Week of 3 Advent – Odd – 12/14 – 20/2014

December 13, 2014

Week of 3 Advent – Odd

This Bible Study was originally published at

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct)

based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions*  The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

I will continue to publish My Daily Walk online as long as possible.


*Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary, p. 179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.


A 3-Year study based on the Revised Common Lectionary is also available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link)

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepboy.multiply.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 3 Advent – Odd
Sunday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/11/04;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 13:1-13  –   Oracle against Babylon;
Hebrews 12:18-29  –    Mount Sinai and Mount Zion contrasted;
John 3:22-30  –   John the Baptizer’s further testimony;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

This is an oracle against Babylon which Isaiah saw: Raise a signal on a hill, cry out to them, motion with your hands to tell them to enter the “gates of the nobles.” The Lord is coming with his angels to destroy the whole earth.” Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come” (Isaiah 13:6). Everyone will feel faint and filled with fear and dismay (compare Luke 21:26).

The Day of the Lord comes with wrath and anger, to desolate the earth and destroy sinners. “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light (Compare Matthew 24:29-30). “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:11a). The arrogant and ruthless will be humbled. The Lord will make people scarcer than fine gold. The heavens will tremble and the earth will be shaken at the wrath of God on the day of his anger.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

When God appeared on Mount Sinai, the people (and even their animals) were forbidden to touch the mountain under penalty of death by stoning. God’s appearance was accompanied by fire, darkness and gloom, tempest, the sound of a trumpet, and a voice (Exodus 19:12-13, 16-19). The experience was so terrifying that the people begged not to hear directly from God, but rather through Moses as mediator (Exodus 20:18-19).

Christians have not come to a relationship with God like that.  We come to Mount Zion (the Church of God; the heavenly kingdom) and to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, to a festival of countless angels, “to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23), where God is judge, and where the spirits of the righteous have been made perfect. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. The blood of Able condemned us (under the old covenant of law mediated by Moses); The sprinkled blood of Jesus is our salvation (under the new covenant of grace through faith in Jesus; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Take care not to refuse the call of God. The Israelites who disobeyed God did not escape God’s wrath, and neither will we if we refuse to hear and obey God’s Word. God’s voice shook the earth at Mount Sinai; now God has promised one more time to shake not only the earth but also the heavens (Haggai 2:6). What is shaken will be removed so that what remains will be unshakable. “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was in Judah (southern Israel) with his disciples, baptizing, and John the Baptizer was baptizing at Aenon (central Israel, above Samaria along the Jordan River). John had not yet been imprisoned. John’s disciples got into a discussion with a Jew over the Jewish purification ritual, and they went to John and told him that Jesus, to whom John bore witness (that Jesus was the Messiah), was in Judea baptizing, and that everyone seemed to be going to Jesus for baptism (instead of coming to John).

John told them that one can only receive what has been given him from God. John’s disciples had acknowledged that John had said that he wasn’t the Christ, but had instead been sent ahead to announce Christ. The one with the bride (the Church) is the bridegroom (Jesus); the friend (John) of the bridegroom rejoices at his coming. Likewise John’s joy is complete. John’s role must diminish as Jesus’ role increases.

Commentary:

Babylon represents the kingdom of this world. God has declared a Day of Judgment when he will punish the wicked. It is up to his disciples (Christians) to warn the people of this world of the coming day of wrath, and to urge them to enter the gates of salvation through Jesus Christ (the door; John 10:7, 9). Isaiah’s vision is of the Day of Judgment, which Jesus affirmed (Luke 21:26; Matthew 24:29-30). Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth (Matthew 25:31-46). Now is the time to receive Jesus and be saved (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the sacrificial offering whose blood cleanses and purifies us from sin. Jesus is our mediator and advocate, who makes peace between ourselves and God. Apart from Jesus, we are like the Israelites before God at Mount Sinai; we are condemned to destruction under God’s law because all have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23).

Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and our salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction; Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal life in the heavenly Jerusalem (Matthew 25:31-46). We will be in God’s presence without fear of condemnation because we have been cleansed and made perfect by the blood of Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit. God has warned of the coming Day of Judgment. God calls us to repent and come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. We’re warned not to refuse this call.

John the Baptizer was commissioned by God to call people to repent and to turn to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. His job wasn’t to make followers of himself; his job was to prepare them and point them to Jesus. Likewise, Jesus’ disciples are to call people to repent and to point them to Jesus. We’re not to make others disciples of ourselves; we’re to make them disciples of Jesus Christ, who in turn, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, will make others disciples of Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/12/04;
Podcast: Monday 3 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 8:16-9:1  –    Testimony and teaching;
2 Peter 1:1-11   –   Exhortation to holiness;
Luke 22:39-53   –   Jesus betrayed;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The testimony (prophecy) and teaching (law) are bound and sealed (like a scroll) among the disciples. The Lord is hiding his face from Israel, but I will wait and hope in the Lord. I (Christ), and the children the Lord has given me, are a sign to Israel. Those who consult mediums and wizards instead of seeking their guidance from the Lord and from the testimony of scripture will not see the dawn; “they will pass through the land distressed and hungry’ (Isaiah 8:21).

They will curse God because of their lack, and will look to the earth for their satisfaction, but will find distress and darkness, gloom and anguish. But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish (Isaiah 9:1; i.e. the Church). The Lord formerly brought the land of Zebulun and Napthali (the area which later constituted Galilee) into contempt, “but in the latter times he will make glorious the way of the sea, Galilee of the nations” Isaiah 9:1b).

2 Peter Paraphrase:

God has given believers everything necessary for (eternal) life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus who has called us to share in his glory and excellence. He has given to us great and precious promises by which we can escape the corruption which is in the world, and share in the divine nature (through the indwelling Holy Spirit).

In order to participate in the divine nature, we are to let faith grow and produce virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. It is the practice of these virtues which will keep our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ from being ineffective and unfruitful. Anyone who doesn’t practice these virtues is blind and shortsighted, not appreciating the cleansing of his former sins. Believers are urged to confirm that they have received the call and gift of salvation (by applying the gospel to their lives and circumstances), for by so doing they will avoid stumbling and will insure their entrance into the eternal kingdom of Heaven.

Luke Paraphrase:

After the Passover meal, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. When he came to the place (Gethsemane; an olive grove) he told his disciples to pray that they might not succumb to temptation, and then he went off a short distance and prayed, “Father if thou art willing, remove this cup (destiny) from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine (God’s will) be done” (Luke 22:42) An angel appeared and gave him strength and encouragement. “And being in great agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Then Jesus rose and came to his disciples and found them sleeping. Again he told them to pray that they might avoid temptation. While Jesus was saying this, a crowd approached, led by Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus’ inner circle. Judas came up to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus called him by name and asked him if he intended to betray Jesus with a kiss.

Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus if they should resist and fight, and one of them struck the High Priest’s slave and cut off his ear. But Jesus told them to stop, and he healed the slave’s ear. Jesus asked the religious leaders who had come out to arrest him if they thought Jesus was a dangerous criminal that they needed to arm themselves with swords and clubs against. Jesus pointed out that they had plenty of opportunity to arrest him publicly in the temple, but that they had chosen to do it instead in the dark and away from public scrutiny.

Commentary:

Because the people refused to listen to him, God sealed his Law and Prophecy among his disciples. It is given to Jesus’ disciples to understand the scriptures (Matthew 3:10-15). It is only when we turn to Jesus in faith that the “veil” preventing our understanding is lifted from our minds so that we can understand the scriptures. Jesus opens the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:32, 45).

The Lord will not reveal himself to us until we firmly believe in him. (Hebrews 11:6). When we love Jesus enough that we trust and obey him, he will manifest himself to us (John 14:21). Then he gives us the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Jesus gives the Holy Spirit only to his disciples; those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17).

The Lord wants us to be guided by his Holy Spirit. Those who turn to wizards, mediums, astrologers and other forms of occult practices, or any worldly guide, are not being enlightened; they are being blinded and are walking in darkness. The will not see the dawn of the truth of the Gospel or the dawn of eternal life. They will pass through life spiritually empty, and blame God for their lack.

They will look to the things of earth for their satisfaction and discover that those things can never satisfy. But those who endure troubles in this world for the Gospel will have no more gloom. Galilee was regarded with contempt in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 2:7), but in Jesus it has been glorified (Matthew 4:13-16 NKJV).

Through Jesus, God gives us everything we need for life and godliness. We have personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord, and share in the divine nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us so that we can grow to spiritual maturity as we walk in obedience to his guidance.

Knowing about Jesus is no substitute for knowing Jesus personally through the gift of his Spirit. Those who think they can claim to believe in Jesus, while not practicing what Jesus teaches, are mistaken! If we have truly received the call and gift of salvation let us demonstrate that truth by applying the Gospel in our lives daily. Only that way can we avoid stumbling and be sure that we will spend eternity in the kingdom of Heaven with the Lord. Disciples are doers of the Word (James 1:22). Faith in Jesus is trust and obedience of him (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46).

After celebrating the Passover, Jesus knew that his crucifixion was coming, and he had told his disciples several times, but they didn’t seem to grasp what he was telling them. When they went out to Gethsemane, Jesus knew that he would be arrested there and that his suffering would begin. He told his disciples to pray for strength to resist temptation, but they were focused on their physical desire for sleep.

Jesus stifled his human urge of self-preservation and submitted to God’s will in trust and obedience. When he came back to the disciples he found them sleeping instead of doing what he had told them to do. Jesus was going to pay with his life for the salvation of his disciples; couldn’t they have at least kept a prayer vigil for one hour (Matthew 26:40)? Judas pretended to love Jesus and be Jesus’ disciple, while betraying him.

How are we doing? Jesus did the hard work for us; are we willing to spend a little time each day in Bible reading, prayer and meditation so that we will grow spiritually and avoid temptation? If we have a personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus, is that confirmed by the testimony of our lives? When Jesus returns, will he find us doing what he told us to do, or will he find us sleeping and indulging our human natures? Are we being guided by the Spirit of the Lord, or by worldly influences? Do we love our Lord enough to trust him and do what he commands, or will we betray him with a kiss?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/13/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 9:2-7  –   Prince of Peace;
2 Peter 1:12-21  –  Peter’s eyewitness to prophecy;
Luke 22:54-69   –  Jesus before Caiaphas;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah foresaw the coming Messiah: People who lived in ignorance and sin will see a great light which will shine upon them and deliver them from their darkness. The Messiah will multiply the nation (of his people) and increase its joy. The people will rejoice before him as they rejoice over a great harvest or as they would over plunder after a great victory. He breaks the yoke of their burden and the staff of their oppressor “as on the day of Midian” (Isaiah 9:4; Midian, forth son of Abraham by Keturah; father of the Midianites; the name means “strife.” The Midianites were utterly destroyed in battle by Gideon on the Plain of Esdraelon, also called the Plain of Jezreel; the possible site of the final battle of Armageddon).  Every tramping warrior’s boot and every soldier’s bloody uniform will be burned with fire.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ His government will increase without end. His government and kingdom is established on the throne of David; it will be upheld “with justice and righteousness from this time forth and for evermore” (Isaiah 9:7c). This will be accomplished, because it is the Lord’s great desire.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

The author of the second letter of Peter reminds his readers of things which they should already know and believe. He is anticipating his own death and is writing this letter so that these teachings will be available after he has died. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the cleverly devised myth created by mankind, but is the eyewitness account by those who were present.

Peter was one of the three disciples present with Jesus on the mountain, who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (see Luke 9:28-36). Peter and the other two disciples heard the voice from heaven which declared that Jesus was his beloved son. “And we (Peter and the other apostles) have the prophetic word made more sure (having witnessed its fulfillment). You would be wise to pay attention to this (apostolic testimony) as a light in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star (Revelation 22:16 RSV) rises in you hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Luke Paraphrase:

The chief priests, captains of the temple and elders had come with soldiers to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus (Luke 22:47-53; see entry for yesterday, Monday, 3 Advent, odd year). Peter followed behind as they led Jesus away to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest.

In the courtyard of the house, the guards lit a fire to warm themselves, and Peter mingled with them. One of the maids saw Peter and said to the others that Peter was one of Jesus’ followers, but Peter told her he didn’t know Jesus. A little later, someone else saw Peter and declared that Peter was a follower of Jesus, but Peter said he didn’t know what the person was saying. For the third time someone recognized Peter as a Galilean and a follower of Jesus, and said so, but again Peter denied it, “and immediately, while he (Peter) was speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:60b-61a). Peter realized that he had just fulfilled the Lord’s prophecy concerning Peter’s denial (Luke 22:34), and he left the courtyard and wept bitterly.

Commentary:

Isaiah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to foretell the coming of the Messiah (Hebrew, meaning “anointed;” “Christ” is the Greek equivalent). Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) which delivers us from the darkness of ignorance, sin, and hopelessness. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Jesus breaks the yoke of bondage to sin, and the rod of the oppressor (Satan and Satan’s followers). As Gideon utterly destroyed the armies of the Midianites on the battlefield of Megiddo (Esdralon; Jezreel), so the Lord will defeat his enemies in the Final Battle of Armageddon on the Day of the Lord.

Jesus is the heir to the throne of David and God’s anointed King of Heaven and Earth, whose kingdom is eternal. The first part of Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled: Jesus has come as a baby, and as the Son. He has broken the yoke of sin at the cross by his death and resurrection. The rest of the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled, but it will be, because nothing can prevent God’s will from being fulfilled.

Peter was an eyewitness to the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, Jesus’ teaching, Jesus’ miracles, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Peter heard the voice of God, and testified that God declared Jesus God’s Son. Peter tells believers that they should pay close attention to the Apostolic testimony (which is recorded in the scriptures; the New Testament), particularly until they have received the fulfillment of the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Apostolic testimony confirms the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Old Testament. Believers should diligently study both the Old and New Testaments from now until Jesus returns. Prophecy is God’s Word and it needs to be understood according to God’s intention, by his guidance through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Faith is not a matter of believing whatever you want to believe if you believe “hard enough!”

Peter knew firsthand that Jesus’ words are absolutely true and reliable. At the time Jesus said it (Luke 22:34), Peter couldn’t imagine betraying Jesus (Matthew 26:35), but within hours he had fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy exactly. Jesus has promised to return to judge the world, to destroy his enemies, and to bring his disciples to the eternal kingdom of Heaven.

Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord, but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey him will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). We can have personal fellowship with the risen Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit and we can be eyewitnesses to the truth of the Gospel in the world, if we are willing to be his disciples (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Wednesday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/14/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 3 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 9:8-17  –   Ephraim’s judgment an example;
2 Peter 2:1-10a   –  Warning about False teachers;
Mark 1:1-8   –  John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord has declared a Word (of judgment) against Jacob (Israel) and it will fall upon Israel (the Northern Kingdom). All the people including Ephraim (part of what became the Province of Samaria in New Testament times) and Samaria (the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel) will know (God’s judgment). They say that their ordinary houses have crumbled, but they will rebuild mansions. “So the Lord raises adversaries against them and stirs up their enemies” (Isaiah 9:11). Israel is attacked by the Philistines on the west and by Syria on the east because the Lord’s anger has not been satisfied.

The people did not turn to the Lord who punished them. So the Lord cut off from Israel the elders, the leaders, and the false prophets, because the leaders lead the people astray and the prophets proclaim lies. “Those who are led by them are swallowed up” (Isaiah 9:16b). For that reason the Lord has no pleasure in their young men and has no compassion for the widow and orphan, because “everyone is godless and an evildoer and everyone speaks folly” (Isaiah 9:17c). So God is still angry and he is still punishing the people.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

False prophets and false teachers have arisen and will continue to arise, teaching damaging false doctrines and even denying Jesus, who died for their sins. They will bring God’s judgment upon themselves. Many will follow their licentiousness (lack of restraint, lack of self-discipline) and their behavior will cause Christianity to be reviled. They will exploit believers for their own selfish gain.

God will condemn and destroy them as he has dealt with false prophets in the past. God does not spare the angels when they sin, casting them into hell, and imprisoning them to await judgment. God didn’t spare the ancient world in the days of Noah, but preserved Noah because of his righteousness (Genesis 6:6-8; 8:18). And God saved righteous Lot when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of his judgment on the ungodly. The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority” (2 Peter 2:9-10).

Mark Paraphrase:

The Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ begins with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a messenger sent to prepare the way of the Lord, calling the people to straighten their paths in obedience to the Lord. John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness and began preaching that people should repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Everyone in Jerusalem and all Judea was going out to John, and they were baptized by John in the Jordan River.

John wore a camel’s hair robe with a leather belt, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He preached that the Messiah was coming. John was baptizing with water, but the Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17; Acts 1:4-5; Acts Chapter 2).

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of Israel repeatedly ignored the prophets’ warning to return to obedience to the Lord. Their punishment by the Lord was intended to restore them to obedience, like a parent’s discipline of a rebellious child. But instead of learning from the Lord’s discipline, they became more rebellious. When punished they didn’t just rebuild what they had before; they pursued bigger and better, self-centered objectives.

Israel’s leaders and prophets were leading them astray. Because Israel didn’t learn from the Lord’s discipline, he allowed them to be swallowed up by their enemies. Samaria was conquered in 721 B. C. by the Assyrians. The people were scattered throughout the world and the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist. Isaiah was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and what was happening in the Northern Kingdom was intended as a warning also to Judah.

There were false prophets and false teachers throughout the history of Israel, and they have been arising in the Church since its very beginning. There are plenty of examples in the Church today of licentious teaching and of those who exploit believers for personal gain. The Northern Kingdom of Israel suffered because of corrupt political and religious leaders who led them away from obedience to God and into destruction.

Isaiah’s prophecies are fulfilled. The test of whether a prophet is a true prophet of the Lord who truly speaks God’s Word, or a false prophet, is whether the prophecy is fulfilled and in accord with the Bible (Deuteronomy 13:1-3, 18:22). God’s Word is eternal; just because it is fulfilled once doesn’t mean that it can’t be fulfilled again.  In fact, God’s Word will be fulfilled over and over again as conditions of the prophecy are met. John fulfilled God’s call to be the messenger, to prepare for the coming Messiah by calling the people to repent and return to the Lord. John pointed them to Jesus and told the repentant to anticipate the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Judah didn’t learn the lessons of God’s judgment upon the Northern Kingdom. Judah didn’t learn the lesson of their own exile in Babylon, and they were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah. As a result, Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:38); the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the people were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until it was re-established following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

“Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). I believe that the Church and America are in the same position today as that of Judaism and Israel at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Church is the New Chosen People of God, and America is the New Promised Land (on earth).

Will we learn from Israel’s example, or will we have to learn the hard way by experiencing God’s judgment upon us? Will we heed the call to repentance and be restored to obedience to God in Jesus Christ, or will we choose to pursue our own selfish interests? Will we seek the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, or will we be misled by corrupt political and religious leaders; false prophets and false teachers?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 3 Advent – Odd 

First posted 12/15/04;
Podcast:  Thursday 3 Advent – Odd  

Isaiah 9:18-10:4    –  God’s anger is not turned away;
2 Peter 2:10b-16   –   False teachers;
Matthew 3:1-12  –   John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Wickedness burns like a fire through brambles; it rages like a forest fire. So will God’s judgment destroy the wicked! The wicked bite and consume one another; they devour their neighbors (see Galatians 5:15) right and left in their greed and still are not satisfied (Pekahiah, King of the Northern Kingdom, was assassinated and replaced by Pekah, his military commander, during this period. He allied with Syria and attacked Judah. See 2 Kings 15:23-31; 16.5). Because of all this, God’s wrath is not turned aside, and he will punish.

Woe to those in authority who make wicked decrees, and those who oppress. Woe to those who withhold justice from the needy; who rob the poor and take away their rights; who victimize widows and orphans. What will they do in the Day of Judgment; to whom can they flee; where can they hide their wealth? In that day there will be nothing else they can do but crouch among the condemned and fall among the slain. The Lord’s anger is not turned away and his power to judge and punish is not diminished.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

The wicked boldly and willfully revile the righteous, whereas angels refrain from passing judgment on the wicked (see Jude 9-10), but instead leave their condemnation to the Lord. The wicked are like irrational animals, acting according to instinct, reviling what they do not understand. They will receive the just recompense for their deeds.

