Saturday, March 21, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-969” (Genesis 5:27)

S-1485 5MIL/3B 3/11/2015 Hymns: (O) #140 vv 3-4; (S) #370; (C) #141

Texts: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Genesis 5:21-27; Matthew 5:17-20

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-969 (Genesis 5:27)

5th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, this evening we find ourselves once more in the presence of the One who gives us the Numbers of Hope—Christ our Suffering Servant, who would go to Calvary’s cross and the tomb to give us living hope.

Moses tells us: “Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech. THEN Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. SO ALL the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, AND HE DIED!

To be sure, THAT’S a number of hope! After the fall and before the flood people lived long, long lives. The Lord Jesus enabled Adam to live to be 930 years old, Jared 962 years old, and Noah 950 years old. In a strange way these lives of longevity points us to the lively hope Jesus brings, namely, of having a forever young new body that will live forever! That is coming because Jesus was kind enough to take on a human body for us and absorb all our sin in His body and now takes us into His body through the majestic miracle of baptism.

As the Holy Spirit guides our Lenten journey, He reveals to us these blessed connections...all kinds of threads of hope come forth. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. It is necessary that before we look at the oldest man who ever lived namely, Methuselah, that we back up to his father—Enoch.

Enoch was a huge example of hope in the Old Testament—because by the grace of God in Christ Enoch conquered death. In fact, Jesus and Enoch walked together in a very close communion. For 365 years Enoch walked with Christ and suddenly was taken out of this fallen world into heaven without seeing death! What a blessing that was! Now that is a trip I would love to see. Walking one day with Jesus and the next you are with Him forever. Woof he is gone!

Isn’t that interesting? Enoch lived to be 365 years old, walked with Jesus, and was taken to heaven. Here is encouragement for us—as the Children of the heavenly Father; to walk with Jesus every day of our 365 days each year until we too by grace are translated into the Kingdom above. PAUSE.

Now bear in mind that this Enoch was not the first Enoch of the Bible—Cain’s son, an unbeliever. This Enoch descended from Seth and preached about the gift of righteousness Jesus brings and how God’s people are moved by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to live righteous lives. They are to walk with God in holiness, love, and kindness.

Also, we should note that Enoch, the believing Enoch of the 7th generation, like Noah, was a great preacher of righteousness. He preached how God’s people are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and saved by grace through the eternal promise of salvation. In the Book of Jude, one of the last books of the Bible, we get the impression that Enoch lived at a time which was awful, lawless, cutthroats to the max. It was Sodom and Gomorrah on steroids! The people were boastful and bigots; always grabbing for the biggest piece of pie, stepping on the little guy, and lusting after the pretty gal.

In the midst of this, Enoch walked by faith not sight; in the midst of this, Enoch lived a life of repentance. In the midst of this, Enoch set his eyes on Jesus and the eternal big picture. When Enoch is taken to heaven it is a beautiful picture of hope showing once more how the Old and New Testament message of life after death through God’s grace in Jesus is central and foundational. Moreover, Enoch walked with the God who walks on earth, Jesus our Lord!

Now the name of Methuselah is important to ponder. It means “His death shall bring.” Okay...his death shall bring what? It will take 969 years before Methuselah, son of Enoch dies. But when he does, his death will bring forth one of the most spectacular events in the world’s history—a worldwide flood.

Now in Genesis 5 there are ten patriarchs listed in the Genealogy of Adam. From Adam to Noah there is a huge gospel message set forth. Listen to the genealogy and the meaning of the names:

Adam means “man/dirt”

Seth means “appointed.”

Enosh means “mortal.”

Kenan means “sorrow.”

Mahalael means “the blessed God.”

Jared means “shall come down.”

Enoch means “teaching.”

Methuselah means “His death shall bring.”

Lamech means “the despairing.”

Noah means “Comfort or rest.”

What happens when we put the meaning of the words of the TEN generations together? We get a picture of how God is working everything in history together for the good of His redeemed. Here is the message of the ten generations when spliced together.

