King of Immanuel

“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭37‬:‭24‬-‭28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God deemed that there is no hope in the people of Israel and decided to promise a new covenant. He told them that the new covenant will be unlike the covenant He made with them on Mount Sinai when He brought them out of Egypt, and on the day the new covenant is established that they will know Him. Previously He spoke to them through the prophets, saying that they are perishing because they lack the knowledge of God and, therefore, they must press on to know God. And now He is telling them that when the new covenant is established, they will know God. They will experience God. They will know God as ones who experienced Him so that they will no longer need to be told to know God.

But what else will happen on that day? He makes them think about something they never thought of before. He says He will give them a king – that David will be their king. But David died long ago, so what does He mean by David? But just as David was promised that the one who succeeds him on the throne will be king forever, God was speaking about a king that will succeed David’s throne.

In other words, all these things will take place when this king appears. Until then, the people would not have had any anticipation about such a king. But God continued to prophesy through the prophets about the king who would come on that day. So, finally, people started yearning for the day when God will be one with them, which will be the day that this king appears. So they waited for the day this king David would appear. Only when that king appears, all things will be restored, the promise of God will be fulfilled, and the kingdom of God will be established. Thus, they began waiting for this king. They longed for the king David.

When Jesus came, the people sought Him, saying, “He who comes in the name of David!” They called Him “Son of David!” So, was Jesus the One? Was He the Messiah? Was He the One who will restore Israel? Even up to the moment Jesus was resurrected and entered heaven, people could not even think about these things, let alone imagine He would go into heaven. They kept asking Him when the kingdom of Israel would be restored. Their interest was on when their nation would be liberated from the Roman Empire and become an independent country like it was during David’s reign. But the Lord said to them, “That is not for you to know. It is none of your concern.”

In other words, He was telling them not to be concerned about earthly matters but rather be mindful of the things of heaven. He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be My witnesses.” By this, He said that the kingdom of Jesus Christ, namely the kingdom of God, would come. He said, “If I drive out demons by the Holy Spirit, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Also, when Jesus came, it was said of Him, “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Furthermore, He said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” In this way, we have come to be those who work for His kingdom and His righteousness. A king and His kingdom are inseparable. So they started longing for the king who was to come.

What else did He say would happen when that king came? They will have one shepherd. Their king and shepherd will be one. To be their king means to be their shepherd. A shepherd who guides them, One who will protect them with all His life. Then they will walk in His judgments and statutes and do them; they will dwell in the land forever. “My servant David will be their prince forever.” These are not just empty words. He is prophesying about a king who will come, one that will be king forever. And on that day, a new covenant will be made. What is that new covenant? He says a new covenant of peace. An everlasting covenant. He will establish that covenant and will fulfil it. So what would happen as a result of the fulfilment of the covenant? His sanctuary would be in their midst. His dwelling will be in their midst.

The promise God made with Abraham is Immanuel – that He would be with them. Put differently, this means His sanctuary will be among them. This is not an abstract idea like how a person might say, “My late mother lives still in my heart.” His sanctuary is surely in their midst, and He actually dwells with them. So Immanuel is a reality. He said His tabernacle will be in their midst forever. And these words were fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Despite man disappointing God repeatedly, He sent a king like David to establish a new covenant with man – a covenant of peace – rather than holding man accountable. What was His reason for doing that? Even though man did sin, man was manipulated. Man was not the origin of sin; man was also deceived. Thus, God wanted to forgive man and give a second chance.

Until this time, the devil’s identity was not exposed. Although the Old Testament does not explicitly explain the relationship between man and the devil, that man was completely ruled by the devil, since God knew about it, He was determined to save man, not holding man accountable for it all. Hence, He wanted to make a new covenant with man, which could only be fulfilled when King David came. What was King David to do when He came? What does a shepherd do? He has to rescue the sheep from the mouths of wolves and tigers. Who is that wolf and the tiger? It is the devil. So when the Shepherd, the King comes, He will rescue them from the enemy, from bear, and so on. In other words, rescue them from the devil. God’s plan was to rescue mankind from the devil and be with them, and put His sanctuary in their midst. This was finally accomplished. The prophets foresaw and prophesied about it, yet the people were unaware and thus, their hearts were still set on the earth.

