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Gentle and Lowly: Dane Ortlund

with Dane Ortlund | December 25, 2023
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Christians know what Jesus Christ has done—but who is he? Dave Ortlund, author of 'Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers,' captures the meaning of Isaiah 25 & 26, exploring God's grace, fulfillment, and longing. What is his deepest heart for his people, weary and faltering on their journey toward heaven? Jesus said he is “gentle and lowly in heart.”

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  • About the Guest

Christians know what Jesus Christ has done—but who is he? Dave Ortlund captures the meaning of Isaiah 25 & 26.

Gentle and Lowly: Dane Ortlund

With Dane Ortlund
|
December 25, 2023
| Download Transcript PDF

Dane: All of life is unmet longings, is it not?

Tom Brady, on 60 Minutes several years ago now, got interviewed, and I so respect that he had the courage and the honesty to say the following: “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey, man, this is what is. You’ve reached your goal, your life, your dream.’ Me, I think, ‘Man, it's got to be more than this.’”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Okay, it’s December 25th.

Ann: Merry Christmas!

Dave: Merry Christmas! This is your favorite day of the year.

Ann: Yes, because Jesus was born, but also because I love Christmas.

Dave: Because you love to spend our money—

Ann: —I do.

Dave: —and give our grandkids gifts, and more gifts, and more gifts—

Ann: —and our kids, and you, and friends. It makes me so happy!

Is today a good day for you?

Dave: Yes, it is, because of what it is. It’s the celebration of Jesus’ birth. That’s great. Now the giving gifts thing can go a little too far [Laughter] for people that don’t need anymore gifts.

But you know what? Today is Christmas, and the most wonderful gift that God ever gave us was the gift of Jesus. But here’s the thing: if the end of His life didn’t go the way it did, this gift wouldn’t mean what it means.

Ann: I have a question for you. If Jesus had never [been] resurrected from the dead, where would your hope lie?

Dave: I’d have no hope. I think we all would do what most people do. I would fill my life with stuff or—

Ann: —drown out the hopelessness.

Dave: Yes, I’d put my hope in things or money or pleasure, or anything to distract me from my hopeless life. I’m not saying people that don’t know Jesus have no hope at all, but what is their hope in?

Ann: But I don’t know how our marriage would be. I don’t know how we would have lasted in our marriage. Do you?

Dave: No, I don’t think we would have.

Ann: Because there’s that power source that comes from our relationship with God. Because He died on the cross, because He was resurrected, we have power.

Dave: Exactly; that’s what we talk about all the time on FamilyLife Today. Actually, we’re going to get to talk about it again today, but we’re not going to talk about it as much. We have Dane Ortlund! We’re going to listen to a sermon that he gave at his church, Naperville Presbyterian Church in, of all places, the suburbs of Chicago (Naperville).

His book, Gentle and Lowly is one of my all-time favorites.

Ann: He’s a good friend; he’s a great pastor and teacher. I would hang out with him any day. I think our listeners are really going to enjoy this.

Dave: Yes, we’ve had him in the studio, but I don’t think we’ve ever played a segment of a sermon. So, you’re going to get to hear him preach about what we get from the resurrection. We’re not going to say anything else. You just sit down, and get a cup of coffee, and let God speak to you through Dane.

[Recorded Message]

Dane: Let’s pray together.

Our Father in heaven, we, some of us, find we can’t even open up our hearts, so would You do that? Would You do whatever cracking open of our little internal weird universes is needed and minister to us by Your Word, in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

The book of Isaiah—Isaiah, chapter 25, and a little bit of 26—is what we’re going to look at today for our passage. The message of Isaiah, as you have heard, is of a God who is bigger than we realize confronting sin, which is bigger than we realize, with His—what we call—grace, which is way, way, way, way, way, way bigger than we realize.

The most definitive proof of that grace is what we’re going to talk about today and see in the Scripture, that God is a resurrecting God. He raised the Lord Jesus; He’s going to raise you.

Isaiah 25; what I’m going to do, friends, is read all of 25, and then, I’m just going to read verse 19 of chapter 26. That’s what I’m going to read, and then we’ll think about it together and enjoy it together.

Let me give you, if you’re the note-taking species, the three points, because what I’m going to do is focus on just three verses. We’re going to read more than that, but I want to focus on three verses right in the middle of Isaiah 25: 6, 7, and 8.

Verse six tells us that your longings will be satisfied. Verse seven—this was new for me—tells us that your heart will be home, and verse eight tells us that your pain will be reversed in the resurrection life.

When Jesus comes again, and you are given an immortal body—the kind of body Jesus had—according to this passage, those three things will happen and can’t not happen. Your longings will be satisfied, your heart will be home, and your pain will be reversed.

Isaiah 25, verse 1. Here’s what God says:

“O Lord, you are my God;

    I will exalt you; I will praise your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

    plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

For you have made the city a heap,

    the fortified city a ruin;

the foreigners' palace is a city no more;

    it will never be rebuilt.”

Judgement on the enemies of God’s people is that point there.

