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Let Us Go up to the Mountain of the Lord!

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Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord!

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Let Us Go up to the Mountain of the Lord!

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The imagery of mountains is used throughout the Bible to illustrate God’s Kingdom—including His sovereignty in government, the Church and in our personal lives.

Transcript

[Victor Kubik] My wife, Bev, and I were in Jamaica for the first half of the Feast. And we had never been there. I have never met a Jamaican brother or sister. And what a wonderful event. We had a large Feast site there, about half the size of what we have here in Panama City Beach. We thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and genuineness of our brethren there.

There is one more comment I’d like to make. I met Ed, the shuttle driver. I don’t know if you’ve met Ed the shuttle driver but make sure that if you see Ed, make sure to say a special hello. Last year he caught up with me. He said, “I would like to tell you that this group that’s here in Panama City Beach,” and there are many groups that come here through the year, “this is, by far, the most beautiful group, exuding a very special spirit that’s unique.” And he said, “I want to let you know that. I want to let you know that.”

And then today, I was crossing the bridge and then I saw him again, Ed the shuttle driver. And I said, “Would you like to say a few words?” Last year he said, “Oh, I’d like to hand a message to the people,” and we didn’t know exactly how to do that. I said, “Why don’t you come up here and say a few words of appreciation?” He said, “Oh, no, no, no, I’m past that in my life.” But he says, “If you would,” and I said, “I’ll say a few words of appreciation to all of you.” So that’s a wonderful way in which we can spread the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of grace from our God in heaven that’s evidenced by the way we live.

The music has been very beautiful. I appreciated the mountain song and the very stirring start here to this service. Actually, two of the hymns have to do with mountains, the special music by Scott Delamater, written by him, very beautifully performed, very, very joyously performed, inspiringly performed. And also, this will be the title of my sermon, “Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord.”

Today at the Feast of Tabernacles, I wanna talk about mountains. I wanna talk about their symbolism as we read about them in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. I’d like to talk about their special relevance to the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles, in particular, that we are observing right now.

The Bible speaks in many places, actually, about the mountain of the Lord. Sometimes it’s called My Holy Mountain, or the mountain of the Lord’s temple, or the Holy Mountain. There’s also Mount Zion and other references as well. I couldn’t possibly cover all of them today.

The image figure of a mountain is powerful in itself. Mountains can be majestic, awesome, powerful, volcanic, or beautiful. They can be rugged or smooth. They can be covered with snow, with glaciers, or with forests. Mountains make us look up to greater and bigger things. From the top of a mountain, you can see over great distances.

What’s your favorite mountain? As I was working on this sermon, I asked a few people, “Tell me what’s your favorite mountain.” Here are some of the answers, the obvious ones that you’ll probably recognize most of them, if not all of them.

Mount Rainier. “Mount Rainier is the most beautiful mountain to me,” as one person said. “It’s full of glaciers. There are more glaciers on Mount Rainier than in all of Glacier National Park combined.”

Another person said, “I love the Smoky Mountains, the misty look of the Smoky Mountains. It is so beautiful and peaceful.” Another person said, “I like Mount Fuji, Mount Fujiyama.” I’ve actually flown past it a couple of times on the way to Asia. And it really is a majestic, a perfect volcano with a perfect little circle on top. It looks like it’s dressed in a tuxedo, in a white shirt, beautiful, snowcapped.

There’s Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania that rises 19,341 feet from the floor, the Serengeti floor. There’s the iconic Matterhorn, the movie “Third Man on the Mountain” that we probably all saw at one time. I remember just seeing this iconic mountain at one time on the way to the Feast. We stopped by and went up a third of the way up Mount Matterhorn. Or the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, taking groups of youth, Opportunity United kids, a couple of different times and went through Death Canyon, Jenny Lake. Beautiful, rugged, gorgeous mountains with beautiful meadows of wildflowers in the backcountry.

There’s Mount Everest, which is almost 30,000 feet above sea level, the height of almost the cruising altitude of airliners. There’s Mount St. Helens. Eight years after the explosion, we happened to be in Oregon, and took a helicopter ride right into the crater of Mount St. Helens and just hovered a few feet above the bottom where there were a lot of electronic instruments monitoring what’s there. There was still steam coming out. I looked about in the walls as all this blew off and went into the atmosphere. What a powerful explosion from inside of Mount St. Helens.

There’s a Mount of Olives. Standing on the Temple Mount, I gazed at the Mount of Olives, and I thought to myself, “That’s where Christ is going to return. Right there, the Mount of Olives. There it is, the real thing, the Mount of Olives. It will be split in two, Mount Scopus off to the left and Mount Olives, and Christ is going to return here in a short number of years.”

