On Sunday 29 November 2020, Apostle Harold Swartbooi conducted the morning divine service at Colville congregation. This divine service was conducted in English.
He was accompanied by Bishop V Rudolph, District Elder Eugene Baise, the local ministers from the congregation, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng Infinity FM and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Gird on your armour (EH:410)
Bible word: ‘“Behold, the days are coming,”’ says the LORD, ‘“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”’ (Jeremiah 23:5)
My dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. And we all know that Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’, and we are awaiting the return of Jesus. It’s a beautiful period, and as District Apostle said last night on NACTV that our waiting goes beyond the liturgical calendar year of Advent. The season of Advent normally spans over a period of four Sundays, but our waiting goes beyond that – we await the return of Jesus. And what a beautiful way, what a beautiful expression ‘Lord, Lord come soon’. And brothers and sisters, may this divine service strengthen that longing to meet the Bridegroom of our soul.
This is the first Advent Sunday, and when we reflect and look back, then we have to say there are many promises that the Lord made, and many of those have already been fulfilled. And beloved, if we can take a few examples in the Old Covenant, He promised to the people that He would give them someone who would lead them out of Egypt, and He gave them Moses. That prophecy, that promise was fulfilled. And later on, if we can use another example in this regard, He promised that the kingdom of Israel would be established, that would start in the time of David, and that came to fulfilment. That came true because the One who promised He is faithful and true. He does not go back on His promises, and those promises were fulfilled. And beloved, there is no disconnection between these promises of God. The message for this divine service is that through the Holy Spirit, God gives us knowledge of the plan of salvation. When I read and focused on that word ‘plan’, I was taken back to when I was at primary school. I can still remember our woodwork teacher, and he taught us the basic way of drawing a plan. And if I remember correctly, it was the front view, the top view and the end view. But you first have to draw the first plan, and then you draw lines from the first view to the next view. And from the second view, you draw lines to the third view, then you have the plan. And these promises that God made are all connected. And He promised as our Bible word says, ‘“Behold, the days are coming,”’ says the LORD, ‘“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper”’, and He is referring to Jesus. And through the Holy Spirit, He opens up that plan because He wants each and every child of His to know, understand and read the plan.
Dear brothers and sisters, then we know that Jesus was born. And I thought and went and had a look at many, I almost want to say supporting prophecies of this promise that Jesus would be born. We can read in Zechariah 9:9 beloved, where it was already prophesied that Jesus would enter Jerusalem on a donkey. And many years later it happened exactly like that. We can read in Psalm 22, a portion of verse 16, 17-18 where the psalmist says, “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” It was already in the days of the psalmist that these things were prophesied. Micah 5:2 states there clearly, ‘“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me. The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.’” This prophesied where Jesus would be born, and it happened exactly like that. And then brothers and sisters, I wish I had a little bit more time, but I would advise you to go and read Isaiah 53. He was bruised for our iniquities, and He was wounded for our transgressions. He was led to the slaughterhouse like a sheep and He did not open His mouth. All these things were prophesied, and it came true because God is true. And He reveals His plans and says these are the things that are going to happen. And then dear brothers and sisters, it happened exactly as God and His prophets said. And dear brothers and sisters, He took the sins of the world upon Himself, He was bruised for our iniquities, and He was wounded for our transgressions. He died for you and me – it happened like that. And He taught the people. And it was said of Jesus that He did not teach like the scribes and the Pharisees, but He taught as one with authority. I always liked it when I was at school and attended certain classes because when certain teachers spoke, your mouth was left hanging open because they knew exactly what they were talking about. They taught you, and then you would understand and realise that you never saw it like that before. And Jesus opened up the understanding. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus brought light to people and He taught them the will of His Father. He did not come to do His own thing. He did not have His own curriculum; He did not have His own subjects that He taught the people. He taught the will of His Father, and then He showed the example. For me, the most beautiful example of serving people is that example where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Peter had a problem with it because he knew Jesus was the Son of God. How can He wash my feet? Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus simply took a bucket and a towel and then started to wash the feet of His disciples. I said this on more than one occasion, and I tried to work this out: what amount of time did Jesus spend with each disciple? And because Jesus is perfect, He spent time with them, and He was meticulous – washing the feet of each disciple. He spent time with them and showed them this beautiful example. Dear brothers and sisters, an example for you and me, He was God incarnate. He was asked to show the people the Father. But He said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” All these things, Jesus taught the people, and more and more came after Him. They became followers of Jesus Christ, and we know that eventually, He died on the cross, and then He rose from the dead and He went back to His Father. But He also said that He wouldn’t leave us comfortless, and then He sent the Comforter – and this also came true. And then the promise when Jesus ascended into heaven there was this promise: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” This was also a promise.
