Monday, June 24, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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Day and Night
Sermon by Duurt Sikkens
 
 
 
Today I want to share some thoughts with you about ‘day and night’. The difference between day and night.
 
You all know what is written at the beginning of Genesis:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”.
 
So if His Spirit was moving over the waters, where was God himself then? That of course is a strange question, but as God IS Spirit, it was God Himself moving over the waters.
 
“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light  ‘Day’, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
 
So if the evening is past, and the morning has passed, what haven’t you had? Night!! There was no night. Really, there wasn’t.
 
All around the earth there was a gigantic crystal ball, made up of ice crystals. Job calls it a “molten mirror’ (See Job chapter 3 verse 18). ‘rakia’ is the Hebrew word, meaning hard, firm. We call it ‘the firmament’. And there you also see that word ‘firm’. And that was around the earth. And whether the sun had risen or not, there was always light. There was no night, because the firmament was transparent. It was an expanse made up of ice crystals that was broken by the flood at the time of Noah.
 
So if there was no night, when did the day end? It was evening, we read, and it was morning. Soafter the morning, the day ended. That needs some thinking about doesn’t it?
 
So the new day really began in the afternoon. And there is no mention of night. And that is because there was no night. Night  and day just don’t go together, they don’t belong together.
 
And then something remarkable happens; the six days follow on, one after the other, and then the seventh day comes. And then God says: ‘Now I am going to rest’. He is going to rest and enjoy all the things he had created. Or, as one translation says: ‘all he had designed to develop and grow’. That’s inspiring isn’t it. It is all just a beginning,  with a great potential.
God doesn’t plants trees that are already tall, or plants that are in full bloom. With Him it’s always about beginnings, tiny seeds.
In chapter 4 verse 10 Zachariah calls this day the ‘day of the small things’. The beginnings. And so, on this seventh day, God took a break from his work of creation.
 
How long did the days last, do you think? 24 hours? What a silly discussion to have about creation. A day can last for ever.
But the remarkable thing about all these days, is that God blesses the seventh ! He blesses that one separately. It was His day. The ‘day of the Lord’.
And the remarkable thing about it, is that of all the days it is said: it was evening, and it was morning. But it is notsaid of the seventh day. So that day, the seventh, the day on which God rests, hasn’t ended yet. Isn’t that remarkable! That’s a very long time.
 
And while He is resting, God enjoys what he sees. He saw that it was good; in the Hebrew text it says “He saw that it was beautiful”. And you can be sure that itis beautiful, just like the new creation. Just take a look around you at all the beautiful people.
 
However, during the day of rest satan came and disturbed God’s rest, and then the spiritual night came over the earth.
And later, when the firmament of ice crystals broke during the great flood, then the nights of literal darkness came into existence.
But the spiritual night came over the earth first, andthat is the darkness of death.
 
The Greek word is ‘skoteinos’, and the root of this word means ‘cover’. The word ‘tent’ comes from this same root. So it has to do with something that covers up. A covering of darkness came over the humans, like a veil, the veil of death.
 
So the seventh day, which God specially blessed in order to be able to rest completely, was disturbed by the curse of satan. And a curse is the opposite of blessing. And in order to do this, he focussed on the humans that God had created, and tricked them. So that now the whole of mankind has come under this covering, this veil of death, because now everyone is going to die. Mankind is no longer eternal. But we all know that. It is an accepted fact.  
 
But this passage is about the spiritual death, that now also lies over the people from the very beginning. You could call it the veil of the night, covering your mind, and your thoughts. The darkness of mourning for that lost eternal life. How horrible. How God must have suffered when he suddenly saw that his human creations had become temporary. Separated from the presence of God.
That’s why I sometimes think we could call the Bible a diary. A book about the days. And one of the pages tells a terrible dark story.
 
The light of day giveslight and warmth. And that is a wonderful feeling. Light makes you feel so good, and you can enjoy and cherish the warmth of the sunlight. And there you have a picture of God. God’s friendly face radiates that light, and it also makes you feel happy. And what makes God happy? What makes Him feel good? When He sees YOU.
 