But one the most awesome scenes that I have, still to this day it really tingles me, is standing in Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo, which is now in Jordan, that was the last place that Moses stood before the children of Israel went into the promised land. And from here, he disappeared. He was buried where nobody knew.

But as you stand on Mount Nebo, there’s no sight just quite like it. You actually stare down into the lowest part, the lowest elevation on the earth, 1,378 feet below sea level where you see the Dead Sea off to the left and where... We were there in the afternoon. The glint of the sunlight on the Dead Sea shone very clearly to where we were standing. There you see the trickle of the Jordan River into the Dead Sea. And you can follow the Jordan River, and you see that that is the promised land on the other side and this is the trans-Jordan, where we stand. And Moses stood here and Moses saw this at the age of 120, after a full life, and seeing the children of Israel now having their opportunity to go into the promised land. And we were told at night, you can even see the glimmer of lights of the city of Jerusalem from Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo, that was so interesting to me to see this view.

Well, what are we to learn from this imagery and symbolism of mountains that are used in the Bible? There’s actually quite a bit and it relates right directly to what we’re celebrating here at the Feast of Tabernacles, because mountains do tell a fascinating story. Through the prophet Daniel, God revealed a fascinating prophecy about a stone that became a mountain and filled the entire earth. It’s quite a story. It’s in Daniel 2. And as I was thinking, “How can I tell this story?” you know, I found that the best way to tell the story is just to read it from the Bible, just the narrative as it’s recorded.

If you wanna follow along in Daniel 2:1 Daniel 2:1And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, with which his spirit was troubled, and his sleep broke from him.
American King James Version×
, I’ll read from the New Living Translation, which is a little bit more contemporary English language to tell you the story of Daniel 2 and the story about the stone that became a mountain that filled the entire earth and what it meant.

One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. He called in the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, verse 3, “‘I have had a dream that deeply troubles me and I must know what it means.’ Then the astrologers,” verse 4, “answered the king in Aramaic. ‘Long live the king. Tell us the dream and we will tell you what it means.’ But the king said to the astrologers, ‘I’m serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be turned into a heap of rubble. But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me my dream and what it means.’

“They said again, ‘Please, your Majesty, tell us the dream and we will tell you what it means.’ The king replied” in verse 8, “‘I know what you’re doing. You’re stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say, “If you don’t tell me the dream, you are doomed.” So you have conspired to tell me lies, hoping I will change my mind. But tell me the dream and then I’ll know that you can tell me what it means.’”

Now, there’s probably more to the story than this. There was some kind of palace intrigue going on here. The astrologers in verse 10 said to the king, “‘No one on earth can tell the king his dream. And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer. The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream and they do not live here among people.’”

Verse 12, “The king was furious when he heard this and he ordered all wisemen in Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends. When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel held the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, ‘Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?’ So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

“Then Daniel went home and told his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, what had happened. He urged them to ask God of heaven to show them His mercy by telling them the secret so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night, the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and he said, ‘Praise the name of God forever and ever, for He has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events. He removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness though He is surrounded by light. I thank and praise You, God of my ancestors, for You have given me wisdom and strength. You told me what we asked of You and revealed to us what the king demanded.’” Daniel gives credit to God. Daniel looked to God in tight situations. And then Daniel interprets this dream.

“Then Daniel went to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon, and Daniel said to them, ‘Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king and I will tell him the meaning of the dream.’ Arioch quickly took Daniel to the king and said, ‘I have found one of the captives from Judah, who will tell the king the meaning of this dream.’

“The king said to Daniel, also who was known as Belteshazzar, ‘Is this true? Can you tell me what my dream was and what it means?’ Daniel replied, ‘There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret, but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets and He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.’

“‘While your majesty was sleeping,’” in verse 29, “ you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.

“‘In your vision, your majesty, you saw standing before you a huge shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of statue was made of fine gold, his chest and arms were silver, his belly and thighs were bronze, his legs were iron. His feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth. That was the dream. Now, we will tell the king what it means.

“‘Your majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has made you ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are that head of gold. But after you, your kingdom comes to an end. Another kingdom inferior to yours will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world. Following that kingdom, there’ll be a fourth one as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes.

“‘The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron,’” verse 42, “‘but while some parts will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage.”’ Or as New King James has it, “mingle with the seed of men.” “‘But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.’”

And here’s the climactic verse, verse 44, through the remainder through verse 46. “‘During the reigns of these kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness and will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock-cut from the mountains, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The Great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true and its meaning is certain.’”

What a powerful story. It’s a story about the history of the world in advance. It’s a story about the progression of kingdoms, leading to a kingdom that comes from heaven, comes from somewhere, not from human creation, and it is something which fills the entire earth. What a story.

