Ben Zornes

Haste Isn’t A Shortcut

Apart from Christ our feet our cinder blocks when it comes to obedience, and jet packs when it comes to gratifying our lusts. So, God freely offers to you, through Christ, a new heart which transforms your entire moral framework. By faith then, your feet can plod away at faithfulness.

Millions of advertising dollars are spent every year on enticing you to embrace the vice of hastiness. What at first blush might look like a road to greater liberty, ease, and comfort, is instead a quicksand pathway which will quickly bog you down into the swamp of discontent, greed, and lust.
Porn is not a shortcut to sexual fulfillment, although that is what it disguises itself as. Sports betting is an alluring cheat code to generating fat stacks of cash, but the House always wins. Pinterest boards present a minimalist mirage of tidiness, but underpinning (pun intended) that minimalism is often an avoidance of diligence. Every other Silicon Valley start up is aimed at trying to part you from your money with the enticing promise of shortcutting hard work.
Proverbs, in particular, warns us of the sinister nature of haste. Hasty feet are described as sinful (Pr. 19:2). Hastiness in wealth building is unlikely to be paired with moral innocence (Pr. 28:20). Hasty speech is not just foolish, it makes you worse than a fool (Pr. 29:20).
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The Empty Shell of Originality

This craving for uniqueness is a race to escape the reality of our human nature. You were made to mirror God’s glory as a free creature of a Sovereign God. To despise this truth is to despise your humanity, and to succumb to beast-hood; descending into the thoughtlessness of a herd creature. Every glory of art, science, literature, music, and mathematics accomplished by mankind is a borrowed glory.

There is a nefarious lust within us as humans. It’s a craving for uniqueness, originality, and innovation. This is seen clearly in how insistent modern man is on society’s unquestioned acceptance of every person’s supposedly unique identity. It also shows up the erasure of great men and women from history. We don’t want to be reminded of the glories of past generations because that would cast a shade on our lame livestream.
No matter how dearly we believe in our individuality and uniqueness, there’s a truth that haunts at every turn: absolutely everything you are and do is imitative. Peter tells us that we receive a “vain tradition” from our forefathers; a tradition of conformity to sin (1 Pt. 1:14,18). Solomon tells us there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). Generations rise and fall, but they invariably follow each other’s footsteps of folly.
This craving for uniqueness is a race to escape the reality of our human nature. You were made to mirror God’s glory as a free creature of a Sovereign God.
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Two Ways to Use the Plunder

Two diametrically opposed purposes. One for the exaltation of man and his vanity, lusts, and pride; the other for the service and magnification of God Almighty. As we gather around the Lord’s Table this is a needful reminder. The same hands which receive the blood of Christ must not be hands which shed innocent blood. The same mouths which consume this bread must not be mouths that devour widows’ houses. Your body isn’t the problem, but rather who your body is in service to.

As the Hebrews left Egypt, God compelled the Egyptians to deck His people with the spoil of war. God had won the victory and after years of misery under the tyranny of Pharaoh, God loads their arms full with the treasure of the greatest empire of the time.
That gold along with much of the rest of the plunder ended up having at least two end results. First, much of it was used in rebellion. The Golden Calf was fashioned out of this plunder, to depict the god they were willing to ascribe their deliverance to. The Israelites hands were full of the treasure which Yahweh had given them, and they repurpose it into an idol in place of Yahweh.
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The Architecture of the Lord’s Supper

We must not come to this table with pride and presumption. Rather, with humble gratitude you lay hold of Christ, the entire Christ; which means that as you then pass the bread and wine to the person beside you, if indeed they are in Christ by faith, they too are receiving all of Christ.

Part of Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11 has to do with the architecture of their meeting place. It was common for the saints to gather in the homes of wealthier Christians. The architecture of the home was such that there would be a decent sized atrium for the people to gather, but when it came to partaking of the Lord’s Supper they would split into two separate groups.
The wealthy and important would go into the more comfortable dining area, while the lower classes––the poor, the widows, the slaves––were left out in the courtyard atrium. The rebuke of Paul about those who rushed forward to eat and leave others to go without has this architectural component in mind.
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A Therapized Age

You are not the sum of your traumas, feelings, and perceptions of reality. You are who God says you are. This means you are either a rebel against God & reality, or you are owned as a beloved child of a loving Father, who through Christ has adopted you into the warmth of His Heavenly Household. This therapeutic age has left mankind swimming in the instability of his own feelings. What godly counselors do is point the way to the immovable foundation of truth in God’s Word.

