Enlarging God (2): God Wins
Introduction – Some discouraged soul wrote the following limerick:
God’s plan made a hopeful beginning,
But man spoiled his chances by sinning.
We trust that the story
Will end in God’s glory,
But, at present, the other side’s winning.
Sure seems that way, doesn’t it? But I have good news this morning. In the end, God wins. That’s the burden of the 2nd half of Mary’s Magnificat that we began week. She magnified Him personally in Lu 1:46-50 – now prophetically (51-56) where God’s past acts form a pattern or model for ultimate fulfillment in Christ. She enlarges God thru prophetic history.
Luke 1:51-55 revolves around 5 verbs describing God’s actions – He has shown strength, scatter the proud, etc. All English version translate past tense, normal for the Greek aorist tense. But these are prophetic aorists – meaning that while rooted in the past, they look to ultimate fulfillment in the future. Mary sees God has modeled in the past where history is going ultimately. And the child she bears is the key to a great consummation.
These verbs describe a reversal of all the havoc wrecked by sin on the human race. Sin turned everything upside down. That’s why it looks like the other side is winning at present! But -- In the end, God wins – and He wins in spectacular fashion. Peter notes in II Peter 3: 3) knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” The world assumes things will never change. But God is saying, “Get ready! Reversal and restoration is on coming!”
I. Perspective Reversal – (God over man)
Lu 1:51, “He has shown strength with his arm.” Man reigns today. God is mocked – His power denied; His salvation rejected. Believers are considered fools, but the shoe will be reversed when He is revealed for all to see.
History – God has revealed His strength in many ways historically. Who else could have created the universe? Who else could have caused a worldwide flood? Who but God could have created plagues that mocked all the pagan gods of Egypt to set His people free? Who but God could have predicted the future time after time after time with absolute precision? God has shown His strength constantly in history, but man prefers his own sufficiency.
Prophecy – But history is going somewhere, Beloved. It is not meaningless. Prophetically, God’s strength is ultimately be demonstrated in Jesus. It is demonstrated there in two stages – His first and His second coming. There is a dramatic preview at the cross. Humanity mistakenly sees the cross as weakness and failure! God’s perspective was prophesied 700 years before in Isa 52:10, “The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Like Mary’s prophesy, this has both a near and long term fulfillment. Think about it. How is it that the whole world knows about the obscure death by crucifixion of one single man in history? How did that happen? It happened because it is the time and place where God bared his holy arm to provide salvation. Yet most people choose self and deny the strength of God demonstrated at the cross to their eventual destruction.
But a day is coming! The Bible describes it in Rev 1:7, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.” There will be no denying Him then or ever again! Believers will be vindicated in dramatic fashion. The Bible says that at that time “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Rejecters from all time will forever removed, and God’s supremacy over man will never again be in dispute. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” In the end, God wins. That’s why it is so important to magnify Him now, accepting Him by faith.
II. Moral Reversal – Humble exalted (Humility over pride)
Second phrase Lu 1:51, “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” Second phrase Lu 1:52, “and exalted those of humble estate.” Today, it appears that those who are proud are winning. Self-promotion is the way of the world we live in. But God prizes humility. He’s not into human ego!
History – God subtly illustrates this throughout history. He consistently chooses the younger over the elder. Abel and then Seth over Cain. Isaac over Ishmael. Jacob over Esau. Moses over Aaron. David over 7 older brothers. There is a message there. God exalts “those of humble estate.”
Perhaps no example is more compelling than Nebuchadnezzar. This great king of Babylon was justifiably proud of the world power he built. But He continually minimized God’s revelation. Early in his career, in Daniel 2, he gets a prophetic dream outlining history. When his own magicians could not replay and interpret the dream he threatened death. But the young captive Daniel, still in his teens and attending the U. of Babylon, came to the rescue, interpreted the dream, crediting God. What a privileged revelation! And in Daniel 2:41, the king responds, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Except that Neb was simply accepting Daniel’s God as one deity among many. Not nearly big enough.