Have you ever felt that? That people become happy and cheerful when they see you. Have you ever felt amazed because you realised, I am the reason for their happiness. I am the reason they are so cheerful. What about the prodigal son? How does God feel about him? It says literally in the Greek text: “He runs to meet him”. God who runs, what do you think of that. A God who runs to meet you because he is so happy to see you. That is the source of his happiness. You.
 
And the daylight lights up the whole earth. The earth is a symbol for the natural human being. So that means you come into the light too. There is nothing more beautiful than a person being brought into the light; no matter if his clothes are old and tattered, no matter if he is still spiritually an invalid, he WILL come into the light.
You will become visible. Youwill be seen. That’s wonderful, and something for you to think about. I will become visible.
And night is simply the absence of light. And then everything dies. Light is the symbol of God’s love, and without love you have no life.
But how do you learn to love?
 
I don’t know if you have ever read any of the prophecies about the Day of the Lord; if you make a list of them they don’t really make cheerful reading. They describe things like burning in a fiery furnace: it’s all doom and misery, and very frightening. And when you read it, you wonder, Is it really going to be like that? And the same applies to the book of Revelation, if you read it with the same frightened eyes.
 
But “The Day of the Lord’’, we have discovered here, is theSabbath, God’s day of rest. It is also called the “great day” or the “Day of Judgment”. We’re getting closer!
 
When I was a boy, fear always made my heart pound whenever we read (uitspraak = RED) these words. “The day of judgment”.
The very words have a ring of doom about them. And I remember thinking: ‘now I’ve had it. Now I’m sure to be punished, because God sees everything”. I was always afraid of Him. Isn’t that awful?
 
Because Jesus says: “I didn’t come to condemn you; I came to save you. I came to judge. And that doesn’t mean that He is constantly picking on people and dishing out punishment. “I am going to separate you from the misery that has befallen you”, Jesus says. That’s what I came for. So judge doesn’t mean punish at all!
 
Jesus says: “if you believe in Me, then a separation is formed, detaching you from everything that doesn’t belong with you, and shouldn’t be part of you”. And THAT is what judgment is, a separation, a removal of everything that keeps you from developing and growing as God had planned in the beginning.
 
It is a process, and it begins in the house of God. Jesus was the first house of God, the Father lived there. And that’s where it all began. And then comes the next house. Each house is freed from the curse of time, and sin and death. And it is a wonderful process,not something to be feared. What a shame this text about judgment has been wrongly interpreted so many times.
 
So the separation begins within you. And that is a process that is on-going. It also means separating bad thoughts and ideas, from good ones. You no longer have to suffer these things, you have been given your freedom.
 
My favourite expression for “THAT DAY”, is one found in the Dutch Bible and termed by Martha, and that is the ‘youngest ’ day, the newest day. That word is full of life and potential: the youngest day.
 
Lazarus was dead. He had been dead for days, “but,” Jesus says “he will rise from the dead”. “I know”, Martha says, on the youngest day”. And then Jesus says to her  “I am the resurrection”. He could have said, “I am the youngest day”, because that day started with him.
It’s so wonderful. The youngest day. You have risen from the dead, you have come alive spiritually.  You have exchanged the temporary for the eternal, and restoration has begun in your life. As soon as you become visible to God, you become eternal.
 
Yes, Jesus says, I am the resurrection, and that’s why we are children of that Day. That is the first day, you could say, of the new creation. Actually the very very first day was when God said “Let there be light”. Time no longer exists for you. Remember this: time is temporary. People became subjected to time, and so God stepped into time in order to make his people eternal again. So you are someone who will live for ever. You have eternal life.
 
You could also say as in Psalm 110: You are born out of the womb of the dawn”. So in that case who would be your mother? The Dawn.
That is a wonderful mother to have. You are born out of love, and light. So finally I understand the term: “light out of light”. You are light out of HIS light. A child of the light.
 
And now a very remarkable text. And the gospel of John is full of these sort of texts. It says there that Jesus, when He is hanging on the cross, is given a sponge with sour wine. And after that, He suddenly says, because He has reached the end of his suffering: “It is finished”.  It is done.
I think it’s very moving; and then he bows His head and gives up his spirit. Because He has work to do in the kingdom of death.
 
