Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

The saving sovereign God

Scripture readings:

  • Luke 1:46:55
  • 1Samuel 2:1-10

Introduction

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am going to make a statement, and want you to think about it:  your theology reflects your prayers, and your prayers reflect your theology.

It would be safe to say—purely judged on what we can observe—that the church in Australia is worse off than a decade or two ago.  Am I right to say that we are in for a bumpy, if not frightful, time as Christians?

Let’s do a bit of a survey this morning.

  • Do you think humanistic philosophies, like New Age and Marxism will become more and more popular in years to come?
  • Do you think Islam has come to stay and will exercise more and more domination in our society?
  • Do you think the church will shrink to a insignificant minority which will have to keep itself busy with its own business?
  • Are we on the winning side, or do you think we are on the losing side?

The purpose of the sermon this morning is to prove the opposite.

The bleak times of Hanna

From a human perspective Israel as the people of God became a total failure.  When God called them out of Egypt and gathered them at Sinai He gave them the reason for their existence:

Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6, NIV)

In Leviticus the Lord said:

I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations to be holy. (Leviticus 20:24, NIV)

However, in a short space of time, all they did was to go against everything God commanded, whilst what occupied them were the abhorrent practices of the nations around them. And as we have seen in Judges, even the grandsons of both Moses and Aaron enticed the people to worship idols.

1 Samuel 1 takes us to the sons of the High Priest, Eli, were worthless men (or sons of Belial);  they did not know the Lord! They treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.  They were consumed by greed; they spiritually abused the people of God; and they turned the Tent of Meeting into a brothel. They worshipped money, power and sex.

One’s prayer reflects one’s theology 

But all along God acted sovereignly.  An insignificant childless woman, who put her faith in Almighty God was used by God to bring change—through a young boy dedicated to His service.

How can we say for sure Hannah had put her trust in the Lord?   Her prayer reflected her theology!

Hannah worshipped God because there is no god like Him

Hannah’s heart throbbed with joy in the Lord.  When she looked up to God she felt herself as strong as a wild animal crushing its pray with its horn.  She could speak with confidence against her enemy, because God poured on her his salvation.  Her knowledge and experience of God is that He is holy, and that no other God will ever stand against Him.  He is her fortress and hiding place, her rock.  Those who know the God of the exodus know that there is no one, no thing, no power—there is nothing to compare to the Lord.  Hannah knew, as the Israelites who came out of Egypt knew, the stupidity of allowing anything to rival the Lord, this holy God, our rock. He is the incomparable God! There is no one besides him, no one like him! After the people of God crossed the Dead Sea in safety while Pharaoh’s army drowned, Moses said:

The Lord is my strength and my defence; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. (Exodus 15:2–3, NIV)

When I asked those questions a while ago, did you believe as Hannah and Moses believed?  If God is the same, as He was yesterday, so He will be into all eternity, can we really be pessimistic about the future of the church?  Does your prayer reflect your faith?  Does your prayer have an impact on they way you live? “There is none none holy as the lord, none besides You.” Do you pray and believe this confidently?  Why then filled with gloom about tomorrow?

Hannah worshipped God because He is sovereign

Knowledge belongs to Him.  He knows everything.  He hears the voices of his mockers; He knows the folly of their plans; He knows about their arrogance. Just imagine: human rulers, dust of the earth, dare to swing the finger at the God of the universe; they dare to resist his Son who has the power to smash them like pottery! (Psalm 2)

When it pleases God, at the time He has appointed, He makes an end to his enemy.  Rulers of great empires have come an gone.  It requires deep study to find out something about the main players in history who thought they were in control of things.  Where is Alexander the Great?  Where are the roman Emperors?  Where are the great conquerors?  Of Stalin there is a gravesite and a statue. Chairman Mao Zedong is gone.  God is with us—Christ is our King.  How do we know for sure?  Did He not rise from the grave? Not even death could hold Him; and He assured us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”

Right back in chapter 1 Hannah called God Almighty.  That expression has undertones of what Moses prayed in Exodus  15:  “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.”

It is in the power of our sovereign God to humiliate strong armies, to reduce to nothing the riches of the powerful, to kill and to bring to life, to dethrone rulers and to put into power those He wants to be in power.

Before this sovereign God Martin Luther and other Reformers stood and committed their lives.  The popes of the age and the kings of large kingdoms could not stop the spreading of the Word of God.  The names of those who wanted to stop the mouths of Christians then are forgotten, but Luther, Calvin, Knox, Thomas Cranmer, Oliver Cromwell, Bunyan, Spurgeon and others are still remembered for their faith.

Hannah worshipped God because to Him belongs judgement 

We read these sweet words:

He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

What his church is experiencing today is not unknown to our Lord.

When those faithful to his name put their heads on blocks rather than blaspheme the Name of their Saviour, God knew about it.  When the hands of those who love Christ above all were tied behind their backs and they themselves were tied to the wood of a stake, He was with them.  He commanded his angles to give them courage to face the enemy.  When evil forces spray their bullets over a bus full of Christians on their way to worship, He took note.  When his people got mowed down by machine gun while gathered in an ancient building in Egypt for his worship, He was there.

Bullets could not take their souls, but the time will come when those who pulled the triggers will stand before the judgment throne of the Almighty God.  God will vindicate avenge the blood of his people.

It is easy to force control over people when you hide behind fire arms and self-imposed authority, but let the enemy of the cross take note:

It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered.  (1 Samuel 2:9, NIV)

God will be the judge of the ends of the earth. Did Moses not pray: The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. (Exodus 15:2–3, NIV) And do we not read in Revelation 19 about Christ, the rider on the white horse:

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:13–15, NIV)

Hannah worshipped God because by faith she saw Israel’s redemption fulfilled Christ

There are just too many Messianic overtones in Hannah’s prayer to miss it.  After the birth of Christ, Mary took over from Hannah and praised God for giving his Son to be the anointed Messiah King:

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:51–55, NIV)

Hannah’s story stands at the beginning of 1 Samuel because there is a connection, yet to be played out, between Hannah’s story and Israel’s story.” (Woodhouse, J. (2008). 1 Samuel: Looking for a leader (p. 42). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

God answered Hannah’s prayer in the fulness of time giving his Son, the King of all kings.  And we now can say: the king is dead; long live the King!

Conclusion

Let’s end with the thought we started with:  one’s prayer reflects one’s theology, and one’s theology reflects one’s prayer.

How do you pray?  Is what you pray the conviction of your heart? If you really believe that there is no God which can compare to Him, if you really believe God is sovereign in his power and the outworking of his plan with this world, if you really believe that God will one day judge his enemy and vindicate his church, why not shout it out loud to you adversary?  Why not pray more? We have no other weapons but the Word of God and prayer.

Lets for just one brief moment go to Revelation 8:

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it (God’s answer to the prayers) on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:3–5, NIV)

This is the outworking of our prayers answered by our Sovereign God!  Let’s get serious with worshipping God in prayer.  Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D.Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 11 June 2017

 

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