While Jesus was on the face of the earth, it says in our Bible word, ‘“A King shall reign and prosper.”’ How did Jesus reign? How did He execute judgement? I am often reminded when they brought the woman to the Lord and said that according to the law of Moses, this woman has to be stoned. And then Jesus said to them that if you have no sin, cast the first stone. Brothers and sisters, in our country, and I am not an expert in judicial matters, but if you are not satisfied with a judgement in a lower court you can go to the next court. And if you are not happy with that judgement, you can even go to a constitutional court. If my memory serves me right and my understanding is correct, that is the highest court we have. And there you have to abide. Nobody appealed the judgment of Jesus Christ because it was perfect. When He asked that woman where are your accusers? She answered by saying that she does not know. And then He said to that woman, “Go and sin no more.” What a beautiful judgment – no sentencing. This is our God of love, as our Bible word says, ‘“…and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”’ And He left and went back to His Father, but He will come again. He has gone to prepare a place for us.
Advent means we are awaiting His return, and His promises are true – He is going to come back to come and fetch us. The plan we were taught in school with the different views, once we had completed the plans we had to go and make it. Sometimes we had to make a simple chair, a simple bookshelf or a towel rack that we had to do, but we had to make it from the plan. Today the Lord tells us that He is revealing this plan to us; this is what He is telling us. He is going to come again so that we can be with Him – this is the plan, and He wants us to know it. God is not hiding anything from us. He is showing us this plan; now go and execute this plan and prepare yourself for His coming. He is coming to fetch us. The Holy Spirit reveals to us what is going to happen; it reveals the plan to us. God does not hide anything from us because He wants us to know exactly what is going to happen. He is going to come and there is going to be this thousand-year kingdom; there is going to be a marriage feast in heaven. He wants us to know this plan; and this plan is to save mankind. I read the hymn that our sister sang. The third verse speaks about the guests who must still be invited. Go and teach and show them this plan – this is our responsibility. The Lord has shown the plan to us; He has been good and kind to us, now we must show this plan to our brethren. This is our God. He reveals this plan to us, and He wants us to go and show others so that they can also come and experience what we experience. And the Lord is going to come – there is no doubt about that. And dear brothers and sisters, we have been called as children of the Almighty God. We are His people, and He said Himself, “I am the light of this world,” and He opens up this plan, and He shows to us what is going to happen. His word is true; He is a faithful God, and He does not go back on His word. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, in this time that we are living, let us not be influenced by what is happening around us. Always keep the promise alive. When we meet each other, always let the conversation be the Lord is coming. There is a word that people often used to use, ‘Maranatha’, meaning the Lord is coming. They kept that Advent spirit alive in the hearts of all who were committed to following Jesus. And here for us, we have this beautiful experience, this beautiful task to help others find a way to also come and experience the divine love of the Father. Spread the gospel of Jesus Christ; tell others how good this God is and how He executes His judgement in righteousness. This is what the Lord will do.
And in summary, remember this: promises that the Lord made will be fulfilled. There is no doubt. We can read it in the Old Covenant and the New Testament. Promises that were made are fulfilled and will be fulfilled. And now what about us, what is our responsibility when we hear about these promises? We must make sure that we strive to be part of the fulfilment of that promise. Dear brothers and sisters, we have received the invitation. I am reminded of a man who wanted to go to America but he did not have the necessary funds for it, so he spoke to his uncle. I think he was in England. And his uncle said to him that he must not worry, he will pay for the trip and buy him the ticket. His uncle bought him a ticket, and he got his luggage ready, and he also bought himself five loaves of bread to take with him. Thereafter, he boarded the ship, and the ship set sail. And when it was lunchtime, he went to his bag, broke off a piece of bread and ate it. At supper time, he did exactly the same. The second day, I think the duration of that journey was about 6-7 days, and every day he would do this – when it was lunchtime he would go to his bag, open it, take some of the bread and proceed to eat it. And then one day he went onto the deck and saw people eating at the restaurant and he was peeping through the window there and saw the best food that you can imagine – fruit, juices, meats, salads, different kinds of bread, and he was just looking through the window and seeing what the people were having there. And then, I think it was the second last day, he went to the deck again and peeped through the window again and saw how the people were eating this delicious food. And a man came up to him, one of the passengers and as they struck up a conversation, this man asked him to join him for dinner at this restaurant. And this man said he can’t, and the other man wanted to know why not because he would love to share the dinner table with him. And the man asked him if he does not have a ticket, to which the other man responded that he does have a ticket. And then he said that if you have a ticket it means you have access to all the meals. It means you can have breakfast; you can have lunch; you can have supper. And if you are hungry in between, you can enter this restaurant. Brothers and sisters, don’t forget this. This King, He will reign in righteousness. There’s a hymn that says, “Jesus paid it all”. You and I have a ticket to eternal life. We have a ticket because Jesus paid it all, and all the meals are included. Every divine service, He wants us to come to Him. And when you and I accept the word and apply it diligently in our lives, we will experience what this God has gone to prepare for us. The Apostle of old said, “…Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Let us love this promise. He is coming again, He is coming to fetch us, He has this beautiful place prepared for us and it has all been paid for by this righteous King. Let us accept this promise, let us live accordingly, and the Lord will give to us an expected end. Amen.