Rorate Coeli Advent 4 OT Sermon
December 23, 2012
So, how was everyone’s Friday? Ours was good. We went to the library and got out about a million books for next week and at night we went to the Electric Critters at the Zoo. We had a fun day. Not everyone did however. Especially those who believed those silly Mayans and bought into the belief that the Mayans predicted that the world was going to end. Boy, don’t they all look pretty ridiculous right now. But, no more ridiculous than those who have blindly followed end of the world predictions since, well, forever.
Since I was born in 1981 there have been roughly around 90 different people who have predicted the end of the world. 90 different predictions in 31 short years. That’s an average of three a year. Most don’t get news coverage because the people making the predictions aren’t famous and just a bunch of whack jobs. That’s a technical theological term. Some, like Pat Robertson, Harold Camping and Benny Hinn are well known individuals so the media picks up on their non-sense for ratings. This year those who wanted to see destruction and death blindly followed the Mayans lead.
False prophets are nothing new. They’ve been around since God’s prophets first spoke His Word. Moses, arguably the greatest of the OT prophets went and produced 10 plagues against the seers and diviners of Pharaoh. God used him to free Israel from slavery and to make a fool of Pharaoh’s prophets and the Egyptian gods in the process.
In Exodus 32, after freeing God’s people, Moses led them through the wilderness for a bit to Mount Sinai. He spoke with God face to face. He was given the 10 Commandments. The Law. This is a Law that shows what damned sinners we truly are. We don’t escape this damnation by ourselves. God was clear on this. But when Moses came down that mountain all aflutter after speaking with the Living God who would become incarnate many years later, his expression changes. He’s no longer the Moses who led the people and performed those miraculous and prophetic signs. Instead Moses is angry.
The Israelites in their sinful ingratitude for their God-won freedom from bondage forced Aaron to make a “god who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
The false gods are made. The false prophets are pleased. A golden calf is erected for all to see. The first commandment “You shall have no other gods” is broken joyfully and without remorse. Yet, Moses as the prophet intercedes for that sinful generation. And God holds back His anger.
In Exodus 34 Moses is back on the mountain getting another copy of the Law because it was destroyed. After Moses and God’s conversation that lasted 40 days and nights, his face shown with the light and glory of the one who was to come. His face shown like Jesus on the mount during the Transfiguration. Except Moses’ glory began to fade and fade showing the fallen creation that Moses was.
He was given the Law. That’s what Moses is known for. Law. All of the true prophets that followed have kept with the theme of Law. Repent from your evil ways. Repent from treating the poor like some form of sub-human slime. Repent from false worship to false idols. Repent from following false prophets. Follow God who gives all good gifts. As great as Moses was, and he was great, he was still a failure. Hard to hear, I know. But, it’s true. Moses was a failure. He couldn’t keep what he was commanded to give.
The Law that was given on that mountain terrifies and kills. It provides no comfort save comfort for the delusional that think they are keeping it without actually looking at their hearts. The Pharisees among us who like to point out the speck in others eyes while ignoring their own logs. The Law doesn’t make alive or console those that are broken.
But, Moses was right in at least on thing. He spoke as the prophet when he said “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers––it is to him you shall listen.”
So who was the new prophet that Moses, as the great prophet of God, said would come? God sent many prophets after him to the Old Testament people. There were men like Samuel and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah. There were Amos and Malachi. Yet these men were all failures like Moses before them. Even the last prophet of the Old Testament, John the Baptist was a failure. If these men were failures, then who wasn’t?
In Acts 3 Peter preaches at Solomon’s Portico. Peter ends this fantastic sermon with these words, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:22-26)
Likewise in Acts 7 Saint Stephen, before he is stoned to death, says, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)
This person that is the Prophet, the Righteous One, the Servant, is Jesus Christ, very God of very God. Peter says of Jesus, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” How true Peter speaks without even knowing it.
Jesus came as the Prophet that is like Moses, but different than him. Moses came to give Law, but Jesus came to give you something different. Jesus took those words of death and made them words of life. Jesus came to fulfill the Law for you. Jesus as the Greatest Prophet fulfills not just the great prophet Moses, but all of the prophets for you.
Jesus isn’t just some prophet from a long line of prophets. He is the Greatest Prophet of whom the Father says, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Jesus comes “from among you, from the brothers,” as Moses put it. Jesus is true man from the Jewish people because “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
No other prophet taught differently than Moses. No other prophet set up a new ministry that was pure Gospel death of the Law except Jesus. Every true prophet before Jesus taught Moses. Jesus, the Greatest Prophet, freed not only the Jews from the Law of Moses, but all people. Jesus freed you and gave you the new Word of the Gospel… Himself given and shed for the forgiveness of all of your sins.
John 1 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
Jesus the Greatest Prophet leads you by His grace and truth. Jesus takes you to the Promised Land, not with Laws and regulations. Instead, Jesus takes you there by His cross and resurrection. Jesus doesn’t give you manna and quail from heaven to sustain your trip. Rather, Jesus gives you His very body and blood.