S-1483 4MIL/3B 3/11/2015 Hymns: (O) #154; (S) #370; (C) #153
Texts: Psalm 6 or119:161-168; Genesis 2:1-3; Mark 8:1-10
Theme: “Numbers of Hope-7” (Luke 2:42)
4th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope”
Beautiful people of God—His SEGOULA, we are a little over the half way mark through our Lenten journey to Golgotha, to see with eyes of faith; the King of glory crucified on a cross for us—sinners and raised on the third day.
Tonight, my prayers are two-folds: One, that we would always make sure as members of the priesthood of all believers that in God’s House the message of grace, would fill our time and space. There is absolutely no room for any message that would ever say or imply what Jesus did for us was not sufficient. And,
Two, that we, as the baptized and blood-bought children; would rejoice in our time in His house of grace—to learn of the Giver of numbers—Jesus the Christ who gives hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless and heaven to the heaven-less. Our weekly gatherings with Him, should give us resolve to see how these numbers fit so perfectly in our lives that hope springs eternal.
By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Moses tells us, Heaven and Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By the seventh day God had finished His work. God blessed the seventh day. Consecrated it and made it Holy.
The day the Creator rested from His work, all the creating He had done was perfect and beautiful. We are told again by Moses, “And God saw that it was Very good”. This is the glorious story of how it all started, in the beginning of creation. (Genesis 2:1-4). And after the 4,000 plus people ate, the twelve disciples picked up seven LARGE baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces! (Mark 8:8). PAUSE.
Saints in Christ, there are 483 references to the number Seven in the Bible. If I were to preach on each one—a sermon for each time it appeared—that would take 483 weeks. Another way of looking at this—it would take 9.2 years. (But don’t be afraid I am not keeping you here this long). For this reason, to wade into this number of Hope this evening will require some sanctified selectivity. May the Holy Spirit, the One who reveals the lively Hope we have in the 777 Son of God, Jesus, grant us grace for our modest effort to whet your appetite, soothe your soul, and bring you added joy.
Seven is the Biblical number of perfection. We see the Holy Spirit recruiting it in both the Old and New Testament to lead us to the perfect One, Jesus Christ. In our two texts for tonight the common denominator for the seven day creation and the seven baskets of leftovers, is Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us how all things were created by Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:15) As the go-between and Mediator between God and man, Jesus sets the world into motion in seven days and makes sure there are seven baskets after He feeds thousands of hungry people.
In both cases, whether Genesis chapter 2 or Mark chapter 8, the Holy Spirit is declaring then and now, “Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” In love, for you and me, Jesus finished creating the cosmos and on the seventh day rested. In so doing, He was setting a vital pattern for you and me—the need we have each week to rest our body, soul, and spirit. When Jesus rested after creating all the light, all the stars, all the land, all the water, all the plants, all the animals from dinosaurs to donkeys, mules to monkeys, and to the crowning creation with man, He rested. The Hebrew here means “He ceased creating.” It doesn’t mean that God was tired. Rather, for our sake He rested to remind us and invite us with the sweet gospel hope, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”
In the Old Testament Jesus was very fond of the number seven. We see this in Genesis when Jesus provided seven years of outstanding weather for bumper crops to fulfill a prophecy Joseph interpreted by way of a dream. Jesus then provided a measure of global warming for seven years in order to get Jacob and family reunited into a group of seventy. Those seven good years and seven bad years were also to teach God’s people to save money for a rainy day...or as was the case here....for non rainy days. But seven was the number to give another facet of hope. PAUSE.
At another critical time in the salvation history of God’s people, Jesus used the number seven to give the stamp of approval of how He saves His people in strange ways. The story is told in Joshua 5 and 6. The children of Israel had just celebrated for seven days Passover. Fortified by this sacred meal, they were not ready to take on a military battle with the people inside the fortress city of Jericho.
