Matthew 25:1-13 The Parable of the Virgins

We will enter the Scripture in a section that has our Lord and His disciples sitting on the Mount of Olives only a few days before His crucifixion. The teaching began with the disciples asking our Lord when and what the signs would be of the Temple’s destruction, His coming, and the end of the age. In this section, teaching on the near destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the Son of Man are mingled together. There are four parables taught and we will discuss the third concerning the Return: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.

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This parable concerns the waiting period until the Lord Jesus’ return. The intention is to describe future events and by doing so, urge a response in the here and now. As we move through the text, we will keep one, primary focus: *Waiting for the Lord’s return involves preparations for a long delay.*

[READ First Line] Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened…
A. At the time of Christ’s Return it will be something like this parable.
B. Not every individual parabolic detail can be interpreted to explain every detail of the Return.
a. Then will be like…
b. We must read this as an entire picture of the Return.
C. Background of Wedding:
a. Engagement:
1. The father would choose a wife for his son.
2. Formal (and Legal) Arrangements
Couple was legally married, but didn’t live together or have physical relations.
*The parable begins with the wedding night. The proposal and preliminary arrangements have long been made. Now the time of waiting takes place- waiting for the Bridegroom.
b. Wedding:
1. About year later
2. Bridegroom/companions went to escort Bride/maids to Groom’s home.
3. Along the way, many neighbors, friends, and family would join.
4. Marriage supper (public celebration) was held at the house of the Bridegroom
The parable ends at the home of the Bridegroom.

[READ vv. 1-2] The Virgins
A. Various interpretations
1. Children of Friends and Neighbors
2. Servants of the Bridegroom
3. Bridesmaids (Can Rule Out)
a. Would not be on the road
b. Would not supply own oil
c. Would not be excluded at the Bridegroom’s house
B. Most likely young women waiting to join the procession to the party.
C. The parade would move through the streets at night using the light of oil-fed torches, for lack of street lights. As they move through the town, they pick people along the way and these people are expected to have torches. The 10 girls were waiting for the group to get to them so that they could join in and be taken to the home of the groom where the joyous party would continue all night and possibly even a week.

[READ vv. 3-9] The Bridegroom Delayed
A. The majority of people agree that the Bridegroom is the Lord Jesus.
a. Yahweh calls Himself the Husband of Israel in the OT
b. Jesus calls Himself the Husband of the Church in the NT
B. The delay of the Bridegroom is a major point in the parable.
a. The delay is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish.
b. It is presupposed that the foolish took oil in their lamps just as the wise and they were interested in going to the party like the wise.
c. v. 4 “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
d. By the way, nothing is made of the group sleeping.
e. The wise made preparations for a long delay while the foolish did not.

[READ vv.10-12] And the Door was Shut
A. Waiting for the Bridegroom involved preparations for a long delay.
B. Preparedness and prudence cannot be shared or in any way benefit the foolish.
C. The foolish virgins did not forget oil, but willingly chose to not take any extra. The group set out together, yet five prepared and five didn’t in the group of ten. You have to think that the wise warned the foolish that they weren’t bringing enough oil!
D. It is not that people who desired to be in the wedding party were refused, but rather that they never made the preparations needed to be accepted.

Conclusion: v. 13 reiterates the theme of the section and the parable. Watch! Be Prepared!
The difference between the 5 wise and the 5 foolish is that the wise took extra oil.
Oil has been interpreted in many ways including: good works, grace, and the Holy Spirit.
These three are obviously lacking. **The point is that the wise are prepared for a long delay.

Waiting for the Lord’s return involves preparations for a long delay.
We must be strategic for now and the future. There is a waiting period. We have our defining moment, make a commitment to the Lord, and then we realize there is still time remaining.
What do we do with this time? What is this interim period for? Why has the Lord left us here?
1. Preparatory Period: To Prepare Ourselves
a. Spiritual Growth by assembling ourselves together for study.
(Spiritual Learnedness) - Colossians 1:9
b. Glorifying God - Colossians 1:16
2. Preparatory Period: To Prepare Others
a. Teach the Gospel (Matthew 28:20) / Be Peace-Makers (Matthew 5:9)
b. Our preparation may not be transferable, but we can prepare others through teaching.