They pursue their own pleasure and wealth, forsaking morality and righteousness, and have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, a seer who was enticed to do what was evil for profit. Balaam was rebuked by his “dumb” (ignorant and mute) donkey (who knew better than the “great seer” and said so in a human voice; see Numbers 22:5-7; 22 21-31).

Matthew Paraphrase:

John began preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2). John was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a messenger, a voice crying in the wilderness, calling people to repent and straighten their paths in preparation for the coming Messiah. John was dressed in the garb of the Old Testament prophets, and he lived on what was available in the wilderness: locusts and wild honey.

All the people of Jerusalem, Judea and the surrounding region went out to hear him. They confessed their sins and were baptized in the Jordan River. When John “saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance and do not presume to say to your selves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham’” (Matthew 3:7-9). John warned that God’s judgment was beginning at that moment, and that how they responded to John’s message would have eternal consequences.

Commentary:

Wickedness is destructive to others and ultimately leads to the eternal destruction of the wicked. Wickedness led to civil war in the Northern Kingdom, and it led ultimately to the obliteration of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Lord has pronounced judgment on those in authority who make wicked decrees, those who oppress people, who deprive the needy, who rob the poor, and who victimize widows, orphans and the marginalized of society.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when all will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life (John 5:28-29). There won’t be any way to avoid God’s judgment, and no way to hang on to the things they have traded their eternal lives to acquire (Matthew 16:26). The Northern Kingdom fell because the leaders pursued their own ambitions instead of seeking to do God’s will.

Those who profit from and enjoy evil will be condemned. Those who prophesy for profit and those who preach what people want to hear will be condemned.

John the Baptizer is an example of the faithful prophet and preacher. He preached God’s Word faithfully; he didn’t make any attempt to be popular or to avoid offending the rich and powerful. Paul told Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure (tolerate) sound teaching, but having “itching ears”, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from the truth and wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3). Are we seeking God’s truth, or do we just want our ears tickled?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/16/04;
Podcast:  Friday 3 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 10:5-19  –   The rod of God’s anger;
2 Peter 2:17-22  –  Waterless springs;
Matthew 11:2-15  –   John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Parahrase:

Assyria was the rod of God’s anger; God sent Assyria against the Northern Kingdom of Israel, a godless nation and the people of God’s wrath (since Israel didn’t heed the prophets and refused to obey the Lord). God allowed Assyria to plunder Israel and tread down its people. Assyria was not aware of God’s purpose; it is just Assyria’s nature to destroy.

Assyria was arrogant, boasting that his commanders were kings. Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad and Damascus were cities in Syria which resisted the westward advance of Assyria, during the 8th century B.C. These had fallen to Tiglath-Pileser III and Samaria had offered no greater resistance. To the Assyrians, the Lord was just one of many idols. The gods of the other kingdoms he had conquered were no obstacle; and he expected none from Jerusalem.

“When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride” (Isaiah 10:12). Assyria boasted that it was his own strength and wisdom that had given him victory over these kingdoms. He boasted that he had moved boundaries (Assyria relocated subjugated peoples to subdue them). Assyria boasted that he had gathered the wealth of the kingdoms he conquered, as one would rob a nest of eggs, without the flutter of a wing or a chirp of resistance.

The Lord declared that Assyria’s boasting was like that of an axe exalting itself over the one who wields it. The Lord will punish Assyria with a wasting sickness and burning. “The light of Israel (John 8:12) will become a fire and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and devour the thorns and brambles of Assyria in one day” (Isaiah 10:17). The Lord will destroy Assyria’s forests and fruitful land, both soul and body, like a sick man wasting away. There will be so few trees left of his forests that a small child can count them and write it down.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

False prophets and false teachers are waterless springs. They are in darkness (without understanding) and darkness will be their eternal destiny. Making loud foolish boasts, they entice new believers with unrestrained immoral passions. They offer the promise of freedom, but the outcome is enslavement; because whatever overcomes a person enslaves him.

If a person has escaped the corruption of the world and then re-submits to it, his last state is worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45). It would have been better for him to have never known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from it and gone back to disobedience and rebellion. He is like a dog that goes back to his own vomit, or like a pig washed only to go back to wallow in the mud.

Matthew Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer had been imprisoned. Hearing about the things Jesus was doing, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the Christ or not. Jesus told them to tell John what they heard and saw: sight was being restored to those who were blind, and hearing restored to the deaf; the dead were being raised to life, and the poor were hearing good news. Those who are not offended by Jesus will be blessed.

When John’s disciples left, Jesus asked the crowd, rhetorically, what they had gone out into the wilderness (to John) to see? Surely they hadn’t gone out to see nothing more than a reed shaken by the wind; they hadn’t expected to see someone dressed in fancy clothes. Those who are dressed elegantly are not out in the wilderness; they’re in mansions and palaces. They must have expected to see a prophet, and that is truly what John was, and more than just a prophet.

Jesus declared that John was the fulfillment of prophecy (Malachi 3:1) of a messenger to announce the Messiah’s coming. John is the greatest of those born until the coming of Jesus, and yet the coming of the kingdom of God will facilitate a new standard of greatness. John is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the return of Elijah (Malachi 4:5). If your ears work, use them to listen to what Jesus is saying.

Commentary:

The king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser III thought himself and his empire great. He did whatever he pleased; he didn’t fear or acknowledge anyone or any god. But the Lord used him to accomplish God’s purpose, as one wields an axe. Ultimately he will face the Day of Judgment and will receive eternal destruction in the fire of Hell.

Watch out for false prophets and false teachers, who are building personal empires for themselves; who boast and magnify themselves, and entice new believers with false promises of freedom. Watch out for churches that focus on membership, church growth and new buildings, without requiring discipleship; who preach “cheap grace” (salvation as a free gift without requiring obedience and discipleship; without the “Holy Commandment”; 2 Peter 2:21; compare 1 Timothy 6:14; Jude 3-4).  Believers who have been freed from bondage to sin must thereafter walk in obedience to the Lord; if they return to their former manner of living, they become re-enslaved, and their final condition will be worse than the first.

The kingdom of God has a different standard of greatness than the standard of this world. Jesus is its anointed king, but he didn’t come in fine clothes, he wasn’t born in a palace, he didn’t enter Jerusalem in pomp and display of power, with a great army. Instead he came humble and vulnerable. He was trusting and obedient to God even to the extent of suffering death on the cross.

John the Baptizer was humble and obedient to God’s will. John lived in the wilderness on what he could find, and he proclaimed God’s Word even though it brought him into disfavor with the authorities and cost him his freedom and his life. Are we trusting and obeying Jesus or are we trying to be great according to worldly standards?

Jesus is Lord whether we acknowledge him or not. The will of God will be done, whether we consciously submit to and cooperate with it or not. Jesus’ words and deeds declare who he is and demonstrate his authority and legitimacy. John the Baptizer’s activities reveal him to be “the Elijah who is to come” before the coming of Messiah.

What we say and do will reveal whether we have believed in Jesus or not (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46). Our response to Jesus will have eternal consequences for us. Jesus can heal spiritual deafness and spiritual blindness. If we can “hear” what Jesus is saying and “see” what he is doing we will be trusting and obeying him, and he will raise us up from death to eternal life.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 3 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/17/04;
Podcast: Saturday 3 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 10:20-27   –   A remnant will return;
Jude 17-25   –    Last days;
Luke 3:1-9  –   John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

After Judah’s punishment, a remnant will remain. The survivors will no longer look to him that smote them (instead of trusting in the Lord, Judah had allied with the Assyrians for protection against attack by the Northern Kingdom in alliance with Syria; see 2 Kings 16:7-9) but will truly trust in the Lord. The remnant will return to the Lord. Destruction of the rest is the righteous judgment of God.

Those who dwell in Zion (Jerusalem) are not to fear the attack of the Assyrians, because Judah’s punishment will be brief, and then the Lord will destroy the Assyrians as when Gideon completely destroyed Midian (the Midianites were utterly destroyed in battle by Gideon on the Plain of Esdraelon, also called the Plain of Jezreel; possible site of the final battle of Armageddon) at the rock of Oreb. The Lord will lift his rod as he did over the sea when he brought Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 14:19-31). On that day his burden will be lifted from their shoulders, and his yoke will be destroyed from their necks.

Jude Paraphrase:

Jude urges his readers to remember the predictions of the Apostles who warned that scoffers would arise who have not received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit because they are worldly people pursuing worldly passions, who create division within the Church. Believers are urged to hold on and grow in true faith, to pray in accord with the Holy Spirit, to abide in God’s love through trust and obedience (John 14:23), and to wait for our redemption unto eternal life through Jesus Christ (note the reference to the trinity in Jude 20-21).

We should use the time to seek and save the lost, and to lift up and restore the fallen. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is able to keep us from falling and to bring us into God’s presence unblemished by sin, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be all glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before time began, now, and eternally, Amen.

Luke Paraphrase:

In the year 26-27 A.D., Tiberius had been Caesar for 15 years, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was ruler of Galilee, and his brother, Philip, was ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was ruler of Abilene (near Damascus). Caiaphas was high priest and his father, Annas, was high priest emeritus. “The word of God came to John, the son of Zachariah, in the wilderness” (Luke 3:2); and, throughout the region of the Jordan River, John began preaching repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins. This was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 40:3-5) of a messenger in the wilderness calling people to prepare the way for the coming messiah by humbling what is lifted up, straightening what is crooked and smoothing what is rough. All people will see God’s salvation.

John preached to the crowds who came to him, “You brood of vipers (snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Luke 3:7-9). John announced the beginning of God’s judgment, and declared that each person will be judged according to what he has done (compare John 5:28-29).

Commentary:

Judah had chosen to seek worldly alliance for protection rather than relying on God. As a result her former ally became her oppressor. But the Lord promised that although Judah would undergo punishment, a remnant would survive and become a great people. This prophecy was fulfilled by the Babylonian exile, but God’s Word is eternal; it is fulfilled not just once but over and over, as conditions for its fulfillment are met.

Since the coming of Jesus Christ, it is the followers of Jesus who have become the remnant. (But God isn’t finished with the Jews. One can see the fulfillment in the return of the remnant of Jews to Israel following World War II, and there may be a remnant of Jews saved through the Great Tribulation.) Believers are to put their trust in the Lord and not to fear worldly enemies or seek worldly alliances.

The Church has been divided by worldly people who have not been born-again by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Church has often focused on building buildings and recruiting members, instead of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Ministry has become a career choice for some, rather than the call of God. Jude’s advice is to hold onto and grow in true faith. The way to do that is to read the Bible for oneself, and to seek a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church. Know Jesus’ teachings and live accordingly; seek the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and be guided by him.

John the Baptizer heard and responded to God’s call through the Holy Spirit. John’s authority came not from men but from God (Luke 20:1-8), unlike the worldly leaders mentioned by Luke. Religion won’t save us; church membership won’t save us; baptism (by itself) won’t save us; only a personal relationship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us. John’s message was a call to repent and amend our ways, to bear the fruit of repentance and faith, and to prepare for the coming of the Lord and the Day of Judgment.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 2 Advent – Odd – 12/07 – 13/2014

December 6, 2014

Week of 2 Advent – Odd

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 2 Advent – Odd
Sunday 2 Advent – Odd
First posted 12/04/04;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 5:1-7  –   The parable of the vineyard;
2 Peter 3:11-18  –  The Day of the Lord;
Luke 7:28-35  –  Jesus and John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord planted a vineyard on very fertile ground. He dug the ground and cleared it of stones. He built a watchtower and a winepress in it and planted it with choice vines, but at the time of harvest it produced only wild grapes. The Lord asks Judah and Jerusalem to judge themselves, because they are the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord had done everything possible to ensure a good harvest; why had the vineyard not produced good fruit?

Therefore the Lord will break down the walls and hedges protecting the vineyard, and it shall be devoured and trampled down. It will become a wasteland, not pruned or hoed. Weeds and thorns will grow in it, and it will receive no rain. The Lord’s vineyard “is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting” (Isaiah 5:7). The Lord looked for justice but found bloodshed; he looked for righteousness, but found an outcry from the oppressed.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

In the Day of the Lord the heavens and the earth and everything on it will be destroyed by fire. So we ought to live accordingly in holiness and godliness, looking forward to the coming day so that we can receive the promise of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness is established. In this hope we should make every effort to be found blameless and at peace. Realize that the Lord’s forbearance is intended to permit more people to be saved. There are those who twist the scriptures to their own purposes, so believers are warned to be on guard against false teaching, and to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. To him be all glory now and eternally.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest of men on earth, but (except through Jesus) he would not compare to the least in the kingdom of God. The people and tax collectors who had been baptized by John acknowledged and assented to God’s plan, but the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s purpose, not having received John’s baptism.

Jesus compared this generation to children who expect others to do their will and play their games. Worldly people criticized John for fasting and abstaining from alcohol, and they criticized Jesus for not fasting and not abstaining from alcohol. Both conclusions cannot possibly be true.

The Lord had a plan for his vineyard and he did everything possible to assure that it would produce good fruit. The vines were perverse; they didn’t cooperate with God’s plan. Instead of producing the fruit that God desired, they produced what they wanted; they produced the fruit of unrighteousness. The Lord will remove the walls and hedges of his protection from them. The vines will be devoured and trampled down. The Lord won’t provide the care that they need, and he will withhold his rain from them. The Lord’s verdict is that instead of producing justice they had produced bloodshed; instead of producing righteousness they had produced oppression.

Commentary:

Believers are warned that the Day of Judgment is coming. We can rejoice in that hope, because this fallen world will be replaced by a new world in which righteousness will prevail. Since we know that this present world will be destroyed because of sin, we should put away sinful behavior and start learning to live in a righteous world. Judgment is coming; the only reason God hasn’t yet destroyed the wicked is in mercy, to give everyone an opportunity to come to repentance and salvation. There are a lot of false teachers today who twist the scriptures to suit their purposes. Believers need to know the Bible by reading it for themselves, and they need to know the Lord by spending time daily in fellowship with him through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

God has a plan for his creation. The Earth is his vineyard and we are his vines. We are here to learn to produce the fruit of righteousness and justice. John represents the greatest fulfillment of life in the Old Covenant of the law, but yet apart from Jesus Christ he would still fall short of God’s purpose.

John’s commission from God was to call the people to repentance and to point them to Jesus. Those who responded to John’s call for repentance accepted God’s plan and were ready to receive Jesus, but those who did not respond rejected God’s plan. The Pharisees and lawyers were the ones who wanted God to play by their rules. They were the ones who called John crazy for fasting and abstaining from alcohol, and criticized Jesus for not fasting and abstaining from alcohol.

The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled repeatedly. The Lord did remove his protection from Israel. The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians and the people were deported and scattered (721 B.C.). Judah (the Southern Kingdom) fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the Judeans were exiled to Babylon for seventy years (587-517 B.C.). The remnant didn’t learn the lessons of their history and were unprepared for the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. The people were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until it was reestablished following World War II. The Temple has never been rebuilt.

God’s dealings with Israel are meant to be an allegory and a warning to the world, to the Church, and to America; each in a sense is the Lord’s vineyard. Are we cooperating with God’s plan for creation, or do we expect God to do our will and play our games? Are we bearing fruit for the kingdom of God, or bitter fruit for the harvest of destruction?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 2 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/05/04;
Podcast: Monday 2 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 5:8-17  – The Lord’s vineyard;
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11  –  The coming Day of the Lord;
Luke 21:20-28  –   The end of the Age;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The vineyard represents Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines. The Lord looked for a harvest of justice and righteousness, but they produced bloodshed and oppression instead. The Lord will remove its hedge; he will break down its wall. The vineyard will be trampled and destroyed. It will become a wasteland. The land will not be cultivated, and thorns and briars will take over; there will be no rain upon it (see entry for yesterday, Sunday, 2 Advent, odd year).

Woe to those who covet houses and fields; who buy up large tracts. Larger and larger holdings will yield less and less (because the Lord will not bless and prosper the greedy. Woe to those who pursue their own pleasure and do not regard the Lord or his deeds. Because of their ignorance of God’s will they will go into exile; they will die of hunger and thirst. The kingdom of the dead will have to be enlarged to accommodate the number of those who will be condemned by God’s judgment. The nobility of Jerusalem will join the many who are condemned. The proud will be humbled, but the Lord will be exalted in justice and glorified in righteousness. When the Lord exacts judgment the Lord’s flocks will receive pasture and be fed among the ruins.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Just when people think they have peace and security, sudden destruction will come upon them like birth pangs upon a pregnant woman, and there is no escape. Believers are not living in darkness that we should be taken by surprise as by a thief. Believers are children of light and of the day; not of night and darkness. Let us not sleep, as unbelievers do, but let us stay awake and be sober.

Those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night, but believers belong to the day, so let us stay sober. Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation. God has destined us not for wrath but for salvation through Jesus Christ, who died so that we might live with him, whether we have died physically or are still living when Christ returns. So we ought to build up and encourage one another.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus warned that when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, its desolation is near. Those in the city and those in the surrounding area should flee. The days of vengeance are at hand, and the scriptures will be fulfilled. Alas for those with small children in those days. There will be great distress and wrath upon the people. They will be killed in warfare or captured by the nations. “Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

There will be disturbances of nature in the heavens and on earth. People will be fainting with fear and foreboding concerning what is about to take place. “They will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).  When believers see these things we should be encouraged because our redemption is drawing near.

Commentary:

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is an example of his judgment on unrighteousness and injustice, and an allegory and a warning to the world, the Church, and to America. In a sense each is the Lord’s vineyard, and we are all his vines. Woe to those who pursue material wealth, worldly power and pleasure and disregard God’s command to pursue justice and righteousness.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, and it will come suddenly and without warning, like a thief in the night. There is no reason for believers to be caught by surprise. Believers have the light of scripture and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We need to be living in that light, not napping; not partying; not living for our own pleasure. It’s God’s desire that we be saved, but we must do our part; we must cooperate with God’s plan by trusting and obeying Jesus and waiting expectantly for his return (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus warned of the destruction of Jerusalem. That desolation of Jerusalem occurred in 70 A.D. when Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled. The Lord removed his protection from Judah and Jerusalem and they were trampled and devoured.

God’s Word is eternal. It applied to Judah and Jerusalem in that day, and it applies to the world, the Church, and America today. It is a preview of the Day of Judgment. Jesus promised to return to judge the world (Matthew 25:31-46). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the New Jerusalem in the kingdom of God in Heaven. Those who have rejected and refused to obey Jesus will be carried off to eternal captivity and destruction in Hell with all evil.

Are we ready for Jesus’ return? Are we cooperating with God’s plan? Are we living in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we seeking to know and do God’s will, or are we pursuing our own interests. Are our Churches making disciples or are we just making bigger and bigger church buildings?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 2 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/06/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 2 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 5:18-25  –   Woes against the wicked;
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28  –   Concluding exhortation;
Luke 21:29-38  –   The parable of the fig tree;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Woe to those who practice iniquity and falsehood; who deliberately sin. Woe to those who would test God, telling God to hurry up and show what he is doing, saying “Let the purpose of the Lord be revealed that we may know it” (Isaiah 5:19). Woe to those who regard evil as good and what is good as evil. Woe to those who regard darkness as light and light as darkness. Woe to those who regard what is sweet as bitter, and what is bitter as sweet. Woe to those who think they’re smart and shrewd. Woe to those who boast of their drinking (or carousing). Woe to those “who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of his rights” (Isaiah 5:23). Their root and blossom will be destroyed as by fire because they have rejected God’s law and despised God’s Word. For these things the Lord was angry with his people and punished them; dead bodies filled the streets. These things still make God angry and he will yet punish this sort of behavior.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Believers should respect those who work in the Church and have been given authority over them in Christ and who admonish them. We should love and esteem them because of their work. We should be peaceable with one another. We should “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak and be patient with them all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18).

