Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.’
The victory that comes to the Israelites is celebrated as a joint victory, which involved God choosing to work alone and then choosing to work with Moses. Miriam then leads worship and praise of what God has done (Exodus 15:20-21).
INCARNATION NOT MEDIATION (JOHN 1:1-18)
God had a dialogue with the children of Israel through the prophets. He was mediated by the prophets of the Old Testament, but today he expresses himself through his Son. He has dialogue with us through his Son, the Word made flesh who dwells with us. He has pitched his tent in our very midst and in our hearts. We have something greater than mediation: we have Emmanuel. The third person of the glorious and blessed Trinity gives to us directly and personally the incarnate Word, the eternal Word, the scriptural word.
God is here: in speech. Today God is speaking through his Son who is the scriptural word that we preach and teach. This dialogue concerns the birth, crucifixion, resurrection and teaching of Jesus and his imminent return. God wills that all should hear this message of his Son and wants all to join and be part of this dialogue.
We must invite sceptics, atheists and those from non-Christian faiths and backgrounds to hear about the grace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord.
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