Soon we find Neb building a model of his dream statue, with a face that looked suspiciously like his own, no doubt, and requiring everyone to bow down to it. When 3 of Daniel’s Hebrew friends refused, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Amazingly they survived, and so we are told in Dan 3:28-30 that Neb blessed their God (note, not his, but theirs), and commanded that no one speak ill of that God. He gave the boys promotions – but he didn’t yet get the picture. God is trying; he’s not listening.
Fast forward 30 years. Neb gets another dream. The interpretation predicts that due to pride, Neb will lose his reason and live like an animal for 7 years. God gives him a year to repent to no avail: Daniel 4:29, “At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” No repentance, no change, no credit to God. But these words were barely out of his mouth before Neb’s reason shut down. The lights went out! He lived like an animal for 7 long years. But when reason returned it was a different Neb this time. God finally got through. Pride was replaced with humility. In verses 34-35, he acknowledges God’s eternal, forever dominion. I believe we will see Neb in heaven because he at last humbled himself before the Lord of heaven and earth. This time he was exalted by God, not by his own devices. He becomes a pattern for all who will humble themselves before God.
Prophecy – Only the humble will see God’s kingdom. Jesus exemplifies humility. Philippians 2:8, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” God exalted Jesus for His humble obedience to ultimate humiliation. Do you think he will exalt us in our rebellion? Think again. Humility is the key to faith and to heaven. Jesus said in Matt 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Who are the poor in spirit? Those who realize their moral bankruptcy before a holy God. Heaven will be filled with admitted sinners. Hell will be filled with sinners in denial – who insisted they were good enough on their own. That’s the only difference. The proud may win in our culture, but not in God’s.
A farmer who had experienced several bad years went to see the manager of his bank. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first?” he asked. “Tell me the bad news first and get it over with," the banker replied. "Okay. Crops were bad and I won’t be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year." "Well that is pretty bad." "It gets worse. I will not be able to pay anything on the loan for machinery either.” "Wow, is that ever bad!" "It’s worse than that. I can’t pay anything on my loans for seed and supplies either.” "That’s awful, and that’s enough! Tell me what the good news is.” The farmer smiled: “The good news? -- I intend to keep right on doing business with you!" There’s profound theology there. The gospel of Jesus is that despite our total bankruptcy, God wants to do business with us. He only requires we acknowledge our sin – something most cannot do. They want to bring something. But all we can bring is our sin. That’s it. That’s who gets to heaven. It’s a reversal of morality. In the end, God wins.
III. Political Reversal – Mighty brought down (Right over might)
Lu 1:52: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones.” God removes the powerful. Historically, Mary may have Belshazzar in mind. In Daniel 5, he is co-ruling Babylon with his absentee father. But he is not humble, though he had seen Neb’s animal stage as a teen-ager. He learned nothing. God had prophesied that the Medes and Persians would conquer Babylon. But Bel had food for years, impenetrable walls 40 ft high and 25 feet wide, and water from the Euphrates that flowed thru the city. So, even as the enemy was outside the gate he made a feast to mock God using the capture temple vessels. In his mind, he was secure. He is shaking his fist in the fact of God and saying, “I’ll show you!”
So we read starting in Dan 5:5, “Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.” All the king’s bravado was gone in an instant. Daniel is called to interpret, but he says, “You knew what happened to Neb, but you ignored that warning. But while you were shaking your fist in God’s face, He was busy weighing you in the balance. You came up short. You were found wanting. Your kingdom will be taken tonight. Which is exactly what happened. The historian, Herodotus tells us the Persians damned up the Euphrates River, came in beneath the unscalable walls, pretended to be drunken Babylonian revelers while making their way to the king’s throne room where they killed the king and took over the kingdom. Beloved, it is folly to ignore the revelation of God. You can get by for a while, but eventually as Moses warned in Numbers 32:23, “be sure your sin will find you out.” Payday is coming. The mighty will fall. God will have his due.
Prophecy – But, Bel is just a preview of God’s ultimate plan. We fear the Hitlers and Stalins. God looks small at times. But Psalm 2:2-4 vividly depicts God’s perspective: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” We need a magnified view of God, Beloved. Rev 19:11-16, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven (that’s us!), arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” The day is coming when Mary’s child will turn the whole world order upside down. In the end God wins. I advise – get on His side.
