I think we need to be reminded that the world, not just in its social perspectives, but even in its political perspectives, is never intended to be a friend of the church or an ally in any way.
We're calling the series The World vs. the Kingdom of God. John, the messages we're going to be looking at over the next few weeks, you originally preached these sermons more than a year ago, back when the COVID controversy was at its peak, and there's been a lot of upheaval in society since then. But if anything, these messages are actually more timely today, and I think that's a reflection of the fact that the issues that prompted this series are still all around us, and now, as much as ever, we need biblical wisdom to deal with these things. Yeah, and this again speaks, Phil, to the issue that Scripture is eternally relevant. It is more relevant than anything. It's more relevant than the latest blog or the latest book or the latest newscast or the latest anything. It is the living and eternal Word of God, and when you look into the Word of God to understand the world and life in the world, you're getting a timeless answer, and that's exactly what this series turned out to be.
I was trying to help our church people understand COVID. I was trying to help them understand what was going on with the government and with the nation and with the world, and every week I would come up with another thing to try to give them understanding from the Word of God. And as we went week after week after week after week, we accumulated this sort of body of content that does seem today maybe even more relevant, because we understand more how true those biblical realities really are. So the title of this brand new series is The World Versus the Kingdom of God. The World Versus the Kingdom of God.
I don't think any of us need to be convinced we're living in a dark time spiritually. Increasing social unrest, violence, crime, corruption, churches falling into social issues and abandoning the purity of the gospel, and a whole lot of other things that you're well aware of. In light of these evidences of really what is not just the evidence of the fallenness of man, the evidence of the corruption of society, the evidence of the presence of Satan, but is the evidence also of the judgment of God, his judgment of letting the sinner go to the consequence of his own sinful choices.
We're seeing all that play out. And so the series The World Versus the Kingdom of God is a timely take on what the Bible clearly teaches about these two kingdoms that exist in parallel to one another. The Kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of light.
The Kingdom of the World, which is the kingdom of darkness. This will help you understand the world in which you are living. Encouragement from the Word of God has never been more necessary. The truth has never been more powerful, and you're going to find these messages helpful. So stay with us through the series. Yes, stay with us, friend. The world is changing fast and seems unrecognizable, but biblical truth that gives peace and hope even in the darkest times.
Thankfully, that never changes. So to take you to God's Word now, here is John MacArthur launching his new study, The World Versus the Kingdom of God. I'm going to challenge you a little bit. We're going to go into the Word of God, and I'm going to ask that you go with me and stay with me in this, and I can promise you the reward will be just exactly what you would expect when you give attention to the Word of God. I think we need to be reminded that the world, not just in its social perspectives, but even in its political perspectives, is never intended to be a friend of the church or an ally in any way.
Listen to the words of our Lord in John 15 18. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
There's the issue. If you decide that you love the world, you can wiggle your way into it and draw out some level of affection. But because you are not of the world and I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you. If you are who I chose you to be, you will be hated by the world. That does not thwart the purpose of God for His church in the world.
We don't need laws, we don't need politicians for Christ to build His church. In John 16 33, in the next chapter, He said, in this world, you will have tribulation. Told you last week, we lose, right? Now, for now, in this world, you will have thalipsis, pressure, tribulation.
But, He said, I have overcome the world. The end of the story, Christ wins and we win in Christ. But losing now and winning then has nothing to do with any political help.
So here's another surprise to add to that one. The Bible doesn't recommend, prefer, or even discuss democracy. The ancient world had kings.
No other form of government appears either in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Kings were a common grace. We talk about God giving common grace, and government is common grace to bring order to society.
We understand that. But do you also understand that the most common, common grace of governmental character is a monarchy? In fact, so common were kings that we find in the Old Testament no nation under any other kind of government. So normal was it to have a king that the epic tragedy of Israel in the Old Testament was that they wanted a king like all other pagan nations. Was Israel a democracy? Never.
What was it? It was a theocratic monarchy and God was king. The Yahweh was their king. The covenant God was their king. The Lord Yahweh was Israel's king forever.
You would think that would be enough, right? If you don't think sin makes you stupid, get ready for this story. Under attack from some Midianites, Israel decided they wanted a king. They wanted a king? You mean they wanted another king other than God, Yahweh, the God of the universe, the true King, Judge, Redeemer? Yes, they wanted a king. Well, who was overseeing life in Israel before they had a king?
God. It was a theocratic kingdom and God had agents. Those agents were judges and prophets. One of those judges, turn in your Bible to Judges, chapter 8, was a very familiar man by the name of Gideon. We don't have time for the entire story, but it's an incredible story of how God used Gideon, and it leads us into chapter 8, verse 22. Gideon had just had a great victory. The men of Israel said to Gideon, "'Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.'" Let's start a family monarchy. You be our king. Gideon said to them, "'I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you.'"
Why? What's the next line? "'The Lord shall rule over you.'"
