Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Seven Wonders of the World ]

Lonnie Branam
Jeremiah 2: 7-13

Jeremiah 2:12,13 says, “Be astonished, O heavens at this and be horribly afraid. Be very desolate, says the Lord. For my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters and hewn themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah described an event which was a marvel to the angels of heaven. Israel had changed gods, and the true God called on the inhabitants of heaven to be astonished at such a wonder. The prophet described the awful thing Israel did in poetic and symbolic language. He described the one true God as the fountain of living waters and the Baal gods of Canaan as broken cisterns that can hold no water. Israel forsook Jehovah for the Baal gods of Canaan. The message in this study is a take-off on Jeremiah's statement, “Be astonished O heavens at this!.” God considered this an amazing thing, a wonder hard to believe. You have heard of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. I want to talk to you about those seven wonders of the ancient world and then seven wonders in our present day world.

Curiosity is a natural human characteristic. All of us are attracted to wonderful sights. We smile at the Greeks whom Paul said spent all their time in nothing else but to see and hear some new thing. But we all have the same infirmity. We are attracted to the extraordinary, the abnormal, and the unusual. Like Israel we clamor for a sign, for some special evidence, some special religious experience, and for something out of the ordinary. The ancient Greeks and Romans were fond of travel and great buildings, and the people of ancient times delighted to talk to their children about the seven wonders of the world. As an introduction to more serious thoughts, let me refresh your memory on the famous Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The first of those olden wonders were the Pyramids of Egypt, and to this day they are one of the great wonders of the world. They were the tombs of the Egyptian kings, and they were related to Egyptian idea of the spiritual world. Several of the ancient wonders were related to the spiritual realm. Interestingly, they are the only one of the Seven Wonders still in existence. We are told it took the labor of 100,000 men 20 years to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

The second wonder was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They bloomed like a living green miracle in that desert city. It was a series of terraces planted with flowers, shrubs and trees. King Nebuchadnezzer built the gardens for his princess to make her feel at home. She formerly lived in the mountains. The third wonder was the 40-foot


statue of ivory, gold, and precious stones of the Greek god Zeus seated on his throne in Olympia, Greece. It was carved by Phidias for the site of the original Olympic games in the 400's B.C. His eyes of fiery precious gems made him to seem like a living god to the ancient Greeks. The fourth was the great temple of Diana at Ephesus. that covered nearly two acres. This temple is referred in Acts 19:27. It was 400 feet long, 60 feet high, and it's gigantic roof was supported by about 100 verticle marble pillars, sixty feet high. Nothing remains but a few broken remains, but it is still one of the tourist attractions of Christians.. The fifth wonder was the tomb of a wise King by the name of Mausolus in Halicarnassus, a city in Asia Minor. This Mausoleum was 140 feet high and was built by His Queen to honor his memory. The word mausoleum comes from the name Mausolus. The sixth wonder was the Colossus on the Island of Rhodes, a l05 foot statue that portrayed Helios, the sun god. Form its name comes the English word Colossal. The seventh was the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt. It stood 400 feet high and its beacon guided seamen for some 1500 years. Such were the sightseeing wonders of the ancient world, and they are all gone but the pyramids of Egypt. Today, there are many natural and man-made wonders that attract people all over the world.

These seven wonders of the natural world suggest to my mind seven far greater wonders of our present-day world. There are numerous wonders that should attract our interest in the spiritual world, and they are far more wonderful than any of these ancient wonders of old. There are some things here touching our relations with the spiritual world which must fill the angels with wonder. I must discuss these wonders with great brevity and only suggest them to your minds for further study. . One of the great wonders in the spiritual realm was the angelic rebellion in heaven sometime in heaven before the creation of the universe.. This wonder is far more ancient than any of the Seven Wonders just discussed. The Apostle Peter by inspiration said, “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”(2 Peter 2:4) Some angels had to leave heaven, and some were allowed to stay, but what a wonder that must have been to those unfallen angels who remained in heaven. This must have greatly diminished the inhabitants of heaven. We observe this wonder by faith, and the Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” When God says that something happened, scientific proof is not necessary. God's word supercedes scientific considerations. This happened before man existed. It is a wonder of wonders that angels who lived in the very presence of God would have dared to sin. How such high and holy beings could be persuaded to sin


is a matter of the greatest astonishment. An even greater wonder is why God allowed these fallen, sinful angelic beings to influence and harass the inhabitants of earth. We cannot say for certain why God allowed this to happen, but we can believe He had an important reason for doing so. It is a wonder of wonders to believers and unbelievers alike. It is such a stupendous wonder that the only part of the human family that believes there was an angelic rebellion are those who believe the Bible is the word of God. However, this happening is put beyond dispute by Jesus Himself who verified the fact of the angelic rebellion. Jesus said the place called hell was originally planned for the Devil and his angels.