The story is amazing in how God [Daniel] praise God for answering his prayers, how he thanks God for giving him strength and wisdom. And he acknowledges that God controls the course of world events. Also, He was compassionate in that through Daniel, the wise men of Babylon were spared. And Daniel gave credit to God for interpreting the dream. He was not the wise man. He was the carrier of the wisdom of God.

A couple of key facts from this narrative. The mountain is called the Kingdom of God. This kingdom would have its origin in God and be the kingdom that replaces, not works with Him or is approved, certified, funded, recognized, and registered by man’s kingdoms. It has nothing to do with them. The rock that was cut out of the mountain was outside of human control, outside of human involvement, by an entity other than human. And the rock grew and became a huge mountain that had no competition. No other peaks. It was it.

The Kingdom of God would crush all other kingdoms and would last forever, and it would be done with a cataclysmic sudden clash and crash. The statue toppled over suddenly, not something that took years. It just keeled over and was smashed. The standing powers pictured by the beast and whoever is left, China, Russia, who knows what kingdoms will stand intact at that time, will cease functioning. This is an invasion. This prophecy is about the Kingdom of God and it tells us very clearly what it is. It’s not some feeling in your heart. It’s not a church. The Kingdom of God is of the same genre as the world’s kingdoms. It will crush them, remove them, and replace them. It tells us what it is. This prophecy tells us how it comes about and its interactions with the kingdoms of this world.

This prophecy is the answer to the second petition in Jesus Christ’s model prayer. “Thy kingdom come,” which we should be praying continuously. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” This chapter here is the answer to that. That’s how it’s going to happen. And as Daniel said, this interpretation is sure and this is the way it’s going to happen.

Our distinctive understanding of the Kingdom of God, to me, has been one of the greatest truths that we have come to understand. It’s about the government of God coming to this earth, not only replacing world governance but also about healing a groaning planet that’s about to self-destruct. It’s also repairing an environment and eradicating poverty and ignorance. We’re waiting for that time to come.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Anne Frank. I listened to the book for the first time actually about four years ago on Audible. And I was so enthralled by it because the story was so well-read, reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” that when my wife and I were visiting Europe three years ago, we went and toured the home of Anne Frank, where she was in hiding with her family and friends during World War II. Very moving.

Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl, who hid for two years, right under the nose, under the eyes of the Nazi occupiers in central Amsterdam. It was right downtown. And in reading the diary and listening to “The Diary of Anne Frank,” one of the most poignant narratives was when this group of people got together every evening to listen to “BBC London.” They were able to quietly tune in and listen to “BBC London.” They were all looking for the day when the Allies would invade Europe. And this story is brought up over and over again in the diary. They’re like, “Come on. Come on. Liberate us. Liberate us from the Nazis.” They’re waiting for any news. Finally, it did happen in June of 1944 when the Allies did invade, and they were just so overjoyed that this would happen. They knew it would happen. But they didn’t know when. But they knew it would happen.

In the same way, we are under occupation, brethren. We’re under occupation of the kingdom of Satan, the devil. This is his world. This is not God’s world. This world is occupied by an evil force. And someday that invasion of Daniel 2 is coming, and will free us, and will spare this world. May God speed that day.

This prophecy in the book of Daniel, however, about the growth of the Kingdom of God fed and mobilized missionary efforts in the 19th century. I have to comment about this a little bit. This is a period that was known as the first and second great awakenings in the 1800s. This spawned missionary movements, this understanding or this interpretation of what had happened here in Daniel 2, as missionaries spread throughout the world in the great age of missions, the 1800s. And 80% of them were British, English-speaking. They went to North America, to Africa, to India, and they had some moderate success. And they thought that they were fulfilling the work of Daniel 2 of spreading the Kingdom of God through knowledge.

This actually paralleled the growth of the British Empire in the 1800s. Actually, last year, right after the Feast, Bev and I along with the Schreibers, the senior pastor for India and Sri Lanka that we saw in the video here, went to one of those places where there was a great deal of success, if you will put it, in the mission work of the British. The British went to Eastern India into the province State of Mizoram, which is there tucked in with Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and Bhutan. British missionaries went there, and 80% of the population was turned over to Christianity.

We were amazed. We came there and we saw one church after another, Presbyterian, Methodist, Seventh-day churches of all sorts, Seventh-day Adventists, Church of God Seventh-day, and the United Church of God. One of our partner churches in this world is what is called the United Church of God Mizoram. There are three congregations spread out through this province. But the area has a very, very strong tradition going back to this work.

Missionaries interpreted this stone that filled the whole earth to be knowledge, because they connected Daniel 2 with Isaiah 11. Isaiah 11, there are a number of verses in the book of Isaiah that refer to a time of redemption, restoration, and God coming back to this earth.

Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×
, “They will not hurt nor destroy in My Holy Mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” But they said that the earth... it’s prophesied that the earth will be soaked in the knowledge of God. Just as you fill a pool, a tub with water, it covers everything. It doesn’t just kind of stay in one side. It covers everything, and that knowledge of God would do just that. And so that’s why they were motivated to go out there and evangelize and do their mission works.

The oceans are deeper than Mount Everest. If you were to put Mount Everest into the deepest part of the ocean, the ocean would cover Mount Everest. The deepest part of the ocean is more than 30,000 feet.

And missionaries truly and sincerely believed that they could convert the world by saturating it with the Word of God, and that Satan would be sent packing.

Listen to a few short quotes I have from theologians who espouse this thinking. One called Edward Joseph Young, in commenting about this verse, writes, “Men will know the Lord, when once the land will be thus filled with knowledge. Then men will cease to harm one another. Before there could be peace, there must first be knowledge.”

A better known commentator that we probably all have heard is Matthew Henry, who actually goes back to the 1600s, writes, “Some are willing to hope that it, the preaching of the gospel, before the return of Christ shall have a further accomplishment in the latter days, when thorns shall be beaten into plowshares. They shall thus live in love, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, which shall extinguish men’s hearts and animosities. Satan will be chained to the dragon bound for dust shall be the serpent’s meat again.”

Is this the way it’s gonna happen? Is this the way it’s happening? Do we have Satan who is just really upset with all this evangelizing and that he says, “I gotta quit? These people have me over a barrel”? No, Satan’s actually even more active than ever before. This is post-milliennial thought. They prepare the way for Christ coming, and that Christ would return at the end of the millennium. This never happened and never will. There have been periods of revival here and there, but not overwhelming. We actually now live in a period that some call the post-Christian era, where Christianity is losing its relevance everywhere in the world. We have reduced market share and other religions are growing more rapidly.

Every year, more than 100 million Bibles are printed. One hundred million Bibles are printed, half of them in China. Sure is a far cry from Gutenberg, which produced just a few Bibles printed, but 100 million Bibles year after year after year. It’s the most published book as far as knowledge going out to the world. There is a lot of knowledge going out to the world. But the nature of man is not improved. Men have not become better as a result of all these Bibles being printed. Now how many are read and how many are believed? How many are revered as the inerrant Word of God? The world would never come to conversion by the mere preaching of men.

Satan is more active than before. His time is short. This misunderstanding of the world’s conversion process led to the rapture theory and movements like “Left Behind,” the Timothy LaHaye series, or “The Late, Great Planet Earth” in the 20th century. The rapture teaches that Christian believers who are still alive will rise along with the resurrected dead believers into heaven and join Christ.

The truth is... You know something, brethren? The truth is so simple. When I take a look at what the truth is, I say, “I can’t believe it’s this simple.” It’s meant to be understood by everybody, by all of us. The Holy Days give context as to what and when is the chronology of events leading to Jesus Christ.

The Holy Days are not just a series of events happening in mankind’s existence. It’s also chronology, a timetable of how things will take place. And we understand through the Holy Days what event has to take place as a precursor to another event. It all becomes very clear and very simple. And one thing I find that being here at the Feast of Tabernacles, I’m meeting people from every decade of my life who’ve been faithful in understanding these things and are reliving this and celebrating it year by year by year, reinforcing it, and teaching it to their children.

The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes, pictures, the return of Jesus Christ, the stone. As King of kings, He returns. A dramatic moment.

Next, the Day of Atonement pictures a putting away of Satan. You’ve gotta get rid of him before you can go on further. You can’t have him just preaching to walking away, running away from you. He’s smart. He is powerful. His days are very limited. He’ll throw everything against us, which he has against the church, which we’ve seen. He would deceive even the very elect if it was allowed. Satan has to be chained. That is pictured by the Day of Atonement.

Then the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the establishment of the Kingdom of God, but you cannot have the Kingdom of God unless you have Christ return and Satan chained. It’s just that simple.

If you understand these three benchmarks, you understand the order of world events. And this is something that evangelicals have never been able to understand. You say, “It’s such effort, such work, actually such dedication,” but it was fatally flawed. It was wrong. All the festivals of God are a chronology of how God is working with mankind, starting with the smallest event size-wise, which is our redemption as individuals, the Passover, the Feast of the Passover, to Days of Unleavened Bread picturing living the life of Jesus Christ, to receiving the Holy Spirit, the Holy Days that are passed. And now, at the end of the year, we have the Fall Holy Days that picture the events of the future.

Well, let’s talk more now about the mountains imagery that’s in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 2, and there are several... And I love the subject of the Kingdom of God more than any other because it is so liberating. It is like the people huddled in central Amsterdam waiting for the invasion. That’s the way we should be feeling.

“In the last days,” verse 2, Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
American King James Version×
, “the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all, the most important place on the earth.” This feeds into right into what we were reading in Daniel. “It’ll be raised above the other hills and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.” I’m reading for the New Living Translation. I like the language. “Will stream there to worship.”

