Victory by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church

VICTORY by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Victory

Introduction: Words can have multiple meanings. Think about words like “bark” (on a tree or a dog’s bark) or Bolt (metal fastener or lightning bolt). Then, there are words that have derived from one or the other and they have different meanings: Express—Newspaper print but then extended to refer to the train that carried it. So also, Bureau—it was a special desk then it went to Bureau as an agency or a Bureaucrat. Last weekend, we began a 4-week series leading into the Easter season called “HOSANNA.” The word HOSANNA has more than one meaning. In our first message, we learned that it means “God Save Us.” But, there is another meaning that developed for Hosanna and that is “Victory.” In fact, that’s the title of our message today. Here’s the gist of the message: There is no victory without sacrifice. First the cross and then the crown. It’s the crucified life that is the victorious life. Please turn to Psalm 118, the psalm the crowd cheered when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

Psalm 118     21 “I will praise You, For You have answered me, and have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! we have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”

Question: Are you calling on God to save you through some trial? Do you understand that you may have to endure before you can be victorious? Are you carrying your cross daily? Have you come to the cross to be saved?

Context: Next weekend is Palm Sunday. If you grew up in church, you know that it’s the Sunday before Easter when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and began what we know as the Passion Week. We’ll look at all that in detail next weekend. Today our focus is on the cheers of the crowd when they saw Jesus riding on the donkey. All the gospel writers record their cheer but for time’s sake, listen to just Matthew 21:9 “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Where did the crowd come up with that cheer? They were chanting from Psalm 118. The question is—Why did they pick this psalm?

To start with, you may not know it but Psalm 118 is the most quoted psalm and maybe even the most quoted and alluded to Old Testament chapter in the New Testament. We have no superscription on why it was written but we do have information on how it was used through the centuries. Basically, 2 major reasons and they are connected. First, according to the Talmud (Jewish writings), Psalm 118 was sung at the Feast of the Tabernacles. Second, it became a Messianic psalm. Let’s look at both these uses closely:

First, this psalm was sung at the Autumn Festival of the Jewish people known as the Feast of the Tabernacles/Booths. Keep in mind that the Jewish people had many feasts but only 3 of them were the pilgrimage feasts (one had to go to Jerusalem to keep it): Feast of the Passover/Unleavened Bread, Feast of the Weeks/Pentecost/First Fruits, and the Feast of the Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkot. This last one was a seven-day feast starting on the 15th day to the 21st day of the seventh month (our September-October). According to God’s command to his people in Leviticus 23, they were to make simple tents out of leaves and branches, and live in them for 7 days. This was to remind them of their time in the wilderness when they lived in booths and made their way through the dangerous desert. It was not a safe or comfortable time but God had protected them from the constant threats of natural hazards, wild animals, and enemy tribes from every side and He had brought them safely to the land that he had promised them. In other words, God had been faithful to them, and he wanted every generation to remember that each year and be grateful. Not only that but it was also a time to give thanks for the harvest.

Principle: In some ways, God is making us live in booths these days. All our security and comforts have been stripped away. Could it be that God wants us to give him thanks for where he has brought us from as a nation and as individuals?

Now, where would Psalm 118 fit in all of this? This was the psalm they would sing at the feast of the Tabernacles. They would start singing it outside the gates of the temple. Listen to the opening lines of the psalm: 1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Let Israel now say, “His mercy endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron now say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the LORD now say, “His mercy endures forever.” 5 I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? God understands our fears but he rejects our doubts. 14 The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly…17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. God’s people need to claim this promise in these days. 18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Now looking towards the Eastern Gate of the temple they would say—19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD. These gates were the Eastern Gate of the temple because they were a double gate with two sections. By the way, according to Ezekiel 44 and 46, the prince has a special access to this east gate. Now they would march into the temple singing the psalm—20 This is the gate of the LORD, through which the righteous shall enter. 21 I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. Then, seeing the temple before them, they would say—22“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” So much is packed in here that we don’t have time to get into. This was a reference to King David being rejected as the shepherd boy typifying the rejection of the Messiah one day in the future.

Now comes the verse that the crowd used in cheering Jesus as he entered Jerusalem from the Eastern Gate. 25 Save now (Hosanna), I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” What were they waving in their hands? Palm branches. On the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, the seventh day, also known as Hoshana Rabba (Day of the Great Hosanna), the priests blew the trumpets and the Levites and the people waved the lulavs (palm branches).