SEE John 17:15 “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world…”

We have a preparatory period.

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour…

Waiting for the Lord’s return involves preparations for a long delay.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Do Not Grow Weary

In our Scripture for today we find ourselves in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians C3. There are several things going on here that we could address and some things that we can/must be challenged with as the people of God. I must give you a brief introduction to the history of one issue. Apparently there were quite a few believers in the church who were not willing to work and were sponging off of the others. There were bunches of freeloading Christians there in Thessalonica. Not only were there idlers, but there were disorderly people. They spent there time sticking there noses where it didn’t belong. It was such a problem that the Apostle Paul had to write to them and we have inspired Scripture that speaks to the matter.

It is interesting to note that Paul had actually taught these things while he was with the people and in his first letter to them he had insisted the same. In 1 Thess 4:11-12 the Bible says, “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.” Then, in 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly…”

Now we come to the second letter and the problem has persisted. These were such ungodly activities (laziness, freeloading, disorderly conduct, being busybodies) that the Apostle writes, “we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (3:6)

The Apostle’s word on the matter was a very real and practical teaching. Each person should work and provide for himself. As Christians, we are to live our lives in a quiet manner, not stirring up controversy or causing any type of unrest. The Bible says in another place, “Do all things without complaining and disputing…” (Phil 2:14). As much as it depends on you, “aspire to lead a quiet life.”

Secondly, we are to mind our own business. Now, there are several Scriptures that instruct us to be our brother’s keeper (our sister’s keeper), but that is not what this is talking about and I think you know what he means. We are to show genuine concern for fellow believers who have fallen on hard times, but for the most part we are instructed to mind our own business. It is disorderly, it is gossiping, and it is ungodly to stick our noses where they do not belong. The problem is many people intentionally and manipulatively query into others affairs.

Thirdly, we are to work with our own hands. If America has lost any Biblical principles at all this is the one. We have been indoctrinated to the point that we think everybody owes us something. Well, that’s not what the Bible teaches. The Apostle tells the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Now, we want our leaders and our president (who claims to be a Christian) to return to Biblical principles, correct? Well, what if he stood in front of the cameras for the whole nation to hear and said, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”? That would cause one of the largest uproars the world has ever seen. Take note, I am not saying that it is wrong to save up SOME funds for our old age, or as a cushion for catastrophes that may hit, or even for a rainy day. AND I am NOT saying that those with health setbacks are to be rebuked for not working.
What I am saying is that, for the most part, we are to work and provide for our own households. That is pleasing to God and it is a witness to outsiders. It tells them that we are orderly, honest, God-fearing people who will provide for ourselves.

So, we “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands”
Let us read the Scripture where the point is made clear and then I will extend a few applications.

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What is Biblical Retirement?
What is the American understanding of retirement?

Have you ever read anything in the Bible about retirement? Is it a Biblical concept?
What does God think about retirement?
It should be noted that maybe part of the problem in Thessalonica was the fact that so many of them had a faulty view of the return of Christ. (I did not plan this in light of Harold Camping’s prediction, but this speaks to the matter).

We know that the Thessalonians could not get their eschatology right because we read so much in the letters to them about the second coming of Christ. They believed, as they should have, that Christ could return any day and that it would be very soon. What they did not regard was the overwhelming amount of Scripture that teaches that Christ may be delayed. I have never forgotten the main point of the parable of the virgins-
the Bridegroom may be delayed. He is coming, but He may be delayed…

If you knew for certain that the end was one week from today, you probably would quit your job, prepare yourself, and evangelize with such zealous fervor that you would not even sleep. The Thessalonians were so caught up in the awe of the second coming that it appears they quit their jobs, yet quickly they became freeloaders and busybodies.