We should not resist motivation by the Holy Spirit. We should not resist the Spirit’s inspiration to hear and obey God’s Word or to proclaim it to others. We should evaluate everything in the light of the Gospel, and hold onto what is good and reject what is evil. May God complete your purification from sin and may you be whole and blameless at the coming of Jesus. God is faithful and fully able to do this.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had told his followers the signs that would indicate the end of the age (Luke 21:5-28). Then Jesus said that, as the appearance of leaves on a fig tree indicates the approach of summer, those signs would be reliable indicators of the return of Jesus to establish the kingdom of God. Heaven and earth will pass away but Jesus words are eternal and will be fulfilled. We should be careful not to become encumbered with the cares and pleasures of this life, so that the sudden coming of that Day not catch us unprepared, because it will come upon everyone. Be watchful at all times, praying for strength to escape all that is coming, and be blameless in Jesus’ presence.

Jesus continued to teach each day in the temple and all the people came early in the mornings to hear him, but he stayed at night in lodgings on the Mount of Olives (in Bethany, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived;  Mark 11:1, 11-12; John 11:1).

Commentary:

God’s Word condemns the ways of this world. Those who practice injustice, wickedness, falsehood, and sin (disobedience of God’s Word) will be punished. Those who challenge God to prove himself will be condemned. Those who enjoy what is evil and revile righteousness will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. Those who take pride in worldly wisdom, who exalt in depravity, or who pervert justice will be destroyed. The scriptures declare God’s judgment on such behavior. Those who reject and disobey God’s Word will suffer the consequences. God has revealed his purpose in Jesus Christ.

Believers are called to leave worldly ways and to conform their lives to God’s Word. We are called to be led by the Holy Spirit. We are called to hear and obey God’s Word. If Jesus is truly our Lord we will do what Jesus commands (Matthew 7:21-24). God’s Word is the standard by which everyone will be judged. Jesus is God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Day of Judgment is at hand. Jesus warns us not to be conformed to the standards of the society around us. Jesus has promised that he will return to judge everyone who has ever lived on earth. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven; those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to obey him will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14: 6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Wednesday 2 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/07/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 2 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 6:1-13  –  Isaiah’s vision;
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12  –   The judgment of God;
John 7:53-8:11   –  The Adulteress;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In 742 B.C., the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah had a vision of God on his throne. The glory of the Lord filled the temple. Above the throne were Seraphim (winged heavenly beings), who declared the holiness and glory of the Lord. The foundations of the temple shook at the sound of the Seraphim, and the temple was filled with smoke. Isaiah realized his sinfulness in comparison to the glory and holiness of God and was dismayed. One of the Seraphim took a burning coal from the altar with tongs and flew to Isaiah and touched Isaiah’s lips, and declared that Isaiah’s guilt had been taken away and his sin forgiven.

Then the Lord asked who would be willing to be sent to the people to speak God’s Word, and Isaiah volunteered. The Lord told Isaiah to tell the people that they hear over and over but do not understand, they see over and over but do not perceive. Their hearts grow fat, their ears heavy; they shut their eyes so that they won’t have to see or hear or understand and turn and be healed. Isaiah asked the Lord how long (he should preach the message) and the Lord told him to do so until the cities are deserted and in ruins, the houses empty and the land utterly desolate. The Lord will move the people far away. Although a tenth shall remain it will be burned again. It will be like an oak that has been cut down, just a stump. “The holy seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:13d).

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul gave thanks to God that the Thessalonians’ faith and love were growing and abounding. They are an example to all Christians of steadfastness and faith amid persecution and affliction. Their suffering for the faith is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that through suffering they might be made worthy of the kingdom of God.

On the Day of Judgment Jesus will return with his mighty angels in flaming fire to repay with affliction those who have caused affliction, and to give rest to those who have suffered for the gospel. He will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their punishment will be eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord.

In that day the Lord will be glorified in his saints and celebrated by all who have believed. Paul prayed that God would make the Thessalonians worthy of God’s call and that they might fulfill their commitment to the faith, so that the Lord Jesus might be glorified in them and they in him by God’s grace (the riches of his extravagant gift) in Jesus Christ.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was in Jerusalem teaching in the temple, and some religious leaders brought to him a woman who had been caught in adultery. They were looking for a charge to bring against Jesus, so they told Jesus that she had been caught in adultery. According to the Law of Moses she should be stoned to death, and they asked Jesus what he would say. Jesus bent down and began to write with his finger in the dust on the ground.

The religious leaders repeated the question so Jesus stood up and told them that those who were sinless should cast the first stone. Then Jesus resumed writing on the ground. One by one, the religious leaders left, beginning with the eldest, until only the woman was left standing before Jesus. Jesus asked if any of the religious leaders had condemned her and she replied that they had not. Then Jesus declared that he didn’t condemn her either. He told her she could go, but to sin no more.

Commentary:

Isaiah saw the glory of God on his throne in the temple in Heaven, and he heard the testimony of the Seraphim. He perceived and understood that he was a sinner and that he was unworthy to be in God’s presence. Isaiah confessed his sin (Isaiah 6:5), and he was forgiven and cleansed of his sin. Then he was worthy to proclaim God’s Word, and he was willing to do so.

He was given the commission to warn Israel that their refusal to see and hear God’s Word was costing them the opportunity to repent and be spiritually healed. That rebellion was going to result in disaster. Isaiah was given the task of preaching that warning until the judgment was fulfilled. In the word of judgment God promised that there would be a remnant and that from that remnant would come the holy seed which is the Savior Jesus Christ (compare Isaiah 11:1, 10; Revelation 5:5; 22:16).

Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled once when the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and the people were deported to Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C. It was fulfilled again when the Romans attacked Judah and destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. The people were scattered and the nation of Israel ceased to exist until it was reestablished following World War II.

Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:38). With the destruction of the temple there was no longer any facility for carrying on the sacrificial rituals on which the Covenant of Law was based. The temple has never been rebuilt. God’s Word is eternal and it still applies today. It is a preview of the Day of Judgment.

Paul warns that those who refuse to see the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and refuse to listen and obey Jesus’ teachings are losing their opportunity to repent and be saved from the Day of Judgment. Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ and obey his commands will be condemned to eternal destruction and exclusion from God’s presence. Believers must be willing to endure some suffering now for the Gospel but that affliction cannot compare to the condemnation that is coming for those who reject the Gospel, or to the glory of eternity in Heaven with the Lord for those who persevere now in suffering for the Gospel.

We have all sinned and fall short of the righteousness of God (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation from eternal death and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). We are all like that woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus. If we come to Jesus in trust and obedience he has the power to forgive our sins. The woman was forgiven, provided that she trust and obey Jesus.

If we make the commitment to trust and obey Jesus he is able to make us worthy of God’s call; he is able to help us fulfill our commitment of faith (obedient trust). Jesus is able to empower us, through his indwelling Holy Spirit, to turn from sin, to grow to spiritual maturity, and to glorify the Lord at the Day of Judgment. We won’t be perfect immediately. He will forgive us as many times as necessary, as long as we’re trusting him and trying to follow his teachings. His Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin and enables us to proclaim God’s Word.

Now is the opportunity to see and perceive the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to hear and obey his commands, and open our hearts to receive Jesus. The Day of Judgment is going to come suddenly and without warning, and then it will be too late. On that Day there will be no more forgiveness; only condemnation.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Thursday 2 Advent – Odd 

First posted 12/08/04;
Podcast: Thursday 2 Advent – Odd 

 

Isaiah 7:1-9   –   Threat to David’s throne;
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12  –   The Day of the Lord;
Luke 22:1-13   –   Jesus’ betrayer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

When Ahaz was king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom), Rezin,  king of Syria, and Pekah, king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel attacked Jerusalem (734-733 B.C.). The royal succession of the throne of David was threatened. The Lord told Isaiah to go out with his son, who had been named Shear-Jashub (meaning “A remnant shall return”) to meet Ahaz by the upper pool (south of the Pool of Siloam). The Lord told Isaiah to tell Ahaz not to fear Syria and Ephraim (i.e., the Northern Kingdom). The Lord told Isaiah that although Pekah planned to conquer Judah and establish the son of Tabeel as king it would not happen.

The capital of Syria was Damascus and Resin was king of Syria. The Lord declared that within sixty-five years Ephraim would be broken and would cease to exist as a people. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the king of Israel was Pekah, the son of Ramaliah. The Lord told Isaiah to tell Ahaz to believe what the Lord had said or Ahaz would not prevail.

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul told the Thessalonians not to be excited by rumors that the Day of the Lord had come, or to worry about assembling to meet him (see Matthew 24: 23-28). The revealing of the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) must take place first. When the Antichrist is revealed he will establish his throne in the temple of God and declare himself to be God. His influence is already at work in the world, but he is restrained from revealing himself until the appointed time.

When the Antichrist finally reveals himself the Lord Jesus will return and will destroy the Antichrist by his coming. The coming of Antichrist will be with great power and pretended signs and wonders, and with great deception. Those who have refused to love the truth (of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) will be deceived. All who rejected the Gospel and who took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

Luke Paraphrase:

As the time of the Feast of Passover approached, the religious authorities sought for a way to execute Jesus without causing civil disorder. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, yielded to Satan and met with the religious leaders to arrange to betray Jesus into their power, away from the multitudes.

On the Day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover Feast was held, Jesus sent Peter and John to make arrangements. Jesus told them that when they entered Jerusalem they would see a man carrying a water jug. They should follow him and enter his house and ask the householder to show them the guest room where the Teacher was to eat the Passover with his disciples. The householder would show them a large furnished upper room, where they were to prepare for the meal. The disciples did as directed and everything happened exactly as Jesus had said.

Commentary:

“When the house of David (Southern Kingdom of Judah; Ahaz) was told, ‘Syria is in league with Ephraim,’ his heart and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (Isaiah 7:2). The Lord sent word through Isaiah to reassure Ahaz. God had promised David that the Messiah, God’s anointed eternal king, would come from David’s unbroken line of succession to the throne (2 Samuel 7:13). All Ahaz had to do was trust in the Lord.

In 721 B.C. Shalameneser invaded the Northern Kingdom and attacked Samaria. The ten northern tribes ceased to exist. Samaria was never again inhabited by the Israelites. (At the time of Jesus, Samaria was a region consisting mainly of the tribal allotments of Ephraim and Manasseh populated by Samaritans, a mixed race with an adulterated religion.) Notice that the prophecy was fulfilled much sooner than the sixty-five years which were allowed. Anyone who thought they had plenty of time until the fulfillment would have been caught by surprise.

The historical account of the Syro-Ephraimite War is also a parable, a metaphor for life in this world. Satan rules the present worldly kingdom, corresponding to Pekah, the king of the worldly Northern Kingdom of Israel. Satan wants to establish his “son of Tabeel,” the Antichrist, as the king of the religious kingdom.

God is not going to allow that to happen. Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah, the eternal heir to the throne of David, who will return to destroy Satan and the Antichrist. If we trust and obey Jesus we will be established eternally with him in his eternal kingdom; otherwise we will perish eternally.

The Lord is in control. Satan and the Antichrist are at work in this world, but Christ has already won the victory with his crucifixion and resurrection. The Antichrist isn’t free to do what he wants; he can’t reveal himself until God allows it.

Everyone will either believe the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will trust and obey Jesus, or they will be deceived by Satan and the Antichrist. When the Antichrist is revealed Jesus will return and destroy the Antichrist and will condemn all who have not trusted and obeyed Jesus.

All of us will either serve Jesus or we will serve Satan. Judas turned from trusting and obeying Jesus; he was deceived by Satan and he betrayed the Lord. Peter and John trusted and obeyed Jesus, and they found that what Jesus promised took place exactly as Jesus had told them.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). If you do not know Jesus you do not know truth. If you do not trust and obey Jesus you are deceived and are following the liar and father of all lies, Satan (John 8:44).  If you do not believe (trust and obey) Jesus you will perish eternally (Isaiah 7:9b).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 2 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/09/04;
Podcast: Friday 2 Advent – Odd 

Isaiah 7:10-25   –   Sign of Immanuel;
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5   –   Thanksgiving;
Luke 22:14-30  –   The Lord’s Supper;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Ahaz, the king of Judah, was facing attack by the Northern Kingdom of Israel in alliance with Syria. God had told him not to fear but to trust in God. God told Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign to confirm that promise; the Lord told Ahaz (through Isaiah) that nothing he could imagine as a sign would be too difficult for the Lord. But Ahaz declined to put the Lord to the test.

The Lord replied, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. A young woman (“maiden”) shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel (“God is with us”). Immanuel would eat curds and honey (perhaps food for young children) when he knew to choose right and reject evil. Before a child knows right from wrong, the land of the Northern Kingdom would be deserted.

The Lord will bring tribulation upon Judah, comparable to the day Ephraim departed from Judah (comparable to the fall of the Northern Kingdom), through the Assyrians. Egypt and Assyria would conquer Judah (as instruments of the Lord’s judgment). The Lord will allow the land to be “shorn” closely (of her inhabitants); those who remain will eat “curds and honey” (i.e. what they can forage; survival rations). The cultivated land will revert to its natural wild state, overgrown with briars and thorns.

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians (and all Christians), who are beloved of God, whom God chose from the beginning to save through sanctification (freeing from sin; setting apart for sacred purpose) by the Spirit and belief in the truth. For that reason God calls us through the gospel, so that we “may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

We are exhorted to hold fast to the doctrinal and ethical teachings from the Scriptures (the Bible). We have eternal comfort and good hope through the free gift of Jesus Christ, so let our hearts be comforted and committed to applying the Gospel in our lives and sharing it with others. Let us pray that the Word of God will spread and bear fruit as it has in us, and that we would be delivered from wicked and evil people, because not all believe. The Lord is faithful and well able to strengthen and guard us from evil. Let us “be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

Luke Paraphrase:

At the Lord’s last Passover supper, Jesus told his disciples that he was going to suffer and that he would not again share the Passover meal again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Jesus took a cup of wine, gave thanks, and told his disciples to share it, saying that Jesus would not drink wine again until the kingdom of God comes. Jesus took bread and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to his disciples, telling them “This is my body” (Luke 22:19).

Jesus said that his betrayer was with them at the table. Jesus’ destiny was fixed (because Jesus chose to accept it), but woe to the person who chooses to betray him. “The disciples began to question among themselves which of them would do this” (Luke 22:23).

A dispute arose among the disciples over who among them was greatest. Jesus told them that worldly ways of establishing greatness do not apply in the kingdom of God. There, greatness is determined by humility and servanthood. Jesus came into the world exemplifying not the world’s standards of greatness; he came humbly as a servant. Those who continue with Jesus through tribulation, as Jesus himself had tribulation, will share in the kingdom God has appointed for Jesus. We will share in his table in his kingdom and share his authority.

Commentary:

Ahaz and the kingdom of Judah were terrified of the attack which was coming from the Northern Kingdom of Israel in league with Syria. The Lord told Ahaz not to be afraid but to trust the Lord. The Lord offered to let Ahaz choose a sign for the Lord to do to reassure him that the Lord’s promise was true, but Ahaz didn’t want to put the Lord to the test.

Then the Lord gave Ahaz the promise of Immanuel, and he also told Ahaz that the Northern Kingdom, of whom Ahaz was now afraid, would be deserted. The Lord said that Judah would go through a similar tribulation. The Lord had promised, long before, that he would send an eternal king to inherit the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12-14).  The Lord wasn’t going to let the Northern Kingdom hinder that promise by usurping the throne of David and installing the son of Tabeel (see entry for yesterday, Thursday, 2 Advent, odd year).

God keeps his promises. The Northern Kingdom was desolated by the Assyrians. The capital of the Northern Kingdom was captured by Shalmaneser in 721 B.C. The Northern Kingdom’s attack on Jerusalem was in 734-733 B.C.; the fall of the Northern Kingdom was about 12 years after the prophecy, within the time indicated by the age of moral discrimination implied by Isaiah 7:16. The ten northern tribes of Israel were scattered throughout the world and ceased to exist. The Southern Kingdom of Judah subsequently was captured by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Judeans were exiled to Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C. Jesus is Immanuel (Emmanuel; Matthew 1:21-23).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise which God has been revealing through the scriptures throughout the history of Israel. Jesus warns his disciples that they will have tribulation in this world as Jesus had tribulation, but as they persevere they will also share in his glory and his kingdom.

Jesus knew that he was going to be crucified. He knew that was his destiny. He chose to fulfill that destiny. We also have a destiny; God chose us to be his children, sanctified by his Holy Spirit and set apart for his service. We can choose to accept that destiny by trusting and obeying Jesus, or we can rebel and reject that destiny. The Northern Kingdom is a picture of those who rebelled and rejected their eternal destiny. Judas Iscariot is another example of one who rejected his eternal destiny and inheritance.

God has had a plan to save us through sanctification by the indwelling Holy Spirit and faith (obedient trust) in Christ from the beginning (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Compare John 1:1-5, 14; Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9). Like Ahaz, all we have to do is trust and obey Jesus, and we will have eternal comfort and life with the Lord. The Lord is faithful and able to strengthen and guard us. We just need to hold on to God’s Word and apply it.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 2 Advent – Odd 
First posted 12/10/04;
Podcast: Saturday 2 Advent – Odd

 

Isaiah 8:1-15   –  “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens;”
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18   –  Exhortation to diligence;
Luke 22:31-38  –   Peter’s denial foretold;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord told Isaiah to inscribe on a wooden tablet, “Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (the word means “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens”). Isaiah did as the Lord had commanded, before Uriah (Urijah) the priest, and Zechariah (Ahaz’s father-in-law) as witnesses. Then Isaiah’s wife (a prophetess) conceived and bore a son, and the Lord told Isaiah to name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

The Lord said that before the child was old enough to say his first words, Damascus and Samaria would be plundered by the Assyrians. The Lord declared that, because the Israelites had refused the waters of Shiloah (an aqueduct flowing from the spring, Gihon; principle source of water for Jerusalem), and were frightened by the prospect of attack by Resin, king of Syria, that Assyria would be like a mighty river (Euphrates) in flood, rising above its banks and sweeping on into Judah, flooding the entire land of Immanuel.

People will be dismayed. People will plot, but their plans will not be successful, because the Lord is with his people. The Lord warned Isaiah not to do as the Judeans were doing, fearing conspiracy against them and being in dread of their enemies. Instead Isaiah should fear the Lord and trust in him.

The Lord “will be a sanctuary and a stone of offense, and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble thereon and shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken” (Isaiah 8:14-15).

2 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul warned believers not to suppose that Christ’s imminent return made it unnecessary for them to work. Paul had set the example by earning his living while he ministered to them, rather than expecting them to support him, although he would have had that right. Paul declared that those who were unwilling to work should not eat. Paul said that all should earn their own living, and not be a nuisance to others. We should not tire of helping one another.

Paul instructed believers to shun those who didn’t live according to sound teaching, so that they might be ashamed, but that we should not regard them as enemies, but rather that we should warn them as a brother. Paul prayed that the Lord would be with them and give them his peace, and signed the letter in his own handwriting.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told Simon (Peter) that Satan had demanded to tempt all of the disciples, but Jesus had prayed for Simon in particular, that his faith wouldn’t fail, and that when Simon turned again (from wavering) he should strengthen his brethren (in faith; fellow discipes). Simon replied that he was ready to go to prison and death with his Lord, but Jesus told (Simon) Peter that he would deny knowing Jesus three times that very day, before the cock crowed (before dawn; before the changing of the night watch).

Then Jesus reminded his disciples that previously he had sent them out in ministry with instructions to take no purse or bag or sandals, and they had not lacked anything, but from now on they were to equip themselves to survive in a hostile world. Jesus warned them that scripture foretold that Jesus (and therefore his followers) would be regarded as law-breakers, and that the scripture would be fulfilled. His disciples showed Jesus that they had two swords, and Jesus replied that it was enough.

Commentary:

The Lord indicated to Isaiah that the fall of Samaria, the Capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be a matter of only a few years (Samaria fell to Shalmaneser in 721 B.C.; see entry for yesterday, 2 Advent, odd year). Because the Judeans had refused the waters of Shiloah (symbolic of the Lord’s providence) they were swept away by the Euphrates (symbolic of Assyria).

Ahaz made an alliance with Assyria to oppose the attack by the Northern Kingdom in alliance with Syria (2Kings 16:7). As a result, Judah came under the domination of Assyria. Isaiah was warned to trust the Lord alone, and not to do as the Judeans were, letting fear of their enemies drive them to make worldly alliances. The Lord is to be our sanctuary, but the Lord is an obstacle and trap which will destroy those who do not take refuge in him.

Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians to earn their own livings was directed to a specific situation at that time, but it has relevance to the Church in our time in a different way. In Paul’s day some Christians had quit their jobs to loaf while awaiting what they supposed would be the imminent return of Jesus. They were creating a burden and nuisance to others.

Today this text might be better applied to those in the Church who come to be spiritually fed, but who don’t pull their share of the ministry burden; they consume without producing. [I must comment that I think it would be twisting the scriptures to use this text to blame unemployment on the unemployed, or to suggest that charity is unscriptural in an economy where full employment is not achievable.]

The Church also needs to be careful not to make alliances with worldly institutions and standards. The Church needs to hold on to the scriptures, to sound teaching, rather than conforming to and adopting secular values.

One trend in the Church today is to be “consumer oriented;” to structure their programs to appeal to “spiritual consumers.” The end result is “fair-weather ‘Christians,’” instead of “disciples.”

Another is to accept for membership and even ordination people who are practicing lifestyles which are contrary to scriptural standards. Paul taught that we were not to associate with those who are not living in accordance with scripture, and were to rebuke them and warn them not as our enemies, but as our brothers or sisters, in loving concern for their spiritual wellbeing.

Jesus warned his disciples that they would not be “popular” in the world. He wanted them to be prepared to follow Jesus’ teaching and carry out their ministries in the face of opposition. Peter was full of enthusiasm for Jesus until he was out there in the world on his own and running into some serious opposition. He had confessed Jesus as Christ and then, facing hostility and opposition from the world, he gave in to temptation to conform to the society around him and denied Jesus three times .

When he realized what he had done, Peter wept (Luke 22:54-62) in repentance. Jesus had known it would happen, and he had reassured Peter of his forgiveness beforehand, and after the resurrection Jesus made a special point of reassuring Peter and restoring him to useful ministry (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-17).

Jesus is the rock on which to stand to give us protection and advantage over our enemies, and the solid foundation for our lives. Peter is the name meaning “rock” which Jesus gave him when Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ (Messiah) of God (Matthew 16:16-18), the basic confession (“rock”) of faith on which the Church is founded.

Jesus is our sanctuary and refuge for those who believe. Those who deny him and do not repent, who reject Jesus and do not obey him, will stumble and be crushed by him.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 1 Advent – Odd – 11/30 – 12/06/2014

November 29, 2014

Week of 1 Advent – Odd

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepboy.multiply.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 1 Advent – Odd
Sunday 1 Advent – Odd
First posted 11/27/04;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 1:1-9  –  Rebellious Judah;
2 Peter 3:1-10 –  The Day of the Lord;
Matthew 25:1-13  –  The Lord’s return;

Isaiah Summary:

God gave this revelation to Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem during the period leading up to the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, while Judah became a puppet of the Assyrian Empire. God had raised up Israel as his children, but they had rebelled against the Lord. They were dumber than an ox or an ass, because they didn’t know to whom they belonged or who fed them. They were sinful, corrupt and estranged; they had forsaken the Lord. Why would they continue to rebel and be punished? From head to toe they have been injured.

Consider the devastation of country and city; aliens (Assyria) had devastated and overthrown the land. Jerusalem was left like an abandoned shelter made of sticks (or like a hobo’s shelter made of cardboard), like a besieged city. Except for the Lord’s mercy they should have been like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-28).

2 Peter Paraphrase:

Remember the predictions of the holy prophets and keep the commandments of the Lord as taught through the apostles. Realize that there will be scoffers who argue that Christ’s return will never happen. They ignore the fact that the world which existed long ago (at the time of Noah) was destroyed by the Word of God by the Flood. The world that exists now has been designated for destruction by fire reserved for the Day of Judgment and the destruction of the ungodly. But don’t overlook the fact that God’s view of time from his perspective in eternity is different than ours.

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8; compare Psalm 90:4). It is not slowness, but forbearance, on the Lord’s part, desiring that all might reach repentance and that none should perish. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10; compare Matthew 24:42-44).

Matthew Paraprase:

Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish maidens to illustrate the coming of the kingdom of God. It that culture, it was customary for the bridegroom to fetch the bride from her parents’ home to his own. Ten maidens with their lamps were waiting for the groom to arrive. Five had wisely brought extra oil; but the other five were foolish and had brought no spare oil. The groom was delayed, and the maidens fell asleep.

At midnight a cry announced the coming of the bridegroom, and all the maidens arose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish maidens’ lamps were running out of oil, and they asked to borrow some oil from the wise maidens, but the wise maidens declined because they needed the oil for their own lamps. So the foolish maidens went to buy from the dealers.

While they were gone, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went in to the marriage feast and the door was shut. The foolish maidens returned and asked to be admitted, but the Lord did not know them. Jesus warned his hearers to be alert, because no one knows the day or hour (of the Lord’s return).

Commentary:

Isaiah was trying to warn the Judeans about the consequences of rebellion against God, during the period of Israel’s history when the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people were carried off into captivity as the result of God’s judgment against Israel’s wickedness and disobedience. Judah was on the same course and was heedless of the consequences. Even an ox or an ass knows its owner and who feeds it, but Judah apparently didn’t. Why would they continue to rebel against the Lord and be punished?

Only God’s mercy had kept them from becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah (completely destroyed by fire from heaven, in God’s judgment against their wickedness). Judah didn’t learn the lessons of the God’s judgment on the Northern Kingdom, so they repeated Israel’s sins and were carried off into Babylonian Exile for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C.

They didn’t learn the lesson of that exile, and were unprepared for Jesus’ coming at the time of his earthly ministry. As a result Jerusalem was conquered by the Romans and the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. (in fulfillment of Jesus’ word; Luke 19: 41-44; Matthew 24:1-2). Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and the people were scattered throughout the world. Only since World War II, has the nation of Israel been reestablished. Judaism effectively ended with the destruction of the temple, which has never been rebuilt.

We are well-advised to remember the predictions of the prophets of the Lord and to do as the Lord has commanded. There are many scoffers today who reject the concept of a Day of Judgment and the Lord’s return. Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth and to save those who have trusted and obeyed him (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus warned that his return will be unexpected, as was the destruction of the world by the Flood in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-39).

Jesus is going to return for his bride, the Church, those “born-again” disciples who have trusted and obeyed him and have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “oil” that causes our spiritual lamps to produce light in the darkness of this world. Christians are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). The Holy Spirit is the anointing “oil” of spiritual healing and salvation (The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we belong to Christ and that we have eternal life; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). The anointing (infilling) by the Holy Spirit is a discernable experience which one can know with certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2). The Lord gives the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17).  Now is the time to seek and obtain the “oil of salvation;” the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is also a parable and an allegory which applies to us. The fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the carrying off of the people into captivity as the result of God’s judgment against wickedness and disobedience, which was repeated in the Babylonian exile, and in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., is a preview of the Day of Judgment, when the Lord will condemn the wicked to eternal death, destruction in Hell with all evil, and eternal exile from his kingdom and his presence. God’s Word is absolutely dependable; it has been fulfilled over and over. Are you ready for the Lord’s return?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 1 Advent – Odd
First posted 11/28/04;
Podcast: Monday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 1:10-20  –  God’s judgment on Judah;
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10  –  Confirmation by the Holy Spirit;
Luke 20:1-8  –  Jesus’ authority;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah declared God’s judgment upon the rulers and people of Judah, which he refers to as “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” (because of their immorality and rebelliousness; Genesis 18:16-19:28; compare Jeremiah 23:14). The Lord does not delight in the outward forms of worship without inner reverence and obedience. It is futile to try to worship the Lord without repenting and returning to obedience to the Lord.

The Lord refuses to hear the prayers of those who are guilty of sin. Repent; stop doing evil; “learn to do good; seek justice; correct oppression;” provide for the needy (Isaiah 1:17). Be reasonable! If you are willing and obedient (to do the Lord’s will) the Lord will completely forgive your sins no matter how many and terrible they are; the Lord will cleanse you completely from all your guilt, and you will receive the good things of life. But if you refuse and rebel (against the Lord’s Word) you will be destroyed.

2 Peter Paraphrase:

Paul greeted the Thessalonian congregation in the names of himself and his co-workers Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy. Paul gave thanks to God for the Thessalonians’ faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledged that God had chosen the Thessalonians, because they had received the Gospel not only in word, but confirmed by power and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, with full assurance (certainty; without doubt).

Paul and his co-workers demonstrated the Christian lifestyle and the Thessalonians imitated the examples set by them and by the Lord. They received the Gospel amid affliction, “with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Not only had they proclaimed God’s Word in Macedonia (of which Thessalonica is the capital) and in (neighboring) Greece (Achaia) but (news of) their faith in God has traveled everywhere, so that Paul had no need to mention it further. It is well known that the Thessalonians had turned from idols to serve the true living God, and to wait for (the return of) his Son from heaven whom God raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from God’s coming punishment of sin.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching and preaching in the temple and the religious leaders came and asked Jesus to tell them who had given him his authority to do these things. Jesus, in reply, asked them whether John the Baptizer’s baptism was from heaven or from men.

The religious leaders discussed the question among themselves. They realized that if they answered that John’s baptism was from heaven that Jesus would ask why they hadn’t believed John (and done what he said); but if they said it was not from heaven, they were afraid that the people would stone them, because the people believed John was a prophet of the Lord. The leaders decided to answer that they didn’t know, so Jesus also declined to answer their question regarding Jesus’ authority.

Commentary:

We cannot please God with the outward forms of worship if we do not reverence and obey him in our hearts. The Lord refuses to hear the prayers of unrepentant sinners (Proverbs 15:8, 29; see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home). If we expect to be forgiven and saved we must repent and turn to the Lord and to obedience of his Word.

The Thessalonians were examples of believers who received the Gospel and applied it in their daily lives. They had copied the examples of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the apostles. They had the assurance of their salvation because they had not only received the Gospel in word; but they had obediently applied it in their lives and had received the indwelling Holy Spirit which is the seal and guarantee that they were in Christ and had eternal life  (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). The anointing (infilling) by the Holy Spirit is a discernable experience which one can know with certainty for oneself (Acts 19:2). The Lord gives the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). As a result of their obedience, the Thessalonians’ faith was a testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the region.

The religious authorities challenged Jesus’ authority, but refused to be accountable to him for their own authority. Jesus was under no obligation to answer to them, since they refused to answer to him. It is obvious that they didn’t accept John’s divine authority because if they had they would have done what John preached; they would have repented and returned to obedience to the Lord and would have been ready to receive Jesus as the Messiah. It’s obvious also that they didn’t believe that Jesus was preaching and teaching by divine authority, because they rejected his message, and refused to obey him.

It will be obvious who has believed in Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus will do what he says. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say” (Luke 6:46; compare Matthew 7:21-24)? Those who love the Lord will keep his commandments (John 14:21) and will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Do we think that we can have fellowship with the Lord while continuing to do evil? Do we imagine we can claim to be Christians while tolerating injustice, oppression, and poverty in our land and in our world? Have we acknowledged Jesus’ authority over our lives? What kind of witness to the Gospel will we be?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 1 Advent – Odd
First posted 11/29/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 1:21-31  –    Judgment and redemption;
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12  –   Paul’s example at Thessalonica;
Luke 20:9-18  –  Parable of the vineyard;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The faithful city (Jerusalem) has become a harlot (unfaithful to the Lord). Once justice and righteousness dwelt in her, but now murderers lodge there. Her silver has become dross (impurities). Her wine has been adulterated with water. Her princes are rebels against the Lord, who consort with thieves. They do not defend the fatherless or aid widows.

Thus the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, declares wrath upon his enemies and vengeance upon his foes. The Lord will smelt away her dross, as with lye, and remove all the alloy (common metal used to adulterate precious metals). The Lord will restore righteous judges and counselors, as at the beginning. Then she shall be called the city of righteousness and the faithful city.

“Zion (the plateau on which Jerusalem was built; used in scripture to refer to Jerusalem; the People of God; the Church; the eternal city in Heaven) shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27). But rebels, sinners and those who forsake the Lord will be destroyed. They (the unrepentant) will be ashamed of their idolatries (pagan religious practices were conducted under “sacred” oaks; gardens were isolated by hedges or walls and used for prayer and meditation). They will become like withered oaks and unwatered gardens.  The strongest (of those who are unrighteous) shall be like tow (un-spun flax fibers; used as tinder), and their deeds the spark which will destroy both with unquenchable fire.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Although Paul (and Silas) had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi for proclaiming the Gospel, and disbelieving Jews stirred up opposition against Paul also in Thessalonica, Paul didn’t let opposition to the Gospel keep him from proclaiming it to the Thessalonians, and the results were very worthwhile. The faith of the Thessalonian Christians was a testimony to the truth of the Gospel and had become well-known throughout the region (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Paul denied the charges of the opposition that he was preaching heresy, immorality or deception. He asserted that he had been approved by God and entrusted with the Gospel. He refused to modify his message to please his hearers. Paul refused to use his preaching to flatter his hearers or to seek the acclaim of people.
Paul had sought no financial reward from preaching the Gospel, and he supported himself so as not to be a financial burden to the Church (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Instead of needing to be cared for by the Thessalonians, Paul had cared for their spiritual needs like a nursemaid cares for her children. Paul had great affection for the Thessalonians and was willing to share not only the Gospel, but everything with them.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told the parable of the vineyard: A man planted a vineyard and then went to another country, leaving the vineyard in the care of tenants. At the proper time, he sent a servant to collect his portion of the harvest, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. The owner sent other servants and these were beaten and injured and cast out empty-handed. The owner decided to send his beloved son, believing that the tenants would respect him, but the tenants, realizing that the son would inherit the vineyard, killed the son, supposing that when the owner died the vineyard would be theirs. But Jesus declared that the owner would come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

The reaction of those listening to the parable was, “God forbid” (Luke 20:16 RSV)! Jesus told them to think about the scriptures which say, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” [Psalm 118:22-23 (compare Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7)] and “everyone who falls on that stone will be broken in pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him” (Isaiah 8:14-15).

Commentary:

Jerusalem had once been a holy city faithful to the Lord, but had turned away from serving the Lord in trust and obedience. She no longer upheld justice and righteousness, but instead pursued wealth and power. In her greed she had allowed and participated in the contamination and adulteration of what was precious; she had adulterated and diluted the “wine” with water. Her religious and political leaders rebelled against God’s Word and were corrupt, using their positions to their own material benefit, and ignoring the needs of the poor.

The Lord will judge Jerusalem. The rebellious and disobedient will be eternally destroyed in the fire of Hell, but those who repent and turn to the Lord in trust and obedience will be saved and restored to the eternal city of Jerusalem in the kingdom of God in heaven. The Church and America are each in a similar position today to that of Jerusalem at the time of Isaiah; each is in a sense the “New Israel;” the “New Jerusalem.”

Paul is the example of a faithful servant of the Lord. Despite physical persecution and slander, Paul faithfully proclaimed the Gospel. He didn’t attempt to flatter his hearers or use the message for his personal profit. He faithfully cared for the believers who were his responsibility. Paul is an example of what Pastors and also every believer should be.

In one sense the vineyard represents the world, and we are all tenants accountable to God, the creator. The Church and America are also each individually represented by the vineyard; they are each in situations comparable to Judaism and Israel at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus is the cornerstone; everyone who trips on that stone will be eternally destroyed. Those who have rejected and disobeyed Jesus will be punished with eternal death and destruction.

Isaiah’s prophecy against Jerusalem was fulfilled when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadrezzar (Nebuchadnezzar) and the Jews were carried off to captivity in Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C.. Israel didn’t learn the lesson of Babylonian captivity and were unprepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled again: Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A. D. The temple was destroyed and has never been rebuilt; the people were scattered through out the world and the nation ceased to exist until the Jews began to return following World War II. God has demonstrated his judgment on injustice and sin repeatedly in the history of his dealing with Israel. This scripture should also be a warning to America and to the Church today.

We need to take a serious, honest look at ourselves. Are our religious and political leaders faithful servants of the Lord, or are they pursuing their own greed and polluting and adulterating what is precious? Are we faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, or manipulating it to flatter our hearers and deceive them. Are we using the Gospel to nurture God’s people or are we exploiting it for our selfish material benefit? Are we faithfully harvesting God’s vineyard and giving him the fruit of the harvest? Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 1 Advent – Odd
First posted 11/30/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 2:1-4  –  The new age;
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20  – The Thessalonians’ example;
Luke 20:19-26   –   Paying taxes to Caesar;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah declared God’s Word concerning Jerusalem and Judah. Zion (the plateau on which Jerusalem was built; used in scripture to indicate Jerusalem, the people of God, the Church, or the eternal city in heaven) would be elevated above every other mountain. All the nations and people shall come to it to learn from the Lord and to walk in obedience to him. Zion shall be the capital from which go forth the Law and God’s Word. The Lord will judge and govern the nations. He will initiate a reign of peace. Military resources will be converted to peaceful agricultural equipment. The nations will no longer make war on one another, nor prepare for war.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul commends the Thessalonians for their faith. When Paul preached the Gospel, the Thessalonians received it as God’s Word and it was at work in their lives, because they followed the example of the Judean Christians. They endured the same persecution for the Gospel from their countrymen as the Judeans had.

Those who persecute Christians are the ones who killed Jesus and the prophets. They displease God and hinder men by preventing Christians from proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. They are filling the measure of their sins, but God’s wrath will come upon them ultimately. Paul had longed to see the Thessalonians again face to face, but had been hindered. Paul considered them his joy and reward at the day of the Lord’s return.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had told the parable of the vineyard (Luke 20:9-18; see entry for yesterday, Tuesday, 1 Advent, odd year). The priests and teachers of the law perceived that the parable was told against them and they wanted to get rid of Jesus, but they were afraid of the reaction by the people. So they kept Jesus under surveillance and sent people to pretend to be sincere, asking Jesus questions designed to trap him in his words so that they might have some charge to bring against Jesus, in order to hand him over to the Roman governor. These spies claimed to believe Jesus’ teaching and then asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not.

Jesus was not fooled by their craftiness. He asked them to show him the coin used to pay the tax, and they produced one. Jesus asked them whose likeness and inscription was on the coin, and they replied that it was Caesar’s. Jesus then told them to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. The Jewish authorities were unable to trick Jesus into making a rash statement, and they were amazed by his answer.

Commentary:

Isaiah foresaw an age of peace following the Day of Judgment; the millennial kingdom of the Lord’s reign on earth. All nations and people would learn God’s Word and live in obedience to God’s will, and there would be no more strife or war.

The Thessalonian Christians were examples of the first Gentiles learning God’s ways and living under the reign of the Lord. They believed the Word of God and they applied it in their lives, following the examples of the Lord, the Apostles, and the Judean Christians (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14).

Until the Day of Judgment, there will continue to be persecution and strife. The enemies of the Gospel will continue to “fill up the measure of their sins” (1 Thessalonians 2:16) until the Day of Judgment. Paul’s preaching of the Gospel in the face of persecution brought the Thessalonians to salvation. Paul didn’t let persecution prevent him from proclaiming the Gospel to the Thessalonians, and the Thessalonians followed Paul’s example. He left his persecutors to the judgment of God.

The Lord didn’t change his message to make it more palatable to the Jewish leaders. Jesus didn’t let persecution by the Jewish leaders keep him from proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus didn’t try to flatter his hearers. But the Jewish leaders tried to flatter Jesus by pretending to be sincere and claiming to believe that his teaching was right, so that they could attack and destroy Jesus.

How are we doing? Are we willing to hear the Gospel even when it doesn’t flatter us? Are we receiving the Word of God and applying it in our daily lives? Are we following the examples of the Lord and the Apostles? Are we seeking the full preaching of God’s Word, or are we looking for preachers who will flatter us and make us feel good? Are we interested in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ so that we can learn to live according to God’s will? Are we letting what others might think about us hinder us from living the Gospel and proclaiming it?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 1 Advent – Odd

First posted 12/01/04;
Podcast: Thursday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 2:5-22   –  The Day of the Lord;
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13  –  Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians;
Luke 20:27-40  –    Questions about the resurrection;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah urges Israel to walk in the light (enlightenment) of the Lord. The Lord has rejected Israel because they have turned from the Lord and sought guidance from diviners and soothsayers and have made alliances with foreign nations. Their land is full of riches and treasure; they have great military might; their land is full of idols and they worship the works of their hands. The Lord will humble the proud and haughty. Take refuge in the rock; hide from the terror of the Lord.