IV. Social Reversal – Hungry filled (Poverty over privilege)
Lu 1:53: “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” This is the triumph of poverty over privilege. Statistics on hunger are staggering. The World Health Organization estimates that 2/3 of the world goes to bed hungry. Every year 15,000,000 children die of hunger. A billion people are malnourished – mostly in 3rd world countries. Meantime, more than 1.5 billion (out of 7B total) are overweight and 500 m are obese. Guess where they live! We don’t think of it this way, but if we are overweight, we are rich. And ignoring the poor is disobedience.
But Mary sees a time when this will all be reversed – when the hungry will be filled (this applies to both physical and spiritual hunger). But the rich will be turned away. A social reversal of a world where money talks – riches are everything, where scoundrels like Donald Trump proliferate. It’s all going to come to an end. Frankly, most of us, even Christians, are working for retirement. That is the end-all of our existence. But Jesus warned against such near-sightedness. He told a parable about a prosperous man who built great new storehouses to hold his grain and belongings. Then, according to Luke 12:19 he said, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” (Man, he was ready for retirement. Bring on LeisureWorld) 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” In the end, it is not riches that win, it is God. The question for us is Who’s bigger in our eyes – God, or the retirement fund? Where does our security lie? The other side – the rich and famous, may be winning now – but in the end, God wins.
V. Spiritual Reversal – (Mercy over Justice)
Verses 54-55, “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Spiritual reversal is the triumph of mercy over justice. By rights, Israel should have been thrown over long ago along with the Amorites, the Hittites, the Edomites, the Canaanites and all the other “ites” who inhabited Palestine in ancient times and whose gods Israel copied on a regular basis. Why has that not happened? One simple but profound reason. God made a promise to a man named Abraham long ago. Gen 13:14, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.” In Gen 15, God made this Abrahamic covenant unconditional. He would do it based on His goodness, not that of Abraham and his kin. Now only believing Israelites would benefit from these promises. Just being a Jew did not and does not save anyone anymore than being a member of the Congregational Church saves anyone. But God promises that Israel as a nation would exist forever – and He’s a big God. He keeps promises – as demonstrated dramatically in our day by the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 after 1900 years of absence. God always wins.
But the ultimate expression of God’s mercy is not Israel, but Israel as represented in One Person – the person of Christ. As God’s sacrifice for the sin of the world, He is the ultimate and final expression of God’s mercy. That is why it is so intolerable to reject Him. After Him there is nothing God can do to save, but in Him mercy is available for all. He is the final reversal. He is the ultimate expression of the grace, love and mercy of God. At the cross God won it all – it’s just a mopping up operation now.
Conclusion – So, are you on God’s winning side? To be His requires our own personal reversal – the turning from sin and to God. He will one day rule it all. But to have Him as king then, you must accept Him as Lord now. Most of you know that any plane carrying the President if designated AF1. There has been only one time in history when that designation changed in flight. On Aug 9, 1974, AF1 took off to deliver Pres Nixon to his home in CA, but somewhere over Missouri, at high noon in DC, Pres Ford took the oath of office transferring the presidency from Nixon to himself. At that moment the plane ceased to be AF1 and became known by its AF call numbers. The movies did it too. In the movie called “AF1”, starring Harrison Ford. His plane is attacked by terrorists. The pres is a former soldier who fights back. Eventually only one terrorist and the pres are left on AF1. To rescue the President a zip-line is connected to AF1 in an attempt to move the President along the wire into the smaller plane. Radio contact is lost. Officials are horrified as the radar shows the 747 go down. Then the small plane radios in, “Liberty 2-4 requests a change in call signals to Air Force One." Only the president on-board is big enough to require that change.
Question – is Jesus on-board in your life? Because of the cross, He alone can reLu 2:sin’s devastation and the rebellion in your heart. Only you can stop Him by your unbelief. The other side may seem to be winning now – but in the end, God wins -- but that will mean nothing to you at all unless He has won your heart. Are you His? Are you sure? Let’s pray.