*I think that the Bible lays out an ideal like this:
1. Work a job and provide for your family until you can’t work anymore.
2. Save some of your resources for the day when you can’t work anymore.
3. When you are unable to work a full-time job and you have saved enough to carry you through the rest of your years, do NOT QUIT working for the Lord.
If there is such a thing as retirement from an earthly job, it is an understating that that God has given you the opportunity to serve His church full-time.

Simply Put, Don’t be Busybodies
There is actually a word-play in the phrase “not working at all, but are busybodies.” The play on words is difficult to maintain from Greek to English, but here is the essence, “they are not busy; they are busybodies.” That is a clever way of saying that there were many Christians in that town that looked as if they were busy or even intentionally performed for the public as if they were busy, but there was no substance to what they were doing. They were busy, busy, busy, but for no good reason. They had become idle, disorderly, gossips, and truly busybodies as they went from house to house demonstrating their unrighteous lifestyles.
Simply put, don’t be a busybody. Work your secular job unto the Lord and work for His church!
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).

“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Work with your hands unto the Lord and pray that others will as well. Do not waste your time as a busybody, but honestly be busy for the Lord!

Do Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
We have finally come to our last and main point. Here is the primary exhortation and challenge.
The stress of this verse may be in light of the idlers in the church. (1) The more mature believers did not need to lose heart in their struggles with those busybodies. They needed to hear from the Apostle, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” It is a good thing to keep the commandments of our God. It is a good thing to continually teach His Word to others. (2) They needed to be models of the Apostolic traditions that were passed on to them- live quietly, mind your own business, and work with your own hands. Someone in the church needed to continue to exemplify the teaching. (3) They did not need to continue to support those who refused to work, but they DID need to give to those who were in honest need. We need to be generous people, though there are some who wish to use and abuse us. I know (and you know) exactly how it feels to be used, abused, manipulated, and nagged by others, but that is no reason to shut up our resources from those in desperate need or to be selfish. We must continue to do good and not grow weary of it despite our experiences.

There may be many of us who have not fallen prey to the sin of idleness, but it may be very tempting. In my short life I have heard so many Christians say some things like “I have done enough for this church” or “How much do I really have to do?” or “If nobody else is going to work then I’m not going to do anything either.” What terrible thoughts we have sometimes!
How easy it is to fall into the trap of idleness and spiritual laziness! And, take note of this, it is a TRAP! I have seen with my very own eyes men and women who truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ begin to slowly fade away. I have seen men and women who labored for the Lord with joy in their souls, but they were tempted by the bread of idleness. Their faith began to deteriorate because they were plagued with the thought that so many so-called believers don’t care about anything, they were overwhelmed by doing so much with so little help, and they finally gave in to the idea that they had done enough in their lifetimes. They gave up… And many of them have fallen away from saving faith in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

So, I want to challenge you this morning to not grow weary in doing good. Keep the faith!
If you are already retired or are going to retire, then retire unto God! Do not be a busybody who destroys the unity of the church because of idleness, disorderly conduct, gossip, and jumping into the affairs of others when you have no business in doing so. Work unto the Lord and serve His church. Do not grow weary in doing good. The Lord will bless you here and now with the satisfaction of joy in Christ if you continue to trust in Him and He has gone to prepare a place for those who endure in the faith until the end. Maybe you have grown weary in doing good. If so, may your mind be renewed this day, even now as we conclude this time together.

Acts 17:22-31 He Gives to All Life

In Acts17:16-34 we find the Apostle Paul in the great city of Athens, Greece. Athens was the premier city of the ancient world for education, philosophy, arts, and architecture. It was the great university city of the world for hundreds of years. Everybody knew about Athens. It had been the foremost Greek city-state since the 5th Century B.C. and it was the city of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. By the time Paul visits the city it has lost some of its luster, but it was still an often spoken of and reputable city. This is where the great philosophers lived. So, in Acts 17 we find the Christian Apostle Paul in the midst of the glories of ancient Greece. He was surrounded by some of the brightest people in the world. They spent their days thinking and debating. They were people who pursued knowledge and understanding. They wanted to understand the world and articulate what it meant to live in harmony with it.

