02 September 2009

Verse-by-verse through Philippians (2:9-2:11)

In the world that we live in, many people are under the impression that their main goal in life should be to “get ahead.” To do whatever you have to do to get to the top. You got to climb that ladder, you got to step on toes, stab people in the back and “go against the grain” and break the rules in order to be successful. That’s how the world views success. But how does God view success? Who is the greatest in the eyes of God? Matthew 23:11-12“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And what greater picture do we have of one humbling Himself in order to be exalted than Jesus Christ? There is none. There is no one who has given up more than Jesus did in becoming human. There is none who gained more than Jesus did because of His obedience. So what does that mean for us poor, poor, pitiful humans? It means that we ought not to cry and whine when we don’t always get our way. Because it just might not be God’s will for us to have our way. Matthew 6:9-10"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come..." What? "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven." When we pray, we can get everything we ask for—as long we pray that it is in God’s will. And it was God’s will that His Son set aside His rights for a season, take on sinful flesh, and die on the cross, bearing all the guilt and all the shame of all those who would ever believe. And because He was obedient, He has been given far, far more.

Philippians 2:3-11You must not do anything through selfish ambition or conceit! But, in lowliness of mind, each one of you must consider others as being better than himself. None of you should be concerned with his own interests only, but also for the interests of others. Have this mindset in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being God in every way, did not consider holding on to His equality with God, but made Himself of no reputation, becoming a slave in every way possible, and having every attribute of a man, and being seen as a man by all. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has super-exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee of heaven, and of earth, and of under-earth should bow, and that every tongue will declare as being true the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Your translation may—and in fact, probably does—read differently.

But that’s the gist of this whole passage, and is pretty close to literal. Last week we studied what He went through when the time came for Him to die. The physical agony He suffered and the fact that He took the wrath of God for us. Today we’re going talk about what that means. Verse 9. Therefore… Links verse 8 with what’s coming in verse 9. Therefore—because Jesus was obedient to the point that He died on a cross—God has highly exalted Him. “Highly exalted” is one word in the Greek (υπερυψόω, huperupsoo); it means, literally, “super-exalted.” He has been raised up higher than anyone has ever been raised up before. Where did God raise Him up to? Matthew 26:64, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In Acts 7:56, as they are getting ready to stone Stephen, he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Hebrews 10:12After He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Can you be raised any higher than the right hand of God? No. To be raised higher than the right hand of God, you would have to be raised to be higher than God.

Somebody tried that once. Isaiah 14:12-15“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Notice the difference. Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him… While on the other hand Lucifer, son of the morning…you have said in your heart…I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” And there is the difference. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus humbled Himself and was exalted to the right hand of God. Lucifer tried to raise himself up above God—and he was cast down to Hell. And he took 1/3 of the angels with him. Jude 4And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. 2nd Peter 2:4God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment. Lucifer and these angels exalted themselves—and were cast down.

And I think there is even another aspect to Jesus being “super-exalted.” We know He was always God. That there never was a time when He was not God. Philippians 2:6. So He couldn’t have been exalted any higher than He was before He came to earth. There is no higher exaltation than being God. Jesus had a glory with the Father even before He created the world. In John 17:5, He asks the Father, “Glorify Me together with Yourself”—let me stop right there for a moment. Listen to this that Jesus asks: “Glorify Me together with Yourself” Does God share His glory with any created being? Isaiah 42:8"I am YHVH, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images." If Jesus was a created being, and God glorified Jesus with Himself, with the same glory—then wouldn’t He be giving His glory to another? To a created being? Something to think about. “Glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Now, here’s what I'm getting at: when He ascended back to Heaven, He still had a body of flesh and bone. He is, right now, sitting at the right hand of the Father—with a body of flesh and blood. In Hebrews 1:2, it says God has appointed [Him] as the heir of all things. He has a body of flesh and blood. He is the heir of all things. But 1st Corinthians 15:50 says flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. So another way that God has “super-exalted” Him is by the fact that He has given rights to Jesus that He will not extend to anyone else.

He has also given Him something else. God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name… Let me give some immediate context here. In the Roman culture that Philippi was, the city—as all of the Roman Empire—was under the rule of the Caesar. That was what they called the Emperor—the title he was given was “The Caesar.” Later, about 300 AD, they added the title “Augustus.” At the point in time when Philippians was written, the Caesar was Nero. Every new Caesar that came along had given themselves a title that was meant to convey the power they held, and was a boast of all the lands they had conquered.
For example, the emperor Maximin, his full name was: The Emperor Caesar Gaius Valerius Maximinus, Germanicus Sarmaticus, Pius Felix Invictus Augustus.

