December 02, 2018

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Epistle Lesson; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Gospel Lesson; Luke 21:25-36                            

Sermon Text; Jeremiah 33:14-16


The Word of God we focus on for today is taken from Jeremiah, chapter 33, looking at verses 14 through 16.  This is in Jesus' name.


“Listen, the days are coming”, declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good promises that I have spoken to the house of Israel and   concerning the house of Judah.

In those days and at that time, I will cause a righteous Branch to grow up from David's line.  He will establish justice and righteousness on earth.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely.  This is what she (Jerusalem) will be called:  The Lord Our Righteousness.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Happy New Year to you.  I say that, because we begin a brand new church year today.  Today is when we prepare our hearts, and minds for Christmas, during The Advent Season.  The word 'advent' comes from the Latin word, 'adventus'.  It simply means 'the coming', or 'the arrival' of something.  And so, the church has set aside four Sundays before Christmas to do that, with our calendar this year, that is December 2nd, December 9th, December 16th, and December 23rd.  Those are the four Sundays before Christmas in which we prepare our hearts, and our minds for the coming of something. 

Today, as we focus on our Old Testament Lesson, we come to The Old Testament reading from Jeremiah.  It is a lesson that is set aside for The Advent Season, because it does help us to prepare our hearts, and minds for the arrival of something.  When Jeremiah first wrote these words, he was telling people to prepare their hearts, and their minds for the coming of the Messiah.  Today, as we meet, not only can we see that on the one hand, but on the other hand we can also look, and say, “We also are preparing our hearts, and minds for the arrival, or the coming of Jesus, when He comes the second time, when He comes to be a Judge.”

Here is just a little background on the book of Jeremiah.  It may be one we don't look at very closely.  Jeremiah lived roughly six hundred years before Jesus was born.  Jeremiah became a prophet during the reign of King Josiah.  King Josiah was the sixteenth king of Judah.  He was a good king, and he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. 

It was the last four kings of Judah that were evil.  They were wicked kings.  They did not do that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.  And so, Jeremiah, being a prophet, as he was prophesying to the people of his day (it covered a forty year span) for the most part he was talking to people who were living under these wicked kings.  They just lived, and did things the way they wanted to, not the way God wanted them to live.

Oftentimes, Jeremiah's message was a challenging message to share with the people.  It was a difficult message to share with the people, because Jeremiah was pointing out the sins of the people.  They were becoming worldly in the way they were living. 

Just a hundred years before this, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been carried off into captivity by the Assyrian Empire.  As Jeremiah was proclaiming these words to the people, he was telling them there was now a new empire.  This was the Babylonian Empire that was going to carry them off into exile.  It was going to carry them off into captivity.  His message was one of harshness, telling them, “This is what is going to happen to you, because of the sins you have committed against God.”

As they were carried off into captivity, it was then their rulers and their kings that would be judged.

We can learn a little bit from the message Jeremiah shared with the people of his day.  There are times today when pastors, or messengers need to share a harsh message with God's people.  Just think about the season of the church year that we are preparing our hearts for.  If you were to turn on the TV, you would see some Christmas ads.  If you were to open the newspaper, you would see some Christmas ads.  If you were to listen to the radio, you would hear Christmas songs.  Just think about some of those ads on TV, and what they are preparing people for.  Some of the ads are things like this. 

If you go to a car dealership, and you buy a car for yourself, and for your wife, you are going to be happy. 

Or, you open the newspaper, and look at the catalog of ads for toys.  What is it telling parents and kids?  If you buy these toys for your kids, you are going to be happy. 

If you turn on the radio, and you listen to the Christmas songs, what do you hear?  You hear, “Ho, ho, ho”.  You hear, “Santa Claus” and you hear, “Jingle bells”. 

That is what the world thinks preparing for Christmas is all about.  Sometimes, we can fall into that same mindset, and we can become worldly, just like the people of Jeremiah's day became worldly.

Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's there was a golfer by the name of Paul Azinger.  He became pretty popular, and is still a commentator today.  He was rising in the ranks, and was becoming a pretty good golfer.  In 1993 he won the PGA Championship.  It was the one, and only major he won.  He kind of considered that the height of his golfing career.

Four months after that, he was diagnosed with cancer.  It kind of threw him for a loop.  Here he had just come off of the height of the golfing world.  That is when one of his buddies approached him, and said “Paul, I want you to know this.  You are not in the land of the living, going to the land of the dying.  You are in the land of the dying, and you are going to the land of the living.”

You see, Paul was a Christian.  But, he admitted he had gotten his priorities mixed up.  He was thinking about the worldliness of this world, and how important golf was.  But, his getting cancer really rearranged the priorities in his life.  He was thinking to himself, “What is most important?”

Our text for today that we are looking at is maybe the most important Messianic Text from the book of Jeremiah.  It promises to God's people – immediately they would be restored.   They would return from exile.  God would raise up a new king.  He would be a Messianic king. 

As we prepare our hearts, and minds for Christmas, we can look at these same themes, as well.  He begins with this one word.  He begins with the word, “Listen”.  “Listen.  What I am about to tell you is very important.  Listen.”

In the late 70's, and early 1980's there was a commercial on TV for a brokerage firm, EF Hutton.  Some of you may remember some of those commercials.  One of them I really remember is in a classroom setting.  There were kids sitting at their desks, a number of young students.  The teacher said, “Who would like to recite the alphabet today?” 

She called on a student by the name of Ann.  Ann stood up, and very courageously began reciting the alphabet.  “A.  B.  C.  D.  E.  F.  E.F?  E.F. Hutton.” 