And then it says: “The Jews, (the Jews are the descendants of Judah, not a nation, to put an end to any wild discussions about the Jews having killed Jesus) so the descendants of Judah then, since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the Sabbath which was forbidden, ……………how hypocritical can you get!
And then there is a little sentence tucked in between, “because that Sabbath was special. And that wasn’t referring to the next Sabbath day chronologically, but to the fact that Jesus had fulfilled what God had asked him to do, and then John says “the day of THAT Sabbath was special. In the original Greek a word is used which conveys the meaning of “magnificent, or spectacular”.
One translation says ”mighty, powerful”. It is spectacular, because it refers to ‘the day of days’, ‘the day of judgment’ and in this way Jesus has made judgment into a victory. The day of judgment has begun. What a wonderful time.
 
The youngest day has dawned! Gods day of rest is restored, because the special day that John is talking about is the Sabbath!. The writer to the Hebrews says: ‘people can enter into God’s rest again”. (Hebrews chapter 4 )
And God hopes that everyone will enter into His rest, so that they may all rest in peace. That is the heavenly Sabbath. The spiritual Sabbath. Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.  It is finished. He has conquered death, and, let’s put it like this: he succeeded in getting mankind back into the Sabbath of God. What a wonderful day for the whole of mankind.
 
And then time will be abolished, and will be replaced by ‘today’.
When is ‘today’? Today is ‘for ever’ in the kingdom of God.
 
When the murderer on the cross says, and I think that portrays so much faith and trust: “When you get into that kingdom of yours, will you think of me? What a fellow. Yes a villain! From the world of criminals, but a believer. And Jesus must have been so surprised.
He says to him: “Come with me, today….” Time becomes eternal. The rift is breached. It is timeless.
 
And that, that is the day that the Lord has made, and that is what is meant by the ‘Day of the Lord’.
 
In Zechariah there is another remarkable verse: Zechariah chapter 14 verse 7: “and there shall be continuous day…….for at evening time it shall be light”. If you said that to a child they would say; oh no it won’t, it’s always dark in the evening.
But Zechariah says: ‘at evening time there shall be light”. Jesus spent the evening in heaven, and the night, and has brought it into the light again.
 
Heaven was also without form and void, and very dark, and God said, through his Son, “Light”. And there was light. Because Jesus shone his light in the kingdom of death. There was a revolution there.
And the righteous who were there, said: “That’s Him. Abraham had already had a glimpse of what was to come, which is why Abraham is called a prophet.
He had already seen the day of the Lord, Jesus says, and because of what he saw, he jumped with joy.
 
You can read it in John chapter 8 verse 56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad”. But everyone thought that Jesus was mad. “you are not yet fifty years old, how can you have seen Abraham?” they said.
 
But there will be light in the evening, because there will be no more night, only morning, as in the days of creation.
The ‘day of the Lord’ has put an end to the night. Isn’t that wonderful?
 
And yet you hear so many people talking about the end of times in such miserable terms. As if it was going to be an awful time. But the end of days, means the beginning of eternity, the beginning of light.
So don’t worry so much about the end of time. Instead focus your attention on the fact that it is also a beginning. It has already started. The day of the Lord started at His resurrection. That is so wonderful . It says that in the book of Revelation too: “And there shall be no more night”. The spiritual night is over. It’s ended. What a wonderful moment for all of mankind.
 
And in the heavenly city there will also be no more night. A lot of people think that they live in the heavenly Jerusalem. That is not true at all. God lives there . YOU are that Jerusalem. There is no more night in you, in that city. Spiritual death has gone.
Twice David spoke a remarkable prophecy: he takes up his harp and what does he say? Psalm 57 verse 8 and 109 verse 3. “I want to awake the dawn”. Well David, that’s easy. You don’t have to do anything. That happens automatically. Yes, butthink, just think a little bit more about it.
He says ‘I want to awake the dawn.”. That is a prophecy about Jesus. I want to make that light appear, and I can make it happen sooner.
I am going to awaken it. To bring it back into existence. I don’t want to have to wait any longer for it. Awake the dawn.
Jesus must have read that too. His Father brought Him back into existence, back to life. He let the light shine again.
 