In the Day of the Lord the Lord alone will be exalted. The Lord has a day against all that is proud and exalted. Man shall be humbled, and his pride brought low. Idols will utterly pass away. Mankind will seek refuge from the wrath of the Lord in caves in the rocks and in holes in the ground. In that day mankind will cast off their idols which they made for themselves to worship; they will leave them to the moles and the bats. Don’t look to mankind for help, for he is nothing, compared with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul had been anxious about the new congregation in Thesalonica, and had sent Timothy to exhort and strengthen them. Paul had been harassed by Jews who opposed the Gospel, and had been driven from Thesalonica (Acts 17:1-15). Paul wanted to reassure the Thessalonians that afflictions and persecutions are to be expected. Timothy had returned to Paul with a good report of the faith and love of the Thessalonian congregation, and Paul had been comforted and reassured, knowing that the Thessalonians were standing fast in their faith.

Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonians’ faith, and prayed that he might see them again face to face and add whatever was necessary to complete their faith. Paul prayed that the Lord would cause them to increase and abound in love toward fellow believers and to all people, so that their hearts would be established blameless in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus.

Luke Paraphrase:

Some Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, asked Jesus a question. According to Jewish law, if a man marries and dies without leaving a son to inherit his property, the man’s brother takes the widow as his wife to produce a son for his brother. The Sadducees suggested a scenario in which seven brothers each tried to fulfill this obligation with their brother’s wife, but none of them produced children. When the woman died, the Sadducees wanted to know whose wife she would be in the resurrection.

Jesus said that marriage is an institution which belongs to this age. The same customs do not apply to the age to come. Those who attain eternal life cannot die any more. They are equal to angels, and are children of God. Jesus cited God’s revelation of himself to Moses in the burning bush as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and said that God is not God of the dead but of the living. Some of the scribes (teachers of the law) remarked that Jesus had answered well, and none dared ask any further questions.

Commentary:

There is a Day of Judgment coming. God will punish those who have walked in worldly wisdom, seeking guidance and council from worldly counselors, making alliances with worldly powers and authorities, building military and political power, and coveting and accumulating the riches and treasures of this world.

The purpose of life is to learn to walk in the light of the Lord. On the Day of the Lord none of those worldly things will be of any benefit. Those who are in Christ will be saved. The unsaved will try to hide from the wrath of the Lord in caves and tunnels, but won’t be able to escape destruction.

The Thessalonians were on the right path; they were learning to walk in the light of the Lord. They were applying God’s Word in their daily lives. They were standing fast in their faith, regardless of affliction and persecution. They were following Jesus’ and Paul’s examples.

Paul wasn’t seeking worldly guidance or wisdom; he wasn’t seeking political or military power; he wasn’t accumulating worldly wealth. Paul’s treasure was seeing the Thessalonians turn from idolatry to serving the living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2:8-9) and standing firmly on their faith despite persecution.

The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, and one reason they didn’t was because they imagined all sorts of legal problems would result. Determining which of the brothers would have the woman as wife was an example. But Jesus said that circumstances of eternal life will be a lot different than life in this present world. We won’t be concerned with marriage relationships. There won’t be death either. We will be guided by God’s wisdom; we won’t need military or political power because God will supply all the power and security we need; we won’t need to accumulate gold and silver because God will supply everything we need, and he will provide security that material possessions can never provide.

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of this life is to prepare for eternal life. This is our only opportunity to seek God and come into a personal relationship with him through the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ (Acts 17:26-27). This is our opportunity to learn and prepare to live in the eternal kingdom. Jesus said that we should seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be ours as well (Matthew 6:33). Are you walking in the light?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 1 Advent – Odd
First posted 12/02/04;
Podcast: Friday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 3:1-4:1  –   Anarchy in Jerusalem;
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12  –  Exhortation to purity;
Luke 20:41-21:4  –  The widow’s offering;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord will take away from Jerusalem everything necessary to sustain life; Food, water and all civil functions. The experienced leaders will be removed and there will be only the inexperienced to lead. The people will oppress one another, and there will be no respect for one another.

No one will want to rule over the ruins that are left. Jerusalem has fallen because their speech and deeds are contrary to the Lord and she has defied the Lord. Their political and moral corruption witness against them. The righteous will fare well because they will be rewarded according to their deeds, but the wicked will receive what they have done to others. The people will be oppressed by children and ruled by women; their leaders have misled them and confused their direction.

The Lord has begun to contend against them. The Lord condemns the elders and princes, because they have used their positions to make themselves rich and to oppress and crush the poor. The women of the people have behaved wantonly and haughtily. The Lord will afflict them with diseases and take away their finery. Instead of perfume there will be stench; instead of beautiful hair, baldness, instead of fine clothes, sackcloth; shame will replace beauty. The men will die in battle. There will be so few men left that many women will join themselves to each man, and will earn their own support.

1 Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul exhorts believers to apply what they have learned from the example of the apostles and the scriptures. It is the will of God for believers to be purified from sin: that we abstain from immorality and keep marriage holy. We are to be careful not to wrong one another through transgressions of the marital relationship. We are to love one another as we have been taught by God; we are to grow in the practice of love. We are to live quietly, minding our own affairs and working productively so that unbelievers will have no reason to reproach us.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Sadducees had questioned Jesus about the resurrection of the dead (Luke 20:27-40; see entry for yesterday, Thursday, 1 Advent, odd year). After answering them, Jesus asked them a question: How is the Christ David’s son, since David calls him Lord? Then Jesus publicly told his disciples to beware of those who make a practice of appearing to be righteous and praying in public, while they oppress and steal from the poor. They will receive greater condemnation (than those who make no pretence of righteousness).

Jesus watched as people were putting offerings into the collection box. He noticed that a poor widow had put in two pennies, and he commented that her gift was greater than all the others, because while the rest contributed out of their surplus, she had, in her poverty, given her entire living.

The Lord condemned Jerusalem for political and moral corruption. The religious and political leaders claimed to belong to God, but they were not acting in accord with God’s Word. The leaders were using their positions of leadership to make themselves wealthy while oppressing the poor. The Lord also condemned the people for pursuing material wealth and pleasure, instead of seeking justice and righteousness.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy occurred during the fall of the Northern Kingdom to the Assyrians, but the people didn’t heed the warning. As a result the temple was destroyed and Judah was carried off to exile in Babylon for seventy years from 588 to 517 B.C.. Judah didn’t learn from that captivity, and was unprepared for Jesus’ coming. In 70 A.D. the temple was again destroyed, by the Romans, the nation of Israel ceased to exist, until it was reestablished after World War II. Jesus has promised to return to judge the world (Matthew 25:31-46). Are we ready for Christ’s return?

The Thessalonian congregation is an example of people living according to God’s Word under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They were surrounded by a very immoral society, but they were not participating in that immorality, and they were growing in love and caring for one another. They were learning how to live to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

Jesus rebuked those who like to appear to be “Christians” but who don’t follow God’s will (Compare Matthew 7:21-24). He rebuked political and religious leaders who use their positions to become wealthy at the expense of others, and who oppress and crush the poor. Are we making decisions based on God’s Word, or is material profit the standard against we measure everything? Is pleasing God our first priority, or are we only interested in pleasing ourselves? Are we giving the Lord our whole lives, or does he just get our leftovers.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 1 Advent – Odd

First posted 12/03/04
Podcast: Saturday 1 Advent – Odd

Isaiah 4:2-6,    Jerusalem’s restoration;
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18    Christ’s return;
Luke 21:5-19    The end of the age;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In the Day of the Lord, the branch of the Lord (the righteous remnant; the Messiah) will be beautiful and glorious. The survivors of Israel will delight in the fruit of the land. Those who are recorded in the Lord’s Book of Life will remain in Jerusalem and will be called holy. The Lord will have cleansed them from filth and bloodstains by the spirit of judgment and fire. The Lord will dwell on Mount Zion among his people in a canopied pavilion in a cloud of smoke by day and a flaming fire by night (see Exodus 13:21). The canopy will provide shade from heat by day, and a refuge and shelter from storm and rain.

Thessalonians Paraphrase:

Paul reassured believers that those who died before Christ’s return would be raised to eternal life. Thus those who mourn have hope that they will be with their loved ones again. Those who are alive at Christ’s return will not precede those who have died in Christ. The Lord will descend from heaven at the sound of the Lord’s trumpet and a cry of command, and the dead in Christ will rise, and those who are alive will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord, and we will be eternally with the Lord.

Luke Paraphrase:

People were admiring the temple building, and Jesus told them that the day was coming when the temple would be a pile of rubble. They asked Jesus when that would occur, and Jesus warned them not to be led astray, or to follow false christs who claimed to announce the return of Christ. We are not to be alarmed by wars and uproars because those things will take place before the end of the age. There will also be various disturbances of nature, such as earthquakes, famines, and manifestations in the heavens.

Before these things, believers will be persecuted and brought to trial. It will be an opportunity for believers to testify to the Gospel. Believers are not to be anxious beforehand about what to say, because the Lord will give us words and wisdom (at the time needed) that our adversaries cannot withstand or contradict. Believers will be denounced by parents, siblings, relatives and friends. Some will be put to death for Jesus’ name’s sake. But not so much as a single hair on our heads will perish. Through endurance we will gain our lives.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s vision is of the restored Jerusalem. The Lord will dwell among his redeemed people. The creation will be restored to its perfect state before the fall of mankind. The Lord will be present among his people as he was present in the pillar of cloud and fire during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. The Holy Spirit is the “pillar of cloud and fire” that leads God’s people through the wilderness of this life into the New Jerusalem in heaven.

Those who die in Christ will be raised to eternal life along with those who are still alive when Jesus returns. Those who are in Christ have been freed from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We will be reunited with our loved ones who have died in Christ and with our Lord for all eternity.

Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple was fulfilled in 70 A.D.. Many false christs have arisen and have led many astray. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that believers are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit do not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9b).

The Lord gives his Holy Spirit only to those who trust and obey him (Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). It is possible for one to know with certainty whether one has received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). Those who have personal fellowship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit don’t have to worry about his return as long as we’re doing what he leads us to do. I can personally testify to the truth of the promise that the Lord will give us words of testimony at the time they are needed.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of Christ the King – Even – 11/23 – 29/2014

November 22, 2014

Week of Christ the King – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of Christ the King – Even
Sunday Christ the King – Even
First posted 11/20/04;
Podcast: Sunday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 9:9-16  –  Coming Triumphal King;
1 Peter 3:13-22  –   Patience in Persecution;
Matthew 21:1-13  –   Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

The prophet foresaw the coming of the promised Messiah, the anointed king of the People of God. Rejoice, daughter of Zion (Jerusalem; the People of God; the Church; the eternal city in Heaven)! God’s anointed king comes. He is triumphant and victorious; but he is also humble and lowly, riding on the foal of an ass. He comes in peace. [The war chariot is cut off from Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom of Israel); the war horse from Jerusalem (the Southern Kingdom). The battle bow shall be cut off.] His dominion is from sea to sea; from the River (Euphrates; 1 Kings 4:21; the birthplace of creation) to the end of the earth (the farthest boundary in space and time).

The Lord promises to set free the captives (of sin) from the waterless pit (eternal damnation) by the blood of the (New) Covenant [of salvation by grace through faith (trust and obedience)] in Jesus Christ. Christ is the stronghold of the prisoners of hope (those who hope in Christ). The Lord promises to restore double (beyond what they deserve or expect) to those who trust in him. Judah (God’s people) is his bow (his weapon) and his arrow (his ammunition; his tools to accomplish his purpose).

God’s people will prevail over the people of the world. The Lord will appear above his army; he will go forth before his army in power; he will sound the trumpet. The Lord will protect and empower his army; they shall overcome and destroy the enemy. The victory of God’s people shall be utterly complete. That will be the day of the Lord’s salvation. God’s people are his precious flock, the jewels of his crown.

1 Peter Paraphrase:

One need not fear harm if one earnestly pursues what is right, because even if one suffers for righteousness, one will be blessed (by the Lord). Thus we need not fear or worry, if we truly reverence Jesus as Lord. We should always be ready to defend our faith in Jesus, but with reverence and gentleness. We should keep our consciences unstained, so that those who persecute us for righteousness will be put to shame. It’s much better to suffer for doing right than for doing evil, just as Jesus, the righteous one, died for the unrighteous, so that we could be reconciled to God.

He died in the flesh so that he might live in the spirit. He died so that he could present the Gospel to those who had died in the day of Noah (before they had knowledge of the Gospel). In the day of Noah, God waited patiently (for the world to repent) during the building of the ark, but only a few (eight people) were saved through water (by faith in God’s Word). Baptism is the corresponding event which now saves us who have believed God’s Word. Baptism doesn’t remove dirt like a bath; it’s a covenant with God to forgive our sins through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus, who has risen from death to eternal life in the spirit in heaven, where he has the place of honor with God, from which he rules over all creation.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, knowing that crucifixion awaited him. At Beth-phage, he sent two disciples into the village to bring an ass and colt (or the colt of an ass) to Jesus. He told them that if anyone questioned them they should say that the Lord had need of them (or it) and they would be allowed to take the animal(s). This was done in fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 62:11) “Tell the daughter of Zion (the city of Jerusalem; the People of God), Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on an ass and on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5).

The two disciples did as Jesus had directed, and they put their garments on the animal(s) and Jesus sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their clothing on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The people going ahead and trailing behind cried out “Hosanna (meaning ‘O save!’ A joyous acclamation) to the Son of David (the heir to David’s throne)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!

As Jesus entered the city the people of Jerusalem wondered who it was that was arriving, and the crowds following Jesus told them that it was the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee. Jesus went to the temple, and immediately drove out the merchants and moneychangers who did business in the temple, telling them that God’s Word declared that the temple was to be a house of prayer, but they had made it a “‘den of robbers.”

The blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple and Jesus healed them. But when the priests and scribes saw the wonderful things Jesus was doing and heard children praising Jesus as the Son of David, they were indignant. They thought Jesus was wrong to allow himself to be thus praised, but Jesus quoted Psalm 8:1-2 (RSV), showing that it is in the innocence and trust of children that God is perfectly praised.

Commentary:

The prophet Zechariah foresaw the coming of the promised Messiah, God’s anointed eternal king. The Lord promised to free his people from eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin, through the blood of his covenant in Jesus Christ. It is God’s intention that the redeemed would become his spiritual army to join in the battle to free the people of the world from bondage to sin and death. The Lord will lead his people and empower them to overcome the enemy.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to us through Zachariah. If we reverence Jesus as our Lord we need no longer fear, even though we may experience persecution. We’ve been saved through baptism into Jesus, just like Noah and his family were saved from the flood which destroyed the world in his day. Baptism is a covenant with God.

Jesus came to bring the gospel of salvation to us. We are to join in his mission to bring the gospel of salvation to the world. We are to live according to Jesus’ teaching so that our conduct will be beyond reproach, and we are to be witnesses to the saving power of Jesus Christ. We must become Jesus’ disciples in order to do that. Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead and empower them to accomplish the mission of bringing the gospel of salvation to the world.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. Jesus’ entry was also a parable to the people of Jerusalem. They were seeing the prophecy of Zechariah dramatized. The crowd which followed Jesus acknowledged Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, the Son of David; they acknowledged that he had come in the name and authority of God. But when they entered Jerusalem and the people of the city asked who was arriving, the followers told them only that Jesus was a prophet from Nazareth.

The first thing Jesus did was to bring reform to the “Church” by driving out the corrupt practices which had been allowed to grow. He brought healing to those who were sick. The innocent and trusting acknowledged him as the Messiah, but those who considered themselves wise and educated rejected him.

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a parable, an allegory, as well as historical fact. Jesus is going to come again, this time with great glory and power as the triumphant eternal king. Will we be ready to receive him? Will we acknowledge him as our Lord and King? Have we received him in trust and obedience, or are we rejecting him and refusing to obey his commands? Are we living in accordance with his teachings, or are we living in a way which brings reproach on his name? Are we carrying out the command to declare to the world the reason for the hope we have in Jesus, or are we leaving it up to the world to figure out for themselves who Jesus is?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday Christ the King – Even
First posted 11/21/04;
Podcast: Monday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 10:1-12  –   Lord of Nature and History;
Galatians 6:1-10  –  Exhortations to Charity and Zeal;
Luke 18:15-30   –  Children and the Rich;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

It is the Lord, the creator of the world, who controls the forces and bounty of nature. Don’t seek guidance or the fulfillment of your needs from false gods (Teraphim: household gods; or perhaps representations of ancestors), from sorcerers or from false prophets. Those who resort to such practices are like straying sheep without a shepherd. The Lord is angry with the shepherds (spiritual and political leaders) of his people, and will punish them. The Lord cares for his people. Out of them shall come the cornerstone; the tent peg; the battle bow; every ruler (compare Zechariah 14:9). God’s people shall become his army; they will triumph because the Lord is with them.

The Lord will strengthen Judah, and save Joseph (“Israel”). The Lord will have compassion on them and restore them to their former glory. The Lord promises that though they have been scattered throughout the world he will call them and they shall return. The Lord will bring them back from Egypt and Assyria, lands of bondage and captivity; the Lord will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon (compare Hosea 11:11; Gilead was the eastern boundary of the Promised Land, Lebanon is the northern boundary). The full number of God’s people will be restored (there won’t be any missing; compare Deuteronomy 30:1-5). ‘They shall pass through the sea of Egypt (or “distress”), and the waves of the sea shall be smitten (the “waters” of distress parted, as at the Exodus; compare Isaiah 43:1-2). God will give his people his strength and they will walk (i.e. obey; Zechariah 10:12, note p, RSV) in his name.

Galatians Paraphrase:

If anyone succumbs to temptation those who are sanctified (regenerate; reborn) ought to gently lead him to restoration. The regenerate should also guard themselves against temptation. We should help one another in our afflictions, fulfilling Christ’s commandment of love. Let us not deceive ourselves by thinking we are something when we are not. Let each one judge himself. We are to judge ourselves according to our own performance and not in comparison to others. Each person will be responsible for himself alone.

Let those who learn reward those who teach them. Don’t be stupid; God cannot be fooled! We will be repaid according to what we have done. Those who pursue the pleasures of the flesh will rot in their flesh, but those who please the Spirit will receive eternal life. Don’t get tired of doing what is good, because eventually we will receive the rewards of doing right, if we don’t give up. So let us do right to everyone, but especially to our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Luke Paraphrase:

People were bringing children and infants to Jesus to be blessed by him, and the disciples tried to stop them, but Jesus told his disciples not to hinder the children from coming to him. Jesus declared that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like those children. “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:17).

A ruler addressed Jesus as a “Good Teacher” and asked Jesus what the ruler needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked why the person had called him “good,” saying that no one is good but God alone. Jesus said that the ruler knew the commandments not to commit adultery, not to kill, steal or lie, and to honor father and mother. The ruler replied that he had kept all those commandments from a young age. Jesus told the ruler he lacked one thing; the ruler should sell all his possessions and give to the poor. Then the ruler would have treasure in heaven; and Jesus invited the ruler to become a disciple of Jesus.

But the ruler was sad at what Jesus had said, because he was very rich. Jesus saw his reaction, and said that it is very difficult for the rich to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus said that it was in fact impossible, in human terms. Those listening asked who could hope to be saved in that case, and Jesus answered that nothing is impossible for God. Peter commented that he and the rest of Jesus’ disciples had left homes to follow Jesus, and Jesus replied that whoever leaves family and possessions to follow Jesus will receive much more now in this world, and eternal life in Heaven.

Commentary:

Only the Lord, the creator of the universe, controls the forces of nature and life. Our only real hope is in him. There is no help or security in any other thing or person. Those who seek hope and security elsewhere are like straying sheep, lost and sure to get into danger. The Lord will judge and punish the spiritual and political leaders of the people who have allowed the people to stray from following the Lord.

