April 26, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church April 26, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Genesis 6:11-13, 46:2-3; Matthew 22:37-40; & John 3:17
This week, as I’ve watched and listened to the news and others’ opinions of what is going on, I’ve heard questions such as. “Is this a sign of Jesus’ return?” and “Is this pandemic part of God’s judgement on the earth?” This morning, I want to look at what the Bible says about these topics. I want us to look at what the Bible says and what it teaches before we believe or share those opinions.
First, in regard to the question of the current circumstances being a sign of Jesus’ return, I want to look at some verses that address Jesus’ return. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says no one knows when He will return. As such, I do not think we can argue that COVID-19 indicates the end of the earth. Jesus will return one day. The Bible tells us we should look for Jesus’ return and live as if His return is imminent. That means we should be living each day working for the Lord. The Bible gives many parables, which teach about Jesus’ return. The parable of the master and the servants talks about the master returning and being pleased with those servants who were working for him. We should live that way. We should be living holy and righteous lives. We need to be ready when the Lord comes—being worshipful and faithful and sharing the gospel with other people so they might also be ready for His return. We need to be living ready as if today is the day Christ would return.
Second, is this worldwide pandemic a source of the Lord bringing judgement on our world? We’ve seen the virus spread throughout our world and watched the devastation. In the past, we’ve seen fires in Australia and California. Recently, there have been locusts in the Middle East and Africa, which is a continued and growing concern. Some news articles have projected the devastation to crops could impact up to 300,000 people a day due to starvation. Is this God trying to tell us something? The Bible is God’s Word for us and is without error. It allows us to look at history to see what has happened. It shows God’s love for all people and provides the plan of salvation for all people. We can look at Scripture and see when God did implement judgement.
In Genesis 6, we see a description of life when Noah was alive. God’s creation, the earth and the people of the earth, were constantly thinking wicked things and turning toward evil. Noah and his family were not pursuing evil or the wickedness of the day. God floods the earth but saves Noah and his family. This is the first instance of God bringing judgement across the whole earth. We can draw some conclusions from this story. Yes, God does act in judgement to wickedness. His great power is capable of impacting the entire earth. We also see a promise that God would not flood the earth again, but it is a promise specific to flooding. It does not mean that other things would not come as part of God’s judgment.
The next event where we see God’s widespread judgement is found in Genesis 46. After the earth is repopulated, we see the people are spread across the earth and have different languages as the result of the people trying to gain equality with the Lord through the tower of Babel. After the flood, God decides He is going to continue to reveal Himself to the world through Abraham and his family who become God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Jacob is a descendant of Abraham and has a son named Joseph. Through several different circumstances, Joseph ends up in Egypt. He is able to interpret dreams and is put in a position to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. He tells Pharaoh his dreams are a warning of an impending famine. Joseph is put in charge to make preparations for the famine. In Genesis 46: 2-3, God tells Jacob to go to Egypt and promises Jacob He will make a great nation of him. God uses Joseph to save his family and the Israelites, God’s chosen people, during the famine. God has the ability to take troubling circumstances and make good things from them. In Exodus 1, we see the children of Israel were fruitful, and the land of Egypt was filled with them. God used the famine to accomplish His will and fulfill the promise He had made to Abraham to make his family a great nation.
As the Old Testament continues the focus is on the Israelites who are God’s chosen people. The people rebel against God’s plan at different times and experience loss and death. This cycle is really summarized by Judges 21:25 in the second half of the verse where it says: “every person did what was right in their own eyes”. People often get it wrong. There are many things we think are right but are not. The Bible gives us absolute truth. God has told us things He does not want us to do and things He does want us to do. He tells us, if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. Disobeying God is sin. He is loving and merciful, but He does judge sin. We see in Scripture time and again that when people did what was right in their own eyes but was against God’s Word, they experienced God’s judgement. God intervenes to draw people back to Him.
In the New Testament, Jesus makes the way of salvation through Himself. The focus turns away from the Israelites to individuals who make up the church. We see throughout the New Testament the message of repentance—the call to examine our own lives for corruption and sin and get rid of those sins then turn toward God and fill our lives with Him.
