Finding Jesus in Leviticus

SERMON TITLE: Finding Jesus
TEXT: Leviticus 16:1-34 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
DATE: 7-20/21-19

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WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re in week 3 of our Finding Jesus series — where I’m covering an entire book of the Bible in one sermon. And we’re looking at the first five books of the Bible — which are also called the Pentateuch — the books written by Moses.

  • And one of my goals — in doing this series — is I want you to be familiar with all of the Bible.

  • I want you to be able to see how the whole Bible tells one story.

  • I want you to know how to find Jesus — no matter where you are in the Bible.

And the idea behind this series, comes from a story found near the end of the gospel of Luke. After Jesus was killed on the cross, he appears to two men who had great hopes for him — but his death kind of ruined everything. And thought they thought he was still dead — they were talking to Jesus — somehow — Jesus hid who he was from them. And in this conversation — Jesus gives them — and us — a hint as to how we’re to read and understand the whole Bible.

“And he (Jesus) said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he (Jesus) said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And (watch what Jesus does here...and...) beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:17-27 ESV)

That’s why we’re doing this series — where I help you to find Jesus in all of the Bible — because Jesus tells us that the whole Bible is about him — he even began with the writings of Moses — the books we’re looking at in this series.

So here’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to introduce you to a book of the Bible that may or may not be familiar to you. I’ll begin by giving you an overview of the book — and then we’ll focus in on one section which I’ll use to show you how to find Jesus — how to find the one story the whole Bible is telling — the story of Jesus.

So let’s turn to our book for today.

ANNOUNCE THE TEXT

If you have your Bible please turn with me to Leviticus chapter 16. We’ll be looking at the entire chapter.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

OVERVIEW OF LEVITICUS

OK — by a raise of hands — is Leviticus anyone’s favorite book of the Bible? Well I bet this next question will get a raise of hands. How many of us have ever started reading the Bible only to bail once you got to Leviticus?

So — my hope — is to help us understand this book better and how it points us to Jesus. So let’s start with an overview of the book — and this overview is going to be different than the others I’ve done in this series — because this book isn’t full of stories and narratives.

HOLINESS OF GOD

But first — we have to recognize something about God — what? That he is holy. What does that mean? One theologian has said, “Holiness...is God’s capacity and right to arouse our reverent awe and wonder. It is his uniqueness, his transcendence as our Creator. It is his majesty, for the holy God is like a great king, whom we dare not treat like other persons. Indeed, God’s holiness [compels] us to worship in his presence.” (John Frame, Systematic Theology, 278.)

Others have simply said that God’s holiness means that he’s set apart — that he’s unique — that he’s completely pure — and untainted by sin and corruption. And the question — the book of Leviticus is answering — is this: How can unholy people — people who are sinful — people who are rebellious — you and me and everyone else — how can unholy people be in the presence of a holy God?

And the reason why the book addresses this is because there’s a paradox to God’s holiness that most of us don’t think about. You see — most people — when we think about God — we think about his characteristic of love — that God is loving. And he is — which is great news! But though God is love — God isn’t only love — he has many characteristics — including his holiness. And his holiness means that God is pure, and good, and powerful. And that means he’s a danger to those who are impure, not good, and weak.

Now you may be thinking, “Wait a second. You just said a bunch of stuff — that I’ve never really thought about — but what stuck out to me was you saying that we’re not good.” And the reason why — you may be thinking this — is because something ingrained in us is the idea that people are basically good. We’re taught to believe that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with us. Sure some people — on an honest day you may even admit that you’re part of the “some people” — sure there are some people who make mistakes or bad choices, but underneath all of that — Josh — what you’ll find is a good person.

Now there’s a sense — because all people are made in the image of God — and one implication of this — is that all people have been created to reflect God’s image in his creation — including God’s goodness.

But — and this is obvious — though it’s something many deny — something is seriously wrong with us.

  • We don’t just make mistakes — we hurt people.

  • We don’t just make bad choices — we willfully choose to do things knowing they will cause harm to others.

  • From the words we say to our spouses or friends in a heated moment.

  • To the way we show impatience to the elderly or those with handicaps.

  • To the way we want others to serve us instead of serving them.

And what the Bible calls all of this — what the Christian faith calls these things — isn’t mistakes or bad choices — the Christian faith calls it sin. That though we’re made in the image of God — and should be demonstrating his goodness to the world — we’ve sinned against God and — our sin — has affected every part of us — meaning there’s no part of you uninfluenced by sin — not the things you think — not the things you long for — not the things you do. This is what theologians have called totally depravity — which doesn’t mean — we’re as bad as we can be — it means there’s not one part of us unaffected by sin. And because of our sin — we’re unholy and this is why God’s holiness should frighten us.

And I know this can come as a shock because we don’t think of God as a threat to us — but an illustration I heard (Bible Project, Leviticus, https://youtu.be/WmvyrLXoQio) — that was quite helpful — is to think of God’s presence like the sun. God’s pure, he’s powerful, he’s good. And when something unholy — something stained by sin — gets close to the purity, power, and goodness of God — well like anything that gets too close to the sun is destroyed — so to anything unholy that gets close to God is destroyed as well.

So back to the point of Leviticus — the book is telling us how unholy people can survive the presence of God. And something helpful to know about Leviticus — hopefully this will make it easier to understand — is to know that the book is divided into sections that all answer the question — “how do unholy people survive the presence of a holy God?”

RITUALS (Poster board illustration graphics are from the Bible Project.)

The first and last sections of the book talk about rituals. We find the first rituals in chapters 1-7 and — if we narrowed everything down — what we see in these chapters are “thank you God” rituals and “I’m sorry God” rituals. How we’re to tell God how much we appreciate and are thankful for the things he’s done for us and how we’re to ask him for forgiveness for the things we do that are displeasing to him.

Rituals come back up again near the end of Leviticus — in chapters 23-25 — where we find the seven annual feasts that God’s people were to observe. What was the point of the feasts? To help the people remember who God is and who they are. If you ever do a Bible study with me — those are the two questions you’re guaranteed to hear me ask — what does this tell you about God and what does this tell you about yourself? That’s what the annuals feasts were meant to do.

PRIESTHOOD

The next two sections focus on the priesthood — you find these in chapters 8-10 and again in chapters 21-22. The initial time the priests are mentioned is when Moses ordains the first priests — when he commissions them to this new role. And quickly we see the consequences for priests who fail to obey God. Aaron’s sons — he’s Moses’ brother by the way — but Aaron’s sons are killed for disobeying God in fulfilling their duty as priests.

The second time the priesthood is mentioned — again this is in chapters 21 and 22 — we find the qualifications for being a priest. They’re to be men of high moral integrity, they’re to maintain holiness by following the rituals mentioned earlier, and one of the most important aspects of the priesthood was their position — for they represented God to the people and the people to God.

PURITY

And the final sections of Leviticus focus on purity. We find these sections in chapters 11-15 and again in chapters 18-20. The first section is about ritual purity. Here’s where we find a lot of lists about things that make you clean or unclean.

  • Diseases.

  • Mold.

  • Bodily fluids.

  • Dead things.

  • Foods they can and can’t eat.

Now two things about these lists. First, to be impure — or unclean — isn’t sinful. In fact, it’s normal — it’s expected — and it’s only temporary. But what was wrong was to go into God’s presence while being impure or unclean.

The second thing to know about these lists is that they show us how God’s holiness should affect all areas of our life. God wants his people to be set apart from the other nations — just like he was set apart from the gods of the other nations — so these rules made the Israelites unique, distinct, set apart from the people of other lands and religions.

The second section on purity — emphasizes again — that God’s people are to be different — this section talks about how they’re to live because of God’s presence in their life. Here we find things about caring for the poor, sexual integrity, and social justice type issues. Again — God’s presence in their life — was to influence every part of how they lived. And — I hope you can see — that this same principle is true for Christians today. God’s presence is to influence every part of how we live.

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT

So there’s an overview of the book of Leviticus. And now we come to our chapter — which is right in the middle — it’s not part of any of the sections we just looked at — and — I think it’s in the center of the book for a reason — because here — in the center of a book on holiness — we find our way to Jesus. Here are the words found in Leviticus 16. Beginning in verse 1.

“The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died, 2 and the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.

So we begin with a warning. Aaron must approach the holy presence of God with care — remember God’s holy presence is good — but it can be tragic — we know this because we’re reminded of what happened to Aaron’s two sons — they were killed because they didn’t take God’s holy presence seriously. Now I don’t know about you — but I wish I remembered this more often — because it’s easy to gather with you all — and be distracted. And I can forget that our gathering together — to be in God’s holy presence — is a matter of life and death. And — in God’s presence — we should all be dead — but because of Christ — we’re alive. And how dare we — how dare I — treat being in God’s holy presence as some ordinary affair? Now this idea applies well beyond our time of gathered worship — so how is God’s holy presence changing the way you live?

So Aaron is warned — that as he enters the Holy Place — the place of God’s holy presence — he must exercise due caution. And Aaron is promised that “he will not die if he is faithful to these instructions.” (Samuel E. Balentine, Leviticus, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed. James Luther Mays (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2002), 126.)