The Lord himself will be the shepherd of his people, and will call and gather them from the lands where they are in captivity to sin and lead them into the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom, and into his eternal family. We are to seek guidance from and walk in obedience to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone, the tent peg, the one who is victorious over the enemy, the ultimate eternal ruler over all.

The sanctified are those who are disciples of Jesus Christ, who have been “born-again” by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within them. Disciples are commanded to disciple others (Matthew 28:18-20). One must be a disciple in order to make disciples. One cannot be a Christian without being a disciple.

We must measure ourselves against the teachings of Jesus; not merely conform to the standards of our peers. One cannot truly believe in Jesus without obeying what Jesus commands. Each of us will be individually accountable to the Lord for what we have done in life. We must sacrifice our desires for the things of this world, and become obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Those who are sanctified are members of the family of God.

One must receive the kingdom of God in childlike trust and obedience. The rich young ruler was a “shepherd” of Israel. He acknowledged Jesus as a “Good Teacher.” He wanted eternal life, but he wasn’t willing to do what Jesus told him; he wasn’t willing to give up his worldly possessions and pleasures and become a disciple of Jesus. The rich young ruler was righteous in his own eyes, because he was comparing himself with his peers (he thought he kept the Law of Moses; Luke 18:21).

It’s not enough to be a good person according to the standards of society. It’s not enough even to be a “good church member” (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46). Church membership won’t save us; only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us. It is those who are led by and obedient to the Holy Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b) who are the People of God.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday Christ the King – Even
First posted 11/21/04;
Podcast: Tuesday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 11:4-17  –   Worthless Shepherds;
1 Corinthians 3:10-23  –   Responsibility of Teachers;
Luke 18:31-43  –  Blind Man Healed;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

The Lord condemns the wicked shepherds of his people who feed on his people and become rich at their expense. The Lord called a good shepherd to provide care for his people, but the people rejected the good shepherd and refused to obey him. So the Lord ended his covenant with them and gave them into the hands of the wicked shepherds.

The wicked shepherds, who trafficked in the “sheep,” paid thirty shekels of silver (the price of a slave; the price of Jesus’ betrayal; compare Matthew 26:15) for the good shepherd, and the money went to the treasury (or potter; Zechariah 11:13 RSV note “r;” compare Matthew 27:6-10). Because the people rejected the good shepherd, the Lord gave them into the hands of a worthless shepherd “who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed or nourish the sound” (Zechariah 11:16), but instead devours them, and abandons the flock.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul compares his work to that of a master builder, who has laid a foundation according to God’s blueprints, and now sub-contractors (individual believers; also pastors and teachers) are completing the building on that foundation. The foundation is (the Gospel of) Jesus Christ; there is no other adequate foundation. The sub-contractors’ materials and workmanship will be evident when the building is completed at the Day of the Lord. It will be tested by the fire of God’s judgment, to see if it is “fireproof.”

Believers will be rewarded in Heaven according to the workmanship and materials they have contributed to the building. Each one should take care how he builds upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. The Church (as well as each individual believer) is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God will punish those who damage his temple.

The church is warned against the divisiveness of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is false wisdom; true wisdom is the divine wisdom by which the world was created (Proverbs 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-8). “The wisdom of the world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). God will trip up those who think they’re smart. Worldly wisdom is unable to save us. So don’t boast of human wisdom. Those who are in Christ do not belong to any human leader; all things have been given to them in Jesus Christ.

Luke Paraphrase:

For the fourth time (Luke 18:31-33; see 9:22, 44-45; 17:25) Jesus told his disciples plainly that he was going to Jerusalem where he would be killed and would rise again from the dead on the third day, but they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. As they came to Jericho, a blind man sitting beside the road heard the crowd passing and asked what was happening. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing.

The blind man cried out to Jesus, addressing him as the Son of David and asking for mercy. Those around the blind man told him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more. Jesus called the man to him and asked what the man wanted Jesus to do for him. The man asked to receive his sight, and Jesus granted him healing, declaring that the man’s faith had made him well. Immediately the man’s sight was restored, and he followed Jesus, glorifying God. The people who witnessed the healing also praised God.

Commentary:

The Lord condemns and will punish the corrupt religious and political leaders of the people, who exploit their position to become rich at the expense of the people. God has sent his Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to lead and care for his people, but the people rejected and refused to obey Jesus. God will give those who have rejected the Good Shepherd into the hands of the wicked and worthless shepherd who doesn’t provide care for the perishing, seek the wandering, provide healing for the injured, or nurture for the healthy, but who devours and abandons the flock.

The religious and political leaders of Israel at the time of Jesus were wicked and worthless shepherds. The Church and the World, and particularly America, are in much the same position today; there are many wicked and worthless shepherds today, even within the Church. The ultimate wicked and worthless shepherd is Satan.

Each of us will be individually accountable to the Lord for how we have built on the foundation of Christ. We need to be careful how we build on the foundation of Christ. This warning also applies to the leaders of the Church (and to political leaders also).

Has the Church relied too much on worldly knowledge “about” God and not enough on the divine knowledge and personal relationship with Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit? Has the Church placed its relationship to a particular theologian ahead of its relationship to Jesus Christ? Are Christians relying on their relation with a particular pastor or theologian, instead of developing a personal relationship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit?

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep. Jesus is the only one who can heal our spiritual blindness, and restore us to eternal life in the kingdom of God. Only Jesus, through his indwelling Holy Spirit can give us divine wisdom (Luke 24:45). The Lord gives his Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e). We must recognize and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah; God’s designated savior and king) and call out to him in faith for spiritual healing and guidance. Once the blind man had been healed he followed Jesus (in obedience; Luke 18:43).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday Christ the King – Even

First posted 11/23/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 12:1-10  –  The Coming Day of the Lord;
Ephesians 1:3-14  –  Sealed with the Holy Spirit;
Luke 19:1-10  –   Zacchaeus;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

The Lord, the creator of heaven and earth, “who formed the spirit of man (mankind) within him” (Zechariah 12:1) declares the coming Day of the Lord. Jerusalem will become a “cup of reeling” (staggering from intoxication; trembling) to the surrounding peoples. Jerusalem will be like a heavy stone; those who lift it will seriously hurt themselves. All the nations of earth will come against it.

On that day the Lord “will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness” (Zechariah 12:4a). The Lord will strike everyone with blindness, but will himself watch over the house of Judah. It will be apparent to all that the Lord is strengthening the people of Jerusalem. The clans of Judah will be firebrands, setting ablaze and devouring the peoples around them. The Lord will give victory to Judah first, so that the people of Jerusalem will not be exalted over those of Judah and the house of David.

On that day the Lord will strengthen the people of Jerusalem so that the weakest of them will be like David, “and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, at their head” (Zechariah 12:8). “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced (Jesus) they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born” (Zechariah 12:10; compare Matthew 23:37-39; Revelation 1:7).

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Praise God the Father who has blessed us with every blessing in the spiritual realm in Jesus Christ. Before the creation of the world, God chose us and destined us to be his sons (and daughters), holy and blameless before him through Jesus Christ as a free gift, according to his will. In Jesus we have redemption (payment of ransom) through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins as an extravagant gift.

The mystery of God’s eternal purpose has been revealed through Jesus Christ in God’s perfect timing. In Jesus, those who first hoped in Christ (the Jews) have been destined and appointed to live in praise of God’s Glory. “In him (Jesus) you also (i.e. Gentiles as well as Jews), who have heard the gospel of salvation and have believed in him (Jesus), have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance (eternal life in the kingdom of God in Heaven) until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was passing through Jericho. A very wealthy chief tax collector named Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was, but, since Zacchaeus was short, he was unable to see over the crowd around Jesus. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed up into a tree to see better. As Jesus passed by he looked up and called Zacchaeus by name, telling Zacchaeus to hurry and come down, because Jesus intended to be Zacchaeus’ guest that day in his home.

Zacchaeus was happy to come down and receive Jesus as his guest. The crowd murmured against Jesus for going to fellowship with a sinner. Zacchaeus vowed to the Lord that henceforth he would give half his wealth to the poor, and he would restore fourfold to anyone he had defrauded. Jesus declared that salvation had come to Zacchaeus, “a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

Commentary:

The Lord is our creator. He has given us the breath of physical life; and he also gives eternal life through his indwelling Holy Spirit to those who trust and obey Jesus (Zechariah 12:1; compare Isaiah 42:5e; John 14:15-17). From the beginning of Creation God has had a plan of salvation (John 1:1-5, 14; see sidebar, top right, home).

God has appointed a day when he will judge the earth, and he has appointed a Savior, Jesus Christ who came forth from Judah, from the house of David, to create an eternal city, the New Jerusalem, his Church. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). The Lord has not forsaken the Jews. Although the Jews rejected and crucified Jesus, a remnant will be saved. Zechariah foresees a time when the Jews will mourn for Jesus.

The mystery of God’s purpose, which Zechariah foresaw and prophesied, was revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ; that salvation was not just for the Jews, but for all people who hear the Gospel and trust and obey Jesus. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the shield, empowerment and leading (Zechariah 12:8) the Lord promised to give to his Church, both Jews and Gentiles who trust and obey Jesus. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we belong to Jesus Christ and that we will inherit eternal life in his kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Zacchaeus was a Jew who was despised by his own people for collaborating with the enemy because he collected taxes for the occupying Roman government. Zacchaeus was a sinner who received Jesus’ message and responded to it in faith; Zacchaeus repented of his past sinfulness, and changed his behavior. He put Jesus’ teachings into practice in his life; he trusted and obeyed Jesus. Jesus declared that Zacchaeus was a Son of Abraham through faith, not merely by the circumstances of his birth (Romans 4:3, 9-12). Likewise, true Christians are disciples who trust and obey Jesus, not merely those who happen to have been born into the Church. Jesus came to seek and save the lost; whoever will hear his message and act on it in trust and obedience.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Thursday Christ the King – Even

First posted 11/24/04;
Podcast: Thursday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 13:1-9   –  God’s Shepherd;
Ephesians 1:15-23  –  The Fulness of Christ;
Luke 19:11-27  –    Parable of the Pounds;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

On the Day of the Lord a fountain will be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin. The Lord will blot out the names of all idols, all prophets and unclean spirits. Anyone who claims to be a prophet will be killed by his own family. Prophets will be ashamed to tell their visions; they will no longer put on the prophet’s garments in order to deceive. They will deny that they are prophets.

The Lord declares that the Lord’s shepherd will be killed, and the sheep scattered. The Lord will remove his protection from his people. Two thirds of the people will perish, but one third shall be left alive. That remnant will pass through the fires (of tribulation) to be refined and tested like gold or silver. (When they are thus purified) they will call on the Lord and he will hear and answer them. The Lord will call them his people, and they will declare that the Lord is their God.

Ephesians Paraphrase:

Paul gave thanks to God for the faith of the Ephesian Christians, and for their love for fellow believers. Paul prayed that God would give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of the Lord; that they might have their spiritual eyes opened so that they would know the hope to which we are called, the great value of our inheritance with the saints, and the greatness of God’s power which is working mightily in those who believe, which he accomplished by the resurrection of Christ from the dead to sovereign authority in heaven.

Jesus’ authority and power is above every other rule, authority, power and dominion, and his name is above every name, now and eternally. God has subjected all things to Jesus, and has made him the head of the Church, which is his body. The Church becomes the embodiment (full realization) of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, as Jesus himself is the embodiment of God’s plan of salvation, and as Jesus fills each believer with his Holy Spirit.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was drawing near to Jerusalem, where he knew that he would be crucified (Luke 18:31-33), and his followers expected that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately, so Jesus told them this Parable of the Pounds: A nobleman went to a distant country to receive kingly power and then return (to reign). He gave each of his servants a “pound” (a sum of money) to manage during his absence. But his citizens sent a delegation declaring that they didn’t want the nobleman to reign over them.

When the nobleman returned, now as king over the region, he summoned his servants and asked for an accounting. One servant had made ten more pounds with the pound he had managed. The king commended his servant for good and faithful work, and gave him the administration of ten cities. Another servant had made five pounds more with the pound with which he had been entrusted, and the King commended his good and faithful service, and gave him authority over five cities. Another servant returned the pound to the king saying that he had known that his master was a hard man, taking what he hadn’t worked for, so he had kept the pound hidden in a safe place.

The king was angry that the unfaithful servant had not at least put the money in the bank where it could have earned interest, and he took the pound from the unfaithful servant and gave it to the servant who had made the ten pounds. It didn’t seem fair to the people to give that pound to the one who had the most, but Jesus declared that to those who have (who realize the value of what they have), more will be given, but to those who have not (do not appreciate the value of what they have), even what they have will be taken from them. Then the king commanded that his enemies, the citizens who had rejected him as their king, be brought and slain in the king’s presence.

Commentary:

The Day of Judgment is coming. The Lord has opened a fountain for the house of David (Jews) and the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the Church) to cleanse them from sin. That fountain is Jesus Christ (John 4:10-14) indwelling each believer by the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). That indwelling Holy Spirit forms the sacred river flowing outward from the throne of God into the desert of this world, which Ezekiel visualized (Ezekiel 47:1-12), and which is dramatized in the latter addition to the Feast of Tabernacles of the water libation: Commemorating God’s provision of water from the rock at Horeb, water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and poured upon the altar in the temple every day for seven days, where it ran down the altar and onto the floor (and then out the door).

In that context, Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit, declared, “He who believes in me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Zechariah predicted that the Lord’s shepherd (Messiah; Jesus Christ) would be killed and that the sheep would be scattered, and a remnant would be purified and saved through tribulation. When they call on the name of the Lord (Jesus) they will be saved. Jesus, mourning over Jerusalem for not receiving him, declared, “your house is forsaken (and desolate). For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:38-39). [False, unfaithful prophets who have used their office to proclaim lies in God’s name will be punished.]

Paul was trying to express how God’s plan to redeem the world, which God planned from the creation of the world (John 1:1-3, 14), came to full realization in the Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit to each individual believer. It is the gift of the indwelling Spirit of Christ who gives believers the spirit of divine wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus reveals himself to us and gives us personal knowledge of him (John 14:21-26). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit which opens our spiritual eyes (John 3:3) (and our minds to understand the scriptures; Luke 24:45). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit working through “born-again” believers that guides, empowers and enables them to accomplish God’s purpose, and apply God’s power.

Jesus became the embodiment of God’s plan of salvation in human form. Through his resurrection he fills his disciples who collectively become the body of Christ and the ultimate embodiment of God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus told his followers the parable of the pounds because he knew that he would be leaving this earth soon and his followers were expecting the kingdom of God to appear immediately. The parable illustrates life in this world.

Jesus is the nobleman who is going to Heaven to receive his kingly power. His servants are his followers. He gives them each the same measure of spiritual “potential” (the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; compare John 1:12 RSV) and commands us to use that potential until he returns. But unless we trust and obey Jesus, we will never receive the promised Holy Spirit, because trust and obedience are conditions of its fulfillment (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e).

Those who don’t obey Jesus are like the servant who hid his “pound” in a safe place; he didn’t act on the command and he didn’t receive any return. What he thought he had secured was taken from him. The good and faithful servants are those who receive the promise, act on it and receive the rewards. Their reward in the kingdom of God will be in proportion to their development of their spiritual potential; their application of the gift they’ve been promised.

There’s a Day of Judgment coming when we will all give account to the Lord for what we have done in life. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction and death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Friday Christ the King – Even

First posted 11/25/04;
Podcast: Friday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 14:1-11  –   Universal Reign of the Lord;
Romans 15:7-13   –   Abounding Hope;
Luke 19:28-40   –   The Coming King;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

Zechariah describes the Battle of Armageddon when the forces of Satan will be finally defeated, and the kingdom of God will be established on earth. “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:8; compare 13:1) “The Lord will become king over all the earth” Zechariah 14:9).

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul exhorts Jewish and Gentile Christians to welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed each of us. Christ came to the Jews in fulfillment of God’s promise to the patriarchs, but also to the Gentiles in fulfillment of the scriptures that salvation included the Gentiles. Paul quotes Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalm 117:1 to show that the Gentiles (nations) will also praise and worship the Lord, and Isaiah 11:10 to show the universal reign of the Lord and inclusiveness of the hope of salvation. Paul’s prayer is that through faith we would have joy and peace, and that through the power of the Holy Spirit within us we might have abounding hope.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus neared Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified. When he neared Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples into the nearby village to fetch a colt (a young donkey) on which no one had yet ridden. They were to untie it and bring it to Jesus. Jesus told them to tell anyone who might question their activity that the Lord had need of the animal. The disciples went and found the situation exactly as Jesus had said. The owner questioned them as they were untying the animal, and they answered as Jesus had instructed them.

They brought the colt to Jesus, placed their garments on it, and Jesus sat thereon. As he rode along, the people placed garments on the road. Descending from the Mount of Olives, the crowd began to rejoice and praise God, saying “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38). Some Pharisees among the crowd told Jesus to rebuke his disciples (i.e., tell them to be silent) but Jesus answered that if his disciples were silenced the very rocks would cry out.

Commentary:

Jesus has promised to return in power to judge everyone who has ever lived on earth, and to reign as King (Mark 13:7-27; Matthew 25:31-46). His coming will be bad news for his enemies, but great news for his disciples. Jesus is the source of living water (John 4:10-14; John 7:38-39; see entry for yesterday, Thursday, Christ the King, even year). Jesus is the fountain which cleanses us from sin (Zechariah 13:1).

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:26; there is no such thing as reincarnation: see Hebrews 9:27). There is a Day of Judgment coming when all who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the kingdom of God, and all who have rejected and refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish, but instead for all to live eternally in his kingdom (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). He offers the free gift of forgiveness and salvation to all who will trust and obey Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The only lasting joy, peace and hope are in Jesus Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit within us is the assurance of our hope; the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we belong to Jesus and have eternal life in his kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to send his Son to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to raise up an eternal King to inherit the throne of David. Jesus came to earth the first time to die on the cross and be raised to his eternal kingship.

Jesus promised to return to judge the earth and to reign eternally. What Jesus promises will be fulfilled; what Jesus teaches will prove effective. Are you ready for Jesus’ return? Christ welcomes us; do we welcome Christ? Will you be rejoicing on the Day of the Lord’s return (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday Christ the King – Even

First posted 11/26/04;
Podcast:
Saturday Christ the King – Even

Zechariah 14:12-21   –   Final Victory;
Philippians 2:1-11  –   Jesus is Lord!
Luke 19:41-48   –  Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

At the Battle of Armageddon a plague will come upon all the peoples who wage war against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues will rot in their mouths. Their livestock will suffer a similar plague. The Lord will cause a great panic to fall on them and they will turn against and destroy each other. All their treasure will be gathered as plunder.

All the survivors of the nations that fought against Jerusalem will come each year to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (harvest). Any of the people of Egypt and the nations who do not go up to keep the Feast will suffer plague and drought. In that Day, the most common objects will be holy to the Lord. “And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.” (Zechariah 14:21c).

Philippians Paraphrase:

Paul asks that believers would make his joy complete by being in unity of mind and heart with one another by the encouragement of Christ, by the incentive of love, by their participation in the Holy Spirit, in affection and sympathy. We are urged not to be motivated by selfishness or conceit, but by humility, focusing on the interests of others.

We should follow the example of Christ: Though he was God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; John 1:1, 14, Matthew 1:23; John 20:28), he didn’t seek equality with God for himself, but instead was born in human flesh and became a servant, humbling himself in obedience (to God) even to death on the cross. Therefore God has honored Jesus and given him a name which is greater than any other name. At the name of Jesus, everyone will bow their knees and everyone will declare that Jesus is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.

Luke Paraphrase:

As Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem, he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42). Jesus declared that since they did not, those things would be hidden from them. Jesus predicted that Jerusalem would be attacked and destroyed, because Jerusalem had not recognized the visitation (of the Messiah).

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out the merchants, saying that they had turned God’s house of prayer into a den of robbers. Jesus taught daily in the temple, and the spiritual and political leaders of the people wanted to destroy Jesus, but they couldn’t find any way to do it, because the people were eager to hear Jesus’ teachings.