Question: What Feast was coming up that week? Not the feast of the Tabernacles or Booths but the Feast of the Passover/Unleavened Bread. The Feast of the Tabernacles was still 6 months away! Why in the world were the people cheering Psalm 118 and waving palm branches when it was not time for the Feast of the Tabernacles? By the time of Jesus, shouting Hosanna and waving palm branches had become symbolic of the coming of the Messiah. The crowd had decided that Jesus fit the bill of the Messiah. Their Messiah was going to free them from the Romans. When they were shouting “Hosanna,” they didn’t mean “Save us.” They meant “Victory” over the Romans and maybe even the corrupt priesthood and temple leaders. How do we know they didn’t understand? Matthew 21    10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” The crowd should have read the rest of Psalm 118. Listen to verse 27 “God is the LORD, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” Jesus still had to give his life as a sacrifice for our sins.

Please listen carefully: There is no crown without the cross. There is no victory without sacrifice. If we lose sight of the cross, it’s nothing but self-will and human effort. It’s his sacrifice on the cross that gives me the power and the courage to live. The Cross gives me the victory. Amazingly, Jesus did not condemn the crowd. He accepted their praise and even defended them against the temple authorities but he did not commit himself to them. They were not ready for him. They had to first receive him as the Passover Lamb. Once they did that, then they could celebrate victory with him.

How are we going to get through these tough days? Keep your eyes on the cross. First it saves us and then it gives us the victory to live in this life.

Colossians 2    14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

How about the empty tomb? The tomb will give you power to live but the cross gives you the perspective to live. First the cross and then the tomb.

Next, pick up your cross and follow Christ.

Mark 8    34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Invitation: Are you just the crowd? Do you understand that the cross gives us the victory to face whatever comes our way? Do you know Jesus as your Savior and King? Are you trusting him through this crisis? What will people say about you when all this is over? Are you giving the cross to those around you?

A TIME TO CELEBRATE

A TIME TO CELEBRATE

A Time to CelebrateNehemiah 8: 14-17 14 And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” 16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

Overall Background: The Jewish people under the leadership of Nehemiah had achieved the impossible. In only 52 days, they had rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem but it was not easy. They had to overcome incredible odds; they had to stare down terrible oppositions; and they had to deal with internal conflicts. Nevertheless, they finished the work by the sixth month of Elul and went back to their homes. Can you imagine how tired they were physically?

So they went home but not for long. They had just enough time to get things in order because the very next month—the seventh month of Tishri—they came right back to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. The Feast of the Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is the New Year’s Day, the first day of the seventh month. Nehemiah 8:1 tells us that on this day “all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel.” Ezra read the Bible from morning until midday, which is about 5-6 hours. The people were so hungry for the Word of God that nobody grumbled, nobody complained; they all listened with rapt attention and cried out “Amen, Amen!” lifted up their hands, bowed their heads, and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Can you imagine how tired they were physically and mentally?

Not only that but as they listened to the Word, they were so moved by their sins and their failures that they began to weep. Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites had to console the people and remind them that the “joy of the Lord is their strength.” Overall, the people were exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally?

Application: Have you been there before? Because of work, family, and even ministry, you are worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. You feel like you cannot go on another step.

So what happens on the next day? Nehemiah 8:13-14 13 Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,

Festival of BoothsUntil chapter 8 and verse 12, everything in the Book of Nehemiah has made sense but when we come to verse 13 it seems a little strange. What was so special about this festival of living in booths? This festival was a time of reflection on the faithfulness of God, the blessings of family and friends, and the promise of hope in the future. Nehemiah knew that the people had been going for a while. They had been under stress for a long time. They needed a break. They needed to step back and enjoy the blessings of life and family and salvation. They need to reflect on the blessings of the Lord. If they did not take the time to come apart, they will come apart in time.

Application: What does a Jewish festival of living in booths made out of grass and leaves have to do with us today? Should we go home and pull out our tents and live in them? Not really. Listen carefully: In the Christian life and in the church, there is a time to work and then there is a time to celebrate. There is a time to work for the gospel of the Lord and then there is a time to meditate on the goodness of the Lord. As we walk through this passage, let the Holy Spirit teach you how to celebrate as a Christian.

Three things we can learn from the festival of the booths.

I. IT WAS A REMINDER OF GOD’S FAITHFULNESS IN THE PAST.

Background: What was this festival of booths? This was a seven-day feast starting on the 15th day to the 21st day of the seventh month. In Leviticus 23:42-43 God told them: 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’”

During this feast the people would lie in simple tents made from leaves and branches. It was a reminder of their time in the wilderness when they lived in booths and made their way through the dangerous desert. God protected them from the constant threats from natural hazards, wild animals, and enemy tribes from every side and He brought them safely to the land that he had promised them. The festival was a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness in their lives. Their very existence was a testimony of God’s goodness to them.