3 But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 "Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. 11 "Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. 14 And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. 17 No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel. 20 "And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. 21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

OK — that was a lot — let’s figure out what’s happening here. One goat is sacrificed as a sin offering to God. The other goat will have the sins of the people put on it — that’s what’s happening in verse 10 with the phrase “make atonement over it” — and then the goat — the scapegoat as it’s called — is sent out into the wilderness — carrying the sins of the people away from them — far away from them — to a barren land — a “cutoff land” where the destructive power of their sins can longer be effective. (Balentine, Leviticus, 132.)

23 "Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 26 And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. 28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

And I know that’s a lot of blood — a lot of washing — it all seems so strange to us — so what’s going on? Here’s what all of the blood and washing is meant to show us. God wants his people to understand the totality of their sin. Their sin doesn’t just defile them and make them unholy as individuals — but their sin makes their place of worship unholy — and it needs to be cleansed. You see sin spreads. It has a malignant power. It spreads not only throughout all of who we are as individuals, but sin has spread throughout all of creation — like a cancer — nothing has been left untouched by sin.

29 "And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father's place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins." And Aaron did as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 16:1-34 ESV)

Notice that here — even in the Old Testament — the way that God’s people live — matters. Their lives are to be a testimony to the “strangers who sojourn among them.” God’s people are to be holy — set apart — different than those who aren’t God’s people. For — God redeems his people — so they might be witnesses to the world — showing others what it means to be loved by God — what it means to love God — and what it means to live in the presence of a holy God.

FINDING JESUS IN LEVITICUS

And all of this is possible because God has redeemed his people. What does that mean? What does the word redeem — or redemption — mean? The word redemption means “deliverance from some evil by payment of a price.” (The New Bible Dictionary) Another definition is “the release of people, animals, or property from bondage through the payment of a price.” (Lexham Bible Dictionary) And redemption is one way we find Jesus in the Bible — God releasing his people from their bondage to sin through the payment of a price.

And God redeemed us — through the shedding of blood — through the sacrifice of his perfect and spotless Lamb — the blood of Jesus paid for the sins of his people. In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews reminds us of what Leviticus was ultimately pointing to.

After reminding us of the old system — the sacrifices in Leviticus — the author of Hebrews writes.

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood — not the blood of goats and calves — he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. 13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant... 22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. 23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals. 24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. 27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:11-15, 22-28 NLT)

And what this tells us is that God’s solution to our unholiness problem — God’s solution to our sin — was to send his Son — Jesus — to come and cleanse us from our sins. Jesus came to make us right before God — he came to redeem us — to pay the penalty for our sin — and now — having been redeemed — we’re to live for him. You see, Jesus is the answer to the question the book of Leviticus is asking — because he’s the One who makes it possible for unholy people to stand in the presence of a holy God.

CONCLUSION

Now you may be new to the Christian faith — you’re just starting to learn what it means to follow Jesus. Here’s what you need to know. Jesus is the only one who could cleanse you of your sins. His death is the only way for you to be made right with God. And he’s the only way anyone is made right with God. The world wants you to believe that all religions are the same — that anyone can pick whatever spiritual path they want and things will turn out OK for them in the end. But in response to all that Jesus has done for you — in knowing the price he paid for you to be made holy — he says to you, “Now live for me — tell others about me — show them how I — and I alone — make people right with God. That just as sin influenced every part of who you were — show them — how I now influence every part of who you are.”

Maybe you’re here and you’re in a season of doubt — you believe — but you feel like you’re barely holding on. Here’s what I want you to know. Jesus’ sacrifice — and his sacrifice alone — is the basis for your redemption and salvation. So have assurance — your doubting will not change your status before God. Nothing can take away the gift of faith that God’s given you. Jesus paid the price for your salvation and he said “It is paid in full.” So be comforted and know that Jesus died for you because he loves you and nothing will ever separate you from his love.

Finally — my hope is that we will all be drawn deeper into what Christ’s death has accomplished for us. I hope we’ll continue to grow in our desire to see how the book of Leviticus connects to the one story the whole Bible is telling — the story of a faithful God and an unfaithful people — the story of a holy God making unholy people holy — the story of Jesus — our Redeemer — the Lamb who was slain. For this story is deep and it is wide — it’s inexhaustible. It’s a story that gives encouragement and joy — peace and security — even in the hardest of times. It’s a story that gives power and passion when you dive deep into it. My prayer is that we would dive deep into God’s story together. Let’s pray.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for you Son — Jesus — the Lamb who was slain. Thank you for his sacrifice for our sins — paying the debt we were drowning in — the penalty that was impossible for us to get out of. Yet — in your love for us — you sent Jesus to come and pay the penalty on our behalf — so that we could stand in your holy presence and not be consumed but — instead — be embraced by a Father who loves us.

For anyone here — who your Spirit is prompting — Father give them the gift of faith. Jesus save them. Show them your tender mercy, wipe away the shame of their past, and give them assurance that they’ve been washed and made clean.

Spirit help all of us — who are your people — to live in a way that shows the world the goodness of God. Help us to show others that Jesus has influence over every part of our lives — that there’s no part of us not touched by him. Help us to show others what it means to be God’s redeemed people — his set free from sin people — his holy people. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: season of doubt or are struggling and need assurance of God’s love for you)

May you go showing others how Jesus has influenced all of who you are. Amen.

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.

Songs for the Weekend

As you worship our Savior through song this week, look up these songs for the weekend at Gateway.

North Main

Only King Forever - Elevation Worship
Cornerstone - Hillsong
Great I Am - Jared Anderson
My Heart Is Yours - Passion

County Road 9

Breaking Through - Jeremy Riddle
Lamb of God - Meredith Andrews
Before The Throne of God - The Modern Post
Exalted Over All - Vertical Worship
Death Was Arrested - North Point InsideOut

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

Gateway in Lebanon

The tree before us was a sight to behold. A massive hulk of a trunk, 50 feet in circumference, told a tale of survival. Experts estimate that this cedar tree, which is depicted on the Lebanese flag, is more than 3,000 years old. The tree was already growing when King Solomon used its peers to build the temple in Jerusalem. Emily Hanson read Psalm 94, reflecting on those in Christ, who flourish like a cedar tree. Laura Moore read Psalm 29, considering the power of the voice of the Lord, able to break a cedar. It was a powerful moment for us. We beheld a real life example of God’s sustaining power and majestic creativity. The same weathered cedar tree was already showing the tender shoots of spring.

God is doing incredible things in Lebanon. His voice thunders, and it is being heard by so many who have fled the ravages of their home in surrounding countries. Now is a time of harvest. Gateway has a major role to play in reaching the people of Lebanon and surrounding countries with God’s love and light. Are you interested? For security reasons, we cannot tell the story here. Talk to Laura Moore, Ryan Rebold, Emily Hanson or Kelly Green. Gateway is sending a small team to Lebanon from Aug 27 through Sep 3, 2019. Please pray for that team. Finally, there will be another trip in 2020 as well. Find out how you can be involved in Lebanon at our 2020 Mission Trip Information Meeting.

When: Aug 20
Time: 6-7:30pm
Where: County Road 9 campus

Finding Jesus in Exodus Manuscript

SERMON TITLE: Finding Jesus
TEXT: Exodus 14:5-31 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
DATE: 7-13/14-19

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WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re in week 2 of our Finding Jesus series — where I’m covering an entire book of the Bible in one sermon — which isn’t easy — by the way. Last year, we looked at the Old Testament Major Prophets and — this year — we’re looking at the first five books of the Bible — which are also called the Pentateuch — the books written by Moses.

  • And one of my goals — in doing this series — is I want you to be familiar with all of the Bible.

  • I want you to be able to see how the whole Bible tells one story.

  • I want you to know how to find Jesus — no matter where you are in the Bible.

Now maybe you’re new to Gateway — or you’re sort of checking out Christianity — or it’s been awhile but you’re back in church — well one of the big obstacles about the Christian faith — and I hear this often — is something like — “I don’t know how to read the Bible. I don’t even know where to begin.” And this series is meant to help all of us understand how to read and understand the Bible better.

And the idea of Finding Jesus, comes from a story found near the end of the gospel of Luke. After Jesus was killed on the cross, he appears to two men who had great hopes for him — but his death ruined their hopes and dreams. And though they’re talking to him — they think Jesus is still dead — somehow — Jesus hides who he is from them — so they have no idea that they’re talking to Jesus. But in this conversation Jesus gives them — and us — a hint as to how we’re to read and understand the whole Bible.

“And he (Jesus) said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he (Jesus) said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And (verse 27 is key because this is why we’re doing this series — this is how we know that the whole Bible is telling one story — watch what Jesus does here...and...) beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:17-27 ESV)

That’s why we’re doing this series — where I help you find Jesus in all of the Bible — Jesus tells us that the whole Bible is about him. He even began with the writings of Moses — the books we’re looking at in this series.

And here’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to introduce you to a book of the Bible that may or may not be familiar to you. I’ll begin by giving you an overview of the book — and then we’ll focus in on one section which I’ll use to show you how to find Jesus — how to find the one story the whole Bible is telling — the story of Jesus.

So let’s turn to our book for today.

ANNOUNCE THE TEXT

If you have your Bible please turn with me to the book of Exodus. We’ll be looking at chapter 14 today — but I’ll be narrating a lot of the story leading up to our chapter — but go ahead and find Exodus chapter 14 for now.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

OVERVIEW OF EXODUS

Now to set up the book of Exodus, I need to remind you how Genesis — our book from last week — ends. Last week, we looked at the story of a young man named Joseph. And Genesis ends with Joseph being second in command of Egypt. Joseph — and you’ll need to go and listen to last week’s sermon to understand all that he went through — or better yet — go and read Genesis for yourself — but through a series of circumstances — Joseph finds himself in a position where he’s able to rescue his family and the nation of Egypt from a devastating famine.

And our book — Exodus — picks up 400 years later.

  • We’re still in the land of Egypt.

  • But the current Pharaoh doesn’t know anything about Joseph.

  • In fact, the new leadership of Egypt feels threatened by the descendants of Joseph’s family — the Israelites — who have greatly increased in size.

  • So the king of Egypt decides the best way to subdue the Israelites is to force them into slavery.

  • And eventually Pharaoh makes a decree that all Hebrew boys must be killed at birth.

  • God’s people are enslaved. They’re being threatened by a wicked enemy. They’re even being killed. And they desperately need to be rescued.

Now the Hebrew women resist Pharaoh’s orders, and one woman — seeing no other way to save her newborn son — puts him in a basket and sends him afloat down the Nile river. Last week — we learned that God reigns — even when things are bad and evil seems to be running rampant — God is in control. And he can use the most difficult circumstances in our life — things other people mean for evil — to be used for his glory and our good. So this mother — who’s reached a point beyond hopelessness and despair — sends her baby down river to die.

But God had other plans for her baby boy. Pharaoh’s daughter discovers the abandoned child. The daughter of the man who wants this boy killed — finds him — and rescues him. And — as God would have it — she asks the boy’s mother to care for him until he’s done nursing. So the Hebrew boy is raised in the house of Pharaoh — and he’s given the name Moses.

Now as Moses grows up — he’s aware of his Hebrew roots. And — one day — he sees an Egyptian beating up an Israelite slave — and Moses comes to the slave’s rescue and — in the process — ends up killing the Egyptian. And this doesn’t sit well with Pharaoh — as you can imagine — but it doesn’t sit well with the Hebrew slaves either — “What — are you here to rescue us? ‘Mr. I’ve been living the good life in Pharaoh’s palace’ all this time.”

So Moses flees from Egypt in fear for his life and winds up in a town called Midian. And there he meets a man named Jethro and eventually he marries Jethro’s daughter and Moses begins a new life as a shepherd. Now I’m not 100% certain — but I think — that Moses thinks — he’s successfully run from his problems — that he’s saved his own neck — and 40 years go by.

But — something else we learned last week — is that God is faithful. And he’s concerned for his people — the Israelites — who are suffering as slaves. So God appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush — a bush on fire that doesn’t burn up — and God speaks to Moses telling him of his plan. “Moses. I’m going to use you to rescue my people out of slavery — I’m going to rescue the Israelites and you’re going to lead them to the Promised Land.” God tells Moses to go back to Egypt.

Now Moses doesn’t really like the idea of going back to the place where he’s wanted dead — so he puts up some resistance — he gives God some excuses as to why he’s the wrong guy for the job. I mean — don’t you know that sometimes God needs us to keep him informed of things — especially when he tells us to do something we feel we’re unqualified to do — that’s when he definitely needs us to give him an update, right? So Moses tells God about his lack of eloquence — apparently he’s not great at public speaking — and some other excuses — and Moses refuses to go back to Egypt.

And God’s a bit — how do I say this — angry. And he tells Moses to go back to Egypt anyway. And this whole section ends with Moses asking God — and this is my paraphrasing — “So what’s your name? Because if I’m going to do this — walking to my death and all — I’d at least like to know who’s sending me to the grave.” And God tells him, “My name is I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14)

So Moses — along with his brother Aaron — returns to Egypt. And he confronts Pharaoh. He demands the release of the Hebrew slaves. Moses performs a miracle — to show that God is with him and that Pharaoh needs to listen up — he turns his staff into a snake — but Pharaoh is unimpressed and only increases the workload for the Hebrew slaves.

God responds by inflicting a series of plagues on Egypt — 10 of them in fact. The Nile River turns into blood, frogs cover Egypt, the dust of the ground is turned into gnats, swarms of flies infest the houses of Pharaoh and his officials. God strikes Egypt’s livestock with disease, he creates festering boils on humans and animals, God sends hail that destroys the crops, livestock, and people who refuse to shelter. God sends a swarm of locusts and then covers Egypt with “a darkness that can be felt.” (Exodus 10:21)

Now before each plague, Moses demands the release of the Israelites and — after the plagues — we read that God “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart so that he refuses Moses’ request. (See Exodus 4:21; 7:22) Which all leads to the tenth and final plague — the death of all the firstborn sons in Egypt.

And just before this final plague, Moses instructs the Hebrew people to cover their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb as a sign for God to protect their homes from this plague of judgment and death — we’ll look more at sacrifices and how they point us to Jesus next week — but for now — know that after the final plague — Pharaoh relents and releases the Israelites.

And something we see throughout the Bible is the Israelite people remembering this day — this day of rescue — a day that becomes known as the Passover — when they remember God’s judgment “passing over” their homes.

So they leave Egypt. And they’re guided by a pillar of cloud during the day and by fire at night — the cloud and fire are the presence of God. So they’ve just been rescued — but it doesn’t take long for everyone to have a change of heart.

Pharaoh decides it was a bad idea to let his slave labor go and begins to chase them down. The people — trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea — complain that all Moses has accomplished it taking them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness — “this isn’t a rescue mission — this is a death march.”

And yet — who do you think is the faithful One in this story? God is — God is always faithful. And he parts the sea so the people can cross on dry land. Pharaoh tries to keep up the chase and follows them — but the waters close back — drowning Pharaoh and his army.

Now the people have just experienced a second miraculous rescue — and they decide — “Hey! Moses is our guy again.” And they sing a song — not “for he’s a jolly good fellow” — they sing a song praising God for being great, and powerful, and a loving warrior. But these people are fickle. Their optimism is brief. And they quickly start to worry about food and water. They’re back to the whole “this is a death march” idea again. How quickly they doubt God’s faithfulness — aren’t you glad that we’re not like them — the pastor asks rhetorically.

And God responds to these doubt-filled people by sending them bread from heaven to eat. He gives them water to drink in the desert. He even gives them power to defeat enemies they run in to.

So — to recap.

  • God rescues them out of their slavery in Egypt.

  • He provides them a way to escape his plague of judgment and death.

  • He parts the Red Sea.

  • He provides them with food and water.

  • He gives them victory over their enemies.

  • And then — after rescuing them — then God gives them the 10 commandments.

And this is important — we’ll look at the 10 commandments later in this series — but for now I want you to notice something that’s often misunderstood about the Christian faith — and that’s this. Often people think of Christianity as “If you do all of these things — if you obey these rules — clean up your act — start behaving the right way — then God will start taking care of you.” But the Exodus story tells us something completely different.

Here we’ve seen that God rescues people first. Then he tells us how to live. God rescues first — then he gives commands. So what does this mean? Well it means that the problem most people have with Christianity — that it’s a religion of rules — isn’t quite accurate. Christianity is first and foremost a religion of rescue — and those who are rescued by God desire to live in a way that pleases the One who’s rescued them.

The fact that God rescues first and then gives us his commands addresses something else that most people dislike about Christians — and that’s that we’re judgmental. Did you know — if you’re a Christian — did you know that we’re not supposed to judge non-Christians by Christian standards? Be grieved by their decisions. Warn them of their sin. But we’re not to judge unbelievers based on the commands God has given to his people — we’re to leave their judgment to God.

But for those who have been rescued by God — for people who say they’re a Christian — well — and this may surprise you — we are to judge fellow believers based on God’s expectations of his people. And this is often where we miss the mark. Often Christians are known for judging unbelievers but rarely do we hold each other accountable for the expectations God has for his people.

So that was bonus material for anyone listening who thinks Christians are too judgmental. You’re both right and wrong. We’re too judgmental of non-Christians and not judgmental enough of fellow believers — in the sense — that we often don’t hold each other to God’s expectations of his people.

Now after the 10 Commandments, there are a few other stories in the book of Exodus but mainly we find expectations that God has for his people. How are they supposed to live? What does it mean to be God’s people? And so on. But now I want us to look at our text — I’ve narrated most of the book — but let’s take a closer look at our passage so we know how this book points us to Jesus.

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT

Here are the words found in Exodus chapter 14. Beginning in verse 5.

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" (As I said earlier — Pharaoh starts having second thoughts about releasing all of his slaves.) 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (Now that’s some incredible faith and trust in God, right? I’m kidding folks. Remember — who’s faithful? God is faithful. And who is God faithful to? Unfaithful people. Even though they’ve witnessed the 10 plagues and have been rescued out of slavery — these people are still unfaithful.) 13 And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. (Who’s going to make their salvation happen? God — not them — God’s doing the saving here.) For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (“God will fight for you. You — well — you just keep your mouth shut.” Some of us can learn a lot from this one verse.) 15 The Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. (Remember — God responds to sin in two ways: 1) Justice — which is what the Egyptians are about to experience and 2) Grace — which is what the Israelites are experiencing as God rescues them.) 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen." 19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians." 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:5-31 ESV)

THE GOD WHO RESCUES

We live in — meaning we’re surrounded by a culture — a worldview — that tells us the way you get out of a difficult situation is by “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” What we’re told — and maybe you’ve never thought of it this way before — but what we’re told is that when you find yourself in a mess — you must work your way out of it — you must save yourself. And if you need help from anyone else — even God — well then — you’re weak.