And in the Song of Solomon chapter six verse 10 we read: “who is this that looks forth like the dawn”.
Isn’t that moving? A person appears LIKE the morning light, LIKE the dawn, and who is it? The woman. His bride.
Revelation 12 verse 1 says: “a woman, clothed with the sun”.
Now that is what you call a dazzling appearance. Take a look around you: here she comes! And that woman is in the first instance, Jesus’ bride. That’s a subject I’d like to preach about sometime. The bride of Jesus. As beautiful as the dawn.
 
Peter says: “So as you wait for the Day of the Lord, you can do your best to make it come soon”  But how? How do you do that then?
I am always so glad that I have a good teacher. And now I know the answer: By shining more and more brightly you can make the Day come sooner.”
 
The morning has already broken, and continues on until thefull day. And you can make that come sooner. The misery all around you is increasing all the time. You don’t need a television to see that, you can feel it too. Spiritual horrors and violence all around you.
So just keep on shining. You can make that day come sooner by manifesting God’s being more and more clearly, because that is what is meant by shining. Partaking of God’s nature. Showing other people what God is like. Shine, in a distorted, crippled and terrorised world.
Because the earth is suffering, and groaning. It goes on and on.
And Jesus says in Matthew 24 verse 22 “but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.”. That means you can shorten the wait by shining more brightly. The opposition is getting stronger too, but just keep shining!
 
Sun and moon and stars, lights in the firmament, that’s what is said about us, about the Father and the Son and about mankind: sun, moon, stars.
 
A Jewish translator wrote something beautiful about Genesis 1 verse 15: “Let the light giving fountains of light on earth become visible”.   How that happens exactly I don’t know, but spiritually I have a good idea. God has been hidden for a long time by a veil covering the minds of people. Their understanding of him is clouded by this mist. But He is the sun.
 
And Jesus? The moon. And everyone talks about Jesus. But I always feel the need to ask: “which one do you mean”. Because people have so many different ideas about Jesus. They have thought up all sorts of images for him. What they imagine He is like. But the real one, which one is that?
 
And the stars? They too are behind veils of mist. And the most important of these misty veils is that of death, and that is devastating.
But when the veil of death is removed from your face, then spiritually you become visible in heaven. Your face can be seen. Your face. Your face is then unveiled.
 
The Greek word voor unveiling is ‘apocalyps’. So remember that.
‘Apo’ is ‘away’ and ‘calypso’ is ‘veil’. That word is often used in the Bible. Have you seen how the book of Revelations begins. It begins with the revelation of Jesus Christ, what God has given him; the unveiling of Jesus Christ.
Which means that the more we become unveiled, the moreHis face becomes visible, and so, at the same time, the face of God. Your veil is gradually removed until it disappears altogether.
 
And I would like to say to some people: ‘let yourself be unveiled for once’. I will give some example of veils in a minute. But LET yourself be loved. Because you cannot live without love. And you will never come into the light and be seen. I really want to see the real you. Let yourself be shined upon, because you can find yourself behind some very strange veils. Shall  I name a few?
They stop you showing your real face. And that is really the face of your Father.
 
One example of a veil is fear of commitment to people, or to a group. That encourages individualism: “I’ll be alright, I can manage on my own. I can’t trust anyone else………..”  
 
Or, you are just stubborn. When someone is looking for God and he wants to see God’s face, and you are stubborn, then they can’t see God’s face through you, because it is veiled by your stubbornness.
 
Or fantasy. You have all sorts of fanciful ideas, and are well known for your day dreams. Then people can’t see the real face of God.
 
Sometimes there is a hidden fear of letting yourself be seen. You may have had bad experiences in the past. There are so many examples in the natural and spiritual world. Once, you let yourself be seen, and look what happened……….. You were attacked spiritually. It is logical that people like this are afraid.
 
So let’s create a climate where fear will disappear. And leave the initiative to those who are frightened. Don’t pick on them, or hassle them. Give them time.
 
Or maybe you are jealous; you are the sort of person who is always comparing people, and comparing them to yourself. Then jealousy can play a big role in your life, and that jealously hangs like a veil over your face. And then you can’t reflect God. First of all that veil must be cast aside, just as the curtain was torn apart in the temple when Jesus died.
 
