4th Sunday before Advent – Sermon 287
Fourth Sunday before Advent
6.30pm Evening Prayer CW
4th November 2018 [Not Preached]
Prayer to Start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
Dreams are something we all experience – some good – some not so good – Some we remember vividly – some we forget as soon as we wake up –
If I wake up in the night and I am in a dream that I like – I try to get back into it so that I can quickly fall asleep again. If I am in a dream I don’t like I quickly try to end it on a good note – and hope that when I fall asleep – I don’t enter that dream again.
Our readings this evening are about dreams and visions – which God uses to bring an important message to an uncertain world
Point 1 God’s Kingdom will Come
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and he was very uncertain about what it was – and what it meant –
It scared him – and he called his experts in ‘dream analysis’ to try to get an answer –
but he failed to tell them what was in it – because he thought that if they were experts – than they would know.
He even threatened to kill them all unless they came forward and explained everything.
But no magician, enchanter, astrologer or wise man could do anything about the thing that troubled the king – until Daniel stepped into the scene –
Through the wisdom of God – Daniel spoke words that lifted the burden that was weighing the king down. He explained the King’s dream very carefully – and he gave an important message to him about his future – and the future of the world to come –
Daniel first describes to the King his dream –
He told the King what he saw – a great image – a statue – huge and dazzling – with a head of gold – chest and arms of silver – a belly and thighs of Bronze – legs of iron and feet of both iron and clay.
Then a stone – which was hune from a mountain – but by no human hand – struck the statue at its feet of iron and clay – resulting in the rest of the image being shattered into tiny pieces –
the debris was then blown away by the wind – and no trace remained – but the stone that struck the image grew and grew and became a huge mountain – that filled the earth –
The meaning of this dream – said Daniel was that – The King of Kings – of whom God appointed to rule over mankind and the animals and birds of the air had appointed Nebuchadnezzar – at the head of the image – he who has received these dreams from God – is the head of Gold – but after him will come inferior kingdoms –
They will have successive sovereignty over the world – first the kingdom of Silver – and then of Bronze – and then a fourth kingdom of iron – but iron is brittle – and when it breaks it shatters – and breaks all the others – the feet of iron and clay are a divided kingdom – partly strong and partly brittle – a kingdom of mixed families – which will not be stable –
and in that time – the stone huned from the mountain by no human hand – will come – and shatter all before Him –
and after the wind has come – there will be no trace of these former kingdoms – and the God of heaven will establish – a new kingdom – which will grow and grow – and rule over all the earth – and never be destroyed.
In historical terms – Daniel is foretelling the formation of the different empires that will come and go – between Nebuchadnezzar and the coming of Jesus –
The chest and arms – are the Persian Empire of Silver – the body and thighs are the Greek empire of Bronze – the legs are the iron empire of the Romans – and after them the mixed empire – which will be the time when the Saviour will come – and God’s unbreakable Kingdom will be established –
The point of the passage then is the coming of the kingdom of God that will overwhelm and eventually destroy the kingdoms of man.
Point 2 The great Rescue
Dreams are also in our New testament reading from Revelation.
The people of John’s time were due to face – what we might describe as a nightmare – persecution was on the way – and John knew they must be ready for it –
In this passage – he reminds them that the creator God – and the Lamb have already won the Victory
– and that those that follow Jesus – will be rescued from harm – but may well go through a time of great suffering – before finding themselves in God’s throne room – worshipping and serving Him with great Joy –
In John’s vision he hears a great throng – dressed in white holding palm branches – giving thanks and praise to God and to the Lamb –
‘Salvation belongs to our God – to the one who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb” –
they all bow down in worship – including the Angels giving the great Amen – so be it! – so be it!
– The word salvation means ‘Rescue’ – and in the OT – ‘rescue and Victory’ – and this is what is meant here –
In his vision John is not a fly on the wall – but right there amongst the worshippers – amongst the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders – and its they who supply the answer to the question that John’s readers need to hear –
They who are dressed in white – are those who have come out of the great suffering – who have lived through the nightmare –
the reason why their clothes are white is not because they have lived holy and pure lives – but because the blood of the Lamb – has rescued them from sin – and enabled them to stand in God’s presence –
The death of Jesus – and the suffering they have endured was all that was required – and now God will not only welcome them into His Kingdom – He will shelter them – set a tent over them – and all His blessings will be theirs.
And – in a role reversal the Lamb will become the Shepherd – the Good Shepherd leading his people to the springs of the living water –
Jesus will show the way to God’s presence – bringing heaven here on earth – Jesus has not only won the great victory – but will also rescue us.
Through Jesus God has defeated sin and suffering – turned despair into hope – doubt into faith – certain death to a celebration of life – such that all will know what it really means to live in the love of God –
Point 3 What it means for us
So our two dreams – provide us with pictures of God’s Kingdom – here on earth – and in the time beyond suffering and death –
God’s kingdom here on earth – is the rule and reign of Jesus in the hearts, mind, emotions and will of His people.
There is no kingdom or power that can stand up to it – ultimately His Kingdom will overcome and rule the world. Our stability and security do not come from what we have here on earth – but that we are part of the kingdom of God.
And in heaven – we are shown God’s grace – in light of our suffering and our sins –
that all our wrongdoing and debts – that we have accumulated in our lifetime here on earth – can be forgiven – they will be wiped out – and paid for by the blood of Jesus – if we accept Jesus as Saviour –
God’s love and mercy – through Jesus – will be the means by which we will be bought and brought into God’s Kingdom –
Two visions – that show God’s mercy and love for His people – through Jesus –
Jesus will provide a victory and a rescue for us all
– we are His Saints – people set apart from the crowd – people that know that the Christian faith is a faith of Grace – and that God has done everything in His power to make it possible for us to know – and grow – with Him and in Him –
As the words of Saint John – remind us – ‘He will come down from the throne – and in person wipe away every tear from every eye’ –
and that’s no dream – but a reality we can all receive.