Sermon - 12/24/17
2018.01.02 22:44:40

ADVENT 4/B (2017), 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38.


Mystery,     [T]he preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed… to bring about the obedience of faith… (vv. 25, 26). 


Over the weeks of Advent we have been preparing to celebrate the culminating revelation of a mystery, the Incarnation and Nativity of God become man; to welcome Christ into his world in Spirit and Truth.


Throughout Advent, the church’s welcoming song from the house of the Lord has been “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.  Today, on the eve of his revelation as Christ child our song unfolds with antiphonal stanzas:


“O come, Emmanuel; O come, Thou Wisdom from on high; O come, Thou Lord of might; O come, Thou Branch of Jesse’s tree; O come, Thou Key of David; O come, Thou Dayspring from on high; O come, Desire of nations.” 


The “mystery kept secret for long ages” never ceases to surprise and give pause, a Child who is the Lord of might bearing all the poverty and fragility of Mary’s flesh, but without sin.  It is not how we would have planned salvation for fallen man nor fashion a Champion to stand against satanic hordes. 


So it is never a good idea or safe to get out in front of God’s word. To do so, puts us in danger of conflict with God’s will.  This was the situation with David and Nathan.  David was God’s vehicle for bringing into place God’s promises for Israel. 


By God’s grace David defeated all Israel’s enemies in the Land, conquering Jerusalem, the final stronghold of the Jebusites, making it the “City of David”. David built there for himself a palace of cedar and rested in peace after long years of warfare. 


David, the servant of the Lord living in palatal splendor, observed the incongruity that the God of heaven and earth was seated above his Ark housed in a make shift tent, not even the wilderness tabernacle fabricated by Moses (2 Sam. 6:17).


David, with too much time on his hands, was feeling guilty about the disparate circumstance searched his heart. He decided he would construct a “proper” abode for God to rival and exceed all the temples of the surrounding foreign gods to proclaim the God of Israel, the one true God who had given his people rest and peace in the Land. 


David’s idea seemed well conceived, even laudable; yet he did not go off ½ cocked on the project. First David consulted the purveyor of God’s word, Nathan the prophet.  Nathan heard David out, considered his reasoning, and concurred with David’s impulse, advising, “Go, and do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you” (7:3). 


It is never a good idea or safe to get out in front of God’s word. David was leading from his heart without prayer; and Nathan without consulting God in Scripture or prayer considered only the apparent pious impulse of David’s plan. 


What is the problem here? It is the same problem that has plagued the church from Adam and Eve until now, the original sin of enthusiasm, or what Luther called fanaticism.  Satan taped into Eve’s heart exploiting it with a false word about the forbidden fruit, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and gave some to her husband…” (Gen. 3:6).  


Man’s heart is the least reliable informant of God’s will. He speaks, and our ears listen; and so the church holds to sola Scriptura oriented in petitionary prayer.  Enthusiasm on the other hand is man’s self-revelation divorced from God’s word and promises.  It is sin that assumes because it feels good, right, and pious according to our own lights that it discerns God’s will apart from heaven’s Light in Christ and him crucified. 


Following consenting pastoral advice (whether from Adam or Nathan) does not excuse from the peril of going against God’s will. As with Adam approving Eve’s heart, Nathan’s sin was greater than David’s.  Nathan had arrogated to himself what was hidden for long ages, the mystery from God’s heart (2 Sam. 7:21) of his intended final salvific dwelling with men. 


Nathan assumed that because the Lord had given David victory to victory, that he need look no further than to the visual of David at rest in his palace, and so misdirected him with a false word in the name of the Lord, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you” (2 Sam. 7:3). 


God graciously intervened, tapping the breaks on temple-talk for the time being, issuing a corrective to Nathan and David’s enthusiasm. Nathan’s original counsel would have set David on a contrary path to God’s long hidden plan for his salvation and residence with men. 


Before constructing any temple in the Land as David had in mind to compete against and overshadow pagan gods, Israel must understand that any human construction would merely be prophetic of God’s heart for an eternal dwelling in his enfleshed Word or Torah.  


Perhaps David and Nathan, by co-opting the Lord’s temple construction plans, had forced God’s hand. In a cryptic promise, which I will interpret, God revealed to David something of the long hidden mystery:


“I will give you rest [eternal] from all your enemies [Satanic powers and authorities].  Moreover… the LORD will [construct for] you a house  I will raise up [resurrect] your offspring [Christ]… who shall come from your body [by Mary]…  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne [his Cross] of his kingdom forever” (vv. 11-13).


In Advent we have been preparing to know, to behold, the hidden mystery for long ages in Spirit and Truth. The church does not just show up with specious annual Christmas joy at her midnight mass.  In Advent we stand on the precipice of the Nativity and so preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery that this Child is now fully disclosed. 


In Advent the church does what Nathan and David should have done, become immersed in Word and prayer for revelation of God’s will. We beheld Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, foretelling the triumph of Zion’s king on the cross.  We beheld John’s Baptism preparing us for Jesus’ Baptism in the HS for repentant faith at his coming in word and Sacrament.  We beheld through JB, the herald of our abiding in the new Temple of Jesus’ sacrificial body, our Way and Life. 


And by today’s Gospel in all modesty we behold Mary’s womb, the construction site of David’s house for God with men. St. Luke’s reportage of Divine conception in the fragility of Mary’s flesh doesn’t sound like a place for Temple construction. 


But by Mary’s receptive faith in God’s angelic word, she, for a time, was not only the Ark and conveyance of the God of heaven and earth; but by the HS’s overshadowing, the place of sinless new creation, new Man, and fabrication of God’s end time Temple, the Christ child whom she was to name Jesus.


At the conception of Jesus, the work of the HS was being done in secret; but conception and Life always outs. Pregnancy is never hidden for long.  As Mary’s gestating belly expanded, so we in the church’s belly are nourished by word and Sacrament growing in knowledge of God and his ways in Jesus Christ for our salvation (Jn. 17:3). 


Jesus’ word and Eucharistic flesh and blood is the stuff of our new home which entry way was torn open on the cross for our new Temple worship in presence of the Father according to his heart’s desire.


Mary is the NT church’s prophetic type who responds to God, not with enthusiasm’s heart apart from word, prayer, and sacrament; but in faithful, attentive hearing and response, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), revealing us to be true sons and daughters by the same reckoned righteousness of Abraham.  Amen.





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