Now — to be sure — there are times when “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is good advice.

  • For instance, if you get yourself into financial debt — the right thing to do is to work yourself out of it — stop spending so much — start paying the bills.

  • If you go to the dentist and they tell you to start flossing — or else things are going to go bad for you — well it’s time to start flossing.

  • Or take middle school boys as an example. Something happens to the male body in middle school where suddenly deodorant becomes mandatory — and sometimes it doesn’t even help — you know what I’m talking about. And society needs that middle school boy — don’t we — we need him to “pick himself up by his bootstraps” and start regularly — and abundantly — applying deodorant.

But here’s the problem — and I’m not talking about middle school boy B.O. any longer — the problem with our culture’s advice of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” is that it’s applied universally. Meaning we’re told that this is the way you get out of any hardship — any bad situation — you must be your own savior — always. And the problem — and you know this — the problem is that there are some situations we can’t save ourselves out of. The biggest of which — and this is church so this shouldn’t surprise you — but our biggest problem is sin.

What do I mean by sin? Defining sin is pretty simple. Either you’re living for God — doing things that honor him — and you know they honor him because you’ve studied up on the Bible — and know that anything other than living for God’s glory — is sin. And sin is something we can’t save ourselves from.

Just like the Israelites in Egypt — we’re slaves — not to a Pharaoh — we’re slaves to sin. And we — just like the slaves in Egypt needed to be rescued from their situation — we need to be rescued from our enslavement to sin. This is how the apostle Paul describes our relationship with sin. He writes, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:17-23 ESV)

And how were we changed? How did you — if you believe in Jesus — how did you move from being a slave of sin to being set free from sin? The answer: You were rescued by God. And do you want to hear something amazing? The same One who rescues us from our slavery to sin is the One who rescued the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt.

FINDING JESUS IN EXODUS

Here’s what Jude — the brother of Jesus — says. “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5 ESV)

How do we find Jesus in the book of Exodus? Well there are many ways — but the way we’re looking at today is by finding the One who rescues — the One who saves. And there is only One rescuer.

  • Jesus rescued the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt — that’s what Jude tells us.

  • He parted the Red Sea and brought judgment on Pharaoh and his army.

  • In Exodus, Jesus is the One rescuing God’s people out of their slavery and leads them into the Promised Land.

But the rescue in Exodus is only a foreshadow of the better rescue story to come — Jesus rescuing his people from their slavery to sin.

  • You see Jesus came to this earth to die on a cross — so that — through faith in him — his people would be set free from sin.

  • Set free for righteousness.

  • Set free to follow him as he leads us through this wilderness of a world and into the eternal Promised Land.

  • Jesus is our Rescuer — our Savior. In fact — his name means — God rescues.

And just like the Hebrew slaves — I mean there was nothing they could do to earn their freedom — this was not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of situation — so to we — and all people — because everyone is a slave to sin — we cannot save ourselves. We need to be rescued. We need a Savior. We need someone to come and set us free.

CONCLUSION

Now I know — for some — this can sound too good to be true — because you’re exhausted by the whole “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Or maybe you’re someone who knows that God’s rescued you from your sin and yet you struggle because you feel that you don’t deserve it. And — you know what — you’re right. No one deserves it. God didn’t rescue the Israelites because they deserved it or because they were good people or had some kind of unbelievable — unwavering — faith in him — you heard their story. God doesn’t rescue people who deserve it — he rescues people he loves.

And once rescued, God wants his people to show others what it means to live a rescued life. A life of resting in what Jesus has accomplished for us. God shows us — again and again in the Bible — that as Paul said — we’ve been set free from our slavery to sin to now live for God. And that means — we’re to obey our Rescuer. Trusting him and his word to us — that the way he wants us to live — the way he’s commanded us to live — is best.

So for us — if you believe in Jesus — here’s my question: Are we living like people who’ve been set free from sin? Are we living according to the truth that our chains of bondage have been broken and we’re now on the path — in following Jesus — that leads to our eternal home — the eternal Promised Land? Are you living as someone who’s been rescued? In a moment I’m going to pray that we will live as rescued people.

And if you’re here — and you’re not sure what you believe — but the one thing you do know is that you want to be rescued — here’s good news for you: Jesus is still in the rescuing business. So I’m going to pray for you — that Jesus would rescue you today — not because you deserve it — but because he loves you. Let’s pray.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Rescuer. Thank you for how the Exodus story points us to Jesus and to our story. So often we want to be the hero of our story — we don’t want to be the grumblers in the wilderness — the slaves who are under a wicked master — the unfaithful people who fail again and again to trust the One who loves them. But we’re not the hero of our story — Jesus is. And that’s great news for all of us.

So Father — for those of us who have been set free from our sin — set free to live for you — I ask you to help us to live a rescued life. Give us a desire to know how to live in a way that brings you glory.

And Jesus for anyone here desiring to be rescued — I ask that you would do the rescuing work that only you can do. Save them. Break the chains that bind them down. Set them free to live for you. Give them the gift of faith — the gift of assurance that you love them. Jesus we pray all of this in your name. Amen.

BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: want to live the rescued life)

May you go living the rescued life — knowing that Jesus has set you free.

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.


Songs for the Weekend

God loves to hear us sing His praises. Sing along with these songs this week as you praise your Savior and prepare to worship with His people this weekend at Gateway.

County Road 9

Exalted One - Elevation Worship
Hallelujah What a Savior - Austin Stone
All I Have Is Christ - Sovereign Grace
Great Is Thy Faithfulness - Austin Stone
Nothing But The Blood - Jesus Culture

North Main

Heaven and Earth - Hillsong Worship
Overwhelmed - Big Daddy Weave
Is He Worthy - Andrew Peterson
It Is Well - Bethel Music

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

Finding Jesus: Genesis Manuscript

SERMON TITLE: Finding Jesus
TEXT: Genesis 50:15-21 (ESV)”
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
DATE: 7-6/7-19

TURN MIC ON / WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too. 

SERIES INTRODUCTION

About a year ago, we did a series where we looked at the Old Testament major prophets. And in that series, I preached one sermon on each book — one sermon for an entire book of the Bible. 

  • And the goal of the series — and the reason why we’re returning to the idea — is that I want you to be familiar with all of the Bible. 

  • I want you to be able to see how the whole Bible is telling one story. 

  • I want you to know how to find Jesus no matter where you are in the Bible. 

  • So last year, we looked at the Major Prophets and this year we’re going to look at the first five books of the Bible — which are also called the Pentateuch — the books written by Moses.


Now why do I think it’s even possible to find Jesus in all of the Bible? Well in the end of the gospel of Luke, there’s an interesting story — the kids looked at this story during VBS — where after Jesus was killed on the cross, he appears to two men who thought he was still dead. Somehow — Jesus hid who he was from them — so they have no idea who they’re talking to. And when he shows up on the road, Jesus gives them — and us — a hint as to how we’re to read and understand the whole Bible.

“And he (that’s Jesus) said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he (Jesus) said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And (verse 27 is key because this is why we’re doing this series — this is how we know that the whole Bible tells one story — watch what Jesus does...and...) beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:17-27 ESV) 

You should circle the phrase “all the Scriptures” in verse 27. That’s why we’re doing this series — where I help you find Jesus in all of the Bible — including the Old Testament — because Jesus tells us the whole Bible is about him — he even began with the writings of Moses — the books we’re looking at for the next few weeks.

And here’s what the sermons will be like in this series. I’ll introduce you to a book of the Bible that may or may not be familiar to you. I’ll give you an overview of the book — the highlight reel. And then we’ll focus in on one section of the book where I’ll show you how to find Jesus in that book. 

So let’s turn to our passage for today.

ANNOUNCE THE TEXT

If you have your Bible please turn with me to Genesis chapter 50. We’ll be looking at verses 15-21 together today.  

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

OVERVIEW OF GENESIS

While you’re finding Genesis chapter 50, here’s an overview of the book of Genesis — this will help you know your way around the book when you read it. But I bet there’s a lot in Genesis that you’re already familiar with.

IN THE BEGINNING

For starters, Genesis tells us how things began. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis begins with a declaration that all things — things seen and things unseen — were created by God. And in the first two chapters of Genesis we get a 50,000 foot view of creation — chapter 1 — and then in chapter 2 — we’re seeing creation from the ground level — we’re in a garden — witnessing the creation of Adam and Eve — the pinnacle of God’s creation. Now why are they the pinnacle of creation? Because God made them his image bearers. And this means that they — and us — their offspring — have been commissioned as representatives of God’s reign over all of creation.

But our first parents fell to the deception of our Enemy. Though they lived in a place of perfection — without want — without need — without disease or death — they believed a lie — a lie all of us have fallen for and — if we’re honest — a lie we struggle with on a daily basis. What’s the lie? That God isn’t as good and faithful and loving and kind as he says he is. And in eating from a tree — in breaking the one commandment God had given them — Adam and Eve brought sin, destruction, and death on themselves — and on all of their descendants — including you and I.