Joshua was pacing back and forth the night before. Out of nowhere, very much like the Man who came and wrestled with Jacob, who appeared out of nowhere in the upper room after the resurrection, Jesus appears. Joshua looks up and there Jesus is standing right in front of him. He does not know this at first—it is night, dark, just like it was when Jacob encountered Him. Joshua sees the majestic Man holding a sword...it is drawn...but Joshua does not flinch. He asks this impressive looking Person, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies?” The Man says, “Neither, I’m The Commander of God’s army!” (Josh. 6:14). Instantly, Joshua realizes this Man is the God-Man, the Messenger of HOPE, who appeared to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. Joshua hits the ground and worships Jesus, asking, “What orders does My Master have for His servant?”
“Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Wherever Jesus stands...it is Holy ground...baptism, Lord’s Supper, the hearing of the gospel...holy, holy, holy!” In a nutshell, Jesus lays out the battle plan for Joshua. He tells him to enlist seven priests with seven trumpets of ram’s horns and for seven days march around Jericho. On the seventh day have the seven priests blow the seven horns and watch the walls come down!
What a strange way for Israel to take down this fortress. The seven horns by the seven priests on the seven days was to point people ultimately to the 777 work of Jesus upon the cross. There, the Lord of the Sabbath, the One who brings rest, would take on all the unrest of the world, all the sin of the world, all the evil of the world, on His sinless 777 shoulders—for us. On that 666 day, Good Friday, the 777 Son of God in the strangest of ways, would accomplish salvation for us and reveal to mankind the one love that alone would bring salvation, convert hearts, and bring mankind hope—living HOPE.
In the New Testament Jesus would recruit the number seven in salvation at work style. Peter in the Gospel of Mark tells the story of how Jesus as the Bread of Life miraculously fed two large crowds of starving people. In chapter six Jesus fed 5,000 plus people multiplying fish and bread leaving 12 baskets to signify His love, His Lordship, and the Link between the 12 tribes and 12 apostles. A little later Jesus feeds 4,000 plus people hungering for the life and salvation Jesus brings. This time Jesus with precision leaves 7 baskets of leftovers to show the perfect nature of His salvation work. Here before them was the One from heaven, the 777 Son of God, who would later that night walk on water, taming a 666 storm and turning it into a 777 moment—for us—to give us a future and HOPE. PAUSE.
The Apostle John saw the 777 pattern of Jesus quite well and brings this out in both of the books he authored—his Gospel and book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is loaded with all kinds of hidden sevens as well as ones we can readily see. Thus in the first book and the last book of the Bible like book-end the number seven is paramount.
The disciple John in His Gospel shares with us the seven great I AMs that Jesus speaks. Remember at the Burning Bush Jesus when asked by Moses what is God’s name, He said, “I AM.” In the Gospel of John Jesus says:
1. I AM the Bread of life.
2. I AM the Good Shepherd
3. I AM the Door to heaven
4. I Am the Vine
5. I Am the Light of the World
6. I Am the Way, the Truth, the Life
7. I Am the Resurrection and the Life
But there is more. Travel with me to the cross upon which Christ was extended and eaves drop to the 7 words from the cross…from Father forgive them, to Today you will be with Me in paradise, to it is finished, to Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.
There is still more. Another aspect of this number of hope is that Jacob was smitten by Rachel that he served his uncle Laban seven years, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. On a far greater scale, the Savior was smitten for us, because He loved us unconditionally. He endured the pain, the punishment, the profanity and the beating and ultimately the cross for us—because we were the love of His life as our opening hymn reminded us: “Alas! and did my Savior bleed And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?
Saints in Christ, in the Gospel reading we learn that Christ has compassion, knows our need, feels our hunger and lives in our pain. He has experienced all of these things for us. But that is not all. He does so much more. He fulfills what we need. He has compassion and satisfies our hunger physically and spiritually. He reaches out to us through our tummies—He gives us bread-which is His flesh and blood. This is Christ’s foolish generosity. That is rest in the midst of restlessness, gives us hope in the midst of hopelessness and gives us eternal life in the midst of death. This is our great I Am who gives us the perfect hope now and always. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA