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Faith Bible Church, NY
August 7, 1994
The Man Who Knew His Destiny
Man’s Quest to Know the Future
Man has always wanted to know what the future would hold for him. He wants to know his destiny. The young child dreams about what he or she will be when they grow up. The young adult wants to know what job they will be able to get and who they will marry. Businessmen want to know what the economic conditions of the future will be. All of us have a thousand questions about what tomorrow may bring. What will the weather be like? Will the baseball strike happen? Will the Giants have a good season? Will the stock market go up or down? Who will win the coming elections? Will I get that job, or promotion, or raise? Will I get married? Who will my children marry? Will I have more children or grandchildren? Will be able to move into that dream house? Where will we retire? Will I stay healthy? Will I recover from being sick? When will I die? We would like to know the future so that we can plan our destiny.
There are legitimate means by which we seek to gain wisdom concerning the future so that we can plan for ourselves. Those in business do a lot of marketing research before they put a new product out, and that is wisdom. Wisdom is testing on a small scale what will happen before making an extensive investment. The purpose of single people dating is so that they can get to know each other well and from that project if that other person would be a good lifetime partner. People in search of a career can take tests that will help them determine what kinds of careers might interest them and what kind of pay scale each career might have. There is nothing wrong with seeking to apply wisdom in planning for the future. The excellent wife of Proverbs 31 planned for the winter and had her family prepared for when the snows came. A wise general carefully makes plans before entering battle (Prov. 24:6). The farmer plans for the winter by harvesting in the summer (Prov. 10:5). A builder plans carefully for the future before he begins his work lest he should not be able to finish and be found a fool. It is legitimate to predict and plan for the future by wisdom.
There are also illegitimate ways to try to try to determine what the future will bring. In every culture except Biblical Christianity there is some ritual by which people seek to predict the future. Zoroastrianism came up with several things including the Horoscope (409 B.C.). Down on Route 9 there is a house with a sign that advertises a fortune teller. Common methods of fortune tellers in our lands are Crystal Balls, reading Tarot cards, Palm reading and games like Ouija. Many other practices of divination also abound including numerology, bibliomancy (opening a book at random to see what it says, some people even treat the Holy Scriptures this way), sortilage (casting dice or lots), rhabdomancy (divining rods, etc.), and oneiromancy (interpretation of dreams). Other cultures have other means. Some involve sacrificing an animal, and then examining its entrails as a sign of the future. The Chinese would read tea leaves. The ancient Romans would use chickens. If the chicken was put in its cage and it ate its food greedily, this was a good sign. If it didn’t eat, that was a bad sign. It soon developed that if you wanted a good sign, you starved the chicken first .Of course if you starved them too much they would get sick and not eat. Apparently one counsel in the Punic Wars became frustrated and threw his hens overboard into the sea declaring, “Let them drink if they won’t eat.”
It has been estimated that 95% of all fortune telling is sheer nonsense or trickery with the remaining 5% being the manifestation of occultic power. I would think that the percentage of occultic power is much higher, but such practices often lead to foolishness such as with the chickens mentioned above. There are also cases like the Tomb of Eve near Jedda, Arabia which was visited annually by thousands of Muslims who, after dropping a coin in a slot, asked and received advice from “Eve” through a speaking tube. When this alleged mausoleum was ordered destroyed in 1927 the woman that had run the racket from an underground room retired with a fortune.
At best seeking to know your future by fortune telling is foolishness, but it can also be dangerous since you are involving yourself with the occult, the domain of Satan. You risk not only bad advice which will get you in all sorts of trouble, but demonic oppression as well that can destroy your sanity.
Should we be concerned about the future? Of course, for as C.G. Kettering said, “you will spend the rest of your life there.” But as we seek wisdom so that we can plan for the future, be sure and understand that your destiny depends on the choices you make and is ultimately determined by God’s sovereignty. There was a man who knew His destiny, and He was able to fulfill it because of His complete trust and submission to God the Father. That man was Jesus. Turn to Matthew 20:17-19.
Jesus has just concluded telling the disciples about what their destinies could be and about the nature of the kingdom of God, and that there is an equality within it because of God’s overwhelming grace. Now we find that He takes His disciples aside to tell them about His own destiny, what awaits Him when they arrive in Jerusalem.
And as Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.”