But the prophecies were completely fulfilled through Jesus Christ amazingly. We are truly grateful. We were given this second chance because we were oppressed by the devil; we were manipulated by the devil. But all of this was within God’s plan of sending His Son to the earth. God uses everything. He uses the wicked and good. He abounds in wisdom and power to use both the wicked and the good for His plans. So how great and lofty are His plans! Sometimes, it appears as though God is doing nothing because His plans are so great.

When we look up at the moon in the sky and run in one direction, what happens? The moon follows us. We feel as though the moon is following us. But if another person were to look at the moon and run in the opposite direction, he would feel that the moon is following him. So, each person thinks the moon is following him and is on his side. Each person interprets things from his own perspective. But the moon is always in the same place. Why does each person feel like the moon is moving for them? Because it is so far away. It is just too high up.

In the same way, God is proceeding with His works. We can become human-centered and buried in the idea that God loves us and thinks selfishly. However, it cannot be taken for granted that God loves us the way He does today. It is actually preposterous that He loves us. But the reason He did what seems preposterous is because it is grace. If we take grace for granted, it is not grace at all. God is high up there. He is accomplishing His works and is able to utilize all things for that. In the process of that, He did not just abandon mankind but remembered us. Since man was manipulated, He gives man a second chance by changing the covenant so that we may have life. So we are grateful.

I think the greatness of God is displayed in the ministry also. A minister does not discriminate between a good person and a bad person and a righteous person but embraces them all for the work. It is for the edification of all. We might think of someone as a bad and wicked character and see no hope in him. However, with God, He will embrace him as long as he has the name of Jesus within him. And the minister has to do the same. If he eliminates certain people that he does not like and allows only “good” people or those that he likes, then although the church might seem harmonious and peaceful, the number of people will be just fifty all the time. People who are displeased will have to leave the church. But a large church cannot do that but embrace everyone. Hence, it is hard for the minister. He needs to be a vessel that can bear it all.

Thus, a ministry’s growth is not determined by a certain methodology of ministry; rather, the minister fundamentally needs to have the capacity to endure even those who oppose him. It is not a matter of methodology. The question is whether the minister is able to do that. Because God does so with the whole mankind. Even though people are mocking Christianity and mocking God, He lets them be. We might think that such people’s lips should be paralyzed whenever they speak against God. However, God does not do that but lets them be. Even those things will be used by Him in the end. Through all these things, God works for the good.

Thus, God is generous, and His thoughts are profound and vast, and He observes for a long time and waits. Even with people who mock Him in this way, He waits for them to believe in Jesus, deeming that they will be useful for something. He endures and embraces these people who have what appears to be atrocious character.

Therefore, we cannot brag or boast just because we have been saved or just because we are being used by God. It is not because we are something great that we are being used. He is letting us be. So we must not continue in our ways just because He lets us be, and nothing happens even if we do things our way. Do not be mistaken to think it is okay. No matter how evil your deeds are, you can keep going freely because God will let you be. Thus, we ourselves have to live by the word always. When people start thinking, ‘Oh, nothing is happening even if I do this. I’m okay,’ that is when they go on to having affairs, embezzlement and so forth. When they embezzle money, they expect something to happen, but nothing happens. So their misdeeds get bigger and bigger. Same with affairs. They start having an affair, and because they think they are safe, they get into it deeper and deeper. In order for that to not happen, we need to live by the word ourselves.

Let us acknowledge how God has bestowed His special grace on us. And as we read before, when such grace is shown, He expects people to follow and keep His judgments and statutes. He expects the ones that received grace to do them. So, if we receive grace, let us pray that we can be determined to obey the Lord’s word and obey. Let us pray.

Father God, we thank you for your grace, especially for those in despair. Since there is no way on our own, we are grateful that God has established a new covenant. In the name of Jesus Christ, who came in the lineage of King David, we thank you for making your dwelling place within us. Father God, all of this is solely by your grace, so please help us to live as those who have received grace. We have been blessed because you have been so patient for so long. Please help us also forgive those who sin against us and grant us to be more patient and embrace them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 21, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team