The typical modern individual is haunted by two conflicting notions: there’s something deeply wrong with me, and it must be the fault of everyone and everything other than me. This being the case, we have ordained a priesthood of therapists who offer us soothing words of insanity: speak your truth, triggered by your trauma, validate your feelings, be true to yourself, follow your heart.
The hope is that by vocalizing our feelings of hurt and trauma to a therapist, and hearing them validate our feelings, we might enjoy robust life, soundness of mind, and tranquility of emotions. But the Word of God comes to us as rock, as foundation, as immovable glory. It doesn’t budge, no matter how frenzied our feelings might be. Our therapeutic age denies the sufficiency of Scripture. It insists on viewing self in a psychologized light, instead of letting the light of God’s Word reveal the truth about the inner man. 
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Shadows of Bethlehem 02 | Rachel’s Tears

As Rachel was expiring from childbirth she named her son Benoni: son of my sorrows. And then Jacob’s cherished wife dies. Jacob had worked under Laban’s tyrannical demands for fourteen years in order to claim Rachel as his bride. She’d been barren for long years before bringing forth his beloved son Joseph. And now his bride perished in anguished sorrow. Jacob buried her in Bethlehem (Ramah is relatively nearby to Bethlehem). Rachel had prayed, “Give me children or I die” and it was in bringing forth her second son that she died. This baby boy was both a son of sorrow and a son of his father’s right hand.

The hallmark of Christmas is joy. Ear to ear grins. Hot chocolate mustaches. Gleeful shouts as presents are unwrapped. But your joy, true joy, is given to you by the grief of the Man of sorrows. The story of Christ’s birth, which brought glad tidings and peace on earth, is swiftly followed by a grisly tale of the ravenous wolf of sin. The Advent story, to put it another way, is no Hallmark movie. It doesn’t airbrush away the vileness of depravity, nor does it paper over the weight of our grief & suffering. The Advent story tells us that Jesus had come to engage in fierce combat with that ancient dragon. Christ in the manger is not a story of escapist sentimentality. It is the first jab & parry in the war He’d come to wage on evil.
The Text
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Matthew 2:16-18
Tyrannical Brutes
The slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem is staggering. Herod stands in a long line of brutes who use their throne to slaughter the innocent. Pharaoh killed the Hebrew infants. Saul deputized Doeg (an Edomite like Herod) to slaughter the priests in Nob for helping David. Nebuchadnezzar starved the Jews of Jerusalem (during the two year siege, circa 587BC), and then as he marched them off to exile he brutally slaughtered many of them (Cf. Lam. 2:19-22, Ps 137:8-9, 2 Ki. 25:20-21).
The thing which set Herod off was the wise men refusing to cooperate with his design to destroy the Christ-child. Herod had been informed that Bethlehem was prophesied to be the birthplace of the new davidic king (Micah 5:2), and he knew that the star had appeared less than two years before, implying the baby was no older than that. Caesar Augustus is said to have stated that he’d rather be one of Herod’s swine than one of his sons. Herod’s brutality was well-known. But in the slaughter of Bethlehem’s sons, his wicked wrath is put on full and gruesome display.
Adam & Eve submitted to the Serpent, and reduced mankind to the level of brute. The first tyrant bludgeoned his brother. Man’s depravity always leads to murder. It leads to devouring others. The coming of Christ the King is good news, and this is put in stark relief when contrasted with the reign of Man in bondage to sin and Satan. Herod is the City of Man. He is a mirror held up to us to see the depravity of the human heart. But in Christ, the Kingdom of God has come upon us.
Weeping Exiles
Matthew tells us that this slaughter was a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”
When the Babylonians took the Jews into exile, they released Jeremiah at Ramah: “Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon (Jer 40:1).” Jeremiah then is taken down to Egypt by a remnant of Jewish leaders (Jer. 42-43). Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s young men in particular were being cruelly slaughtered at Riblah (Jer. 52:27). There are echoes of Jeremiah in the story of Joseph whisking his wife and son down to Egypt (in fulfillment of another prophecy, Cf. Mt. 2:15), while Herod’s henchmen slaughter Bethlehem’s boys.
This is the context for Jeremiah’s prophecy. His prophecy had a two-fold fulfillment; first in the events that shortly followed his prophecy. But these events themselves become a type of the slaughter of Bethlehem’s sons. Both Nebuchadnezzar & Herod are non-davidic kings slaughtering the sons of Israel. A theme we’ll revisit in a future sermon. For now, it suits our purpose to simply make mention of it.
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Reasonable Sacrifice

Thankfulness ought not to be merely in an inwardly felt affection; but rather it is to be manifested in the actions of obedient sacrifice. Preparing a feast, raising children, supporting a ministry financially, caring for aging parents, protecting your nation from invasion, and feeding the impoverished all require your material expense and physical exertion.

Sacrifice is reasonable (Rom. 12:1). But the mindset of most people is that self-preservation is more reasonable. We think that sparing ourselves difficulty & discomfort is sensible. We’ve built a framework that incentivizes selfishness. From the smorgasbord of the entertainment industry, to the twisting of the medical field to drug and carve and indulge the patient’s imagined vision for themselves, we are a culture consumed with self. But this is unreasonable; like trying to grow a crop of corn by planting popcorn.
Both Moses’ Law and throughout the Psalms we see that thanksgiving is expressed through sacrifice. The sacrificial system was the way in which Israelites demonstrated their gratitude for God’s covenant mercies. The Psalms further revealed the ethical reality that thankfulness is demonstrated by sacrifice (Ps. 116:17).
If we put this together with Paul’s instruction to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice we can see the necessity of the material discomfort of obedience.
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Feasting on Eschatological Glory

This simple meal of bread and wine which we eat and drink is a death knell to Death. It is a war trumpet declaring a decisive victory over Satan. It is a flag being raised to assert the dominion of King Jesus. He bled and died for this world & so it is His.

