Having trouble making time for God? Maybe we can’t EVEN…make…time.
Hear the full audio of “God Makes Time Holy For You“
A sermon on Ezekiel 22:23-31 and Mark 2:27 / Midweek Advent 1 / 5 December 2018
“God Makes Time Holy For You”
Ezekiel 2:26; Mark 2:27
From the beginning, God makes time holy for you. God pronounces that time “holy” because the Lord God himself decides then to be present in His creation and at rest with His people. God sets such a time aside even in Eden, just so that together, He can be their God and they can be His people. There is no ‘doing’ on that day, for God’s work is done. He has created and supplied literally everything! The man and his wife need bring no covered dish or bottle of wine or a housewarming plant. Just come be with me, God says, and I will be here in creation with you. He walked with them, talked with them in the garden. The Lord calls that day when He comes in time to dwell with His people “holy.” His Word speaks it into being and by His Word, the Lord blesses that time:
“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, God rested from all His work of creation.” (Gen. 2:3). God was never too busy for them. God is never too busy for you. God makes time holy for you.
This is the first time God uses the Word “holy” in all of Scripture. The word holy is common enough in the Bible. We still use that old word because the Lord teaches us to say it and use it. God made everything good, indeed ‘very good’ once all was said and done. But God made time with His people better than good. God makes time holy. When the Lord speaks the the Word “holy,” he acts to set aside people, places and things reserved for Himself and His purposes. The Lord God makes time holy for you.
Typically, holiness is something only God’s people–especially His prophets and priests–ever care about. The godless need take no note of what God regards and deems as “holy.” For them, one day is pretty much like any other. The sun comes up on Saturday the same as it does on Sunday. The sun goes down on Wednesdays just like it did on Monday. The godless regard time as something that just exists, there’s no sacred meaning or purpose to it all. The godless measure time on their own terms. They pretend to be masters of their own destinies, not servants of the most high God.
Why should a God choose one day to set aside and bless it as holy for you? Why should we care? The godless do not care how God judges time. But God’s prophets should care. Holy Priests who serve the Lord should care about what is holy to their God. God’s holy nation, His chosen people ought to know the difference between what is holy to God and what’s common, what’s not holy at all. God’s sacred things should remain sacred to them.
Ezekiel shows us, sadly, even holy prophets and priests sometimes shirk their solemn, sacred duties. It’s bad enough when ordinary people do what is evil and wrong, life gets polluted by evil and people are corrupted, taking advantage of each other. However, it’s much worse when the preachers and servants of the Word no longer let God’s Word guide their own words and deeds. When those who serve God set God’s Word aside, others are impacted by it and soon follow suit.
Even in our day we see scandals where supposedly holy people, given to do holy things, in the holy name of God in stead do things so unholy and vile that even godless people are offended by it. The godly also are sorely tempted to reject God Himself and despise the Lord’s Church. So it was in the days of old. We are right to be angry with those who claim to be Christian and yet violate God’s Law and God’s people in the worst imaginable ways. God is right to be angry with those who deserve his judgment–it would be wrong and far out of character if he were not even more outraged than we are. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” Jesus says, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) Ezekiel thus is right to object in his day, too, and declare that the Lord will bring consequences upon such false prophets and negligent priests. Hear his words again:
“Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” (Ezek. 22:26)
Thats exactly what happens when priests don’t tend to their work of teaching like they ought. Such priestly negligence reflects upon God’s own person and reputation. “I am profaned among them,” says the Lord. What these so-called priests refused to practice and to teach never was learned or believed! So God’s own wisdom and honor are tarnished. His holy works go unknown. The result of their routine failure to teach the difference between what is holy and what is not is that people care less and less about God, fear no judgment, and receive less and less of those holy gifts God graciously provided for them. The poor people, young and old, don’t know God’s character and learn to rely and trust very little in Him. How can any be holy when they never even learn what God calls holy? “Violence,” God declares, is done to His Law. It is violated, twisted, defied, broken and misunderstood all around. God have mercy and spare us from such miserable priests! Yet they abound and are found commonly enough even in our day.
So faithful pastors, Christian parents and priests of God all alike should acknowledge and teach what is holy to God. When the Lord declares a thing holy, so shall we, if we are to follow his sacred command, “be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy.” You godly people, take note of those things your dear God declares holy. The first and greatest of these holy things taught to us in Scripture is that our God makes TIME holy for you! First of all, God designates a day as holy and sets it aside exclusively for being truly present with His people, resting with His people, enjoying fellowship with His people in peace.
We read in 1 Peter 2, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
This is a great mercy indeed, that God would visit us lost and condemned creatures here in his creation and make holy saints out of each one of you! God is pleased to visit with mercy in His appointed time to pardon us of every sin. You he calls out of darkness so you live no longer blind to what’s made holy for you. In a marvelous light, we behold our Creator’s own Advent right here in time, for you. Your Lord comes to name you his own children and heirs of His kingdom. Such a holy name as His own is sealed upon you.
He names you priest, and a holy one at that. He cleanses us from all our sin and made us worthy of so great a name as ‘priest’–his own servants called to holy tasks and to tend to holy things. To you he bestows the high privilege of service before God and his people. That calling may not be one you dare choose for yourself. Yet God in his wisdom and mercy knows no better name for his chosen people than “a royal priesthood.”
All of heaven rejoices in what Christ has done here in time, for you. They sang a new song in Revelation 5, just to praise and proclaim the excellencies of our Lord because of what He accomplished for us poor, miserable sinners. They sing in glorious harmony as they behold Christ, the Lamb of God: “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
As one holy, royal priesthood, hear now your Lord’s lovely decree. You are his holy priest, given holy gifts for holy service among his holy people. Enter into his courts with shouts of joy and come into his presence with thanksgiving! Your service includes offering yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. You are entrusted with holy privilege of prayer, offering the Lord intercessions and thanksgiving. According to your own station and calling in life, you are blessed such that your service will not be in vain! So the Lord is pleased to draw near to you, instruct you, prepare you, hear you, and bless you as you take up His name and do his will.
Because you are holy and precious in His sight, the Lord continues to call and gather you in holy places and times. He invites you to dwell with him right here, located quite precisely with Him in His creation! Here and now you receive from him mercy and everything necessary for you to stand tall once more in your own high office as his own priestly servants. Cleansed and blessed, offer then to him your acceptable gifts, holy and pleasing in his sight.
“And all this He does purely out of Fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me–for all which it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.” (Small Catechism, Meaning of the First Article of the Creed) Your God makes time holy for you–by grace He fills your days with sacred privilege to be of blessed value and worth before Him, as you serve one another in love. And often, my dear fellow priests, our Lord is pleased to see that we enter His rest here in time with Him and all the company of heaven. We gather again in his presence at his table. His work for us stands complete. His gift to us is himself, in his very body and blood, shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.
Christian, it is not our task to make a day holy. We cannot make any days, let alone make them holy by our efforts. But God’s Word creates our days, blesses them, and makes them holy for you all the time. God has made time for us, until we enter His eternal rest. At his Advent, rejoice Christian that for Christ’s sake, God the Father Almighty makes time holy for you. Amen.
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