You don't trade Him in for me. That's insane. The last of the judges was a man named Samuel. Turn to 1 Samuel, chapter 3, and we're going to go through this story.
This is an astonishing story. In a sense, it's the end of the reign of God over Israel. Chapter 3, verse 19, it says that Samuel grew and the Lord was with him, and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan, even to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord, so he was a judge and a prophet. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. So this is exactly the way the kingdom should operate, right?
God is the King, and He mediates His kingdom through the words that He gives to His prophets. The Lord had His way. The Lord had His way with Samuel.
Then we come to chapter 4, monumental. The word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistine army camped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel.
When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines had killed about 4,000 men on the battlefield. When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord. That is the symbol of God's presence.
That's His throne. Let's take that, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies. So now what you know has happened is that the ark, which was the symbol of the actual presence of God in the midst of His covenant people, has become a good luck charm.
Sin has made these people stupid. And even with as noble a prophet judge as Samuel, their stupidity could not be avoided. So they lost the battle and lost lives, and they said, we need to get God down there.
Get the box. So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord who sits above the cherubim, reminding them that this is the throne of God. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas were there with the ark of the covenant of God. As the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with great shout so that the earth resounded.
Why? Because, hey, God showed up, the good luck charm. When the Philistines heard the noise, they said, what is the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean? Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. The Philistines were afraid, for they said, God has come into the camp. And they said, woe to us, for nothing like this has happened before. They feared the God of Israel because they knew the history of His power. They feared Him more than Israel loved Him. Woe to us, they said, who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods?
These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you. Therefore, be men and fight." So pep talk.
You can't be intimidated by this God. You ought to go to war. So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated. Every man fled to his tent, and the slaughter was very great, and there fell of Israel 30,000 foot soldiers.
God is saying, you're not using me as a magic charm. The ark of God, verse 11, was taken. The Philistines took God, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
It didn't turn out so well, did it? Somebody said, get God and we'll win. They got God, and they were massacred. What happened?
What happened? Go to verse 19. Well, verse 18, first Eli fell over backward, broke his neck, and died because he was old and heavy. His daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was pregnant, about to give birth, and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken, that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her.
And about the time of her death, the women who stood by her said to her, do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son. So she dies in childbirth. Hophni and Phinehas are dead. Eli is dead.
30,000 soldiers are dead. The wife of Phinehas is giving birth. She's dead.
The child lives. And about the time of her death, they said, don't be afraid. You've given birth to a son. She didn't answer or pay attention.
Listen to this. She called the boy Ichabod, which means the glory has departed from Israel because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband, she said the glory has departed from Israel for the ark of God was taken. You know what she means? God's gone. We may have a box, but we don't have God. Chapter 5, if you think that's a problem for Israel, imagine what a problem it is for the Philistines. Now they have God. Philistines took the ark of God, brought it to Ebenezer, then to Ashdod. Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
Dagon was a kind of a reverse mermaid, male, fish head, human legs, bizarre idol. So when the Ashdodites rose in the morning after setting God, imagine the ark of the covenant next to Dagon. It came early in the morning, and Dagon had fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord.
And they said, oh, somebody knocked him over. So they took Dagon and set him in his place. But when they rose the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and only this time the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold, and the trunk of Dagon was left to him. Somebody decapitated that idol. You're not putting him in the same place with the true and living God. Well, that was the end of the religion of Dagon, obviously. So verse 5 says, neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon and Ashdod to this day. That religion went out of existence immediately.
I mean, if the God of Israel can whack off your head and your hands, we don't need you. So the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, and they said, the ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our God. And so they sent and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and said, what shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they said, let the ark of God be brought around to Gath. Send it out of here.
Send it to another town. Gath, that's where Goliath was from. So they took the ark to Gath and they brought it around, and the hand of the Lord was against that city with very great confusion.
He smote the men of the city, young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. So they said, get that thing out of town. They sent it to Ekron. The ark came to Ekron. The Ekronites cried out, yikes, they brought the ark of the God of Israel around to us to kill us and our people. This is a problem to have God on your hands.
And to be mocking God and dishonoring God in all these ways is a very deadly kind of activity. So they had a meeting in verse 11. They gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, send away the ark of the God of Israel and let it return to its own place so that it will not kill us and our people.
For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city. The hand of God was very heavy there, and the men who didn't die were smitten with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven. God is just leaving a slaughter everywhere the ark goes. Chapter 6 says, the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines for seven months, and the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners saying, what shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we shall send it to its place. This is most interesting. They said, if you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering.
These are pagans saying this. Don't just send that back. Send that back with a guilt offering.
What do you mean? Send it back with something that indicates you know you violated that God. Admit that what happened to you is what you deserve because you violated that God. What would we send? Fascinating. They said, well, what shall be the guilt offering, which we return to Him? And they said, five golden tumors and five golden mice.
