Never Too Late | Hope | PART 1
The Old Testament is a story desperate for a conclusion. This introductory message to the book of Chronicles demonstrates that the story finds its fulfillment in Jesus.
Series: Never Too Late,
Speaker: Pastor Don Dodge,
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 36:23, 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, Matthew 1:1, John 1:1, John 1:14,
Sermon page: https://www.avalonchurch.org/sermons/never-too-late-hope-part-1/,
Sermon Notes: 2020-07-19_never-too-late-part-1_sermon-notes.pdf,
Discussion Questions: 2020-07-19_never-too-late-part-1_discussion-questions.pdf,
I’d like to begin today reading the story of Audrey Mahn,
Audrey’s story is powerful,
And common throughout the world.
I was born in a small city in China. Most were Buddhist. There were no Christians around me. Though my family was not Buddhist, we had Buddha statues at home. Sometimes we would pray to them. When I was 9 or 10 years old, I liked going out on our balcony and looking at the sky and other buildings and I would talk to God. I didn’t know how I knew there was a God at that time, but when I had troubles, I prayed to him... or at least made a wish.
During this time, my dad also had a friend who claimed to have supernatural power. He called it a “third eye” on his forehead, and said he could see and do supernatural things. This man’s daughter and I played together and pretended to have “third eye” power.
When I was around 13, my mom began practicing a new cult religion emphasizing the supernatural. I was innocent and naïve and would join my mom and practice this for fun.
However, when I was around 15 years old, I began hearing a voice and had destructive, evil, even suicidal thoughts. I tried to resist, but the voice and the thoughts tortured me. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t sleep at night because my heart beat so fast. I read lots of psychology and philosophy books. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought it was a battle of my will... and I was losing. It was much later I learned that this was a spiritual battle between good and evil.
When I went to college, I chose English as my major. Part of learning western culture was reading the Bible. I was even invited to a bible study, and that’s where I decided to become a Christian.
That summer I was invited to stay with an American friend, Hannah, who was living in China. One night I shared with her my experiences of hearing that voice and fighting against those evil thoughts; how I felt this spiritual oppression and was scared. She noted that “I couldn’t even look her in the eyes.” We prayed in Jesus name that God would free me.
Hannah called a friend of ours, Pauline, an American who was a Christian psychologist. Pauline invited me to kneel and confess my sins; to forgive those in my life who hurt me. I prayed and invited the Holy Spirit to come and occupy every area of my heart. We prayed for 2 hours. I was shaking and felt this battle inside me. Pauline asked for the demon’s name and I heard a voice inside say an English name that none of us recognized. We looked it up in the dictionary and the word meant “the third eye,” that supernatural power I practiced as a child. It was then when that power left me.
It was an immediate change. I looked at the mirror and saw the light in my eyes return. And I could look straight to my friends’ eyes. I felt so free. God set me free and broke the chains on me. I had been tortured by evil for 7 years. I had no hope, but now God had saved me. He had a great plan for me and I could now live for him and tell his story so others would know God could change their life, too.
We’re starting a new series called “Never Too Late”
For the next 5 weeks, we’re going to look at some stories
from the book of 2 Chronicles
...where God unexpectedly got a hold of someone’s heart,
And their life was changed forever.
My hope is that some of your stories will be shared, too.
...We have some great stories in our church-family.
Whether you write them out or record a video,
I think it would be encouraging for all of us
to hear each others stories
...of how God has transformed,
...and is continuing to transform people’s lives.
We’ve set up a webpage for you to share your story.
You can write it out,
You can share a video.
Whatever you want.
That way we can all read what God has done,
...and I’d like to share a story each week
As we look at various stories in 2 Chronicles.
Before jumping in,
I need to frame the book of Chronicles,
...Because every story leads to a singular purpose,
You may be aware that in our OT,
1-2 Chronicles follows the books of Samuel and Kings,
...and to the frustration of many readers,
...And after 9 chapters of genealogies,
It repeats a lot content from both of those books.
So often, when people realize they’ve already read
some of these stories before,
...they just skip these books.
Which is a shame.
Because Chronicles is doing something very different than
The books of Samuel and Kings.
Which is much more obvious to Jewish readers.
...Because the books in our OT
Are in a different order than the Hebrew Bible of the Jews.
In our Bible, Chronicles is right in the middle of all the historical books.
But in the Hebrew Bible,
Chronicles is the very last book.
The reason is that Chronicles is one of the
last of the OT books that were written.
The books of 1-2 Chronicles were always read as 1 book;
But they couldn’t fit on just 1 scroll,
...so Chronicles Scroll 1 and 2.
Chronicles summarizes the entire story of God.