Remember that Jesus was in the area of Perea, East of the Jordan River, probably across from Jericho. He is now on His way to Jerusalem and maybe approaching Jericho at this time. From there it is south and then up the mountains on the road to Jerusalem lying some 20 miles away. Jesus has been telling His disciples ever since Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, (Mt. 16) what would happen when they got to Jerusalem. He told them again after the transfiguration and the healing of the demon possessed boy. Now Jesus takes them aside one more time and seeks to stress to them what will occur in only a couple of days. There would erupt a great time of suffering for Jesus.
Jesus had earlier said that He would suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes. Some of that was already beginning to occur with the constant challenges, tempts to trick Him into saying something wrong, that He has received from the scribes and Pharisees. But it was going to get a lot worse. When they got to Jerusalem, Jesus was going to be delivered to the chief priests and scribes who would condemn Him to death. He would be delivered up to the Gentiles, mocked, scourged and then crucified.
Let’s be honest, if that was to be your destiny, how would you react? That is not the sort of plan for your future that you would look forward too, is it? If that was to be your future you probably would not want to know your destiny. Yet here we find that Jesus knows that this is His destiny and He did not shy away from it. Yes, we know from Luke 22 that He prayed earnestly in the Garden the night before His crucifixion that if there were any other way that the Father would grant it. The anticipation of what was to come brought such emotional agony that He sweat great drops of blood. But Jesus knew that what would happen in Jerusalem was central to the Father’s plan, and as Hebrews says, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…,” and so He sought to do the Father’s will above all else.
Many in our day do not understand the centrality or the purpose of Jesus’ suffering. Some have thought it to be just another one of the tragedies of Roman imperialism taken out on an innocent but somewhat deluded Jewish teacher. Others do slightly better and see Jesus’ suffering as the great moral example, but without a purpose for the suffering, the example is an emotional, warm fuzzy without substance. Others understand that the suffering had something to do with sin and the redemption of the world, but that is seen more in terms of the price paid by Jesus to become a great religious leader than it being of personal effect.
But the truth is that Jesus suffering is central in God’s plan to redeem man from His sin. All of the Old Testament symbols and types demonstrated that the Messiah would have to die for the sins of a world that could never pay for those sins itself. Though it was predicted that none of the Messiah’s bones would be broken (Ex 12:46), it was also predicted that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Ps 11:12), deserted by His friends (Ps 13:7), pierced while on a cross (Ps. 22:16), given gall to drink (Ps 69:21), cry out in pain (Ps 22:1), and lots would be cast for His garments (Ps 22:18). Isaiah 53 predicts all these points. He is the “suffering servant.”
He was despised and forsake of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way, But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to Fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth: Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. But oppression and judgment He was taken away, And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured our Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah’s message is that the Messiah would suffer and pay the penalty of our sin in order to bring salvation, and that suffering must include His death. Our salvation has been called the “Scarlet Thread of Redemption” around whose thread all the rest of the Scriptures are woven. The penalty of sin is death and death has been required to pay for it. The sin of Adam and Eve brought about the death of an animal to make a covering for their nakedness. All the Old Testament sacrifices, both those Patriarchs and those required under the Mosaic Law were constant reminders of sin and its result, death. Blood sacrifices were required because as Lev. 17 says, “life is in the blood,” and it is the giving of the life that makes atonement. The central figure of redemption is the Messiah and His act of redemption was His suffering and death on the Cross. It is His sacrificial death that makes atonement for sin and brings redemption.
All that Jesus said would come true in just a few days time. All the Old Testament prophecies would be fulfilled. He would be delivered to the chief priest and scribes and His betrayal would be by one that feigned love for Him, Judas. The disciples would scatter out of fear. Then Jesus would be condemned to death. The Jews could not legally carry out that sentence, but they could pronounce Him worthy of it and try to convince the Roman government to carry out the verdict and that is exactly what happened. The Jewish religious leaders condemned Jesus and then turned Him over to the Roman government, represented by Pilate, in order for the death sentence to be carried out. They in turn mocked Him by placing an old purple robe on Him and after bowing down to Him in false homage, they would hit Him or spit upon Him. They then scourged Him and finally led Him up to Calvary and nailed Him to the cross upon which He died.