And for the first 11 chapters of Genesis we see how sin leads to a breaking of the relationship between God and humanity. We also see how sin ruins the relationships we humans have with each other. 

  • Brothers murder brothers. 

  • Humanity thinks it’s coequal to God. 

  • The destruction of sin runs rampant. 

  • And throughout these chapters we see God respond to sin in two ways:  He brings justice and he offers grace.


GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO ABRAHAM AND HIS FAMILY

And chapter 12 is sort of a pivot point in the book. It’s here that we find God choosing to bless one man — Abraham — and his family. Abraham receives grace — though he deserves justice like everyone else. And for the remainder of Genesis, we see the beginning of God’s gracious plan to rescue humanity through his covenant — his promise — to Abraham. And this promise — made by God to Abraham — becomes the storyline for the rest of the Bible. How so? 

  • Well as we've just seen — in the beginning God blessed humanity — that’s Genesis chapters 1 and 2. 

  • Yet we forfeited that blessing through our rebellion and sin — Genesis chapter 3. 

  • Nevertheless, God remains faithful to a faithless people as we see in the stories of Noah, and Abraham, and Abraham’s son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. 

  • And then — in the New Testament — Paul describes the church — including those who come from a non-Jewish background — as those who have received the blessing of Abraham — so to be a Christian is to be part of Abraham’s family — this is what Romans chapter 4 is all about. Here’s what Paul said.

“For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father — that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father. We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!””

Now that’s a remarkable statement. Why do I say that? Well the whole Bible is telling one story of God’s faithfulness to a rebellious — folly-filled — faithless people. We see this over and over again in the book of Genesis — including Abraham’s story. 

  • Twice — not once but twice — Abraham gives his wife away to another man in an effort to save his own neck — talk about having some faith. 

  • Another time Sarah — his wife — wasn’t sure that God was going to fulfill his promise of giving her and her husband a child so she had her husband sleep with another woman to try and get God’s promise rolling — talk about having faith. 

  • And then Isaac — their son — get this — he gives his wife away — just like his dad did — and for the same reason — to save his own neck — and to the same man his dad gave his mom to! 

Yet — as I’ve said — God remains faithful to these people that you and I would avoid at the annual family picnic — “hey there’s uncle Abraham and aunt Sarah and they’re coming our way — quick kids — someone say they’ve got a belly ache so we can ditch them.” 

  • Twice God rescues Sarah from the men Abraham hands her over to. 

  • God also rescues Rebecca — Isaac’s wife — from the same foolishness. 

  • God causes Sarah to become pregnant even though she’s old and had doubted that she’d have a child. 

  • Genesis — the entire Bible really — is the story of God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful people. 

So with that as our overview, we come to our text. 


RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT

Here are the words found in Genesis chapter 50. Beginning in verse 15

“When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died: 17 'Say to Joseph, "Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." 19 But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:15-21 ESV)

GOD REIGNS

Have you ever heard someone say something like: “It’s clear that God doesn’t exist because there’s so much evil and suffering in the world. I mean — if he does exist — he must not be that powerful — I mean — look at all of the evil going on. Or worse — maybe he is powerful — but not good.” 

When someone says something like this what they’re questioning is God’s sovereignty and goodness. Is God really reigning over all things and is he really good?

Often this kind of question is asked when something’s happened to us that causes us to doubt God’s reign and goodness — maybe the death of someone you love dearly, maybe the loss of a job or a close friendship. And even for the seasoned Christian it’s easy to respond to the heartbreaking moments of life — it’s tempting — in these moments — to question God’s power. Or his goodness. Or if he’s even aware of what’s going on in our life. We struggle because we’re not able to reconcile — in our minds — that God reigns and is good — and — evil exists. 

Yet something we see in the whole Bible — is that there is a God who is completely sovereign and good — and — there is evil and destruction in our world. And though ultimately we’re responsible for the evil and suffering — due to our sin and rebellion against God — God doesn’t just sit back and say “Well if that’s the way they want to treat my love for them — then I’m out of this relationship” — no — God responded to our rebellion and sin — and the evil we’ve brought into his creation — by willingly experiencing the worst form of suffering the world could throw at him — Jesus Christ murdered on a cross — the Son of God executed — evil we did to God — evil we delighted in. 

So God — though reigning and good — experienced evil and suffering — and he used what we meant for evil — the murder of his Son — to be the means by which evil and suffering would be forever defeated. 

So the Christian faith proclaims to a suffering world — God reigns and is using all things — even the evil things we plot and scheme and cause — for his purposes.

This is what we find in our passage in Genesis — this is one way to find Jesus in the Bible.

JOSEPH’S STORY

So back to our passage. I know I gave you an overview of Genesis — but I need you to understand what’s going on in Joseph’s story so our passage makes some sense.

Joseph’s story begins in Genesis chapter 37 where he has two dreams. Now he’s one of 12 brothers — he’s 17 years old at the time — and he’s his daddy’s favorite. And his dreams only make a difficult relationship worse with his siblings because everyone understands his dreams to mean that some day — somehow — some way — Joseph’s going to reign over his brothers. And this makes his brothers mad. How mad? Well his brothers plot to kill him — and you thought your family had drama. 

Now his brothers eventually come around and think that killing Joseph may be taking things a bit too far — so instead of killing him — they sell him into slavery to some travelers who are heading to the distant land of Egypt. Then they go back home and tell their dad that Joseph was killed by some wild animals — and go on living with this lie — thinking they’ll never see their brother again. 

Now — and I know this will be hard to believe — but in Genesis 39 — things spiral downward for Joseph which — again I know can be hard to imagine given that he’s just been sold into slavery. Here’s what happens. He gets sold to a man named Potiphar. And things go well for Joseph because — something we’re reminded of again and again — is that God is with him. Potiphar notices that Joseph has some sort of favor — some sort of “If this guy’s in charge — things go well for me” — so Potiphar puts Joseph in charge. But Joseph’s got a problem — Potiphar’s wife thinks Joseph is a hottie and makes advances at him. And on one occasion — even though Joseph does the right thing and runs from the situation — Potiphar’s wife makes some false accusations against Joseph — and he’s thrown into prison. But even in prison, God is with Joseph. 

Some time passes, and one day Pharaoh throws two of his workers — a baker and cupbearer — into prison. And they both have a dream that they tell to Joseph. And — because God is with him — he’s able to interpret their dreams — and things turn out exactly as he said they would. The baker is killed and the cupbearer is restored to his position. And — oh by the way — he promises Joseph that he’ll put in a good word for him with Pharaoh — but — he forgets all about it once he’s free.

Two more years go by — thirteen years have passed since his brothers sold him into slavery — and now Pharaoh — the king of Egypt — starts having some disturbing dreams. No one can figure out what they mean. And that’s when the cupbearer remembers Joseph and how he can interpret dreams. So Pharaoh sends for Joseph. And Joseph interprets the dreams — there will be prosperity for 7 years and then famine for the next 7. Pharaoh is amazed by Joseph’s wisdom and insight. And he promotes Joseph from prisoner to second in command of all of Egypt. 

And there are 7 years of prosperity — just like Joseph said — and then famine comes. But through Joseph’s leadership, Egypt had stored up plenty of grain to survive the famine — but people from other lands aren’t faring so well — including Joseph’s family.

So after some time, Joseph’s dad — Jacob — also known as Israel — sends some of his sons to Egypt because he’s heard that there’s food there. And who do they find themselves in the presence of? Joseph — their brother. Now they don’t recognize him — it’s been over 20 years since they last saw him — he’s dressed like an Egyptian — they’re afraid for their lives because if this meeting doesn’t go well they won’t have any food to take back home — so they don’t recognize him. 

And eventually — after some back and forth tension filled drama — Joseph reveals that it’s him. The whole family moves to Egypt. The son who was thought to be dead is alive. Reconciliation takes place. Then dear old dad dies. And that’s the background for our text back in Genesis chapter 50.

“When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." 

So the brothers fear the consequences for the evil they did to Joseph. A few chapters earlier — in chapter 45 — Joseph clearly shows them that he’d forgiven them — but they’re uncertain if he’ll still feel that way now that dad’s gone. They’re projecting on Joseph something that’s terrifying to them. As someone has observed, “their hatred for Joseph was real, but Joseph’s hatred of them is only imaginary.” And though imaginary — it terrifies them.

16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died: 17 'Say to Joseph, "Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants."

They fall down before him — remember the dreams he had as a teenager? They were so adamant about his dreams not coming true — and now they unknowingly fulfill his dreams. But if we were to draw a line from point A of Joseph’s story — a young man with some dreams from God — to this point in his story — what an up and down — more down than up — zig zaggy line — through slavery and false accusations and imprisonment — what a journey from the dreams he received from God to their fulfillment. And with all of the misfortune and despair — with all of the evil and treachery — there’s only one reason the dreams were ever fulfilled — God was reigning the entire time. You see the dreams were fulfilled — not in spite of all of the bad things that happened to Joseph — no — all of the events were part of the path that led to the fulfillment of the dreams he’d been given. We know this because of Joseph’s response.


