Ascension Sunday May 28, 2017
2 Samuel 7:11-16
341, 216, 221:1-3, 221:5-6
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Prayer of the Day (Collect): Grant we pray, almighty God, that even as we believe Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind ascend and continually dwell there with Him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Also the LORD tells you that he will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of many of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.
THE PLANS OF THE KING
Dear fellow redeemed by our risen and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ,
See if you can finish these psalm verses that were written by King David.
I was glad when they said to me… “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” (Ps 122:1)
LORD, I have loved the habitation of… Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells. (Ps 26:8)
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: …
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. (Ps 27:4)
“…Zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (Ps 69:9)
King David loved going to church. From the God-breathed psalms he wrote, we learn that he loved even the THOUGHT of going to the LORD’s house. His love of the LORD and worship of the LORD was so great that it embarrassed his wife, Michal, as he danced before the LORD with all his might as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem.
As David settled into being king over Israel and built himself a palace, this love of the LORD and love of the worship of the LORD led him to devise a plan. He told his pastor Nathan, “See now, I dwell in the house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” (2 Sam 7:2) When King David brought the ark to Jerusalem he had prepared a tabernacle, a tent structure, to place the ark within. To David this did not seem right. David felt that the LORD deserved better and wanted to start a church building project.
What was Nathan’s reply? “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” Great idea! Go for it! Nathan could think of no reason why not. David’s heart was in the right place—he thought the living God deserved a better place of worship than inside tent curtains. The King had a plan and the prophet said to go for it!
How many times haven’t we been in a similar situation? Our zeal for the LORD leads us to devise a plan. A plan that comes from a believing heart which loves the LORD. In our church body, we can think of several churches that are trying to open or re-open a Christian Day School. Or, what about that mission congregation that is trying to find a permanent worship structure. Or maybe St. John’s in Clarkston, Washington that has opened a Christian Day School with the plan of offering a Christian High School, College, and Seminary in the future.
Which one of us hasn’t prayerfully, thoughtfully, and lovingly made plans which did not violate Scripture and come from our zeal for the LORD and His worship? We can hear the Prophet Nathan’s response, “Go! Do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you!”
While the Prophet Nathan told the King to go ahead with his plans, that was not the LORD’s will for King David. “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle.” To King David, having the ark of the LORD in a tabernacle was too humble of a dwelling place for Almighty God. David thought that God needed a grander, more glorious dwelling place. Yet that was not the LORD’s will.
The LORD had a different plan for King David—which we find in the words of our text. The LORD said to David, “The LORD tells you that HE will make YOU a house!” Rather than David’s plans to build a house of cedar for the LORD, the LORD would build David a house. “I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” Rather than David doing something for the LORD, the LORD promises to do something for David. “Your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” The LORD promises that from David’s lineage, an eternal King would come. This is the promise of the Messiah, the Savior of the World.
Like the Ark of the LORD residing in the humble tent-of-worship, the fulfillment of the LORD’s promise to King David would not look all that glorious to the naked eye. From David’s seed, a humble virgin named Mary, from a no-nothing town of Nazareth, a Child would be born. His first bed was an animal’s food trough. His ministry only lasted 3 years and was marked by rejection. Among His most notable disciples were uneducated fishermen and hated tax collectors. He was rejected by the religious leaders of the day and condemned to death by crucifixion by the powers that be. So inglorious was this Seed of David, that He didn’t even have His own burial plot and His corpse was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Like the Ark of the Covenant inside tent curtains, it seems that the promised Seed of David deserved a better life and dwelling than of that which Jesus of Nazareth experienced.
Yet what does the LORD remind us in Isaiah 55? “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” This humble Seed of David was not just A Son of Man, but the eternal and almighty Son of God. When the Word was made flesh and dwelt (literally, pitched his tent) among us, He was establishing an eternal reign. Through His humiliation, He was conquering our sin. His miserable death on the cross, was to pay the debt to God for our transgressions. By the cross, He was crushing Satan underfoot. And from that humble, borrowed tomb Christ rose and overcame death forever.
40 days after Easter, on Ascension Day, we find the humble Seed of David ascending to an eternal throne in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:21-23) This is the consummation of the Building project that the LORD was planning for King David. The Son of David, Jesus Christ, would ascend to the right hand of the Father where He would rule not just over a piece of real estate, but over all of Creation for the good of His Church. The plans of the King of kings was much greater than the plans of the King of Israel.
We often make god-pleasing plans. Sometimes they do not come to fruition. Christian Day Schools have not always opened as planned. Mission congregations haven’t always found a permanent worship facility. What can you add to this list?
Whatever the plan was, even prayerfully approached, which doesn’t violate God’s Word, when it doesn’t work out, remember the plans of King David. As godly as they were, God said no, because HE, the LORD, was going to do something much greater for David, than David could ever do for Him. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11) Keep Ascension Day in mind knowing that great David’s greater Son is ruling all of creation for your good and the good of His Church. And because He rules over all creation, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28) Eternal praise to the King of kings! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.