You could not be blamed if you thought that Paul may have gotten caught up in all the glories of Athens. Paul was a great thinker. He was trained at the highest level of Judaism and was a leading Jewish Rabbi before he became a Christian. If you have read much of the NT then you know how intelligent this man was. He did not become a tourist when he entered Athens. He was not overwhelmed by the architecture, nor was he consumed with the rhetoric of the town. What is recorded by Luke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that Paul “was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” Paul’s spirit is provoked within him. His heart is broken over these people. They were given over to idolatry or maybe, we can say more literally, they were smothered with idols, swamped by them. The Athenians, despite all their earthly glory, were idol worshipers. Many of the supreme minds of the world bowed their knees to metals and stones, things crafted by the hands of men.

It is for this reason that the Apostle went to work instead of spending his time site-seeing. He went to the synagogue first (to the Jew first and also for the Greeks) and then he went to the marketplace. It was in the marketplace that Paul sparked curiosity and even confusion. The people said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” A “babbler” was someone who poked around the marketplace quite often and picked up bits and pieces of philosophy and then tried to articulate it. The “professionals” (like the Epicureans and Stoics) resented these people and coldly called them babblers. Other people said, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods” which could actually be a fatal offense in the city. It appears that the people in the marketplace thought that Paul was teaching of two new gods a male one “Jesus” and a female one “resurrection.”

So they took Paul to the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, and asked for him to explain himself. Luke notes in v21: “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” This is where we read our text for today’s Scripture. vv22-31 give us a summary of the content of Paul’s message to the Athenians.

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Athens and America, a Similarity?
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.”

This is what we have become in America, simply religious. We have idols all around us, we are literally swamped with them, and we are constantly waiting for the next new thought. One things after another steals away our attention and threatens to trap us. Our homes are situated around our televisions, not our Bibles; the culmination of our weekly activities is sport and not worship; and we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our reputations, not our God. It is a condemning statement veiled in familiar terms, “People of America! We are in every way very religious!”

To an Unknown God
Paul found a launching point with a particular altar that he saw. This altar had an inscription on it that said: “To an Unknown God.” The people were so “religious” that they did not want, by some chance, to leave a god out of their worship. So, they built an altar to an unknown god to cover all their bases.

This is how Paul could connect with them. He started his evangelistic message, not by using unfamiliar ideas, pictures, or language, but using things that were recognizable to them. In the midst of a crooked and perverse people who worshiped as many gods as they could conceive and create, Paul was going to proclaim to them the One, true God of the world.

The God Who Made the World
Luke records many items of interest that Paul said to the people of Athens and I would like to focus on three of them for just a few short minutes. These are relevant for us today and I would like for you to think of them in the coming week as you pray for the revival next weekend.

1) v25 “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
This is the message that the people of the world do not like to hear. We must overcome this idea that God needs us or something from us. “God is self-sufficient, so self-sufficient that we can’t make any contributions to Him. We can’t improve upon Him.”

The Apostle, alluding to some OT Scriptures, in Rom 11 says, “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” Here is the Gospel that we need to cling to and promote in this community: God is the Giver. We are told to do simple things like believe and receive.

I can provide you with a couple of verses that make this point most clear:
Matthew 20:28 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Luke 22:27 “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

God gives life to all and wills to give life more abundantly to those who believe in Christ.

2) v31 That last sentence leads me to my next point. God has given us proof of these things.
“He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
In John 10:18 Jesus said, “No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”
1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”
And Luke states in Acts 1:3 “[Jesus] also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs…”

There is no reference made to the cross in this message – only resurrection. He starts with the resurrection of Jesus (the Man He has appointed) and calls it proof of the things that he proclaims. For Paul, the resurrection was just as valid as the cross. The empty tomb was just as valuable as cross of Calvary. In 1 Cor 15:14 Paul says, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”

3) v27 “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
This is a statement about the reason for being. Why are we here? To seek and find Him.