All of the students came out from their desks, put their hands to their ears, and there was quiet.  That is when somebody in the background, a voice over said, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

Jeremiah today says, “Listen.”  What he is about to say is very, very important for us to understand.   He said, “...the days are coming, declares the Lord...”  When he said that, he wanted to remind the people of his day that a Messiah is coming.  He wrote this about six hundred years before Jesus was born.  A Messiah is coming.  They were about ready to be carried off into captivity.  They were going off into exile.  But, the day would come when they would be restored.  They would be returning.  And, God would raise up a king from David's line. 

“...the days are coming, declares the Lord...”

As we look at these verses for today, we can say, “Yes, we know Jesus came”.  But, on the other hand, we are preparing for Jesus' second coming, when He is going to come again as Judge.

Jeremiah says we can look at the promises that were made.  God will fulfill the good promises He made.  And, when God makes a promise, folks, He keeps those promises.

Go all the way back to the book of Genesis.  When Jacob was on his deathbed, and when he was speaking words to each of his twelve sons, he came to Judah, and said,

“The scepter will not depart from Judah.”  

Jesus came through the line of Judah.  Jesus is the King who fulfilled that prophesy. 

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, it was the prophet Isaiah who prophesied this. 

“He will reign on David's throne, and over his kingdom.” 

Jesus came from the line of David.  He fulfilled that prophesy. 

Now, Jeremiah tells us who it is that fulfilled that.  Look at the following picture.



  It says, ‘One of the names Israelites of Old Testament times gave to the expected Messiah was “The Branch”. 

The Messiah is referred to as “The Branch”. 

Jeremiah isn't the only one who wrote that.  Isaiah, again seven hundred years before Jesus was born, wrote: 

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse.  From his roots a branch will bear fruit.”

In our text for today, six hundred years before Jesus was born, it says:  “I will cause a righteous branch to grow up from David's line.”

Zechariah, five hundred years before Jesus was born wrote: 

“Listen, I am going to bring my servant, the branch.”

All of those prophets were talking about the Messiah, The Branch, who was coming.

Then, we get to The New Testament, and we get to the birth of Jesus being foretold.  The angel came to Mary, and announced to her she would be the mother of the Savior of the world.  This is what the angel, Gabriel, said to Mary. 

“You will be with child, and give birth to a Son.  You are to give Him the name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the most high.  The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.  His Kingdom will never end.”
Jesus fulfilled all of those prophesies that I just mentioned.

Now a new name is going to be given to God's people.  A new name is going to be given to you.  In The Old Testament, when a significant event happened to people, oftentimes their name was changed.  Think about Abraham for a moment.  His name was Abram.  But, when he was ninety nine years old, and God said, “A year from now you are going to have a son”, his name was changed to 'Abraham', which means, 'the father of many'.

Sarah's name was changed.  Her name was Sari.  But when she was eighty nine years old, she was told she would be the mother of the many nations.  The name 'Sarah' means, 'noble woman'.

Jacob.  His name was changed when he wrestled with God.  Jacob means he deceives but his name was changed to Israel, which means he struggles or he wrestles with God.

When Katie and I first moved to Madison, Katie called the phone company so we could have a phone installed at our house.  So, she called the phone company.  We got a telephone number.  When the first phone book came out, my name was misspelled.  I wasn't Bernt, but I was Brent.  Not that the name Brent is bad, but it is not my name.  Well, she called the phone company because we wanted my name to be spelled correctly.  They said, “We can't do that.”

She said, “But you made the mistake.”
They said, “We can't do that unless you pay money to have the name changed in the phone book.”
So, she paid the money, and then my name was changed.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, your name has been changed.  We didn't have to pay money in order to change it.  Here is what your name has been changed to.  It has been changed to,

“The Lord our righteousness”. 

She will be called, “The Lord our righteousness”.  When Jeremiah spoke these words, when he prophesied these words, he was saying a Messiah is going to come.  We can look back, and we can see the Messiah is Jesus.  Jesus is the Savior. 

Today, we are preparing ourselves for Jesus coming as a baby.  But, there is more than that.  We know Jesus also lived a perfect life for us.  He took that life of perfection to the cross.  It extended through the cross to the open grave, the empty grave, where Jesus rose

-in power over sin,

-in power over death, and

-in power over the devil. 

Jesus has given you a new name - “The Lord our Righteousness”.  A name has been transferred to you.  A name has been imputed to you.  That name has been given to you through Jesus, our Savior.

So, today we begin a new church year.  On one hand we look back, and we prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus' coming the first time, as a baby.  But, on the other hand, we prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus' second coming.  That is Judgment Day, when He will return.

Five hundred years ago a hymn was written in Germany.  The first line of that hymn, in German was, “Est ist ein rost und sprungen”.

“Oh how a rose is blooming”, is maybe how some of you learned it.  In our hymnbook we just sang this hymn, “Behold a branch is growing”.  It is a reminder to us of the many prophesies in The Old Testament that were written about The Branch, about the Messiah, about the Savior Jesus.

I close this morning reciting the first verse, and the last verse of the hymn we just sang.  Listen to what it says.


Behold a Branch is growing

of loveliest form and grace

As prophets sang foreknowing

It springs from Jesse's race

and bears one little flower

in midst of coldest winter and

deepest midnight hour.

Oh Savior child of Mary

who felt our human woes

Oh Savior, King of Glory

who conquered all our foes

bring us at last we pray

to the bright courts of Heaven

and to the endless days.