“People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There He will teach us His way and we will walk in His paths.’” But this is after Christ returns. This is not the work of men. This is after Jesus Christ has established Himself in Jerusalem.

“For the Lord’s teaching,” continuing, “will go out from Zion, His Word will go out from Jerusalem.”

Verse 4, “The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes.” They won’t be settled by the UN. They won’t be settled by the Rotary International. They’ll be settled by the work that emanates from Zion.

“They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” We’ve had derivatives of these passages that have been read in our sermons here.

Now, what is Zion, Mount Zion? Zion is a hill in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built on seven hills, and Zion is one of them. It started as the City of David. Its history goes back to 2 Samuel 5:7 2 Samuel 5:7Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
American King James Version×
. It is not the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is 900 meters, almost a kilometer, away from Mount Zion.

The term Zion appears in the Old Testament 152 times, almost as many times as the word prayer appears or the word grace appears. Mount Zion appears 152 times. Most of the occurrences come in the book of Isaiah, 46 times, and Psalms, 38 times, and seven times in the New Testament, which quotes from the Old Testament.

Zion refers to an expanded sense to the entire city of Jerusalem and even was combined with the Temple Mount from Zion as the capital and even referring to Jerusalem as Zion.

The way the word Zion was used and is used is the way that we sometimes use the term Capitol Hill or Washington, D.C., to refer to the whole nation. People say, “Now we hear from Capitol Hill.” Well, that refers to what we’re hearing from Washington, what we’re hearing from the president, from Capitol Hill, or from Congress. That’s what Zion means. Or from Number 10 Downing Street. “Number 10 Downing Street now is saying this.”

And Zion represented government. That’s where David originally lived. That’s where his house was built. The temple was some distance away, like almost a kilometer.

Okay. Let’s take a look at some other places as we circle back to the word Zion. Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 11:1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
American King James Version×
, this is the prophecy of the coming of Christ. Verse 1, “There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of His roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

“His delight is in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by the sight of his eyes nor by the hearing of his ears, but with righteousness. He shall judge the poor and decide with equity for the meek of the earth. He shall strike the earth with a rod of His mouth, and with a breath of His lips, He shall slay the wicked.” This is the collapse of the statue in Daniel 2.

“Righteousness,” verse 5, “shall be the belt of his loins, and faithfulness, the belt of his waist. The wolf,” which we have read several times, “shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with a young goat, the calf and young lion in fact link together, and a little child shall lead them.” And as we had on the old seal for the Worldwide Church of God, “In the world tomorrow,” which we added. “The cow and the bear shall graze. The young ones shall lie down together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole in the weed, and the child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.” A change of nature, from the nature of the world that we live in right now. “They shall not hurt, nor destroy in all My Holy Mountain.” In this mountain now that’s coming. That’s from the stone that comes from outer space.

“For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” But that is not just knowledge itself. It’s that mountain that fills the earth and makes this all possible.

The same thought is repeated in Isaiah 65:24 Isaiah 65:24And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
American King James Version×
, which I won’t read.

All imagery is proclaiming the Kingdom of God coming to this earth. And the world capital is Jerusalem.

Isaiah 9, which we also read continuously at the Feast, but I feel it is important to read again. People say, “Well, you’re using that scripture?” “Yeah.” “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t use it.” No, no, let’s all use the same scripture. If we all used the same Scriptures for every sermon, we’d be reinforcing it that many times more.

Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
American King James Version×
, “For unto us a child is born.” This was so well brought out yesterday. “Unto us, a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder.” Government. “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of increase of His government and peace, there will be no end.” This is very, very direct talk. This is not might or may or we hope. This is very direct talk about what will take place, about these prophecies are sure, as they were to Daniel, as he told Nebuchadnezzar.

“There will be no end upon the throne of David and over His kingdom to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord will perform this.” This is the Kingdom of God, from Daniel 2.

But also, there’s one more thing. I’d like to kind of shift gears here a little bit. The Kingdom of God was also the prime message of Jesus Christ. Why am I shifting gears? Because it sounds a little bit different. But we’ll see that it’s a very complementary message.

Christ’s keynote address. If you were to say, “What did He come preaching?” it’s very clearly stated in Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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, “Jesus came to Galilee,” Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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, “preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.’”

But here’s the issue. We’ve been told now that the Kingdom of God is a very powerful entity, this stone that fills the whole earth. Nations, kingdoms crumbling, being blown away like chaff of a threshing floor. But now we have the Kingdom of God being pictured in the preaching of Jesus Christ who says, “Repent. Believe this good news.” And He goes on to continue a ministry of three-and-a-half years in parables, illustrations, couched in Beatitudes, repentance.