19 But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:15-21 ESV)

Another Bible translation says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50:20 NLT)

Joseph is aware of the limits of his authority. Yes he has a powerful position. Yes he has authority in Egypt. But he knows the one position he doesn’t have — is the position of God. The brothers don’t understood this yet. They’ve been giving Joseph an authority — a power — that didn’t belong to him.

And here — it’s as if Joseph is saying, “Guys have assurance. I know my role — and I’m not God. But if I could give you some advice — you should make things right with him. But what happens between you and God is his business — not mine. And God’s business for me was to use everything that’s happened in my life — the good and the evil — to bring me to this moment — where I would be used by him to save many people.”

FINDING JESUS IN GENESIS

  • And I know this can be hard to hear — especially if you’re in a season of suffering. 

  • I know this can be hard to believe if you’ve experienced a time when you feel that God didn’t come through for you. 

  • I know if you’re in the middle of the kind of devastating affliction that many have experienced and the pain and grief it produces — I know it’s hard to imagine and believe that God is able to use all of it for his purposes and for your good. 

But we Christians must remember that we’re in the midst of a world that’s suffering. People are starving — there’s a famine all around us. People are hopeless because they’ve been beat down by broken marriages and abusive predators, they’ve been crushed by cancer and drug addictions, they medicate themselves on alcohol and entertainment because life can be painful. We’re in a spiritual famine today — just like the people in Joseph’s day were in the midst of a physical famine.

But we have food — spiritual nourishment to offer them — it’s called the gospel. That God is working out all things for his purposes and his people’s good. That he is sovereign — that he reigns over all things — over all circumstances — even over the evil in our world because he used the greatest act of evil in history for his glorious purpose — God used the murder of Jesus Christ to be the means by which many will be saved. 

As the apostle Peter said, “"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it....32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses...36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."” (Acts 2:22-24, 32, 36-39 ESV)

Through an evil act — through the murder of Jesus — the horrific killing of the Son of God — through what we meant to cause great harm — what we meant to kill — God used it all for good. Jesus went to the cross so that through his death — through our evil act — many people would be saved.

CONCLUSION

And this gives us assurance. For no matter our circumstances — no matter how hard — or how difficult — or how depressing — or how draining our circumstances may be — if God has used the evil that is the murder of Jesus for his purposes and our good — surely he is reigning right now — and has a plan — that’s more glorious than we can dare to imagine — surely he has a plan that will use your circumstances for his purposes and your good.

This doesn’t make 13 years in slavery and imprisonment any easier. This truth doesn’t make your situation any lighter or more enjoyable. But this truth does give hope. Because in a world of famine — in a world that’s starving for hope — you have — and are feasting on — the faithfulness of God in your life. And you’re able to feast — not because of something good that was done — you feast because God reigns over all things — including evil — you feast because God used the death of his Son for your eternal good. 

Know that God is faithful. Know that he is good. Know that our God reigns. Let’s pray. 

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for reigning over all things. Thank you for being good. Thank you for being faithful to us — even when we are faithless to you. Father — for those who are in a difficult circumstance right now — I ask you to reassure them of your goodness and power. Reassure them — right now — that you love them and care for them — that you’re aware of their situation — that you are working this situation out for their good.

We ask you to forgive us for the evil acts we do. So often we blame you for the evil in our world all while we fail see our contribution to the evil. This is a wicked thing we do — forgive us of this sin. 

Finally, help us to be an encouragement to those in our midst who are struggling — who need assurance of your goodness — who need a friend. Use us to demonstrate your goodness to those who are in this land of famine. Help us to do good to those around us. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

COMMUNION

As we turn to the Lord’s Table, we’re reminded — once again — that our God reigns. We’re reminded of the hope we have because God used the murder of his Son for our salvation. This meal is a time where we feast — in this famined land — feasting on God’s love for us as displayed in the sacrifice of his Son.

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:24b-26 ESV)

And with these words our Lord commands all believers to eat this bread and to drink this cup in true faith and in the confident hope of his return in glory.

At this time, ushers will be passing trays with the bread and the cup down your rows. You may take the bread immediately, but hold on to the cup, which we will all drink together.

PRAYER

Let’s pray. Father, we give you thanks for your Son, Jesus. For his obedience and suffering during his life on earth, and for his giving up of his body and blood on the cross. Give us assurance that our sins are pardoned through his blood and may your perfect love drive out all fear. Fill our minds with your peace and turn our eyes to Heaven, where Christ is at your right hand interceding for us. Unite us with each other through your Spirit so we continue in the living hope of our Savior's coming in glory. Amen.

Let’s feast on God’s grace together. 

PRAYER

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, in your wisdom, you have made all things and you sustain them by your power. You formed us in your image, setting us in this world to love and serve you, and to live in peace with one another. When we rebelled against you — refusing to trust and obey you — you did not reject us, but still claimed us as your own. Then in the fullness of time, out of your great love for us, you sent your only Son to be one of us, to redeem us, to heal our brokenness, to cleanse us from our sins, and to defeat our greatest enemies of Satan, sin, death, and Hell. And now, you call us your sons and daughters — your children of hope. In response to these great truths, we now praise you in song together. Amen.


BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: Need assurance of God’s goodness and faithfulness as you go through a difficult circumstance)


May you go knowing that God reigns. That he is faithful. That he is good. 

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.


Songs for the Weekend

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

As God’s children, we get the opportunity to declare God’s praises. Praise Him this week with the songs for the weekend at Gateway.

North Main

The Lion and the Lamb - Bethel Music
Great Is Thy Faithfulness - Austin Stone Worship
With Everything - Jesus Culture
Lamb of God - Meredith Andrews

County Road 9

Ever Be - Aaron Shust
God Is Able - Hillsong
Come Thou Fount - Kings Kaleidoscope
Waiting Here For You - Chris Tomlin
Doxology

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

Volunteer Extravaganza 2019

Unlike most organizations, volunteers are the lifeblood of all we do. On any given weekend, as people arrive for one of our five services, they will be welcomed and served by someone who is giving of their time and talents freely. They wave at us in the parking lot. They open the doors and say hello as we enter the building. Some hand us hot cups of coffee or tea before we drop off our children. And what about the army of volunteers in our Kidway and youth ministries? We are greeted by ushers as we enter the sanctuary, and once the service starts we are brought into worship primarily through volunteers using their gifts and talents, as well. Behind the scenes, people serve in all kinds of technical areas to help our time together to be done with excellence and professionalism. We also have people who ensure our safety and that the offerings given are recorded accurately and stored away securely. Now, remember we are hosting around fourteen hundred people on a given weekend at two campuses with five services. We need at least two hundred volunteers each weekend for things to run smoothly and efficiently. That does not include the individuals who serve in some capacity during the week. We have around one hundred and twenty Life Group Leaders along with a prayer team and worship teams who volunteer during the week.

I once heard someone say that “if you don't take the time to recognize those who volunteer and serve in your church, you’d be spending your time cleaning toilets and teaching toddlers.” We are blessed to have so many amazing people who volunteer here at Gateway. So to say thank you, we put together a little picnic that was organized and run by the staff. This was a simple event with food and fellowship, a live band, some inflatable toys for the kids (and if we’re honest, some of the adults, too) and a few simple yard games. We had great weather and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves. We believe we had close to three hundred people in attendance and are thankful for all of our volunteers who took the time to come out and let our staff say, “Thank you!”

Please take the time to say thank you to one of our volunteers the next time you attend one of our weekend services or a Life Group. I know many of them will say there is no thank you needed, but we all need to be appreciated once in awhile and our volunteers are no exception. We could not do it without them. If you would like to be a part of this fun event next year, sign up to volunteer today. All you need is a willing heart and some time.

Lebanon Opportunity

Resurrection Church of Beirut has requested Gateway Church to consider sending a team on short notice to Lebanon to lead a program for their children during their annual church conference. We are now attempting to build a mission team for this from Aug 27-Sep 2 or 3. If you are interested in this opportunity, please go here for details and contact our Go department. We will need a team formed by the first week of July, so please do not delay in responding.

Being Sent Manuscript

Sermon Title: “Being Sent
Scripture: Jeremiah 1:1-10 (ESV)
Speaker: Mike Barnhart
Date: June 29-30, 2019
Location: Gateway Church

Good morning, Gateway! My name’s Mike Barnhart, and I’m the pastor at Princetown Church, which is located about 20 miles outside of Albany, NY.

It’s truly an honor for me to be here with you today.

I had been part of Gateway’s staff for the past ten years, serving in various roles. Until--just 7 months ago--Gateway sent me to be the pastor at Princetown.

Today, I’d like to do two things:

  1. Since you’re the church that sent my family and me, I want to give you a brief update about how things are going in NY.

  2. Also, I’d like to look at some Scripture that offers us teaching about “Being Sent” from God’s perspective.

Here’s a few things I learned in my first seven months in NY:

  1. In 2013, the Barna Group did a survey to determine the most “post-Christian” cities in the United States. The term ‘post-Christian’ refers to people meeting 9 of 15 criteria, such as “don’t believe in God,” “don’t participate in a church,” and “don’t donate money to a church.”

    Do you know where Albany, NY landed in the survey?
    Albany--which is just 20 minutes down the road from the church where I serve--came in 1st.
    In 2013 [just 6 years ago] Albany was ranked the most “post-Christian” city in the United States. WOW! That beats out Portland (OR), Seattle (WA), New York City, and San Francisco!

