Sermon for June 28, 2020 — Your Will Be Done
2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Psalm for Today: Psalm 100 on Page 104 in Christian Worship
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
15“Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16It is to be square—a spanlong and a span wide (That is, about 9 inches)—and folded double. 17Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper. (The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.) Mount them in gold filigree settings. 21There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
22“For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 23Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breastpiece. 24Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 25and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 26Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 27Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 28The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod.
29“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. 30Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.”
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m in the process of making DVD’s of our old camcorder tapes. It has been a fascinating and surprising project, letting me see footage that I (for the most part) haven’t watched since I taped them 20 years ago or more. One tape that I did recently showed Zachary shortly before Christmas when he was five or six years old. He is standing behind our coffee table which is loaded with wrapped packages. They are gifts that were to be given to him in just a couple of days. In the video. He is begging to be able to open just one or two of them. He knows that they are for him and he guesses that they are things that he wants. He doesn’t want to wait for Christmas, though. He wants the identity of the gifts to be revealed RIGHT NOW! His attitude is the same attitude that we can have to the will of God. We know that God has a will and he has promised that he wants to work out what is best for us. We just want to know RIGHT NOW what that will is. With that in mind, let’s look at what we are praying in the Third Petition.
Your Will Be Done
I. God’s revealed will
II. God’s secret will
In a way, we’ve already talked about the revealed will of God in this sermon series. The revealed will of God is really the subject matter of the first two petitions. What does God want to have happen? He wants his word proclaimed in its truth and purity so that his name is hallowed. He wants to bring people into his Kingdom of grace and keep them in his Kingdom of grace until he brings them into his heavenly Kingdom. This, as Martin Luther said, is God’s good and gracious will. These were the subjects of the first two petitions of the Lord’s prayer. So when we pray, “Your will be done,” we are really asking that God fulfill and answer the petitions that we have already made.
We call this the revealed will of God because God makes it plain all throughout holy scripture that he wants this to be done. It was revealed for the first time in the Garden of Eden when God made the promise to our first parents that he would send a champion to undo the fall to sin. All throughout the rest of the Old Testament he promised that Savior. In the New Testament, he showed how he fulfilled that promise and brought the Savior into the world. He then showed how people were brought into his Kingdom through the preaching of his word and gave a revelation in the last book of the Bible that shows him bringing those he has kept into his heavenly Kingdom. It is revealed in the Bible from beginning to end.
We can really see the revealed will of God in the events that took place at Mount Sinai. We see his law revealed in all of its clarity at Mount Sinai. We see his anger over sin and our absolute inability to keep the law in his giving of the 10 Commandments there. Then, in all of the laws that he gave regarding the worship of the people of Israel, we see beautiful pictures of his revealed will to save sinners and bring them into his family. All of the sacrifices show the sacrifice the Savior would make on behalf of sinners. All the festivals show the joy of having a fellowship with a loving God. But the clearest picture of God’s revealed will to save people is seen in the person of the high priest. This is one of the clearest pictures of Jesus who acted as a mediator between God and sinful man.
In our text for today, we see one of the things that made the high priest such a beautiful symbol of God’s revealed will to his Old Testament people. We are in a section of the book of Exodus which describes the clothing that the high priest was supposed to wear as he carried out his official duties. Everything that he wore, from head to foot, is described in this section. However, the thing that gets the most attention, is the breastplate that he was to wear. This breastplate was perfectly square, about 9 inches on each side, and was bedecked with rare and precious gemstones. There were twelve of them, each one representing one of the tribes of Israel. When the high priest wore this, the people got the powerful picture that God wanted to keep his people close to his heart. Whenever the high priest went into the presence of God in the temple, he wore this as a symbol of those people being in God’s presence and in his love and receiving his forgiveness. As we look at this today, we see that this is still God’s will. He still holds us close to his heart and wants more and more people to know about the love and forgiveness that he has to offer. In the Third Petition, we are praying that God continue to accomplish this will that he has declared in the pages of holy scripture.
There is another kind of will that God has that we also pray about in this petition. Besides praying about the revealed will of God, we are praying about the concealed or the hidden will of God. What we mean by that is this: God intimately knows everything about us. He knows everything that has happened to us, is happening now, and will happen to us in the future. All of this falls under God’s will. He knows what he wants to have happen in our lives. We call this the hidden will of God because we don’t know what this will for the future is.
Knowing about this concept of the hidden will of God is, at the same time, both comforting and frustrating. It is comforting because we know that we are not just wandering through life aimlessly without any purpose or plan. We know that our God is watching over us and, whatever happens to us, is under his control. It can be frustrating, though, because it is his hidden will. We would like to know what that will is in our lives. Speaking personally, it sure would be nice to know what my wife’s health condition is going to be like in the future. It would also be nice to know exactly what his plans are for our ongoing care of Jordan. You all have similar things in your lives where you would like to know what God’s will is.
In this portion of scripture, we also have something that reminds us of the hidden will of God. Inside of the pocket of the breastplate that the priest wore we’re two mysterious objects that the Bible calls the Urim and the Thummim. The exact meaning of these words is something that translators have wrestled with down through the years. Some say that their names should be translated as “lights and perfections.” Others say that they should be translated as “revelation and truth.” Still others think that the root meaning of these words equates to “guilt and innocence.” The way that they were used is also not fully explained in the pages of Holy Scripture. The best guess is that the priest would ask a number of questions that could be answered yes or no. Each time the priest would ask a question, he would reach into the breast piece and pull out one of the two stones that were in there. One stone would represent a yes answer and the other one would represent a no answer. By this manner, sometimes a guilty party would be exposed. At other times, God would reveal what his will was when the nation was going to war. However they worked, God showed that he knew what was going on and that his will in any event would, indeed, take place.
This truth is still truth. God still is in control. God still knows what he wants to have happened in our lives. And God’s will will be done. In the two other scripture lessons that we looked at this morning, we see examples of people submitting themselves to the hidden will of God. The Apostle Paul accepted that God had a purpose for the thing that he called the thorn in his flesh. He had asked the Lord to take it away, but the Lord let him know that he had a reason for his suffering. The greatest example of someone submitting themselves to God’s will is the example of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. There, when praying about his upcoming suffering, he asked that the will of his father be done.
So, what are we praying when we pray, “Your will be done on earth as in heaven”? What we are really praying about is the ability to accept what the will of God is. When we pray, “Your will be done,” we are acknowledging that God’s way may not be our way in our life. We are, in a way, reminding ourselves that we don’t know what the future holds we know who holds the future. We are placing ourselves in God’s hands and saying to him, we know that you will do what is best for us. This is especially true when we consider that the hidden will of God always serves the revealed will of God. God let’s everything happen to us that happens to us as part of his plan of bringing us close to him and keeping us close to him forever. Knowing that, it becomes easier to simply put ourselves in God’s hands and say to him, “Your will be done.” Amen.