How does this compute? What are we talking about and how can we put this together? How could we put together about this kingdom that will rule the entirety of the world with Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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? The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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. This was the beginning of Jesus’s longest sermon. Maybe His first. I don’t know. He covered a lot but He talked about what was necessary to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God.

“Blessed,” verse 3, “are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Poor in spirit? I thought we’re getting rid of these bad guys. I thought we got rid of Rocket Man. Now you’re telling us to be poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God?

Verse 5, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Verse 10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” the Kingdom of God.

He continues with parables that have to do with the mustard seed, something tiny, and something growing to becoming very large, but something that takes time. He talks about the leaven that leavens the whole lump, is something that fills all in all, but starts off very small and fills the batter. He talks about looking for a pearl of great price, of seeking and looking and trying to identify something that’s of value, finding it, selling all that you have so that you can buy something that is everlasting, or stumbling onto a treasure in the field and saying, “Oh, I can have that treasure if I sell everything I have and buy this plot of ground and I’ll have that treasure.” All these have illustrated the Kingdom of God.

And then Jesus Christ illustrated the Kingdom of God by the nature of children, not the nature of some macho people, boxers, fighters, heroes, warriors. He didn’t talk about how the Kingdom of God was represented by rulers of that time. “Let the little children come to Me,” in Mark 10. We’ll be having the blessing of children here shortly after the Feast. “And don’t forbid them.”

Even the apostles who were around Jesus said, “Get these kids out of here. Jesus, you got big things to talk about. Take their moms, take them away. They are a nuisance.” “No, no,” Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them, for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

We saw 60 little children here singing beautifully. Of such is the Kingdom of God. The innocent faces, desiring to produce in a loving way.

“Assuredly,” Mark 10:15 Mark 10:15Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
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, “I say to you whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” So, we better listen carefully. And then He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them, because of such is the Kingdom of God.

Are we talking about the same kingdom? This kingdom that’s toppling empires, and yet it’s a kingdom that talks about a broken spirit inside repentance, seeking for something of great value and selling all that you have?

Daniel, Isaiah, Micah, and others told us what the Kingdom of God was. Jesus tells us what it takes to inherit the Kingdom of God. He talks about the fact that it’s at hand, it’s available, it’s being offered to you, to all of us. The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ tell us what you need to know in order to be in that kingdom. We’re not called upon to become spectators of all the graphic prophetic events that will take place and just cheering on, “There goes China finally. No more corruption. There goes Russia, those liars. Good on you.” No, we will have something to do... we all have something very, very important to do. And we’ll see God’s mind in both cases and how He works with putting a stop with the invasion, to put an end to the madness of human civilization, because if He wouldn’t step in, it would be gone. And now, the genesis of a new civilization, based upon righteousness and truth.

We’re not called upon to be spectators. We’re called to become participants in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus Christ came preaching the kingdom of God, He says, “It’s at hand. Here it is. Here it is.” Natural to reply, “Well, what do I do?” Repent and believe in the gospel. Christ, who is the stone, will return with the saints.

In the same book of Daniel we were reading, Daniel 7, is a very important clue to this particular dynamic. Daniel 7:17 Daniel 7:17These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
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, “The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever.” Daniel 2 didn’t speak about all the saints, that part of it, but in Daniel 7, the people, the holy people of God, will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever.

That’s why you’re here preparing for the Kingdom of God, which is a subject which is not only prophetic as to the whole chronology of what will take place. People are oftentimes very interested in the prophetic events. What’s gonna have to happen before Christ returns? But that’s only half the question. “What are you going to have to be doing to be in that kingdom?” is the other side of the question, which is probably even more important.

Revelation 1, “To Him who loved us and walked us from our sins in His own blood has made us kings and priests to His God and Father. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” We’re called upon to be made kings and priests to that kingdom, and there are whole sermons that are given about that hierarchy, if you will, of what will take place in the future.

Let’s get back to Mount Zion. Hebrews 12 gives us a clue because the subject of Mount Zion was very, very prevalent. It’s mentioned so many times. As I said, more than 150 times. Paul writes, Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:22But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
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, “You have come to Mount Zion.” You, the people he’s writing to. “To the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect.” We are called to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, but it’s a mount, to be working with an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn. Mount Zion is also the church.

We haven’t spoken about this much of late. In fact, I had to kind of dig it out of my files, out of my brain here as I was preparing this sermon. And one time we talked about the fact that the church is the embryo of God’s Kingdom. How many remember that being said? I’d like to see the hands. The church is the embryo of God’s Kingdom. We need to be saying that more. This is where it starts. That’s why God has called us to the various assemblies around the country, to prepare this embryo, which began as a sperm and an egg and is developing into a fetus, growing slowly. This is that mustard seed.