  2. Three years ago, New York City was one vote short of passing a law that no church could meet in a public building, such as a school. That would mean about 1,000 churches have to close their doors in the state.

  3. You might be wondering what all this means for the Next Generation. Well, kids are NOT growing up with a biblical worldview. This is true across the country, but even more so in NY. I spoke with one mom from Princetown Church, and she shared that of the over 60 elementary students in her child’s grade at school, her child is 1 of 3 who attend church. That’s about 5% of elementary kids going to church. Most kids are growing up without a biblical worldview. They don’t know the names, “Abraham, Moses, King David, the Apostle Paul, or (most importantly) Jesus.

    1. From what I’ve heard, those percentages are actually high compared to other percentages.

    2. I’ve read that only 2.5% of people attend church in the capital district of NY.

  4. Because the culture is so “post-Christian,” feelings of guilt, shame, or conviction are much less prevalent. People don’t tend to recognize sin for what it is.

    1. The positive is that people tend to be a bit more transparent about their sin. However, they first need to be convinced about what sin is.

Needless to say at this point, many modern church methods just don’t work as well in NY, if we’re serious about reaching the lost. People don’t just show up for cool lights or good music or because the pastor’s preaching a great sermon!

Although some who are simply looking for a different way to do church may be reached through an attractional model...Reaching the lost is going to be most effective through building relationships.

One example of this is a young mom named Christine.

My wife (Sara) met Christine at church one Sunday. She’s the daughter-in-law of one of the members at our church. After her mother-in-law had been inviting her for quite a while, she finally showed up. She decided she’d give it a try.

Sara initiated a conversation with her and they ended up talking about many things…

  • What’s in the Bible?

  • Who’s Jesus?

  • What needs to happen to be saved?

  • Sara prayed with her & invited her to our Small Group.

The very next day, Christine showed up at our Small Group. As us Barnhart’s do--we had the agenda for the night all mapped out. We were ready to go with the meal, the study, and the discussion.

As the group sat around our living room, Christine spoke up somewhat timidly...”Can I ask a question…?”

And that’s when it all started...

  • Christine asked question after question about what it means to follow Jesus.

  • I shared the gospel with her.

  • The rest of the group’s eyes were opened as their jaws dropped at what they were seeing.

  • Christine said, “I need Jesus. That’s exactly what I need!”

  • Christine received Christ.

Now, there are several ladies who are walking with Christine on this new spiritual journey.

Christine is just one example of the type of people we’re encountering in NY.

  • It’s a people who are desperate for hope.

  • They’re searching everywhere for it.

  • They want to be cared for where they’re at in life.

  • They’re not typically open to showing up at church until someone’s invested in them & loved them with the love of Christ.

That’s why--just three months into my time at Princetown--we started a small group called “Disciples Making Disciples.” It’s a group that intentionally trains and sends out disciples to make disciples.

The goal is that we would not simply make disciples by addition--one at a time...but, that we’d make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples.

The key with this group is accountability.

Each week, everybody in the group commits to an “I Will…” statement. It’s just a simple commitment that we’ll do during the week.

For example, it could be…

  • “I will pray everyday for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the lost around me.”

  • “I will find one person this week, who I can ask, ‘What’s the greatest hope in the world?’ with the goal of starting a spiritual conversation.”

Then, at each meeting, we follow up…

  • We ask how our “I Will…” statements went.

  • We do a short Bible study and pray for one another.

  • We create new “I Will…” statements.

Actually, it’s pretty simple.

If you’d be willing to commit to praying for our ministry in NY in one way...pray for this group. Pray that we’d be faithful to making disciples who make disciples.

To this day, being sent to NY has been one of the most bitter, sweet experiences I’ve ever had. I love Gateway! And, I love obeying God’s call on my life! For me, I got to a point at Gateway where I sensed a strong call from God to Go and Be Sent. So, I did.

I remember wrestling with feelings of…What if I’m not capable. What if I cave under the pressures. What if...what if...what if. I just wasn’t confident that I could do it.

  • In fact, I’ve experienced those feelings often in my life.

  • I remember (years ago) when I was first asked to lead a small group.

  • I remember when I was faced with the decision to move to Findlay and work with college students.

  • I remember when I was asked to become the campus pastor at a new Gateway campus called North Main.

Every one of these times…

  • I felt like I wasn’t capable.

  • I felt like I was too young.

  • I felt like I wouldn’t be able to cut it.

But in everyone of those situations, God took my inabilities, insecurities, my youth, and my doubts...and He did what He wanted to do.

God proved Himself faithful again & again & again.
It wasn’t me...It was God’s grace in me.

  • Have you ever experienced these sort of feelings?

  • Have you ever sensed God’s call to Go...His call to Be Sent?

  • To serve God in a way that you just didn’t feel qualified to do??

  • Maybe you doubted you were the one to do it??

I’m sure--in one way or another--you probably have.

  • Maybe you’ve been attending a Life Group for while…

    • You’ve enjoyed hanging out with your friends in the group.

    • You’ve learned a lot!

    • Your life has started to change--in a good way--because of the habits you’ve developed from the group.

    • Maybe just recently, your LG Leader asked you to consider leading a group.

      • You can’t help but get anxious about it...thinking, there’s gotta be someone else more qualified.

      • “There’s no way I could do that!”

  • Or, maybe it’s something different, like...

    • You’ve been asked to serve in a ministry or help with an outreach.

  • Maybe you’ve been asked to be on the worship team.

    • Serve as a Kidway Group Leader.

    • Someone’s told you that you would be a good missionary or pastor.

Whatever it is... you can’t avoid the insecurities and the feelings of inadequacy.

Today, we’re gonna look at a guy in the Bible who was called by God to Be Sent, but he wasn’t confident that he could do it.

Go ahead and turn in your Bible to Jeremiah 1:1-10.

The words will also be on the screen or on the Gateway App, so you can follow along.

Jeremiah 1:1-10 (ESV) - 1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me (that’s Jeremiah), saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah has been called out by God to serve Him as a prophet. God tells him that he’s the one to do it.

Look again at how Jeremiah responds:

Jeremiah 1:6 (ESV) - 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”

  • Jeremiah doubts that he’s the one to do it.

  • He tells God that he doesn’t know how to speak and he’s too young to be God’s chosen prophet.

  • In reality, Jeremiah probably has a good point here.

God’s asking him to go to the nations as a prophet, and he’s saying “I don’t know how to speak. I’m too young & inexperienced.”

I don’t know if you know this or not, but effective public speaking skills are pretty essential for a prophet. Prophets were people who would speak to others on behalf of God.

But, God wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.

Look back at God’s response to Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:7 (ESV) - 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

God’s saying…

  • Listen for My call.

  • Obey Me.

  • Go where I send you.

  • Speak what I command you.

  • Be Sent!

Because God--the Creator of the universe, the Maker of all things--He called. He’s commanding Jeremiah to become His chosen prophet. Therefore Jeremiah’s gotta go.

But, there’s more…
Here’s the great thing…

...God doesn’t just give Jeremiah a command.
...He doesn’t just tell Jeremiah that He’s gotta go.

God equips Jeremiah to Be Sent.
He provides all that Jeremiah needs to do that job!

God does that for you too. When God sends you to live on mission for Him...He equips you.

And, it’s because God equips us that we don’t have to be slaves anymore to the insecurities, inadequacies, inabilities, and doubts.

With God, we can do what we can’t do on our own.

Here’s what I want you to see from this text today:

Because God equips the called, be sent.

  • God’s call & His equipping can’t be separated...they’re linked.

  • God provides more than enough for those He calls.

  • It’s because God equips those He calls that they must be sent.

Here’s the deal:

You--if God’s calling you...He will equip you...guaranteed!
And, because He equips you, you must be sent!\

Now, I realize that some of you--because I just got really personal with you about this--your heart just started beating a little faster.

  • You’re not so sure about what all this means to be called.

  • You don’t know where you’re supposed to go...and why?

  • And, you’re struggling a bit to really believe that God’s gonna give you EVERYTHING you need.

If that’s you, you’re not alone…

Many of us struggle with doubts and fears about Being Sent. Let’s take a few minutes to look at how God equipped Jeremiah. As we do, we’re gonna see several ways God also equips us to Be Sent.

I believe that if you hang in there with me through this, you’ll be able to walk out of here today with a little more confidence about responding to God’s call in your life.

The first way we see God equipping Jeremiah is by how God knows him. This is also true for us:

1. Because God KNOWS you, be sent.

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) - 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

This verse explains how God knows Jeremiah in several ways. We’ll get to those in a minute, but first…

Why do you think God tells Jeremiah this? Why is God trying to convince Jeremiah that He knows him?

Was it because Jeremiah didn’t know who made him? Was it because Jeremiah didn’t recognize God’s active nature in his life?

I don’t think so.

All evidence points to Jeremiah having a relationship with God.

  • He was the son of a priest...So, he was a pastor’s son.

  • He’s born in the village of Anathoth, which is between Jerusalem and the edge of the wilderness...So, he was right in the midst of Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). He was among God’s people.

  • And he recognized God’s voice when God came to call him.

So, why did God need to convince Jeremiah that God knew Him??