Another wonder in the spiritual realm is something in the Bible called the eternal purpose of God. This marvel is opened up to our vision in Ephesians 3:8-11, “To me, who am less than the least of all saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What this says is that it was God's eternal purpose to use the New Testament church to make known to the angels in heaven the magnificent and many-faceted wisdom of God. That is an astonishing revelation. God is using the Christian religion to help the angels to understand how wise God is. This wonder is related to the first wonder in that both happened in eternity before the universe came into existence. It is called God's eternal purpose because God formulated it and planned it in eternity, some time before the creation of the world. The popular view in the world today that the universe was not created but was only an accident produced by the laws of nature is as far away from the truth as the human mind can get. In my considered judgment, based on the study of the Bible, God created the universe in order that His eternal purpose might be accomplished. It required a material universe.

Furthermore, one of the main features of God's eternal purpose is revealed in Ephesians 1:10 and is expressed in these words, “That He might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven and which are in earth--in Him.” God's idea, planned in eternity, was to to increase the inhabitants of heaven with a new race of beings. It appears


God's idea was to form a united family in heaven consisting of the holy inhabitants of heaven and the redeemed inhabitants of earth. It would be a harmonious empire of the unfallen angels in heaven and the holy, redeemed people of earth. Jesus said that there would be no marriage in heaven, but the saved people of earth will be like the angels. It seems reasonable to believe that God created the material universe to accomplish His eternal purpose. This would be accomplished by creating an earthly race of people and and then prepare them to inhabit heaven. This explains John 3:16,l7: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” God sent the Son to prepare human beings for a habitation in heaven. In this way a harmonious empire in heaven would result, consisting of the unflallen angels of heaven and the redeemed people of earth. In this way it appears that God would remove any and all disharmony and rebellion from His dominions..

This eternal purpose was just as much for the angels as it was for the human race. Just why God formed such a magnificent plan we do not know for certain. It is possible that the human race was a by-product of the angelic rebellion. .It is a wonder of wonders, and a source of amazement to both men and angels(I Peter 1:12). Could it be possible that the loss of so many inhabitants of heaven in the angelic rebellion led God to plan and purpose to repopulate heaven with unfallen angelic beings and redeemed earth-beings? We don't know for certain, but that is going tohapeen, whatever the cause. One thing is certain; when Christ returns and takes the saved to heaven, heaven will become like it never was before. Two different races of beings will inhabit heaven–angelic beings and earth beings.. The gospel teaches this truth. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the eternal purpose of God that caused the creation of the heavens and earth. God needed the material universe to accomplish His eternal purpose, whatever that purpose was, and it was purposed in Christ Jesus. Scripture states that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. That simply means God planned it from the foundation of the world..

The third spiritual wonder is the birth of Jesus Christ who played an essential part in the accomplishment of God's eternal purpose. The first people on earth to witness Christ's birth were the shepherds of Bethlehem. An angel appeared to them with this announcement: “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a


Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Additional angels appeared, and when they had gone away into heaven the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing, which the Lord has made known to us.” And what did they see when they got there? They saw one of the greatest wonders of the spiritual world. They saw the greatest miracle God ever performed on the earth. They saw a child born to give earth the greatest revelation of God. This birth was an incarnation, a heavenly being becoming flesh. The second person of the Godhead was sent from heaven, and He took on the form and nature of a man of the Jewish race, and assumed the name of Jesus of Nazareth.. The Bible says that a Divine Being became flesh and dwelled among us. He was God in the flesh; born of a woman but conceived by the Holy Spirit, making Him part God and part man.. In addition, the shepherds saw Him who was to be the world's Savior. Third, they saw a child who was born to be the world's greatest Teacher. Moreover, they saw a child who alone has the right to the sovereignty of the world. How could this happen? How shall we explain it?. It cannot be explained; it is one of the world's greatest wonders.