Today, I think we can say it is a possibility that God is using COVID-19 to accomplish His will and perhaps bring judgement to our world. What is the will of God? In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us the will of the Father is to love God with everything we have and to love people. If we are not doing that fully, we are in rebellion to God. When God brings judgement, it is to accomplish His will of repentance. As we shelter-in-place, God may be trying to draw families back to Him. Pray with your family. Read the Bible and talk about it with your family. I truly believe God wants us to turn back to Him and draw near to Him.
In looking at the possibility of God’s judgement, we have to look at if there is sin in our lives. Jesus tells us we have to love God and love people. Maybe you’re asking, how do I do that? In Exodus, God gave the people the Ten Commandments that tell us the guidelines God has for us. The first four commandments tell us how to love God, and the other six tell us how to love people. We may need to get on our knees and ask the Lord to forgive us of violating His commandments. That may be what God wants us to do as a world today. To close consider John 3:17 which tells us that God sent His Son not to condemn the world but so that the world might be saved. Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sins and offers us eternal life. He redeems us. God may be calling us to repent as a nation and turn to Him. Let us look at our own lives, repent, turn toward the Lord, and abide in Him.
Scripture: James 4:7-10
In James 4, we find some guidance on how to live. It’s practical, simple, and straightforward—something for us to simply read and do. Verse 7 tells us to submit ourselves to God. When we submit to God, we surrender our lives and acknowledge God is in control and is worthy of our allegiance and obedience. Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. Submitting to the Lord means we will do what God wants us to do in all circumstances. Humbling ourselves before God is another way we submit to the Lord. Our prayer lives should show this submission by praying for God’s will in our lives rather than only praying for our own selfish desires.
The second half of the verse tells us to resist the devil, and he will flee from you. We are called to withstand and oppose temptation. I want to look at four things in Scripture that instruct us how to resist the devil. 1) Don’t give the devil a foothold in your life. Ephesians 4:27 instructs us to not give the devil a place in our life. We cannot excuse any sin in our life, no matter how big or small. We should be careful not to give the devil a foothold by the things to which we expose ourselves, such as music, television, entertainment, reading. 2) Oppose the devil with God’s Word. When Jesus was in the wilderness, we see the devil tempting Him. Jesus opposes the devil through quoting Scripture. We can rely on the truth of God’s Word to oppose the devil. 3) Put on the whole armor of God. In Ephesians 6, the armor of God is given to us for the purpose of withstanding the devil. Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to put on the armor of God to withstand the wiles of the devil. 4) 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert and recognize the devil is working to destroy lives. We are called to be sober and vigilant and oppose the work of the devil. By being on guard for the devil’s deceptions will be able to withstand.
James 4:8 tells us to draw near to God. We are called to seek God first. Jesus’ life is an example to us for how to draw near to God. We see Jesus repeatedly in the gospels getting away from everyone and everything else and taking time to draw near to God. The distractions of life draw us away from God, and we have to take the time to step away and draw near to God. Reading the Bible and praying allows us to draw near to the Lord. Further in this verse, we also see a call to repentance from sin and from being double-minded. Double-minded means we are sharing our allegiance with God and something else. We are called to love God completely with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Verse 9 describes the remorse and regrets we may experience by tolerating and entertaining sin in our lives. True repentance involves experiencing the burden of the weight of our sin. We cannot minimize sin. We must grieve the sin in our life and truly get rid of it. Ezra 9:3-6 shows deep grief and shame over sin. When was the last time we were grieved and ashamed of the sin in our lives? We should recognize the impact of our sin that led Jesus to die on the cross and our position before a holy, righteous God who has the power of judgement.
Verse 10 of James 4 instructs us to humble ourselves before God. God tells us to get rid of our pride and come back to Him. When we humble ourselves before God, He redeems us and lifts us up. We see examples of people recognizing their sin and humbling themselves before God. Isaiah cries out “Woe is me!” over his sin in Isaiah 6. In Luke 5:8, Peter falls down before Jesus and cries, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man”. In Acts 9, Saul is on a mission to arrest believers and encounters God on the road to Damascus. Saul fell to the earth on his knees before God and only asks “God, what would you have me do?” God lifts each of these men and provides a specific purpose and calling on their lives. When we draw near to God, repent, and humble ourselves before the Lord, God is able to fulfill His calling on our lives and to use us for His will. This is when we see revival in our personal lives, our households, our social networks, and beyond.
Let’s all recognize the sin in our lives and become determined to repent and then humbly draw near to the Lord.
In Christ’s Love,