I think it’s because Jeremiah needed a reminder (like all of us do).

Here’s the truth:

  • When we know (without a doubt) that God--the Creator and Maker of all things--knows us...we live differently.

  • When we’re really convinced that God knows us and understands us...it’s a lot easier to trust Him.

Let’s take a couple minutes to see how God knows Jeremiah:

God tells Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”

  • This means that God Himself fashioned Jeremiah together. God knit him together in his mother’s womb.

  • God didn’t just know Jeremiah...God created & formed him.

This is key…

When you make something…

  • Build a shed

  • Bake a cake

  • Paint a picture

...whatever it is…

When you create something yourself, you know it.

  • You know why you put each piece where.

  • You understand every part.

  • And, you care about it.

It’s the same with God...He made Jeremiah...He made you.

  • God knows you.

  • He knew you--even before you were conceived.

  • He understands every part of you.

  • He cares for you.

  • God knows you better than you know yourself.

Then, God tells Jeremiah: “Before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Consecration means to be ‘set apart.’

  • This means that--even before Jeremiah was born--God had a plan for his life.

  • God’s got plans to do something big with Jeremiah.

  • God’s calling Jeremiah to be a prophet--to speak the truth of God with boldness to the people of his time.

While Jeremiah was being carried around in his mother’s womb, God was making preparations for his salvation & ministry.

Do you know that God’s gotta plan for you?
Not only does God have a plan for you, but He’s had a specific, particular, and definite plan for your life since long before you were even born.

God knows you. He knows you far better than you know yourself.
He knows you. He loves you. He’s gotta plan for you.

If you’re here today, and you’ve never admitted that God’s known you since before you were born...that’s where you need to start.

You’ve gotta be confidently convinced that God--in the most true & intimate way--knows you.

  • He knows your heart & passions before you experience your desires.

  • He knows the way you think before you think it yourself.

  • He knows your abilities & skills.

  • He knows your weaknesses.

  • He knows your health.

  • He knows who you’re becoming--the trajectory of your life.

God knows you.
He knows you. He loves you. He’s gotta plan for you.

When the Creator & Maker of all things calls you out to do something...you do it.

You do it because you can trust Him.
You can trust Him because He’s the one who made you.

You’ve gotta know that your life didn’t start with you.
It didn’t start with your dad & mom.
Your life...your salvation...your ministry...your purpose starts with God.

Therefore...you can trust God’s call on your life.

Maybe God’s calling you to step out of your comfort zone and become a Life Group leader. You don’t think you can do it…

...Remember, God knows you.

Maybe God’s calling you to fill a leadership role in Kidway. But to do it, you’d have to commit to showing up every week. You’d have to set aside some of the things you like to do on the weekends to answer this call.

...Remember, God knows you...He knows what’s best for you.


God equips you. He equips you fully & completely.
Because God KNOWS you, be sent.

The second way God equips Jeremiah to be sent is by God’s presence with him. It’s true for you too...

2. Because God is WITH you, be sent.

Listen to what God tells Jeremiah in verse 8:

Jeremiah 1:8 (ESV) - 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

If God were saying this to you...what would you think?
I know what I would think…

  • Who’s ‘them’ and why am I gonna be afraid of them?

  • What am I going to encounter that You need to tell me not to be afraid?

  • What am I gonna need to be delivered from? What do I need to be rescued from?

God didn’t spell things out for Jeremiah. He didn’t give him specifics about where he’d go or what he was gonna do. He kept everything pretty surface-level.

Instead, God simply commands Jeremiah to not fear ‘cause He’ll rescue him.

I don’t know about you, but if someone told me that--even if it were God--I’d be struggling a little bit. Even if I chose to go & do what God commanded, I’d be having some major second thoughts.

When I hear these words--”Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you…”--I’m not exactly emphasizing the fact that God’s with me in my mind. No...I’m thinking about how I might need to be afraid.

I think that’s probably natural for all of us…

When God approaches you with an opportunity to serve Him in a new way or to go somewhere unknown to you AND God says, “Don’t be afraid ‘cause I’m with you”...

I’m just taking a guess, but you probably don’t naturally think…

Oh, God’s with me. I guess whatever I encounter will be alright.

You’re probably plagued with fear & doubt & anxiety.
You’re probably thinking...How can I get outta this??

If that’s you, don’t worry. That’s natural for most of us.

But, even though we may feel that way…
Even though our first inclination may be anxiety or doubt…

God’s telling us, “Don’t be afraid ‘cause I’m WITH you.”

God’s saying:

  • It doesn’t matter what you’ll encounter (that’s why I didn’t tell you all the details)...

  • I’m bigger. I can handle it.

  • I’ve got this for you…’cause I’m with you.

When my family & I moved to NY last December, I expected challenges. I didn’t know what it’d look like, but I knew it would be tough. And it was…

I’ll spare you the details because everyone’s transition challenges are a bit unique, but I remember just before preaching my second Sunday at Princetown…

  • Although I acknowledged it for months, it finally began to sink in that I wouldn’t be with my Gateway family each week.

  • Although you’re still our spiritual family...our relationship with you (at Gateway) looks different now.

  • As excited as I was to meet and get to know this new family of Christ-followers in NY...I was grieving the transition from my Gateway family.

    • I remember asking God: “Why did I do this? What are You trying to do in my life?”

    • And God said…”Remember, I’m with you. I’ve been with you before. I’ll never leave you. I’m with you.”

Do you know that, Church?
God’s with you.

There’s a reason God tells us--in His Word--”I’m with you” 118 times.

He wants us to know it. He NEVER EVER wants us to doubt it.

  • No matter where you go or what you do.

  • No matter what God calls you to do...when you go, He’s with you.

  • In Christ...Nothing...absolutely nothing can or will separate you from God.

Maybe God’s calling you to go somewhere you’ve never been before…

  • It could be committing to serve regularly at the City Mission.

  • Knocking on a neighbor’s door to introduce yourself and share Christ.

  • It could be going on a missions trip.

  • Or, maybe...When Gateway opens its new campus on September 29 in Bowling Green, will you go? Maybe God’s calling you to be sent.

    • If He does...you can trust that God’s with you. He won’t leave you.

Because God’s with you, be sent.

The third way God equips Jeremiah to be sent is by God empowering him. It’s true for you too...

3. Because God EMPOWERS you, be sent.

Jeremiah 1:9-10 (ESV) - 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

We see here that God wasn’t asking Jeremiah to go and figure everything out on his own. God’s gonna lead him & guide him.

Jeremiah didn’t even have to speak on his own behalf...God gave him the words.

God rules the nations of this world by His Word. God appointed Jeremiah to boldly proclaim God’s Word, and he’s given the spiritual authority to do so.

The Lord instructed Jeremiah to be a bold prophet, not because of his preaching ability or because of his age & experience.

God didn’t call Jeremiah because he had some sort of degree from a prestigious school or incredible skills that God wanted to tap into…

No...God called Jeremiah to use him as a vessel...he was called to speak God’s own words.

God will do this as He sends you too.
As He sends you, He empowers you.

God sent my family and I to a new place, with a new people.
As we arrived, we learned quickly that the culture was very different, but we also realized that people are people...People are the same everywhere.

And God is equipping my family and I to love & care for this new community of people...to point them to Christ.

I’m learning that God’s always faithful to give me the words to speak, to close my mouth when I shouldn’t speak, and to help me share Jesus’ grace with those around me.

I’ve just gotta remember that I don’t have what it takes. I’ve gotta rely on God’s equipping in my life.

It’s the same for you.
God will equip you for whatever He’s calling you to do.
As He sends you, He’ll empower you.

  • If God’s calling you to serve in a new way...to take on a leadership role…

...He’ll empower you to do it.

  • Maybe God’s been nudging you to consider being a pastor.

It’s gonna take a lot of time & sacrifice to get through the training & schooling.

But, if you sense that’s what God’s asking you to do...He’ll empower you.

He’ll give you the words. You can be sure of that!


  • Maybe you’re being sent to help launch that new BG campus.

...He’ll empower you to do it.

Just as Jesus was sent by the Father into this broken world for you...you--as a Christ-follower--are being sent to proclaim the only hope we have...that’s Jesus.

You don’t need to be in vocational ministry to do this.

Your mission will be different than mine...
It may look a bit different from the person next to you...
But, you’re being called by God to be sent.

He’s sending you to share the life-altering grace of Christ with others who don’t yet have it.

Don’t make excuses...Don’t be afraid.
Gateway Church...

  • God knows you.

  • God’s with you.

  • God empowers you to do what He’s calling you to do.

You can be confident of that. Gateway Church, Be Sent!

Let’s PRAY…

Gracious Father, we confess to You today that sometimes we get so caught up in the daily routines of our lives or the worldly blessings that give us comfort that we just don’t deeply & prayerfully consider how You might want to lead us.

Our hearts are too often centered on ourselves. We don’t pay attention to Your call. We don’t believe that You’ll provide for our every need.

But, You do.

Jesus, thank You for knowing us.
Thank You for always being
with us.
Thank You for
empowering us.

It’s because You’re faithful to equip those You call that we can be sent for Your glory!

Now, help us Holy Spirit. Guide us into all truth...that we would obey Your call...that each one listening today--as individuals, and collectively as Gateway Church--would be sent.

In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.