So to the Romans a person’s name was very important and very influential. But what they did not understand was that whatever a person’s name was on earth, no matter how many titles they attached to their name, it was nothing in the eyes of God. As important as the name “Caesar” was to the people of Rome—to God it was nothing. Now, God has not simply given Jesus “A name that is above every name.” He has given Him THE name that is above every name. One thing is certain—the name is not “Jesus.” That is a very common Hebrew name. And in fact, that was the name Jesus commanded Joseph to give to Jesus. Matthew 1:21“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus was the name God commanded Joseph to give the Only Begotten Son of God. So what is "the name that is above every name?"

I would have to agree with the many wonderful men who know a whole lot more than I do, and who believe this name to be “LORD.” And for good reason. Jesus Christ IS Lord. We see it two verses down: Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ IS Lord. Acts 2:36“God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Romans 1:3Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord He is, indeed, Lord. He ain't waiting for us to make Him Lord—He already is! In all, the phrases “the Lord Jesus Christ” or “Jesus Christ our Lord” appear in 106 verses in the NT. I think that’s a pretty important thing.

There's also another idea I have about what this name is. I'm kinda leaning more away from it, but I'll throw it out there. And, for the record, I'm not gonna take a bullet for it. I'm not going to get into a debate about it. I think the name that God has given to Jesus is the name, “HOLY Lord.” In the OT, we find the phrase “Holy One of Israel,” referring to God, some 37 times. Nearly 30 times in the OT His name is described as being “holy.” Leviticus 22:32“You shall not profane My holy name.” Psalm 103:1Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Isaiah 57:15For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy. Jesus is also described as being holy. Because He is! He is the ONLY BEGOTTEN Son of God. And Acts 4:27 calls Jesus God’s holy Servant (or holy Child, KJV—either one is acceptable).

And we see even in the OT a picture about Jesus being holy. Isaiah 6:1-3. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood angels; each one had six wings…And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is YHVH of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Now, if we fast forward to the book of the Revelation, we see this picture again, but the picture is slightly different. Revelation 4:8And the four beasts had each of them six wings…and they do not rest day or night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” A couple chapters later, Revelation 6:9-10 (NASB)When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God…and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then in Revelation 15:3-4They sing the song…of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Faithful and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.” So Jesus Christ is Lord. He is Holy. And God has given Him the name that is above every name.

And…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth… To be literal, every knee WILL bow. Who are the “in Heaven”? For one, the angels. Hebrews 1:6But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Nehemiah 9:6“You alone are YHVH; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host…You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.” Those “in Heaven” are also the saints who have gone on before us.

Who are those “of earth?” That’s us. Romans 10:9If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus—literally, Jesus as Lord—and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. There are some who teach that you can get saved in January and then confess Jesus as Lord in December. WRONG. A person must confess Jesus Christ as LORD to be saved. It’s not my decision. That’s the clear word of Scripture. If someone does not confess Jesus Christ as Lord, then are they really saved?

So who are those “of under the earth”? The ones who have gone on before us. There is a passage in 1st Peter 3:19, that talks about Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison. What Peter is getting at is that when Christ died, He went to the place called Sheol—which is the common grave. Where everybody goes, saved and lost. He let it be known to all those spirits that He was, indeed, Lord. And now those who are in either Hades—the place of the lost—or in Paradise are bowing their knee in worship of Christ. Of course, if one is in Hades, they can worship Him all they want—it won’t do them any good. So, those in Heaven (the angels, and the overcoming saints); and those on earth (that’s us humans who are alive today); and those under the earth (those whose final destinations are set); one day, every single knee will bow to Christ and His holy name.

Finally, every knee shall bow…And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Now, this presents a problem for those who deny the deity of Christ. Romans 14:9We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live,” says the LORD, “Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” This is a direct quote from Isaiah 45:23, where YHVH says, “I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.” Now, if God says that every knee shall bow to HIM, and that every tongue shall swear an oath to God Himself, and if God says He will not give His glory to another, yet Paul says every knee shall bow to Christ—then if Christ is a created being, this would be blasphemy. To give the honor that is reserved for God to a created being would be blasphemy.

But that is exactly what Paul is calling us to. He is not calling us to worship God the Father THROUGH Jesus Christ—what that means, I have no idea. But that is what Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses claim. Yet Paul is calling us to worship Jesus Christ. To bow our knee to Him and to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. To the glory of God the Father. In Genesis, Joseph was tossed into a pit by his brothers and was sold into slavery to Pharaoh. And God raised him up to be Pharaoh’s most trusted adviser. In Exodus, God took Moses out of the house of Pharaoh, sent him up Mt. Sinai, and made him a prophet like no other. When we humble ourselves under the holiness of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we will be given a privilege like no other we could ever imagine.

Jesus Christ is Lord.
Amen.

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