The reason God wanted them to celebrate this feast is because sometimes when we are tired and stressed out with life we start thinking it all depends on us. In the midst of new challenges and pressures it is easy to forget that our very existence is a testimony of God’s goodness to us.

For e.g. I am one of the chaplains at the hospital. Sometime I can walk into a room and just feel the hopelessness. Other times I walk in and find myself in the presence of God. The other day I walked into the room where this elderly African-American lady was lying in bed. I introduced myself to her and told her I was the chaplain. Her eyes lit up and she said to me – “You know something – God has been good to me.” For the next 10 minutes she whispered to me all the wonderful things that the Lord had done for her.

How encouraging? Sometime back I was visiting someone and this other person was sitting in the room. She just had a scowl on her face. When something came up about church, she proudly declared the church she attended. I thought to myself – “What a poor advertisement of that church!”

If we don’t take time to meditate on the goodness of God, we too will become bitter.

Application: Have you taken the time to meditate on the goodness of God in your life?

The festival of the booths was – A Reminder of God’s Faithfulness in their Past.

II. IT WAS AN APPRECIATION OF GOD’S BLESSINGS IN THE PRESENT.

15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”

Background: Can you picture this sight? Fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters going on into the nearby mountain and bringing all these branches. Kind of like getting Christmas trees. This was meant to be a family feast. Listen to Deuteronomy 16:13-14 13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.

In the rebuilding the wall, re-inhabiting their ancestral homes, and coming back to the Word of God, these people had lost sight of their loved ones around them. God knew that this was dangerous. He had taken preemptive steps to make sure that people would never loose sight of the loved ones in their lives. The festival of booths was a bringing together of family and friends. It was like camping out together. For seven days the parents, the grandparents, and the children were side by side in this makeshift grass tent. For seven days friends and neighbors were enjoying this Sabbath and hiatus of God.

For e.g. Every week Nicole and I have a date night or date lunch. This is our time together that we can regroup and reconnect so we don’t loose our marriage as we serve in ministry. Not only that but we also take time each week to connect with each of our children.

For e.g. A famous evangelist had a very successful ministry but his own son was not saved. He said, “I have won the whole world but lost my own son.” God forbid that any of us would ever have to say that.

Clearview is a church on a mission. Our mission is the lost souls all around us. Our Purpose is to save as many as we can before it is too late. Our job is to redeem the time that God has given us on this earth. Having said that it is not on the altar of our marriages and families. In fact, we do everything we can to encourage families to work together and serve together in ministry.

Application: Have you taken the time to appreciate the loved ones that God has placed in your life – your wife, your children, your parents, your church family, and your friends.

III. IT WAS A PORTRAIT OF GOD’S REDEMPTION TO COME.

16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim.

Background: What is interesting is that each family was supposed to have a booth of their own. Just like the night of the Passover, every home was supposed to have the blood applied to the doorposts.

What else? 17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

Background: Again, what is interesting is that the children of Israel had celebrated the feast of the booths since the day of Joshua. It is mentioned in Judges 21:19; I Kings 8:2, 65; II Chronicles 8:12-13 and even Ezra 3:4.

What was so special about this feast? Ezra 3:4 They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day.” Meaning: Although they had celebrated the feast of the booths in the past, they had not offered the burnt offerings they were supposed to.

What did this feast really mean? The feast of Sukkoth (Booths) comes from the Hebrew word “sukkah” which means “covering” or “shelter.” This feast was pointing to the Messiah to come – the True Sukkoth who is our refuge and shelter from the judgment to come.

Pouring WaterWhat is even more interesting is that on the last day of the feast—the seventh day—is known as Hoshana Rabba. It means “Day of the Great Hosanna.” What does the word Hosanna mean? It means “save now.” On this day as the priests blew the trumpets and the Levites and the people waved the lulavs (palm branches), the high priest in the temple would pour out water taken from the pool of Siloam. It was the symbol of true life and satisfaction.

Do you remember when Jesus went to Jerusalem on the Feast of the Booths? John 7:37-39a tells us 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive;

Meaning: He was the true satisfaction and when we drink from Him the water of life we will never thirst again and out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water. How? Because of the Holy Spirit.

That was the true meaning of the Feast – Is it any wonder that “there was very great gladness”?

Application: Do you have a reason to celebrate? It is only through Jesus Christ.

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