Why? That's called a votive offering. You create something that resembles the punishment, the mice because of the plague, the tumor because of the tumors. So they were making mice and tumors to send back as a way to say to the offended God, please, we recognize that we have offended you. Verse 5 sort of sums it up. If we give glory to the God of Israel, perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods and your land. Get God out of here and don't send Him back empty.
Send Him back with recognition that you have sinned against Him. Go over to chapter 6, verse 17. These are the golden tumors.
This is getting more serious. They are so afraid of this deity that they start making these votive representations of His judgment in gold. Golden tumors and golden mice. And they set it on the ark, verse 18, to send it back. Now just rehearse that history, okay? They have God as their King. The God who led them through the plagues in Egypt, drowned the entire Egyptian army, brought them through years in the wilderness, brought them into the promised land, gave them victory over their enemies. God who has just put on His power display is slaughtering all kinds of alien pagans. They now have God back. They have a faithful judge.
Maybe this is permanent, right? Chapter 8. It came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his son's judges over Israel. In the name of his firstborn was Joel, and in the name of his second was Abijah. They were judging in Beersheba. His sons, however, didn't walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes and perverted justice. Okay, here we have crooked politicians.
So listen to this. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together. All the elders of Israel gathered together, came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, "'Now you've grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.'"
This is clear and complete apostasy. We don't want God as our King. The thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "'Give us a king to judge us.'"
And Samuel prayed to the Lord. Every nation had a king. These two sons of Samuel aren't working out so well. Give us a king.
We want a king like everybody else has a king. In chapter 8, verse 7, the Lord said to Samuel, "'Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have," what? "'rejected Me from being king over them.'"
I mean, sin make you stupid or what? "'But listen to their voice, solemnly warn them, tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.'" So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who asked of him a king. He said, "'Do you know what this is going to mean?
Do you know what you're doing? You're trading in the Redeemer King for an evil, anti-God, narcissistic, autocratic dictator.'" Verse 21, after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the Lord's hearing. He said, "'Lord, I can't believe this, but I'm going to tell you what they said.'" As if the Lord didn't hear. The Lord said to Samuel, "'Listen to their voice, give them a king.'"
Give them a king. Chapter 12, verse 12 says, "'A king shall reign over you, although the Lord your God was your king.'" This is the epic apostasy of Israel. Enter, you know who, Saul. Saul is going to be their king.
Go over to chapter 10. They've selected Saul. We won't go through all that story, but Samuel, verse 17 of chapter 10, calls the people together, Mizpah, and he said to the sons of Israel, "'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I brought Israel up from Egypt. I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.
But you have today rejected your God who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses. Yet you have said, no, but set a king over us. Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.'" Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.
By the way, any king in Israel was supposed to be from the tribe of Judah. Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin nearby its families, and the Matrite family was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was found. Saul, why him? Well, we already know because, verse 23 says, he was taller than anybody else and more tall, dark, handsome, and cowardly. Verse 22 says, where's Saul? He's hiding in the baggage.
Oh, great. We got a tall, dark, handsome guy in the baggage, hiding. By the way, what did he do? He looked for lost donkeys. That was his job. Unfortunately, he didn't do it very well. He couldn't find them. He went from one end of the land to the other end of the land. He couldn't find them.
Somebody said, oh, they're already back home. Tall, dark, handsome, cowardly donkey finder. Sin makes you stupid, and it makes you make stupid choices about leadership. Who trades in the eternal God for a tall, dark, handsome, stupid donkey finder who wants to hide in the baggage?
So why did God allow this as a judgment? If you understand that as a judgment. You want a king? I'll give you a king. I'll give you a king that will show you how foolish you are to turn from God. Saul is the anti-king. He's the illustration of the worst kind of ruler. That's God's whole point.
Saul was a complete disaster, and we know the sad story of it. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. Today, John began a brand new study. He's titled The World vs. the Kingdom of God.
And now this study is really important. The themes are so timely. It's critical that you know how to think biblically about the cultural chaos that is all around. To download The World vs. the Kingdom of God, or to order these messages on CD, contact us today. You can purchase the seven-CD album by calling 800-55-GRACE, or go to gty.org. That's our website, and that's where you'll find the MP3s and the transcripts, and they are available free of charge.
Look for the series titled The World vs. the Kingdom of God, as well as the rest of John's 3500 sermons. They're all available to download for free at gty.org. Also, let me encourage you to drop us a note and let us know how God is using grace to you in your life, and let us know how you hear our broadcast. Mentioning this radio station is a big help. Our email address is letters at gty.org. That's letters at gty.org. Or you can reach us by regular mail.
That address is Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. And to keep up to date with what's ahead on our radio and TV broadcasts, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and check out our YouTube channel as well. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson inviting you to be here tomorrow, when John continues to show you the truths you need to know if you want to survive in a culture that's becoming more and more hostile to the truth. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-08 18:59:57 / 2023-01-08 19:10:13 / 10