Starting with “Adam” which means man/dirt: Man was appointed (Seth) “to be mortal” (Enosh). This was very “sorrowful” (Kenan). However, “the blessed God” (Mahalael) “shall come down” (Jared) “teaching” (Enoch) that “his death shall bring” (Methuselah) “the despairing” (Lamech) “comfort and rest” (Noah) PAUSE.

God created a genealogical billboard (like ones on the interstates) with a John 3:16 like message upon it for people to see for hundreds and hundreds of years. Perhaps the people were badly distracted for a number of reasons. Sinful desires, pleasures of the worlds and love of self. Flood was never on their mind, because rainfall never came before. Why? The water came from artesian springs and heavenly dews.

The God who provided all this lush and plush, green and serene, comparatively stunning landscape was the God who said in the beginning “Let US make man in OUR image.” It was the Three-in-One God, the Triune God. For 969 years the message had gone forth that the Spirit of God would not continually strive with man and put up with the rank wickedness of humanity. The Father spoke to Noah and the Son walked with his grandfather Enoch in a most personal matter. The three in one revelation is there already in Genesis.

So here we are with the number of hope: 9-6-9. The number nine is prominent in the Bible. There are nine fruit of the Spirit—a gift of Jesus’ love. There are nine gifts that St. Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. There were 9 widows, 9 blind people as well as 9 people stoned. There are key words like lightning, ungodly, and bottomless pit used 9 times connected with “judgment.”

The 9-6-9 speaks of a double judgment with the two nines. The six in between signifies the number of sin and imperfection. Methuselah’s name, meaning, “his death shall bring,” judgment—in this case to a world out of control. God’s wrath is poured upon this world that is ruthless and lawless. This is a picture of how the world will be before the glorious return of our Lord. PAUSE.

When Methuselah was 850 years old God appeared to Noah (his grandson) to tell him to build the ark, and Noah was busily constructing a vessel that will save him and his family. For 120 years Noah faithfully built the ark, while enduring mockery, humiliation, and bore his cross for Christ’s sake with faith—like Abraham believing in the seemingly impossible. Methuselah who means “His death shall bring” dies 7 days prior to God closing the door of the ark. The flood came as God unleashes His judgment against sin, the world and the evil Foe.

Methuselah’s 969 years is a testimony to the profound patience of God. It is also a testimony of His grace. His longevity was no accident. He is not in the Bible simply to show that his age was the oldest recorded in the Bible but to show the incomparable grace, patience, and mercy of God to put up with a world so evil, so turned inward. Methuselah is a picture of the grace of God at work in the life of this man who was faithful unto death. Be thou faithful unto death—even 969 years and I will give you a crown of life.

God calls us by faith to live our lives like the patriarchs to trust the God of all grace and mercy. But how often are we truly caring and loving? Do we always live our lives as today could be our last day on earth? Do our words and actions glorify God? Do the people we come in contact know that we are Christians? How many times do we live like the people of Methuselah’s and Noah’s day—in lawlessness and looseness, chaos and confusion? More often than we care to mention.

But thank God, the God who took Enoch sent us a Savior who lives in righteousness and holiness. This Savior would teach us how to live and how to die. He reveals to us the intimate love He has for us—sinners.

You, who are the royal priests, remember that Jesus our beloved Lord would die at age 33, an age and set of numbers from which the numbers 969 all get their character. It shows that in the end the only judgment that counts is the 777 judgment of the One who was 33, namely, “there is now therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” (Rom. 12:1).This is the hope that Christ’s suffering and passion brings. On Good Friday Jesus suffered a severe judgment for 9 hours. He was sentenced to die at 6:00 am during the time of the morning sacrifice. He was nailed to the cross at 9:00 am and willed to die at 3:00 pm. NINE hours of agony in love for you and me. Jesus suffers the perfect nine for all time to overcome the imperfect 666 ways of mankind. What a Suffering Servant and Savior He is. In His death He brings life eternal. In His Suffering He brings salvation; and His empty tomb, He brings hope—living hope—resurrection hope, preached two thousand years ago and this evening.

In this house of worship this evening, the Holy Spirit takes this number 969 and gives us hope, eternal hope—resurrection hope for us and for our children. What joy fills our hearts because through the merit, mercy and message of the Christ of the Bible we have hope in the Numbers of Hope! Amen!

Now the peace


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