The fourth wonder in the spiritual realm is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word of God says in I Corinthians 15:1-4 that the gospel on which Christians stand and by which they are saved is that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried and that He arose on the third day. What an amazing Friday that was in the history of the world! One Friday!. Six hours on the cross! Those six hours were no normal six hours! They were the most critical hours in history. During those six hours the Bible says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Christ was slain from the foundation of the world. God predestined Christ to die. Those six hours on the cross made it possible for the entire human race to go to heaven and live forever. This was all planned by God the Father. How could one man die for the sins of the whole world and thereby restore the humana race to God? How could one man be punished for the sins of all mankind. . It cannot be explained. It is a wonder of wonders.

On the third day Jesus arose from the dead. That rolled-away stone on resurrection morning is a symbol to an unbelieving and skeptical world. It stands before mankind as the symbol of an empty tomb. The only reason Jesus went into the tomb was to show mankind that He could come out of it. The doctrine of an empty tomb can be found only in the gospel of Christ. No other religion or philosophy can declare to the world that the stone that blocks the grave of all mankind has been rolled away, and all mankind may now come forth from the


grave. As surely as Jesus rose, so must His people come from the grave. Death to the saints is no longer a punishment, but an entrance to paradise and a final entrance into the rest of heaven. What a wonder of wonders!

The fifth wonder in the spiritual world is the Bible. It is the most famous book in the world, and it has been the best world-seller for many years. Millions and millions of people around the world own a Bible. It is a respected book in most all nations of the earth. The number of Bibles sold worldwide are too numerous to count. The Bible has been translated into more than 300 languages of the world. The Bible is the only means of communication that the one true and living God has with the human race. All scripture is given by the inspiration of God. It is the only book in the world that authoritatively tells us who we are, what we are doing here, and where we are going. There is no other book in the world that that has had such an influence on human history. It is the inspired, God-breathed word of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work. What a wonder that a book which has been written by 40 some different writers over a period 1500 years has been preserved unchanged and has but one basic theme. The Bible contains the only true history of the human race, and it records the the unfolding of the eternal purpose of God.

The sixth wonder in the religious realm is the great harlot mention in the Bible in Revelation 17. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon many waters”(Revelation 17:6) This woman was seated on a scarlet colored beast that looked like a dragon with many ferocious heads. Moreover, the woman was drunk, not with wine, but with the blood of Christians. In Revelation 17:6 John said, “I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of martyrs of Jesus. . And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” John himself said this woman was a great wonder. This woman was once the bride of Christ, the true Church of Christ, but became so unfaithful to Christ and His teachings that scripture calls her a harlot, an unfaithful bride, an unfaithful church. I agree with the best thinkers in our brotherhood who think this woman represents the great falling away of the true Christian religion which Paul predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2.:3. Teachers had disturbed Christians with the teaching that Christ was about to come very very soon. But Paul wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means for that Day will not come until the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed.”


Many think this woman symbolized a false form of Christianity that ruled the world during the Dark Ages.

Finally the seventh wonder in the religious realm is after God has made it possible for all mankind to go to heaven, yet millions and millions of people have refused to claim the crown of eternal life. God made man and woman in His own likeness with a splendid birthright. They were made with great intelligence and able to ponder the great questions of the spiritual life. They were made immortal and were destined to live forever. All who are redeemed and reconciled to God by the death of Christ have become heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. They have claimed an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled and that will never fade away. Amazingly, there are millions of people in all nations of the earth who have not claimed the crown of eternal life. It is a wonder of wonders that so many people in the the world have refused to become Christians and have rejected God's offer to live forever. This is a wonder of wonders. Rejecting God's offer of eternal s avlation, we see them yonder chasing butterflies and living on bread alone. They spend their days in seeking pleasure, wealth, and fame, and they call that living . All the while the windows of heaven are open above them, but they give no heed. In the words of Jeremiah. “Hear, O heavens, and give earth O earth, for this is a marvelous thing.” .

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