Commentary:

The Lord is going to return to judge the earth and to reign as King (Matthew 25:31-46). His enemies will be destroyed in the final conflict at the Battle of Armageddon. He will rule the world from Jerusalem. In that Day both society and the Church will be reformed.

Jesus has already begun his reign with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-44). He defeated Satan and won the victory at his crucifixion, which was confirmed by his resurrection. We can begin to live in his kingdom in that victory now by following Christ’s example and teaching. The Day is coming when everyone will bow to him and declare that Jesus is Lord.

Jesus began the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy by driving the merchants from the temple. Jesus emptied himself and became obedient to God’s will; the religious and political leaders of Israel were “full of themselves” and not obedient to God’s will. The religious and political leaders of Israel were motivated by selfishness and conceit; they were focused on their own interests instead of the interests of others, and that kept them from recognizing and acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed because they had rejected their Messiah, and that prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and the people were scattered throughout the world. Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and Judaism effectively ended (because without the temple there is no means of practicing the sacrificial system). Only since World War II has Israel been reestablished; the Temple has never been rebuilt.

Jesus has promised to return to judge the Earth and establish his kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 23 Pentecost and Following – Even – 11/16 – 22/2013

November 15, 2014

Week of 23 Pentecost and Following – Even (Variable)

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 23 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 23 Pentecost – Even (Variable)
First posted 11/06/04:
Podcast: Sunday 23 Pentecost – Even

Micah 1:1-9   –   Religious and political corruption;
1 Corinthians 10:1-13  –  Warning against overconfidence;
Matthew 16:13-20  –    Peter’s confession;

Micah Background:

Micah was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, prophesying concerning Samaria and Jerusalem during, approximately, the 63 years of the reigns of Jotham from 750 B.C. to the end of Hezekiah’s reign in 687 B.C. (kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah). He called all the people of Earth to hear the coming judgment of the Lord against them. The Lord declared his judgment on Israel.

Micah Paraphrase:

The sin of Jacob (Israel; the Northern Kingdom) was Samaria (its Capital). The sin of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) was Jerusalem (its Capital). The Lord declared that Samaria would be destroyed; it would become a heap of ruins in open countryside, “a place for planting vineyards” (Micah 1:6c). The stones of its buildings would be cast down and its foundations uncovered. All her idols would be destroyed, her cult prostitutes burned with fire. Her idols were acquired with harlotry; they would receive the penalty of their harlotry. The prophet mourned because Israel’s wound was incurable and it had reached Judah, even to Jerusalem, the very gate of the people.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul reminded believers that the Israelites all were led by the pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21) and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and sea (Exodus 14:22), and all ate the same supernatural food (manna; Exodus 16:4-35) and drank the same supernatural drink (water from the supernatural Rock; Exodus 17:6). Paul declared that Christ is the Rock from which the living water flows (John 4:10-14; 7:38-39). Paul pointed out that although the Israelites participated in these things, many displeased God and were destroyed in the wilderness.

Paul declared that the scriptures are a warning to us not to make the same mistakes. We are not to desire evil; not to indulge in idolatry (Exodus 32:4, 6) or immorality (Numbers 25:1-18). We are not to test the Lord (Numbers 21:5-6), nor grumble (Numbers 16:14, 49). The scriptures were written down so that we may learn from them. We must not become overconfident (in our righteousness). The temptations we face are all common to mankind. God is faithful; he won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can resist. When he allows temptation, he provides a way of escape, so that we can withstand the temptation.

Matthew Paraphrase:

At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying that Jesus was. They answered that some said Jesus was John the Baptizer, that some said he was Elijah, that others said Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Jesus asked his disciples who they believed Jesus to be, and Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus blessed Simon (“son of John”), and told him that Peter had not come to that insight by human ability (or worldly knowledge), but that it had been revealed to him by God the Father (compare 1 Corinthians 1:20-25; 2:6).

Then Jesus changed Simon’s name to “Peter” (in Greek, ‘Petros;’ in Aramaic, ‘Kepha;’ thus ‘Cephas'; compare 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 2:9), and declared that on this “Rock” (Greek: ‘petra;’ Aramaic: ‘kepha’) Christ would build his church, and the powers of death would not prevail against it. Jesus also told them that he would give them the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” and declared that whatever they unlocked on earth would be unlocked in heaven, and whatever they locked on earth would be locked in heaven. He also told his disciples to tell no one that Jesus was the Christ.

Commentary:

Micah prophesied the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Jacob) and of Samaria (the capital of the Northern Kingdom and a center of idolatry which later became a separate religious and political region, and at the time of Christ was not regarded as part of Israel). The reason for the Lord’s judgment upon Israel and Samaria was their religious and political corruption: they practiced idolatry (Hosea 8:5; compare 1 Kings 12:28-30), and they pursued political alliances (with Egypt and Assyria), instead of trusting and obeying the Lord (2 Kings 17:1-18).

Micah’s oracle against Samaria and the Northern Kingdom was fulfilled in 721 B. C. with the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. Her stone buildings were destroyed and her foundations exposed (Micah 1:6c) because she had not built on trust and obedience of the Lord. Micah’s prophesy was intended to be a warning to Judah and to the world (Micah 1:2, 5c). Judah and Jerusalem subsequently were conquered and exiled to Babylon for seventy years.

They didn’t learn the lesson of that captivity, and weren’t prepared for Jesus’ coming. Having rejected Jesus as the Messiah, Jerusalem fell to the Romans and the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.. Jerusalem was the very gate of the people (the “door” to salvation; to God, through the Temple; Jesus has become the “door” (John 10:9) to salvation; to eternal life in the kingdom of God in Heaven. [At Jesus’ crucifixion, the veil in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). The veil of the temple separated the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, from the sanctuary. This symbolized that the people henceforth had direct access to God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:8; 10:19).]

Paul’s point is that the Bible was written as a warning to us to learn the lessons of God’s dealings with Israel. God’s Word is eternal. It applied in the context in which it was written, but it also applies to us today. God’s Word is eternal; it is fulfilled over and over. Paul is telling us not to think we’re righteous and that we will be saved just because we’re church members; just because we’ve been baptized and receive Holy Communion (Eucharist). We have to establish our lives on the Rock of trust and obedience of Jesus Christ. We must be filled with the Living Water of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39) which the Lord gives to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e).

Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the “Rock” on which the Church is built. God had personally revealed himself to Peter through Jesus Christ. We must come to that kind of personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Disciples can tell others about Jesus, but their hearers must decide for themselves whether Jesus truly is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said, “Every one who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Podcast Download: Week of 27 Pentecost – Even
Monday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)
To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast: Monday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)

Habakkuk 2:1-4, 9-20  –   Pronouncement of woes;

James 2:14-26   –   Faith and works;

Luke 16:19-31   –  The rich man and Lazarus;

Habakkuk Paraphrase:

Habakkuk the prophet asked the Lord why the wicked persecute the righteous, and then waited for the Lord’s reply. The Lord told Habakkuk to write down the vision he was given as a warning to those who read it. The vision will be fulfilled in the proper time; it is not a lie. It may seem slow in coming but we must wait for it; it will not be delayed. “He whose soul is not upright within him will fail, but the righteous shall live by faith’ (Habakkuk 2:4).

Woe to those who benefit from evil; who use ill-gotten gain to obtain security and protection. In doing so they bring shame on their families; by destroying many people they have forfeited their own lives. The stones and beams of their houses will testify against them

Woe to those who build towns at the cost of others blood, and those who establish a city on iniquity. It is the Lord who will cause the wicked to receive fire as repayment for their labors; wicked nations will receive only weariness for their efforts. The time is coming “when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,” as waters fill the seas.

Woe to those who make their neighbors bear their wrath and force them to drink from the cup of shame. They will be repaid with contempt instead of glory. They will be forced to drink the cup of God’s wrath. It is the wicked who will be put to shame.  They will be overwhelmed by the destruction of man and beast, houses and cities, in God’s judgment against the blood of people slain and the violence done to the earth by the wicked.

What gain is there from idolatry? An idol is the creation of mankind. It is a teacher of lies, and the workman trusts in his own creation. Woe to those who seek help and salvation from a mute (and inanimate) thing of wood or stone. Can such idols give spiritual revelations? Even covered with gold and silver there is no breath (or Spirit) within them.

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

James Paraphrase:

The author of the Letter of James asks what benefit faith (which he would define as intellectual assent) has if it doesn’t lead to “works” (which he would define as action; not salvation by “keeping” the Law). One cannot be saved by “faith” unaccompanied by “action.” If a brother or sister lacks clothing and food, simply agreeing that they need clothing and food does not relieve their need. The author concludes that real “faith” does not exist apart from “action.”

Some may (falsely) claim to have faith without the actions which confirm and demonstrate faith, but our actions reveal what we truly believe regardless of what we say we believe. (I prefer to define faith as “obedient trust,” which I believe agrees with Paul’s definition). One who claims to believe that God is the only true God (or who “believes” in Jesus Christ), but who does not act in obedient trust are no more “righteous” or better off than demons, who all “believe” in God and in Jesus Christ, but do not obey them (James 2:19; Mark 5:7-8). Faith without corresponding action is barren (it does not produce the fruit of salvation within the “believer”).

Abraham trusted and obeyed God and it was demonstrated by his actions: he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-14; note that Abraham was obedient to the Lord by faith before the Covenant of Law was given; Galatians 3:6-19). Abraham acted according to his faith, and his faith was completed by action. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3-25).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable of a rich man and a beggar. The rich man dressed in fine clothes, lived in a mansion, and ate sumptuously every day. A poor beggar, hungry and covered with sores, sat by the rich man’s gate. The poor beggar longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. The rich man’s dogs not only got the crumbs, but they tormented the beggar by licking his sores.

The poor man died and was carried by angels to heaven to be in the presence and fellowship of Abraham, but the rich man died, was buried and found himself in hell. The rich man saw the poor beggar far off with Abraham, and asked Abraham to send the poor man to dip his finger in water and cool the tongue of the rich man who was in the eternal fire of Hell. But Abraham told the rich man that he had received good things in his earthly life while the poor man had received evil; now each was being repaid according to their deeds in earthly life. Furthermore, Heaven and Hell are separated so that it is impossible to go from one to the other.

Then the rich man asked Abraham to send the poor man to his father’s house on earth to warn his five brothers, so that they might not wind up in eternal torment. Abraham told the rich man that his brothers had all the warning they needed from Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament scriptures). The rich man replied that that wouldn’t be enough, but they would repent if someone came to them from the dead. “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:31).

Commentary:

God’s intention has always been to create an eternal kingdom of his people who will willingly trust and obey him. This present world is a temporal creation; it will not continue forever. The possibility for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and evil (the result of disobedience of God’s Word) is part of the design for this temporal creation, in order for us to have free choice whether to obey God’s Word or not, but God has also “built in” his one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

There is a time limit built into this present creation, so that sin and evil will not continue forever; the new creation which follows will be eternal, but it will not allow the possibility of sin and evil. Those who live in the new creation of God’s eternal kingdom will have learned that God’s will is in our very best interest, and will be glad to live in obedience to God Word.

The Lord warns through his prophet, Habakkuk, that the eternal souls of those who live in disobedience of God’s Word will be eternally destroyed (in Hell), but the righteous (who do what is right in God’s judgment, according to God’s Word) shall live eternally by faith (obedient trust -in Jesus Christ, God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified; John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s Word warns that those who benefit from evil, those who build earthly security by oppressing others and by ill-gotten gain, and who destroy others lives, will forfeit their own (eternal) lives.

God’s Word warns that those who build cities and worldly kingdoms by the oppression, persecution and slaughter of others will be repaid at the Lord’s judgment and condemnation by eternal fire in Hell.

Those who have treated others with anger, violence or contempt will receive God’s anger, violence and contempt on the Day of Judgment; they will be eternally accountable for the violence they have done in their lives in this world.

Idolaters (those who love any thing or person as much as or more than God), are trusting in things which are the work of their own hands and imaginations, which are powerless and unable to provide guidance, help and salvation from calamity and destruction. Modern examples of idols are wealth, power, success, security, career, pleasure, family, and home.

This temporal world is our only opportunity to seek and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27) which is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Christ gives (John 1:32-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The author of James was dealing with the meaning of faith, and with people within the Church who claim to believe in Jesus without obeying Jesus’ teachings. The problem still exists in the “Church” today. One example is the doctrine Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “Cheap Grace,”* which is the false teaching that salvation is by grace (God’s unmerited favor; a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teachings. In contrast, salvation is by grace, which is appropriated and received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), which is “obedient trust,” or as the writer of James would say “faith accompanied by action.”

If one truly believes in Jesus he will do what Jesus says. Faith which doesn’t result in obedient trust and produce “works” (Ephesians 2:10) is barren and won’t result in salvation (from God’s condemnation to eternal death).

The rich man in Jesus’ parable was a Jew, a member of the congregation of Israel, not that it is necessary for the condemnation of God’s judgment, but to illustrate that being a member of the people of God (the Church) doesn’t save anyone. Saving faith is faith which results in action and produces “works” which bear the “fruit” of salvation and eternal life.

Notice that the rich man condemned to Hell still though only of himself and his own needs and considered the beggar his servant, one to cater to the rich man’s desires. He asked that the beggar bring him water to cool the rich man’s tongue; then asked the beggar to be sent to warn his brothers. The rich man had not learned to trust and obey God’s Word.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6.


Tuesday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)
To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast: Tuesday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable

Habakkuk 3:1-10 (11-15) 16-18   –    The prayer of Habakkuk;
James 3:1-12   –    The tongue;
Luke 17:1-10   –   Forgiveness and faith;

Habakkuk Paraphrase

This is a psalm describing the coming of the Lord in judgment to save his people. The psalmist says that we (God’s people) have heard of the mighty works of the Lord and that we fear and respect God. He prays that the Lord will make his works known, and that he will temper his wrath with mercy. He describes the coming judgment of the earth with plagues and earthquakes. In the awesome Day of the Lord, God’s people will be saved, and the wicked will be destroyed. Although fearsome to contemplate we will wait quietly for that day to come. We will rejoice in the Lord, even in hard times, for he is the God of our salvation.

James Paraphrase:

The author of the Letter of James says that those who are leaders and teachers in the Church will be judged with greater strictness. In our human nature we all make many mistakes, but we should grow in self-discipline of our bodies. As horses are guided by a bit in their mouths and ships are guided by a rudder small in comparison to the size of the vessel, so we also should keep our tongues under self-control. Great forests can be destroyed by what begins as a small flame. Likewise, great disaster can be caused by a few intemperate words.

The tongue is like a flame, and is an unruly member within our bodies which contaminates our whole body; it is kindled by Hell and can destroy our entire lives. All animals can be tamed and taught to obey humans, but the tongue is a beast that resists our control; “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8b). The same tongue is used to bless and to curse. We should not allow that to happen. A spring produces either fresh or foul water, and we expect a fruit tree to bear fruit according to its nature; figs from a fig; olives from an olive; grapes from a grapevine.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples that temptations are an inevitable part of life in this world, but that we should avoid causing temptation for others if we want to avoid the penalty (the penalty for sin is eternal death; Romans 3:23). It would be better to die the worst imaginable physical death than to experience eternal destruction in Hell by causing spiritually young believers to sin. We will be held responsible for our own eternal souls, but we are also to care for our brothers’ (and sisters’) souls, rebuking sin and offering forgiveness to the penitent. Forgiveness is abundantly sufficient to meet all our needs without limitation.

The apostles (the 12 original disciples designated by Jesus to be missionaries of his gospel) asked Jesus to increase their faith, and Jesus replied that only the tiny “mustard seed,” the “yes,” of faith (obedient trust) was necessary to accomplish the greatest of spiritual works. The servant is to serve the master; not the other way around. The servant should not expect to be commended for merely doing his duty.

Commentary:

The prophet foresees the coming Day of Judgment; God’s people rightly fear (have awe and respect for) the power and authority of God. The coming judgment will be terrible for the wicked and unbelievers, but God’s wrath is tempered with mercy. So God’s people can wait quietly for the coming of the Lord, even in hard times, confident in our salvation in our Lord.

The author of James is discipling Christians, teaching them to bring their human natures under self-control, and to grow to spiritual maturity. Christians witness by their example as well as by words. Christians will be judged with greater strictness, not only by the Lord but also by the world. It is the Lord’s judgment we need to be concerned with, but we are accountable to the Lord for our concern for the lost, as part of our own personal responsibility.

Professing Christians who are not living in obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings are not only hurting themselves but working against the ministry of the Gospel. Leaders and teachers in the Church who are not living as disciples and teaching others to be disciples are hurting the Church and the ministry of the Gospel. Church members who have been given the scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ who don’t learn and apply it themselves will be judged more strictly on the Day of Judgment than those who are outside the Church.

Jesus warned his disciples that we are to continue Christ’s mission to bring the Gospel of Salvation to our brothers and sisters inside and outside the Church, rebuking sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and offering forgiveness and restoration to the penitent. We must be careful not to say or do things which might tempt others to sin. We need to be as concerned about the souls of others as we are for our own.

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ who trust and obey him (Matthew 7:21-25). There aren’t degrees of faith; faith is the “mustard seed,” the simple “yes” of commitment to trust and obey Jesus.

Christians are to be servants of the Lord, Jesus Christ. “Religion” is mankind’s attempt to get God to serve us and to do our will. Christianity can be confused with “church membership,” “recruitment” and “promotion” for a congregation or denomination; that’s “churchianity.” Genuine “Christianity” is “born-again” Christian discipleship and servanthood for Jesus Christ, our Master, guided and empowered by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Genuine Christians are to be “born-again” disciples making “born-again” disciples(Matthew 28:19-20); that’s not some optional ministry for a special category of “super-Christians,” like pastors; it is merely the duty of every genuine Christian. Only “born-again” disciples can make “born-again” disciples.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)
To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast:
Wednesday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)

Malachi 1:1. 6-14   –    Priests who have despised God;

James 3:13-4:12   –   Godliness versus worldliness;

Luke 17:11-19    –   Ten lepers cleansed;

Malachi Paraphrase:

God’s Word commands that “a son honors his father and a servant his master” (Exodus 20:12). If God is our father and master, how can we do things which dishonor him? If he is God, how can we not fear (have awe and respect for the power and authority of) him. The Lord indicts priests who have despised the Lord’s name.

They ask God to document their disrespect, and God asserts that they have offered unworthy offerings. God deserves offerings of the best of what he has given us; not what is left over or no good for anything else. If they did that to their civil ruler would he be pleased? Will God be inclined to respond favorably to their entreaties, when they bring him defective gifts?

The Lord wishes that there were one among the religious leaders who would close the doors of the house of God against vain worship. The Lord has no pleasure in those who offer such defective offerings and false worship, and will not accept them. The Gentiles (heathens) have more respect and offer purer offerings to God than his own chosen people’s religious leaders. God’s name is held in greater honor among the Gentiles than it is among the priests of Israel. God’s people profane God’s name when they think God’s altar is polluted, and that offerings upon it may be despised.

James Paraphrase:

Those who are truly wise and understanding will be revealed by their good lives and their good deeds; their wisdom will be demonstrated by humility. Jealousy and ambition are not admirable or in accordance with the gospel truth. That kind of “wisdom” is worldly rather than divine; it is unspiritual and devilish. Jealousy and selfish ambition produce disorder and evil, but divine wisdom produces pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, good fruit without uncertainty or insincerity. Righteousness is reaped by those who sow peace.

Wars and fighting are caused by lusts at war in our bodies of flesh. The lust to possess, causes murder. Covetousness leads to war. Our lack is because we have not asked, and we have not received because we do not ask rightly, but selfishly, to indulge ourselves. Those who love this world are in opposition to God. God has given his spirit to govern us and he is jealous when we allow other spirits to dominate us.

The proud will be opposed by God, but the humble will receive grace (unmerited favor; free gift). We must learn to submit to God’s will and resist the temptations of Satan. If we desire closeness with God we must draw near to him. We must cleanse our hearts and hands. If we desire reconciliation with God we must recognize our failings and mourn our sinfulness. Let us not rejoice in our sinfulness, but humble ourselves, and he will restore and exalt us.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was at the border between Galilee and Samaria, on his way to Jerusalem. As he entered a village, ten lepers stood at a distance and called to Jesus, addressing him as Master, and asking him to have mercy on them. Jesus responded by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. “And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14b).