Or there is a veil of intellectualism. You want to be able to explain everything. And you can, because you have learned the information you have read in books by heart.
But then the Bible says,  “if you don’t have love………”.
If you don’t experience the love of God towards you, then you can’t reflect it. What good is all the knowledge and information, if you don’t experience it!
You have to know Him personally, that is important. That is all that matters. And then people can get to know God through you.
 
Or you don’t trust people, because of things that have happened in your life. That’s possible. But it is still a veil.
 
Or do you just laugh everything away. Some people are very good at that. Oh yes, ha ha, everything’s fine. They make a joke out of everything…. But there is a veil over your face.
Maybe it has funny patterns, but it is still a veil, and it stops the real light getting through. You can’t always laugh off everything.
 
And then bitterness; about all the injustice you have suffered.
I think everyone can think of an example of some injustice in their life. I certainly can!
But bitterness also casts a shadow over your face.
 
Or the awful doubt about yourself.
But God looks at you and says: “I have no doubts about you. None at all. THAT should re-assure you, and take away your doubts.
 
Or, and I think this is very bad if it is true: “I am not happy with myself. With who I am”.
And then people say to you. that you should be happy with yourself.  They mean well, but it doesn’t help. Therapy doesn’t work either. There has to be a reason for happiness.
 
Do you know when you become happy with yourself? When you notice that someoneelse is happy with you. THAT convinces you.
To know that someone is happy when he sees you. My wife taught me that, because I was not at all happy with myself. And over the years that has healed, and God has strengthened my belief in myself.
 
When we were on holiday in France, we went to visit a church. Now I have seen many cathedrals, and whenever I see them I always get rather cross, because it makes me wonder how all the grand ornaments and decorations got there. Who has been pressured into giving their money to build and decorate these buildings. And then, when I go in, I feel as if I am entering a family grave, with candles and stone images. I don’t like it at all.
 
But what I DO do in these churches, when I go in, like last summer, is to look for the visitors’ book. Sometimes there is one, where people can write a comment.  Whether they like the church, or something about the beautiful painted windows, or the sacred stillness etc.
And sometimes there are prayers, or requests for prayers: ‘if you read this will you please pray for so and so, because he is ill’. You often read that sort of thing.
 
And as I was turning over the pages in one of these books, I came across a page with these words written across it, in a child’s handwriting: ‘Dear God, thank you for me, Claudette’.
 
That brought tears to my eyes. Here was someone who was thanking God for herself. Thanking Him that she was alive. I had never heard or seen anything like that before. Not even in prayers. Thanks for me. And I remember thinking, ‘Well,she certainly has no doubts about herself, has she?’ Isn’t that wonderful? That’s something that I think is beautiful. She doesn’t have a veil over her face. I would really like to meet her later. “Thank you for me”. What a wonderful girl. I just wanted to share that with you.
 
There is a wonderful prophecy in the last words of David, which he spoke on his death bed. 2 Samuel 23 verse 3: “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light”. That is a prophecy about Jesus. The morning light of the rising sun. And there is a prophecy about us  in Proverbs chapter 4 verse 18: “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn”.
So just picture that in your mind, what it is that you are reflecting, what your thoughts and ideas reflect: the light of dawn, the sunlight.
People who love this light will throng to meet you.
And there is yet another prophecy there: “it shines brighter and brighter until full day”. And that full day, THAT is the Day of the Lord!
 
Peter gives a vivid description of this. He says “the morning star will rise in our hearts”. Have you ever read that? Well, Jesus says, that’s me. Me, I am the shining morning star. And even if the devil claims that HE is the ‘morning star’ and the ‘son of the dawn’, you will soon see that he is lying, because there is no love there.
 
All these veils stop you reflecting the true face of God. But when the veils of mist evaporate in the sunlight, we will be able to see and be seen.  If you know that you are loved, and you feel that you are loved, then you no longer have a veil over your face. Then you can see each other like loved ones, face to face.
You are able to see each other and cherish that feeling of love.
 
And so now you will understand what I mean when I end by saying:
“I wish everybody a good morning and a good day, from now onwards until eternity.
 
 
Prayer:
“Dear Father, thank you for your love. Thank you that your light shines so that we can be seen, and able to reflect your glory.
 
Amen