Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Three Outposts, Your Mission: Study 2

The Three Outposts Through the Bible

Prayer: O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one time out of a thousand, when You contend with us; but with all our hearts we thank You, that You have taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Your dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it. We pray, graciously sustain us in faith, and so govern us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Your will, in neighborly love, service and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Your wrath, but always find in You a gracious Father; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

A History of the Three Estates in the Old Testament.

Creation and Fall
When God created Adam and Eve, Adam was the Spiritual, Civil, and Household authority. As spiritual authority he taught Eve how to regard the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As Husband and Spiritual authority he failed by not protecting his wife from temptation and by eating of the fruit of the tree himself:

Read Genesis 3, notice the order of who did what. Then notice how God addresses each in order in the curse.

The promise was given in Genesis 3:15, and so the faith in the Messiah was established. This is the Church.

When Cain slew his brother Abel he realized that he should be punished by being
put to death. But from that time up to the end of the Flood God prevented men from punishing each other with death. This is the realm of Civil Government.
Genesis 4

After the Flood God authorized the death penalty, and with it all civil punishments short of death.
Genesis 9:6

The Patriarchs
From Adam to Isaac the Patriarchs were the heads of Church, State, and Home. They established local autonomous governments, made alliances, offered sacrifices for their people, blessed their children, and led their families. In Jacob's lifetime the Hebrews became subjects of Egypt. At this time an officer of the State was no longer necessarily an officer of the Church and Home. Nor was he necessarily even a member of the Church or the Home.

The Exodus and the Period of Judges
During the Exodus Moses and his brethren, the Levites, were selected out for both Church and State offices. Aaron and his sons were to be priests. The offices for the Church were now distinguished clearly from the office of the Home. Where the Moral Law applies to all mankind, the Ceremonial Law applied only to the Church and was administered through the service of the Priests.

Civil government was also maintained as distinct from the Home. Moses was the head of select men of each tribe who were to function as civil judges (Exodus 18). The Moral Law applies to all mankind, but the Civil Law given through Moses applied only to the Church under the Old Covenant until the Messiah would come to fulfill it.

At this time and for the Children of Israel the law for both Church and State were given by God from Mt. Sinai. Through Moses God laid special heavy emphasis on the duty of the Home to train children in the Word of God (see esp. Deut. 6).

It was the duty of the Priests to appeal to God on behalf of the people, and the duty of the judges to administer justice and punishments to lawbreakers.

The United Kingdom
Toward the end of the life of Samuel, the people of Israel rejected God as their king. As God had foretold (Deut. 17) they sought to set up their own king like the peoples around them, rather than have judges established by God first through Moses. Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin was selected. In this period the office of Civil government was shaped to the will of the people, contrary to the will of God. God tolerated this and showed His approval of one man for the job by anointing Saul and giving him the gift of prophecy.

Proverbs contains a wealth of passages which teach the special relationship within the Three Estates. In your own reading set aside some time to study Proverbs. Mark each passage with a letter that highlights the outpost it refers to. Use C for Church, S for State, and H for Home. Not all the passages in Proverbs will need marking. But note how in the book of Proverbs it is the Family that teaches the children about the Church and the Civil authorities as well as about the common every day life and morality of a family member.

The Divided Kingdom
When the kingdom divided after Solomon's death, there were very few God fearing kings in Judah, and none in Israel. God chose kings of gentile nations to rule over His people. Sennacherib of Assyria took Israel in the late 8th century B.C. Israel perverted the estate of the Church right after Solomon died.

The chief sin of the first Israelite king is spelled out explicitly several times in the Old Testament:

"Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam." (I Kings 13:33-34)

The Babylonian Exile
Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon took Judah in the early 6th century B.C. As in Israel, the kingdom of Judah worked very hard to remove the right worship of God from the face of the world. It lasted longer as a kingdom for the sake of the few God fearing kings who worked to reestablish the right worship of God.

In both cases God had told the people of those kingdoms to repent and submit to their new civil authorities or face harsh consequences. In both cases the people tried to have their own way -both in religion and in civil government- rather than God's way. And in both cases, God won.

In the exile there was no sacrificial system. The priesthood could not do its duty. God declared this a Sabbath for the land. The promised land was having a 70 year rest from its labor under the ungodly rulers and people of Israel and Judah.

The priesthood existed during the exile. Prophets taught God's Word during the exile. Civil government was headed by foreign kings, some of whom apparently became believers. Even some of the children of Israel became leaders in this foreign government. Believers held high offices. And, on various occasions, their confession of faith was the basis for threats to their lives.

Upon the return from exile, the true Church estate was reestablished along with the rebuilding of the Temple through a Levite named Ezra. But, except for a brief moment in the Intertestamental Period, the people of Israel never again were granted the highest Civil authority.

After the close of the Old Testament Canon the Three Estates faced challenges from the geopolitical and religious movements that occurred up to the time of Christ's incarnation.

Our Outposts in the Three Estates in Worship
How do we confess the Three Estates in our outpost in our congregations? After the sermon we pray this ancient prayer. As we read through this prayer write down on the page which outpost you think we are bringing before God in prayer.

The Prayer of the Church
P: Everlasting and merciful God, we beseech You in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:
C: To have mercy upon us and to hear our prayer.
P: Look in mercy upon Your Church. Protect it and sanctify it by Your truth. May Your Word be taught in its purity and Your Sacraments be rightly administered. Grant unto Your Church faithful pastors who shall declare Your truth with power and live according to Your will. Send forth laborers into Your harvest and open the door of faith unto all unbelievers and unto the people of Israel. In mercy remember the enemies of Your Church and grant to them repentance unto life.
C: O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear us in the truth of Your Salvation.
P: Let Your protecting hand be over our country and over all who travel. Prosper what is good among us and bring to naught every evil counsel and purpose. Protect and bless Your servants, the President of the United States, the Governor of this state, our judges and magistrates and all in authority. Fit them for their high calling by the gift of Your Spirit of wisdom and fear, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
C: Hear, O Lord, and have mercy! Lord be our helper.
P: According to Your promise, O God, be the defender of the widow and the father of the orphan. Relieve and comfort the sick and the sorrowful (especially our brother/sister ____ who is ill/grieving). Graciously help those who are assaulted by the devil and who are in peril of death. Be the strength of those who are suffering for the sake of Christ's holy name. Grand that we may live together in peace and prosperity. Bestow upon us good and seasonable weather; and bless us with upright Christian counsel in all that we undertake.
C: O Lord, be with all in trouble. Hear their prayers to the honor of Your Name.
P: We especially commend to Your care and keeping this Your congregation which You have bought with a great price. Keep from us all offenses and bind us together in the unity of Your holy love. Grant that the little ones who are baptized in Your name may be brought up in Your fear. At Your table give to those who there commune with You peace and life everlasting.
C: Let all rejoice who trust in You; let them shout for joy because You defend them.
P: In Your mercy look upon …... In Christ's name we pray.
C: Lord, in Your mercy hear our prayer.
P: Be merciful, O God, to all, according to Your great love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. When our final hour shall come, grant us a blessed departure from this world, and on the last day, a resurrection to Your glory.
C: Amen. Grant us Your peace, O Lord!