Oh that the people of Henry County could hear this sentence. We are here to have abundant life, satisfaction and joy in Christ Jesus. A revival can be a means to that end. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The Scripture also says, “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” People are blinded by sin and trapped in darkness without Christ.
They need to hear that He is not far from any one of us…

Conclusion: Let me return to that first point: v25 “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

If God does not need us to serve Him, why do we serve Him? If He does not need our obedience, why obey? Because when God serves us, we in turn find joy in doing His will. And when we find the ultimate satisfaction of joy in Him, He is most glorified. And that is why we’re here.

We need to return once again to the Biblical picture of the transcendent God. People need to hear that God is sovereign and supreme over all things.
He made the world and everything in it.
He is the Lord of heaven and earth.
He does NOT live in temples built by human hands.
He is NOT served by human hands as if he needed ANYTHING.
In Him we live and move and have our being.
He commands all people everywhere to repent.
He has set a day when He will judge the world.
He has given proof of this to everyone by raising the One Man, Jesus, from the dead.
AND He is not far from any one of us.

This is the Gospel…This is our God…This is what I that pray you, me, and so many others will hear next weekend as we are reminded of salvation that is offered by grace through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:10-16 Single-Minded Devotion

There is a link from peacemaking to persecution. Not everyone wants peace. Evangelism is not always successful, which gives no indication of the ministering we have done. Reconciliation is not the desire of every person’s heart.

What I would like to show you in these verses is:
1) The necessity of persecution
2) How they are all connected
3) Christ is calling for single-minded devotion toward God
4) How I can connect this to Mother’s Day!

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Point 1: Blessed are those who are Persecuted (v10a)
A. Persecuted: Chased Maliciously
a. 2 Tim 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ…will suffer persecution.”
b. Not only physical – many brethren around the world. Also verbal, etc. (v11)
B. Explanation of Persecution: v11
a. SEE 1 Pet 4:12-19
b. SEE John 15:18-23
C. “The prophets before you” – SEE Hebrews 11:32-38
D. For Righteousness’ Sake
a. Because of Righteous Living
b. Which is “for My sake” (v12) Righteousness = Jesus
c. The disciple is not above his Master!

Point 2: Theirs is the Kingdom – Rejoice and be Exceedingly Glad (vv10b-12)
A. This is an attitude, not an emotion –
SEE James 1:2 “brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials”
B. The reward is not a status in the life to come, but in fact is that life (heaven).
a. SEE Rom 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
b. SEE 2 Cor 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”

Connective: What links the next two illustrations with this note of persecution are the prophets. Those prophets who came before us were persecuted for their faith and message. Among their generations they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Thus, it fits like this: “Like the prophets before you, you are the salt of the earth…Like the prophets before you, you are the light of the world…”

Point 3: Salt of the Earth
What are some uses for salt?
1) Practical Uses: seasons, preserves, purifies, melts ice, in all living organisms
2) Figurative Uses: creates thirst (for righteousness), melts (cold hearts), OT sacrifices, OT covenant faithfulness
3) Greco/Roman Uses: soldiers were paid with, represents- loyalty, peace, wisdom, was said to be beloved of the gods
*I will argue in just a few minutes that Christ means “single-minded devotion” which is very close to the Old Testament idea of covenant faithfulness.

Point 4: Light of the World
A. v16 marks the end of the Beatitudes
B. Good Works = tenacity under pressure
SEE Phil 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”
C. This world is constantly placing pressure on us from all sides (and also our kids/grandkids)

Summary: Single-Minded Devotion
Two Scriptures will make this point for me:
1) Luke 14:25-35 Jesus ties in this salt illustration with the intention of v33
2) Mark 9:42-50 Nothing should stand in the way of us entering life/kingdom of God


Conclusion: Now, let me conclude this way:
God wants our full allegiance. He wants our full, undivided attention and loyalty.
Simply put, He wants us to trust Him with all that we are…

I am glad that today is Mother’s Day and that we have so many mothers here-
1) Mothers are a great illustration of single-minded devotion
2) Mothers can encourage single-minded devotion toward God in their children
(No matter their age!)