It chronicles the story,
...Starting with Adam and Abraham and Moses,
And then King David,
And when Israel split into 2 kingdoms.
And it touches a little on the N. Kingdom’s destruction,
...but really focuses on the S. Kingdom, David’s kingdom,
Before and after it was defeated by Babylon.
. eventual destruction of the North
all the way through the Jewish exile and return.
Why do I tell you all this?
Because when Babylon captured Jerusalem
And destroyed the Temple,
...It looked like the end of the Jewish people,
...And the end of YHWH’s story.
Yet, God, through his prophets,
continued to offer hope that one day they would return home.
Exiles returning was unprecedented.
But the prophets promised
...Jerusalem would be restored,
...And the temple would be rebuilt.
And that God would again live among them,
And that Messiah would rule as God’s anointed king,
...that he would take back what they had lost
...and that all nations would come and live under his rule.
This was the promise as Jerusalem lied in rubble.
And as the people made new homes in Babylon.
So around 50-60 years later,
When the kingdom of Persia defeated Babylon,
...And when Cyrus, King of Persia
allowed the Jewish exiles to return home,
They saw the beginning of the fulfillment
Of those prophetic promises.
And that is what the book of Chronicles is all about.
When it was written,
Jews had been living back in the Promised Land for generations.
Yet, none of the other promises had been fulfilled.
There was no Messiah.
The rebuilt temple was just a shadow of the first temple.
And they were still under foreign control.
So the writer of Chronicles
retold and reshaped the stories of the past.
They wanted to rekindle hope for the future,
The hope for the coming Messianic King.
The One who would come from the line of David.
So the focus of Chronicles is exclusively
on the kings from David’s lineage.
Every story is a story pointing towards hope.
That David was a good king,
And the coming Messiah was going to be like David,
...But even better!
Everything was written to help the Jewish people
learn from their family history
...To prepare themselves for the coming Messiah.
This is true even to the very last line.
It’s a quote from Cyrus, The Persian king,
after defeating Babylon.
“Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up...” (2 Chronicles 36:23, ESV).
And it literally ends with an incomplete sentence.
It ends in expectation.
Of course, the writer of Chronicles knew what happened
when the Jews returned home.
He knew the book of Ezra about rebuilding the 2nd Temple
And the book of Nehemiah about rebuilding the wall.
But clearly these were not seen
as fulfillment of the prophetic hope.
For the author, hope is set on another return from exile
When Messiah will finally come,
...when the temple will be rebuilt,
...And God’s people will be restored.
The book of Chronicles,
And the entire Hebrew Scriptures,
...end by pointing forward.
The OT story is a story that is incomplete.
It ends unfulfilled,
...It’s like a show that is “to be continued.”
And Chronicles wants the people to know:
God is not done.
God has a plan to finish what he started.
God is brining restoration.
And like he did in the past,
God is inviting you and me back to him.
This is a theme that occurs over and over in the book.
We see it in the famous passage
...Where the Lord appeared to Solomon
at the inauguration of the 1st temple,
“13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. --2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT)
It’s never too late.
I will never forget you.
You have freedom to run from me.
You have freedom to reject me.
...But I will always be here.
...always willing to restore our relationship,
...And welcome you home.
That’s good news!
That’s the invitation for all of us.
And that’s the promise that Chronicles points to,
...That God will finally bring peace and restoration to the world
...through this king from the line of David,
...Through this Messiah.
That’s why the Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy.
1This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: --Matt 1:1 (NLT)
The One you’ve been waiting for,
The One who would fulfill all of the promises of the Prophets,
...He is here.
...His name is Jesus.
The Messianic King from the line of David.
This is why the Gospel of John begins:
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.... 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. –John 1:1,14 (NLT)
The disciples of Jesus knew their Hebrew Bible.
They knew the promises.
And they wanted to make sure everyone knew
...The promises of the Hebrew Scriptures
Were all fulfilled in Jesus.
You (Application. So What?)
And what does that mean for us?
You, too, are made for a purpose.
You, too, are desired by God.
...And that he came, suffered, died, and rose again,
You have not gone too far.
It’s never too late.
God used the writer of Chronicles to spread hope.
And to tell God’s story BACK THEN.
...he wants you to do the same... NOW.
...To share the story that it’s never too late.
So during this series,
As I share stories from the past,
...I pray you will share your stories
of what God has done in your life.
You can write it out.
You can post a video.
But tell God’s story.
Share how it’s never too late to say yes to him,
...and find life in him.
We (Closing and Challenge)
Action Steps: crushed
- For Church
- Life Group Questions (send to Dennis)
Mention Connection Card and Prayer Team