It is important to note that the Scriptures refer to Jesus’ sufferings before and during the crucifixion as plural, for the suffering He underwent was multifaceted. The physical pain itself was excruciating and felt on several levels: that sort of torture was one of the reasons the Romans chose crucifixion as the preferred method of execution of criminals and non-Roman citizens. In crucifixion a person actually suffocates. The body is hung in such a way that it collapses the chest cavity and you have to lift yourself up in order to take a breath. A person’s own body weight is used against them, hindering them from breathing. As the muscles tire and give out the shooting pain of the fatigued muscles makes it even more difficult to breathe and increases the agony. Add to this the fact that Jesus was nailed to the cross instead of tied. There is the piercing pain of the nails being driven through His hands and feet, then the tearing pain as the cross lifted up and dropped into its hole and the flesh is torn against the nails. Then there is the searing pain as that torn flesh continues to rub against the nails with every breath. Add to Jesus’ suffering the fact that He was scourged beforehand, often done to those who will be crucified as to ensure their death. The flesh is first lacerated by the whip (a handle with leather strips extending out and bits of stone where tied to the ends of the strips). And the scourging continued pieces of flesh worn be torn from the body, and often internal organs would be exposed. Such was the physical pain Jesus suffered.
But physical pain was only part of the agony, for there was also the emotional, mental and spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world, of being innocent, yet condemned. The pain of humiliation, of rejection, of unjust guilt, and betrayal. Then came that horrible moment when even the Father turned His back on the Son as He bore all of man’s sin in Himself. This pain far exceeded the physical pain, and there is good evidence in the blood and water that flowed out of His side after His death, that Jesus did not physically die from the crucifixion, but from a heart broken over the emotional grief He had to endure.
Jesus’s future was to go to Jerusalem to suffer, but that was not the end of His destiny, because He would also be raised up from the dead. Jesus would be glorified. It was for the joy of that glorification that Jesus endured the cross while despising the shame (Heb. 12:2). He became the “first born from the dead” (Col 1:18) among many brethren. He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father where He makes intercession on our behalf (Rom 8:34; Heb 10:12). He is the one before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil 2:10), the one who is found worthy to open the seals in Rev. 5, because He is the one of whom it is proclaimed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev 5:12). He is the lamp of heaven (Rev. 21:23)
Jesus future included the suffering, but His destiny was glorification and He achieved His destiny because He was completely submissive to the will of the Father (John 5:30). Jesus knew His destiny and He achieved it. What about you?
Your destiny can also be known. The apostle John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Your destiny does not have to be a mystery. In fact it is not. 1 John 5:12 puts it very plainly, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Your destiny is determined by your relationship to the Son of God.
Jesus said in John 3:14-21, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
What is your destiny? There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8;1), but those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation remain in God’s condemnation. Your destiny will either be heaven, or hell. If your name is in the book of life, it is heaven, if your name is not in the book of life, it is hell (Rev. 20:15). There is not an in-between, and after you die there is no second chance, and you have no idea when you might die, it could be this afternoon!
Your destiny is determined by the choices you make today. As one man put it, choices are the hinges of destiny. Where you say you want to go is not nearly as important as the direction you head off in today. Frederick Speakman put it this way, “The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny.”
If your destiny is to be heaven, then you have to set off in that direction today. Christianity is built off decisions made based on truth. Do you know the truth? Are you making your decisions based on the truth or on what you wish would be true?
Truth: Man is sinful, separated from God, and has not hope of eternal life in his own effort.
Truth: Jesus is God in human flesh who paid the price of man’s sin by His sacrificial death on the cross.
Truth: Jesus offers eternal life to all who “believe in Him”, in other words, those who seek His forgiveness and follow Him. His power to give eternal life is proved by His resurrection.
Truth: The Holy Spirit has been given to believers so that they may be able to live for Christ.
Decision: What will you do with Jesus Christ?
Decision: What will you do to follow Christ?
Decision: What will you do about those things in your life that currently hinder you in following Christ?
Your future here on this earth is uncertain to a large degree. You make daily decisions about how you spend your time, what you use your finances for, and what you let your mind dwell on. Those daily decisions are a reflection of your heart and eventually they determine your destiny. Do you love Christ? Or the things of this world?
In addition, Christians have enjoyed wonderful freedom in this nation since its foundation, but that could change. Jesus warned us that the world will hate those who love Him and true Christians could end up being persecuted even in this nation. How would you respon d? Would you trade your immediate future against your ultimate destiny? Would you deny Christ in order to avoid suffering? (Mt. 10:33). Or would you rejoice that you would be counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake? (Mt 5:11-12).
What will your immediate future hold? That is uncertain. What will your destiny be? That can be certain. I pray that it is or that you will make it certain today.
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