I brought this up in Sunday School last week, but it is so significant I would like to mention now:
1) David was possibly the most sinful man in the OT, yet God calls him a man after His own heart. Acts 13:22 says, “He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

2) God considered David near and dear not because he was sinless, but because he had single-minded devotion toward God. Some have called him a “pure Yahweist.” David never worshiped the false gods of foreigners unlike his son, Solomon. David trusted God. He was fully loyal to God and God alone. That is what the Lord requires of us. When he sinned, he confessed it to the Lord. That is single-minded devotion.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Ezekiel 36:26 A Prayer for Unbelievers

There is not a worse feeling than having a loved one (family or friend) that does not believe or, worse yet, they believe but have not committed to Christ in faith. We all know at least someone that we have told the Gospel to for years and he/she continues to reject the message. We have prayed for him/her day after day for decades even. We have invited them to church on countless occasions. We love them and do not want them to go on anymore without the love of God in their life. They are missing a peace that surpasses all understanding and an exceedingly great joy that is only found in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. There is One who can set us free and if He sets you free, you are free indeed!

I would like to call your attention to a Scripture that would be most helpful in prayer for those uncommitted lives of the ones you love. You know, we can’t continually badger people about Christ and the church. For many individuals, we are simply pushing them farther and farther away from the Lord. We must proclaim the Word of the Lord, the Gospel, to the dieing, but we are never told to preach to individuals without ceasing. What we are told to do is pray without ceasing. And that is what we will do, but how should we petition the Lord? I will give you a simple outline to pray from Ezekiel 36:26. I invite you to read that with me.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Point 1: The “New” Theme
A. It was during the exile that this prophetic theme really emerged.

B. Ezekiel states this theme in a few places. For example…
1. Ezekiel 11:19-20 “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”
2. Ezekiel 18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”

C. Other Prophets also stressed this theme:
1. Isaiah
a. 42:9 “Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them”
b. 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth”
2. Jeremiah
31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…”

D. Why was this theme of newness stressed?
1. Israel as a whole had failed to uphold the name of the LORD
(Unfaithfulness of the people)
2. The Old Covenant could not atone for the sins of the people
(Sinfulness of the human heart)

Point 2: The New Theme becomes the Rule of Faith
A. The newness described by the prophets has become the distinguishing feature of the NT.

B. God was using the prophets as mouthpieces to declare the renewal of the nation and the covenant people. He would restore them to their land, but that would not be enough. He would need to cleanse them, give them a new heart and a new spirit. He would have to take out their heart of stone, which is to figuratively say their “dead heart,” and put a real, sensitive heart of flesh in them. Then He says that He would do this by putting His Spirit within the people.

C. To do this “new thing” God would reveal the mystery of the ages, His Son Jesus Christ.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” He was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” That is why the One who sits on the throne can say, “Behold, I make all things new.” The people were restored to their land, forgiven of their unrighteousness, and cleansed from their idolatry so that the plan of God may continue- the redemptive work of Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Point 3: Prayer
A. Now, let’s come back to the prayer issue. It is an enormous privilege that we can bow before God Almighty with our concerns. It is also fear-provoking endeavor to petition the Lord.

B. One of our greatest concerns in this life is for our loved ones who are outside of Christ. Not only are they missing out on the blessings of God in this life, but they face the wrath to come.

C. Thankfully Jesus says, “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
D. So this is how we can pray:

“Father, give my loved one a new heart and put a new spirit within him; take the heart of stone out of his flesh and give him a heart of flesh. Put Your Spirit within him.”

The main point of this passage of Scripture comes from v22, “…Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake…”

One function of this point was to find the one unfailing thing from the past that could establish a basis for salvation in the future. It was God’s faithfulness to His promises and to His name that would determine grace and mercy for the people. It was because of His name that He would do something new in their behalf. In Ezekiel’s prophecy we do not hear one word of God’s compassion or love because Ezekiel is too busy focusing on the overwhelming majesty of God.

How great is His name now because of the New Covenant? How glorious is He now that He has made salvation available to all people? “Therefore, since we have such hope [in the New Covenant], we use great boldness of speech…”
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace [with this prayer],
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help…” (Heb 4:16)