“Therefore, strong peoples will glorify you;

    cities of ruthless nations will fear you.

For you have been a stronghold to the poor,

    a stronghold to the needy in his distress,

    a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;

for the breech of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,

     like heat in a dry place.

You subdue the noise of the foreigners;

    as heat by the shade of a cloud,

    so, the song of the ruthless is put down.”

Now here are the three key verses for today:

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

And he will swallow up on this mountain

    the covering that is cast over all peoples,

    the veil that is spread over all nations.

   He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

    for the Lord has spoken.

 It will be said on that day,

    “Behold, this is our God! We have waited for him, that he might save us.

    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain,

    and Moab shall be trampled down in his place,

    as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.”

Moab represents all unbelievers in the passage here.

 “And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it

    as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,

    but the Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.

 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down,

    lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.”

Over toward the end of chapter 26, verse 19, looping back to this reality of resurrection:

“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.

    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a dew of light,

    and the earth will give birth to the dead.”

Your longings will be satisfied, your heart will be home—will come home, and your pain, every single one, will be reversed.

First, verse six: “Your longings will be satisfied.” Look at the text there, friends. Can you believe what God says here? “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts…” —the point is Zion, the place of God’s restoration; the New Earth— “…the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine, well-refined.”

Throughout Isaiah, there are pairs of things that stand for a totality. It’s a Hebrew literary device. For example, you saw in verse four there of chapter 25, that God has been a shelter from the storm, number one, and number two, a shade from the heat. Storm, heat: two weather adversities which represent all kinds of natural adversity.

Here in verse six, the two things (the pairing) is food and wine. Not just any food and wine. Look at the way the language is. You can feel it straining to communicate how delicious, how unspeakable, how sumptuous this meal is. A feast of rich food full of marrow, only the choicest foods.

Jer and I—my eleven-year-old and I—just for kicks were looking at the menu of the restaurant that Gordon Ramsey opened up. Maybe some of you have been down there. I haven’t yet. After looking at the prices, I don’t know if I’ll make it over there. Beef Wellington (I guess it’s his signature thing, right?) Beef Wellington, near 88 dollars. Maybe I’ll go for the wings or something. I think that was 14. We were just scrolling through.

“Choicest”—every bite in the New Earth, so to speak, is like a bite of that Beef Wellington, if you like that kind of thing. I don’t even know what it is. [Laughter] In the New Earth, feasting, wine, food. Maybe this is raising a question for you right now: “Dane, is this literal? Is it talking about an actual meal, a banquet?”

The answer is “Yes and no.” Yes, we—it’s not just purely and only metaphorical—we will be in risen bodies, and we will eat and drink in the New Earth. We talked a little about that when we were talking about hell and heaven a few months back. We will have bodies; we will enjoy food. God made us to have taste buds; “Good.” They’re fallen, but it’s good.

Yes, it’s literal in that way, but no, in that this verse is using the language and the categories of feasting and food and wine to represent that in the New Earth, when God resurrects, you every good creaturely longing is perfectly met.

[Studio]

Dave: You are listening to FamilyLife Today and a broadcast of a sermon that Dane Ortlund gave at his church about heaven, basically.

Ann: It’s exciting, isn’t it?

Dave: We don’t talk about it that often. As he explains, we often think it’s some ethereal place [where] we sit on clouds and play harps. [Laughter] That’s so not biblical, and he’s walking us through something that gets you excited about the next life.

Ann: [About] the reality of the next life that he’s teaching from Isaiah 25. So, let’s hear more.

[Recorded Message]

Dane: Every desire, every longing you and I have—that’s the point I’m making right now in our first of three points—is going to be perfectly, perfectly, overflowingly, beautifully, 100 percent met.

All of life—who would disagree with this?—all of life is unmet longings, is it not? Even the best marriage anticipates a deeper love and cannot give us what, way down deep in our soul, we are really longing for. Even the most exquisite scenery, the best meal, the perfect job, and all the money in the world doesn’t scratch that itch in your soul.

Think about the best vacation you ever had. Did you not find that, even in the best, the height, the pinnacle; day number one, the weather was perfect, [and] you were so happy to be there, not only did it come to an end, but think back to when you were in the midst of it, would you not, if you go back and actually examine what you were experiencing, wouldn’t you find that there was something mingled with the joy and the pleasure. There was something haunting it.

I don’t even know how to describe it. There was a sadness, an ache, a desire. You weren’t able, as you sat on that beach or by that lake or whatever is your perfect vacation, you weren’t able to swallow it down. You weren’t able to capture it.

C.S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory, said, “We want not only to see glory and to see beauty, we actually want to pass into it.” This is the doctrine of glorification in the New Testament. We will, ourselves, put on glory. Every human longing will be met on that day.

Now, once in a while, we will see the world admit that even when they have it all, it didn’t do what we all tend to think it will do in terms of satisfying us.