The church is the embryo of God’s Kingdom. These are the kings and priests. These are the holy people of God. These are the ones who will rule the earth. See, it’s a beautiful story. It’s not just about power. It’s about eternal righteousness of God and how this new civilization will function and run.

1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
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. See, Paul understood this. Peter understands this as well. 1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
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, “We’re coming to Him as to a living stone rejected indeed by men.” That’s interesting. It uses the imagery of this stone. What is the stone? The stone is that stone that became the great mountain. And he makes reference because he quotes almost exactly Psalms 118:22 Psalms 118:22The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
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. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” referring to how Christ was rejected. But now He’s the chief cornerstone in this Zion, which we’ll be reading about here.

“But chosen by God and precious.” This is continuing in 1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
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. “You also as living stones...” Christ is that stone that came out of wherever it came from. Not made from human hands. We are also living stones as part of that. “Are being built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture.” And this he quotes from Isaiah 28:16 Isaiah 28:16Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste.
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, “Behold, I lay in Zion, a chief cornerstone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, elect, precious, for he who believes in Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe He is precious, but to those who are disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

God is laying in Zion, Mount Zion, this mountain, this New Testament mountain, a chief cornerstone. And we are part of that, part of those living stones.

Verse 8, “And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumbled, being disobedient to the Word to which they were appointed. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but have now obtained mercy through God’s graciousness.” Through God’s grace, we have been called into this particular role.

We are invited, you are invited, you are being given engraved invitation to be part of that mountain, that kingdom, and that culture that comes from above.

It’s interesting too that our being circumcised is described in these terms by Paul in the book of Colossians, because it really has to do with where it comes from. Colossians 2:10 Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
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, where the apostle Paul talking about everything we need to know about Christ. We’re complete. We don’t have to have knowledge from outside sources or from the pagans or from gentiles. “You are complete,” Colossians 2:10 Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
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, “in Him, who is the head and of all principality and power. In Him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands.” Our conversion, what we have become, is something not made from human wisdom and knowledge, but something from outside of us, from God. Just like that stone cut out without hands is not something from men.

By putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, God is calling and molding us now into a kingdom of priests to serve His purposes. Count me in. How many wanna be in? I wanna see hands. Okay. Good. There will be a time when the Kingdom of God will be the mountain of God that fills the entire world.

One of my favorite Scriptures is 1 Corinthians 15:28 1 Corinthians 15:28And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
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. “There will come a time, when all things,” 1 Corinthians 15:28 1 Corinthians 15:28And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
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, “when all things are subjected to Him.” See, right now, we’re occupied. We’re in the 6,000 years of Satan’s occupation. This is not His world, but there will come a time when all things are subjected to Him, to Christ. Then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all. There will be no part of the universe, there will be no part of any life that’d be outside the Kingdom of God that is built upon the righteousness that we talked about.

Well, what are we to do right now? Where are we at right now? This is where I want to conclude. Don’t be deceived. We still have a few more minutes. What are we to do right now? One of my favorite verses is Isaiah, again, about the mountain of God. Isaiah 52:7 Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that said to Zion, Your God reigns!
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, another mountain verse. Isaiah 52:7 Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that said to Zion, Your God reigns!
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, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaim salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Isn’t this what we are doing? Doesn’t this describe the gospel preaching proclamation work that we’re to be doing? Good news. Good news means gospel. Proclaims peace. We talk about how to get to peace. We don’t always know how to do it, but we know how to say it. Who brings glad tidings, same thing. Good news. Of good things, grace of God. Who proclaims salvation, that’s good news. Who says your God reigns, talking about the future rulership of Jesus Christ that we are talking about.

Look more in verse 8. “Your watchmen...” Aren’t we called to be watchmen, doing some of the work of Ezekiel, the watchman work? “Your watchmen shall lift up their voices. With their voices, they shall sing together, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion.”

The importance of the Kingdom of God is the structure and the foundation it’s built on. First of all, you gotta scrape off the old, but what you build on has to be righteous.

“Break forth into joy, sing together,” verse 9. “You waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted encouraged His people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of the nations. And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isn’t that what we want to accomplish through our work? Of course, it is. It’s preaching the gospel, caring for the people that come to understand it.

We preach the gospel to the world. Our two-fold job is to preach the gospel and to all the world, not necessarily to make converts. I’m sometimes wondering how in the world are we going to grow as a church? I don’t think that that’s our main purpose, is to preach the gospel to the world. Like they said, if you want people to like your preaching, tell them how to sell ice cream. Do something that’s fun. Our job is not always the most pleasant. The job of repentance is not the most pleasant. Our job is to care for the people whom God has called.