You are feasting on eschatological glory. This is no empty tradition. This is majesty. This is triumph. This is our victory, even our faith. All this being the case, it would be utter folly to simply partake in ignorance or unbelief. This is why Paul attaches warnings to his instructions about partaking of this meal unworthily.
To feast here in unbelief is to transform this blessing into a grievous curse. As we eat this we collectively proclaim the glad tidings of Christ’s total and sovereign reign over all things. Cherishing beloved sins, hiding your unbelief, scorning the Word of conviction which preaching reveals, are all ways in which you can go through the motions of this feast & yet eat unworthily.
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Psalm 2—The Messiah’s Speech

You are living in a world in which the Anointed Son of God is the Shepherd of the nations. That is the reality, it cannot be reversed by UN decrees, or even by your own sinful failures. Christ who won You, shall bring you at last to glory. He who He justified, He will also sanctify and glorify.

The first two Psalms form a sort of introduction to the Psalter. Where Psalm 1 introduces us to the contrast between the blessed life of walking with God and the miserable life of walking with the scoffers and evildoers, Psalm 2 presents an eschatological vision. The first Psalm tells us how to live in the here and now, and the second Psalm goes on to lay before us the glorious future under the global reign of the Messiah.
The Text
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying], 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.Psalm 2
Summary of the Text
This Psalm pits mankind’s word against the Word of God’s Messiah. This song opens with the question which often confronts God’s people (v1). Why do the goyim rage? Why do the people have brains full of daydreams? Earth’s kings & rulers have called a war-council to determine what to do about Yahweh & the one He has Anointed (v2); they issue the results of their council: “let us overthrow the Almighty (v3).”
How does God respond to this challenge? He laughs (v4). Then He replies with the Word of His wrath (v5). What judgement shall these rebels bring forth upon themselves? How will He vex them? Despite their raging, despite their protests, despite their vanity, His anointed King shall reign from Zion (v6).
The Messiah then speaks. He reveals to the nations God’s decree. This Christ is Yahweh’s begotten Son (v7; Cf. 2 Sam. 7:14). This Sonship comes with the right to ask of the Most High for an inheritance of nations (v8, Cf. 1 Kg. 3:5, Is. 7:10-16); the Anointed Son might shepherd the nations firmly to either obedience or damnation (v9). He has every right to crush the nations into powder. But He holds out wisdom to the kings of the nations (v10). Obey His imperatives. Serve Yahweh with joyful reverence (v11). Kiss His Son in humble love, and so His lawful wrath might be removed (v12). This done, all the covenant blessings of Eden & Sinai held out in Psalm 1 are offered to these nations by trusting in the Christ of Yahweh.
An Apostolic Favorite
At the Apostolic Psalm-sings this second Psalm was likely a crowd favorite. It is one of the most cited Psalms in the NT. After Peter and John’s examination before the Chief Priests, after healing the lame man, the early Christians lift up a prayer with one accord. This congregational prayer quotes this Psalm and applies it to Herod, Pilate, and the threatening of the chief priests and elders (Cf. Acts 4:24-31). The wicked opposition to Christ had been foretold by David’s Psalm, and this emboldens the early church to stand courageous even in the face of the threatenings of those same rulers. A sort of second Pentecost takes place at the offering of this prayer.
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Ingrown Autonomy

Our sinful attitude throughout history has been to think that God is disposable, ignorable, or irrelevant. Yet the Scriptures and nature itself compels us to come face to face with the awesome truth that He is God the creator of heaven & earth, of all things visible & invisible. This demands our worship. This demands our praise. This demands our faith & obedience.

The affliction of modern man is what should be ridiculed as “ingrown autonomy”. Man views himself as totally independent. He is authorized by whatever impulse stimulates him at the moment to act accordingly. It is his subjective truth that dictates his moral framework, and his moral framework is guided by that great humanist trinity: “my, myself, and I.”
In contrast, the early Christian creeds begin with a statement which offends man’s self-centeredness by confessing that God the Father is the maker of heaven and earth. As one writer notes, “the creed is simultaneously descriptive and prescriptive. This means that if God is the creator and we are His creatures we owe Him all the honor, obedience, and most importantly worship that is due to Him as the Almighty Creator.”
When Christians recite the creeds, it isn’t a robotic recitation of syllogisms. Rather, our confession of faith in who God is as revealed by scripture, obliges us at the outset to bend our knee to worship. As the 95th Psalm reminds us, “It is He who made us, and not we ourselves.”
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