Some of us have bought a house here, right? When you buy a house you get an inspection. One of our great friends is a structural engineer, some here know him. He comes and looks at anything I'm going to buy... house.... church... whatever!
In the letter to the Hebrews [11:10], there is a descriptive line about the city of God, that's Zion. It's described as a "city with Foundations, whose architect and builder is God. " It was that which drew Abraham out away from familiar territory to a new "promised" land.
Our prophetic passage this morning from Isaiah speaks of this same place...
"Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line;
Paul talks about this reality in our study in Ephesians 2:19-22...
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Friends, we are the ones that are being talked about here. We are the Body... We are the Building! Being fitted together and formed to the likeness of the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus, whose "line is justice and plumbline is righteousness."
I know, some of you are thinking - he's really got building on the brain! But this is a great theme throughout scripture and it's dynamically highlighted in this morning's readings.
There is a severe juxtaposition between us who are in the Kingdom and those who are in the world in these readings.
Stuff is coming that's going to shake things up. It's all in here (the Bible).
Our lesson from Hebrews is one very sobering and most incredibly hopeful passage. Did you listen to it? You need to. It was given to this church almost 20 years ago as we prepared to go on this journey of faith. This Abraham journey. Leaving a familiar place with a familiar building and familiar faces. Hard stuff but we did it. For what?
Like Abraham we're being obedient to God, obeying a call to stand in a culture that Isaiah says, "has made a covenant with death and hell!"
Over and over and over and over for the past 18 years and especially the past 2 years we've seen the "But God!" moments. Over and over things were poised to fall apart... But God!
What have you come to this morning? A worship service, a place to belong, a place to serve God and others? To sweet music, to hugs and handshakes, smiles and kisses of peace?
But wait... there's more. So much more!
Listen to parts of the Hebrews passage again, afresh...
22 By contrast, we have already come [present tense] near to God in a totally different realm, the Zion-realm, for we have entered the city of the Living God, which is the New Jerusalem in heaven! We have joined the festal gathering of myriads of angels in their joyous celebration!
23 And as members of the church of the Firstborn all our names have been legally registered as citizens of heaven!
And we have come before God who judges all, and who lives among the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect in his eyes!
24 And we have come to Jesus who established a new covenant with his blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat; blood that continues to speak from heaven, “forgiveness,” a better message than Abel’s blood that cries from the earth, “justice.”
So whaaaaaaat is going on here? Much, much, much more than meets the eye! We are here meeting with God, in the throne room! Invited in to take our place, not as guests but as sons and daughters, as family, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, forgiven because of faith in His work on the cross and the presentation of His blood on the mercy seat of the ark- altar in heaven, of which this altar is a reflection and extension! Here, what is unseen is most real!
But now what? As Francis Schaeffer put it, "How shall we now live? "
The writer of Hebrews goes on...
25 Make very sure that you never refuse to listen to God when he speaks!
28 Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakeable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe. 29 For our God is a holy, devouring fire!
Friends, we are... we have received a Kingdom that is unshakeable! And what does that King require of us?
I just want to wrap it up with two quick verses...
He hath shown thee, oh man, what is good. And what doeth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God!"
And the second is like unto it...
23–24 From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.”
Let's stand and as our closing prayer sing again the first verse and chorus of our gospel song, Seek Ye First, from Matt 6:33.
Seek Ye First #478
By Karen Lafferty
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things
shall be added unto you
Allelu, Alleluia !
Allelu, Alleluia !