And as I travel around the churches and talk to people here who are elderly who have been here for 40, 50, 60 years... One of the people in Jamaica at the Feast there, actually the American who was there, has been baptized 63 years, decade after decade after decade. We also have new people. We have children coming along. Our job is to care for these people through the various decades, and we’re doing that through the various ways that we preach the gospel, the various tools of television, the magazine literature, internet podcasts, whatever tools we have that we’re doing, and our wonderful ministry. Of all the Churches of God, we have the most dynamic and viable ministry of all.

Our work is small. I don’t claim that we have a huge work. But we should not shrink away from the vital commission of going into all the world and preaching the gospel.

Still feel like the big work is yet to be done, the biggest days are ahead of us. Will it happen in my lifetime? Will it happen in the lifetime of our young adults, our children? I do know that there will be a work that will be seen around the world before Christ returns. This gospel shall be preached into all the world, and then the end will come. Yet we are still right now part of something bigger and greater that God is doing.

I’d like for you to turn to Revelation 10, because there is a great work that will be done that will be noted, “The Two Witnesses.” This will be an extension of our work. I do not know who these two witnesses are, but I do know that they have a very, very drastic effect on the minds of the world. They have what the world understands: power.

Revelation 10:11 Revelation 10:11And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
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, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Then Chapter 11, verse 1, “I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days closed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees, and I’m actually referring back to Zechariah 4:2 Zechariah 4:2And said to me, What see you? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are on the top thereof:
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, where the two witnesses are prophesied and the two lampstands who stand before God.

“If anyone wants to harm them,” verse 5, “fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies.” That’s very helpful in getting your point across.

“And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. They have power to shut heaven so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over water to turn them to blood and to strike the earth with all plagues as often as they desire.”

There’s going to be something much greater and bigger before Christ returns. I don’t know how. I have no idea how this will take place.

But when they finished their testimony after three-and-a-half years, “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit...” Satan, who is just as angry as all get out, this is his last convulsion of anger, contempt for anything good in God. “He will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.” Actually succeeds in killing the two witnesses. “And their dead bodies will lie in the city, in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also the Lord was crucified.” In other words, Jerusalem. “Then people from all the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and will not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.” This will be a spectacle to the whole world. They’ll see them. They’ll be seeing them on their phones. They’ll have an eyewitness cam, you know, that’ll be on them for three-and-a-half days.

“And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another,” give high fives to one another. “We got rid of these people.” Do you think that preaching a powerful message is going to convert people? No, not even in conditions like this. This message is converting I don’t know how many, but it appears that they’re still viciously opposed to the truth.

Verse 11, “Now after the three-and-a-half years, the breath of life from God entered them and they stood on their feet and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then intervention will come from God.” It’s a whole series of events that takes place in the book of Revelation, but it’s already referred to. “Unless those days were shortened of this crazy civilization, this humanity of what it’s come to, there’ll be no flesh saved alive.” Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
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.

So, brethren, let us come up to the mountain of the Lord, a mountain of salvation, a mountain of redemption, of purpose, answers, peace, a new environment, all these things that you see people wanting to correct and fix on this earth. Nothing is working, not working. It’s all failing. But the mountain of the Lord will fix this. First of all, by scraping off the old and bringing in the new in the way that Jesus Christ spoke of. And the Kingdom of God is at hand for you. You have all been invited to be a part of it. It begins with repentance, a change of heart and mind. That’s the way that Christ began His ministry and those are the words that were spoken at the start of the New Testament Church.

Isaiah 25:6 Isaiah 25:6And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make to all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
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, which was beautifully sung for us today in the services, “And in this mountain,” verse 6, “the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, the blindness, the inability to see, the fog, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever. And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. The rebuke of His people He will take away from the earth, for the Lord has spoken. And in that day,” verse 9, “will be said, ‘Behold, this is our God. We have waited for Him and He will save us. This is the Lord. We have waited for Him. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain, the hand of the Lord will rest.’”

Let’s be thankful. Let’s be very, very thankful for this and the preparation for this. So, are you ready for the mountain of God? Have you come to Mount Zion? Do you understand Daniel 2? Does that give you comfort? It gives me comfort because I know that’s how things are gonna work out. But I also know what I have to do, and that’s governed by the ministry of Jesus Christ.

The last the mountain I want to refer to is in Psalm 15, which is what I gave as an entire sermon at the Feast four years ago. “Lord, who is going to abide in Your tabernacle in Your holy hill?” Psalm 15, “Who’s gonna be living in this holy mountain? He who walks uprightly, who works righteousness, speaks truth in his heart. He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend. In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He who swears to his own hurt does not change. He who does not put out his money for usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. He is the one who will dwell on God’s holy hill.”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Comments

  • stevenson
    Thanks for the sermon Panama City beach. Me and my wife are injoying them very much. As we can not attend as my wife health and in a wheelchair. stirling Scotland love from the stevenson brother and sister in Christ
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