Didn’t you see Tom Brady on 60 Minutes, several years ago now, get interviewed? I so respect that he had the courage and the honesty to say the following: “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey, man, this is what it is. You’ve reached your goal, your life, your dream.’ Me, I think, ‘Man, it's got to be more than this. This can’t be all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve done it. I’m 27, and what else is there for me?’”

The interviewer said to him, “What’s the answer?” and smiled. He said, “What’s the answer?” Tom Brady said, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew.”

You all are hearing the answer today from Isaiah 25. Food, wine, God, New Eden, Eden restored, and all your creaturely longings and desires met. In the resurrection, your longings will be satisfied.

[Studio]

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today, and we’re listening to Dane Ortlund as he’s giving a message at his church in Naperville. What do you think?

Dave: I love it. He used a football reference.

Ann: I knew you were going to say that! [Laughter] When he started talking about Tom Brady, I thought, “Oh yes, this is relating to Dave.”

Let me ask you. You’ve worked with professional athletes, and you’ve seen some of these guys have incredible success, probably not as much as Tom Brady.

Dave: No.

Ann: Do you think, even for you, Dave, does that bring satisfaction when you’re incredibly gifted, and you’ve accomplished some of your dreams or all of your dreams?

Dave: Yes, I’ve used the same quote from Tom Brady. It’s pretty famous, because he’s the GOAT [“Greatest Of All Time”].

Ann: He is the GOAT.

Dave: This was back when he had just won one or maybe his second Super Bowl. It’s a famous quote, because he’s married to this model, he’s just won the Super Bowl, and he says, “There’s got to be more, because this is empty.”

It’s a great quote because you think, “Even he feels that this world is not enough.” Even when you have the best of the best; we were made for another world.”

I’m kidding that I’m happy that Dane used a football illustration. What I’m really excited about is, he is whetting our appetite for heaven. Again, he’s teaching from the Old Testament; not even the book of Revelation, the Old Testament. Isaiah paints a picture. He’s speaking God’s words: This is what the next world is going to look like, and this is what we’re made for. The world we’re living in now is not—

Dave and Ann: —our home.

Dave: Yes, that gets me excited because so often, like we’ve said before, when you hear sermons on heaven, it’s not very exciting. He’s saying, “No, no, no. This is the most exciting thing you will ever experience in your life, and you were made for this.”

Ann: When he says, “Your longings will be satisfied,” I think about all of us and the longings we have that are unmet. We think we will be totally satisfied with a great marriage. It’s great! It can be great; but there’s still a longing for more. All of it leads to the gospel, to Jesus. He created us for more.

Dave: Yes, I think—he doesn’t get into it in the marriage area, but that’s what we’re talking about here on FamilyLife Today; every marriage at some point feels disappointed. It sounds sad to say.

Ann: At some point.

Dave: But, yes, you are let down by your spouse, you’re let down by what you thought marriage would be or your kids would be. We think there’s something wrong with that. It’s “No, that’s the world we live in.” No person, no marriage, no child,—

Ann: —no idol.

Dave: —no amount of money is ever going to fulfill you. I’ve said many times: “Idols never deliver.” Never! They never give you what you thought they would give you.

We do that in our marriages. We feel like, “Because my spouse has let me down, I married the wrong spouse.” What Dane’s getting at is, we weren’t made for this world. You didn’t marry the wrong spouse; you are looking in the wrong place.

Ann: Let me ask you this as we close. What’s an application we can take away from what we’ve listened to today? What do you think?

Dave: For me, it’s, “What are you looking at? Where are your eyes gazing?” Are you looking at something in this world, or even at your spouse, to be the ultimate in your life? Let me tell you, your spouse can be great.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: And this world can be great. There are a lot of pleasures and gifts that God gives us. He mentions food and feasts. Those are incredible.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: But, at the end, they will let you down in some sense. I think the application is “Where are your eyes?” If you’re looking at something on this planet—some creation—to fulfill you, you will be disappointed. If you look up and put your eyes on the Creator, you will not be disappointed.

Ann: I think the thing I thought for myself was, “What are my idols?” It’s the same thing you are saying. But when I think of “idol,” too, my thought goes to, “What am I thinking about the most?” or “What am I worrying about the most?”

As I look at that—sometimes it could be my kids, what they’re doing; it could be my marriage, I think that would be a good application to think through this: “What am I worrying about the most, and where do my thoughts go most of the time?” Then ask yourself: “Could that be an idol, and am I trying to get my needs met and my longings met through that, or am I getting my needs and longing met through Jesus?”

Dave: Guess what, that was only point one of a three-point sermon.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: All preachers have great three points, and the last two are usually the best. So, tune in tomorrow. We’re going to hear the rest of this sermon.

Shelby: Yes, all I can say is, tomorrow will be a great second part to Dane’s message.

It’s Christmas Day, so enjoy your time celebrating the fact that our risen Savior came as a baby today. We get to celebrate that today. He is alive right now.

Tomorrow, Dane’s message is going to talk about restoration and hope through reliance on God’s grace, culminating, really, in this comforting message (and that’s this): “You’re going to be okay.” That’s coming up tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. Merry Christmas, and we will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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