One of the lepers, a Samaritan (regarded as racially and religiously corrupt), when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, praising God, and worshiped and gave thanks to Jesus. Jesus asked why the other nine (who presumably were Jews, “God’s chosen people”) had not also returned to give praise to God, and told the Samaritan that his faith had healed him.

Commentary:

The religious leaders of God’s chosen people were allowing the people to give less than their best offerings to God. God’s people were giving God their leftovers, what was blemished and therefore considered worthless. Their worship was false and futile. The Lord blamed the religious leaders for allowing false worship and polluted offerings. God’s name was honored more by Gentiles than by the priests of God’s people.

The Jews in the day of Malachi wanted God to give them what they asked, without giving God what he asked. James was dealing with the same problem in the first-century church. The nine lepers had the same problem; they wanted Jesus to heal them physically without a commitment to serve and please Jesus; without becoming his disciples. The nine lepers came to the Lord for help with worldly problems, without recognizing and acknowledging their spiritual problem.

Only Jesus can cure spiritual blindness, and only Jesus can cleanse and heal us spiritually. That healing only begins when we hear his commands and begin to trust and obey them. It was as the lepers acted in faith on Jesus’ command that they were healed.

Nine of the ten, who regarded themselves as God’s chosen people, received physical healing, which is only temporary, but missed eternal spiritual healing. They called Jesus Master, but they didn’t turn to him and worship him as Lord and make themselves available to his further service; they had received all they wanted from him.

In contrast, the Samaritan leper, who Jews regarded as spiritually corrupt and inferior, received spiritual sight and spiritual healing as well as physical healing. The Samaritan is an example of a ‘foreigner” who honored the Lord more than did the Lord’s own “chosen” people.

True people of God are willing to accept correction from God’s Word, and willing to acknowledge our failings and repent humbly so that we can be restored. We must be willing to learn from and be guided by God’s Spirit and God’s Word of divine wisdom.

Do we put as much effort into pleasing and serving the Lord as we do to our boss or our spouse? Do we go to church to truly worship and glorify the Lord, or merely to obtain God’s favor or worldly approval? Do we give the Lord our first and finest offerings of time, effort and resources, or merely what’s left over? If we want God to do what we ask, we must be willing to do what he asks, and what we ask must be in accordance with his will.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Thursday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast: Thursday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)


Malachi 2:1-16   –    Warning to priests;

James 4:13-5:6   –   Worldly pride and riches;

Luke 17:20-37   –   The end of the age;

Malachi Paraphrase:

God’s Word warns religious leaders that if they do not glorify God with their words and actions, they will receive a curse instead of a blessing from the Lord. God has already cursed them because they did not take God’s Word seriously and obey it. God will rebuke their offspring and pollute the unholy priests; God will remove them from his presence.

God is faithful to his covenant of life and peace with Levi (the priestly tribe). Levi respected the Lord’s name (character, power and authority) and taught God’s Word faithfully and accurately. He was not guilty of any false doctrine. He lived in obedient trust in the Lord, and resisted temptation to sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

A priest should guard God’s truth and true knowledge, and people should seek instruction from him as a messenger of the Lord. But the unfaithful priests have turned from obedient trust in God’s way, and have caused others to stumble spiritually by false instruction. The unfaithful priests have corrupted the covenant of Levi. The Lord declares that he will bring dishonor and shame upon the unfaithful priests, because they have not obeyed God’s ways and have not faithfully and accurately taught God’s ways.

Is not God the one creator and father of all? Then why are we profaning the covenant of our ancestors by faithlessness to one another? Judah (the remnant of Israel) has been faithless and has committed abominations in Israel (the congregation of the people of God), and in Jerusalem (the Holy City of God). Judah has profaned the Lord’s house, his temple. God’s people have married heathen wives (contrary to God’s Word). God commands that no one who has married a heathen should be allowed to be a witness, or to teach, or to make an offering to the Lord.

The unfaithful weep and mourn because God refuses to accept their offerings and give them favor. Marriage is to be a sacred covenant between two believers; those who violate and are unfaithful to the marriage covenant cannot expect God’s favor and approval. God has given and sustained our lives so that we can produce Godly offspring. So God warns us to be careful not to violate the marriage covenant, because the Lord hates divorce and violence. God warns us to heed his warning and not be unfaithful.

James Paraphrase:

It is human arrogance to make plans for the future, when we cannot know what tomorrow will bring. We can make plans, but we can fulfill them only by God’s will. Instead of boasting about what we intend to accomplish, we would do better to acknowledge, seek, and be guided by God’s will. “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Those who are rich in worldly, material possessions are warned that miseries and mourning are coming upon them. Their riches will rot, their fine clothes will be moth-eaten, their gold and silver will turn to rust, and their rust will testify against them. Their flesh will be consumed by fire; they have stored up fire (punishment; James 5:3b RSV note “e”) for the last days.

The rich have become rich at the expense of their servants. The cries of the poor have been heard by the Lord. Those who have lived in luxury and pleasure on earth have fattened themselves for slaughter. Those who are rich and powerful in this world have condemned and killed those who are righteous, because the righteous put up no resistance.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, and Jesus replied that the coming of the kingdom would not be with outward signs showing its approach, nor will it come in a specific location. The kingdom of God is in our midst (and within believers).

Jesus told his disciples that the time is coming when they will be eager to see the coming of the kingdom of God, but that they are not to be misled by those who will claim that the kingdom can be found in a certain location. When Jesus returns it will be sudden and visible to all as a flash of lightning which lights up the whole sky. Jesus said that before his return he had to suffer and be rejected.

Christ’s return will be like the time of Noah; the people of earth will be living worldly lives unprepared and not seriously believing God’s warning until the moment it happens, and will be swept away like the wicked in the flood. The Day of Judgment will be like the example of Sodom. Lot heeded (heard and obeyed) God’s Word and was saved, but the wicked in Sodom continued living their wicked lives until fire and brimstone fell from heaven and destroyed them. So it will be on the Day of Christ’s return.

As Lot’s wife was destroyed as she turned to look back, so we must not look back with longing for our worldly lives, or try to hang on to our worldly possessions. Those who try to save their worldly lives will lose them, but those who are willing to lose their worldly lives will live eternally in God’s kingdom.

The separation of the saved from the lost will be extremely precise; of two people sleeping in the same bed, one will be taken and the other left. People asked Jesus “where [this would take place]?” In reply, Jesus said, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together” (i.e. “where the carcass is, the vultures will be gathered;” in other words, in that day they won’t have to seek their eternal destiny; it will come to them; Luke 17:37).

Commentary:

God’s Word warns us not to be led by religious teachers who do not live according to God’s Word. Levi was the example of a faithful priest who honored God in his word and behavior and taught God’s Word faithfully and accurately.

Believers are responsible to know and live according to God’s Word fulfilled embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ. The author of the letter of James is an example of a religious teacher who faithfully and accurately taught God’s Word, and made disciples of Jesus Christ who sought and lived according to God’s will.

Paul, the prototype “post-resurrection” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, warned that the time was coming when people would not endure sound teaching but would get for themselves teachers who would teach what the people wanted to hear, and would turn from following the truth and stray into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Unless people read the Bible completely for themselves, they have no standard by which to judge their leaders’ teachings. Unless they read it daily, seeking the Lord’s guidance for each day, they cannot know and live according to God’s will.

Jesus warns that the kingdom of God is coming subtly, gradually and individually, as each individual hears Jesus and begins to follow him in obedient trust. Jesus has promised to give the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17). The kingdom of God begins now and is present now in “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty whether one has received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

But the kingdom of God is also coming suddenly, unexpectedly and universally. Those who have believed and acted in obedient trust on God’s Word will be gathered into God’s kingdom, and those who have refused to hear, trust and obey will be swept away to eternal destruction.

Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s Word (and God’s only begotten Son; John 1:1-5; 14).  Jesus warns not to believe false prophets and not to be deceived by false “messiahs” (false “christs”).

The question is not where we can go to be saved, or how long before we need to prepare. Now is the time to prepare by becoming Jesus’ disciple, learning to trust and obey Jesus, and seeking the new life through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Friday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)

To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast: Friday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)


Malachi 3:1-12   –    The Lord’s messenger;
James 5:7-12   –    Patience and steadfastness;
Luke 18:1-8    –   The parable of the unjust judge;

Malachi Paraphrase:

The Lord promised he would send his messenger to prepare for his coming, and the Lord whom we seek will come suddenly. The messenger of the covenant in whom we delight is coming. “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears (Malachi 3:2a)?

The Lord is like refiner’s fire (driving off impurities with heat) and like fuller’s soap (scrubbing and bleaching fabric to make it white; Malachi 3:2b). The Lord will sit as a refiner of precious metals, and will purify the sons of Levi (the priestly tribe) like silver and gold, “until they present right offerings to the Lord” (Malachi 3:3). Then the offerings of Judah (the remnant of God’s people) and Jerusalem (the Holy City of God), will be pleasing and accepted by the Lord as in days of old.

The Lord will draw near for judgment; he will quickly witness against sorcerers, adulterers, false witnesses and liars, and those who, without fear of the Lord’s judgment, oppress the poor, widows, orphans and sojourners.

The Lord is faithful and unchanging; he has been forbearing with his people, but since the days of their forefathers, Israel has turned aside from obedient trust in God’s commands. God promises that if they return to him God will return to them. His people ask in what way they have departed from the Lord, and the Lord declares that they have robbed God; they have not given their full tithes (a tenth of everything they have) and offerings.

The Lord says to bring the full tithes into the “storehouse” (of the temple) so that his house (his household; his servants; his family) may have food. The Lord tells them to test God’s faithfulness in this, and they will see the windows of heaven opened to pour out overflowing blessings upon them.

The Lord promises that if they will give their full tithes, God will restrain the devourer, the worldly forces which cause things to wear out and limit the yield of fruits of the soil, vine and field. Then the nations will acknowledge that God’s people have been blessed, and their land will be a delight.

James Paraphrase:

The author of James is a disciple of Jesus Christ making disciples of Jesus Christ, and teaching them to obey what Jesus teaches, in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). In closing his teaching he urges his hearers to wait patiently for the (second) coming of the Lord. Like farmers, Christians must wait patiently for the harvest until it has received the early and later rain. We should settle in our innermost self to wait patiently and expectantly for the Lord’s return.

Let us not grumble against one another, so that we do not come under the Lord’s judgment, for the righteous judge is at the very door. We should follow the example of patient endurance which we have in the prophets of the Lord. It is those who are steadfast in faith who will find real happiness. Remember the steadfastness of Job, and remember the compassion and mercy of the Lord in dealing with his people.

Above all, let us not swear by anything in heaven or on earth, or with any kind of oath; let our response be simply yes or no, so that we don’t fall under condemnation.

Luke Paraphrase:

To illustrate the effectiveness of persistent prayer, Jesus told a parable of an unrighteous judge. The judge didn’t fear God or care for other people, but there was a widow who kept coming to him asking him to give her justice in a legal dispute. The judge at first refused, but because she kept bothering him, he finally did what she asked only to be rid of the nuisance. God is the ultimate righteous judge who cares for his people, so we can be assured that, if we are in the right and obeying his Word, he will not delay long in vindicating us. “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes (on the Day of Judgment) will he find faith” (Luke 18:8b)?

Commentary:

The prophecy of Malachi was fulfilled once at Jesus Christ’s first advent (coming), and it will be fulfilled again at Jesus’ Second Coming in the Day of Judgment. John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of the promise of a messenger to prepare for the coming of the Lord (John 1:19-34). Jesus was the “messenger of the new covenant,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his disciples are to warn people to prepare for Christ’s return. An apostle is a messenger of the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit is the refiner’s fire that will refine and purify the disciples of Jesus Christ, so that they will present right offerings which will be pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. The right offerings are our obedient trust, allowing him to be Lord of every aspect of our lives.

Throughout the history of God’s dealings with Israel, he has been faithful and unchanging, patiently forbearing the shortcomings of his people who have often strayed from obedient trust in God’s Word. God is always willing to receive those who sincerely return to obedient trust in him. God has given us everything we enjoy, and he asks us to return a tithe to him to be used for his house, his kingdom. The tithe is not just a monetary offering; we should give him the first and best of our time, energy and resources.

God promises that when we obey his Word, he can control fertility and decay, so that those who keep his commandment will prosper while those who don’t will work harder and harder for less and less return for their labor. The Lord will bless his people, so that the rest of the world will see that God’s people are blessed. If we have strayed from obedience to God’s Word we are urged to return to him, and his blessing and presence will return to us.

Christian disciples are urged to wait patiently and expectantly for the Lord’s return, being careful to live in accordance with his teaching in obedient trust. We can be encouraged to endure patiently by the Biblical examples of steadfast faithfulness.

The Lord is the ultimate righteous judge, in contrast to the worldly, unrighteous judge. The unrighteous judge had no regard for God or other people; he was motivated by his own selfish interests. Persistent pleading produced the desired result, not because the unrighteous judge was interested in justice or the widow’s plight, but simply to be rid of a nuisance. The Lord is the one righteous judge who is truly just and merciful. If we are doing what is right, according to God’s Word, we can be sure that we’ll be vindicated before long.

Jesus left the earth two thousand years ago, entrusting to his disciples the completion of his mission of forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation. He gave us his gospel and the method, discipleship, of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples making “born-again” disciples who trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:45-49). Are we working harder and harder for less and less? Have we lost a sense of his presence with us? When Jesus returns, will he find faith (obedient trust)? Who will endure and stand when Christ returns? Only those he finds doing what he taught us to do; trusting and obeying Jesus, and making Christian disciples who will do likewise (Luke 12:42-48).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)? here you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Saturday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)
To be used after the last Variable Sunday of Pentecost until Christ the King.
First Posted

Podcast:
Saturday 27 Pentecost – Even (Variable)

Malachi 3:13-4:6   –    Return of Elijah;

James 5:13-20   –    The prayer of faith;

Luke 18:9-14    –   The Pharisee and the tax collector;

Malachi Paraphrase:

People have spoken in opposition to the Lord. They have said that it is futile to live according to the commands of the Lord; why should one live as in mourning? Apparently it is the arrogant and evildoers who are well-regarded; they not only prosper, but seem to escape God’s judgment. But those who fear the Lord encourage one another and meditate on his name (character, power and authority), and the Lord has noted and recorded them in his book of remembrance. Those are they who the Lord desires for his special possession, on the day of his judgment, and the Lord vows to spare them as a man spares an obedient son. In that day we will again learn to distinguish and value those who are righteous over those who are wicked; those who serve God over those who do not.

The Day of Judgment is coming; it will be like a burning oven. All those who are arrogant and all evildoers will be like stubble for burning after the harvest. The Lord will leave neither root nor branch. But for those who fear (honor and obey) the Lord, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wing” (Malachi 4:2). God’s people will tread down the wicked like ashes in the Day of the Lord.

The Lord commands his people to remember his Law (i.e. the Scriptures) given to Moses at Mt. Horeb (Sinai) and wait for the return of Elijah, the prophet, heralding the “great and terrible day” (Malachi 4:5) of the Lord. “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).

James Paraphrase:

Christians are exhorted to be patient and steadfast. If suffering, let us pray. If cheerful, let us give praise to the Lord. If sick we should call the elders of the church to pray for us and anoint us with oil; “and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).

Christians should confess their sins to one another and pray for one another so that they may be healed. “The prayer of a righteous [person] has great power in its effects” (James 5:16). Elijah shared our same human nature, and his fervent prayer for drought was heard and answered (because it was according to God’s will and for his glory). And then Elijah prayed again and the drought was ended, and the earth again yielded fruit.

If a Christian strays from the truth we should try to bring him back. Know assuredly that whoever brings a sinner back from sin will save his own soul from eternal death and his righteous deed “will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20b).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee (a legalistic Jew) and a tax collector (a sinner; a Jewish collaborator with the Roman government), as a warning to correct those who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others. The Pharisee and the tax collector both went into the temple to pray.

The Pharisee stood (rather than bowing in reverence and humility) and “prayed… with himself” (Luke 18:11), saying that he thanked God that he was better than other people, because he was not an extortioner, adulterer, unjust, or even like the tax collector. He was proud that he fasted twice a week and tithed (gave ten percent to God) of all he received.

But the tax collector bowed and beat his breast (an act of sincere mourning and repentance), and prayed, acknowledging that he was a sinner and requesting God’s mercy. Jesus declared that the tax collector returned home forgiven and accepted by God, but the Pharisee was not forgiven or accepted by God. Jesus declared, “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Commentary:

In our worldly culture the arrogant and evildoers do seem to prosper and are well-regarded by society, while the righteous people of God are ridiculed and persecuted. The wicked and Godless only seem, for the moment, to have escaped God’s judgment.

God knows our deeds and he is recording for remembrance those who trust and obey him, to be saved and vindicated on the Day of Judgment. It is those who are obedient to God’s Word who he chooses to be his “chosen” people. The wicked and Godless will be considered as stubble and chaff; refuse from the harvest of the righteous, to be burned with eternal, unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).

Jesus is the “Sun of Righteousness” who has risen (been revealed to the world; risen from death to eternal life) and who gives the light of righteousness and life (John 1:4-5) to the world (John 8:12), as the Son of Righteousness, Almighty God. The Lord has commanded his people to remember God’s Word, first given in the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and to await the coming of “Elijah,” heralding the Day of the Lord. That prophesy was first fulfilled in John, the Baptizer (Luke 3:1-22; John 1:19-34); it continues to be fulfilled, beginning on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and Peter preached the Gospel (Acts 2:14-42), and it continues through every “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian who proclaims the imminent Second Coming of Christ and the Day of Judgment.

Christians are to wait for Christ’s return, seeking encouragement, confession and forgiveness of sins, and healing within the Church, the spiritual community (and in God’s Word, the Bible). The Church is to guide the members in discipleship to spiritual maturity, and to restore those who are straying from obedient trust in God’s Word. We receive forgiveness of our sins so that we can share God’s forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ with others who have sinned (sin is disobedience of God’s Word).

The prayer of the righteous is powerfully effective (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar top right, home). Elijah is an example of one who trusted and obeyed God’s Word, and whose prayers were heard and answered, because Elijah’s prayers were according to God’s Word and for God’s glory.

Jesus’ parable is a picture of the “Church.” The Pharisee considered himself righteous, because he was a “member” of the congregation and kept the “rules.” He considered himself good because he hadn’t murdered or blackmailed anyone, or committed adultery. His prayers were selfish and self-serving. He was praying with himself because the Lord did not accept and listen to the Pharisee’s prayer, and the Pharisee did not receive forgiveness, because he didn’t acknowledge that he was a sinner and confess his sins (see Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). He was arrogant before the Lord and contemptuous of “sinners,” instead of concerned and ministering the forgiveness, restoration and salvation of the Lord to the “lost” and “straying.”

The one who receives the Lord’s forgiveness and salvation is the one who is humble, recognizes and confesses his sins and asks for God’s mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Just going through religious ritual won’t save us. Just because we put Jesus’ name at the end of our prayers doesn’t mean God has to hear and answer them (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 22 Pentecost – Even – 11/09 – 15/2014

November 8, 2014

Week of 22 Pentecost – Even
This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Monday 22 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 22 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/30/04;
Podcast: Sunday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 11:1-11  –   Punishment and restoration;
1 Corinthians 4:9-16  –  Our Father in Christ;
Matthew 15:21-28  –  Crumbs from the Master’s table;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord says that Israel is like a willful and wayward child. God called them out of Egypt. The more God called them to follow him, the more they went their own way. They went after false gods and idols, although the Lord had taught them how to walk. The Lord carried them in his arms, but they did not recognize that it was the Lord who healed them. The Lord “led them with cords of compassion; bands of love” (as one leads an animal, but compassionately and in their best interest). God takes care of his people as one would care for draft animals he loves.

Because they have refused to return to the Lord they will return to Egypt (the place of their former bondage) and Assyria will be their king (since they have rejected the Lord as their king). Their cities and fortresses will be destroyed by military conquest. They must bear the yoke (of punishment; captivity), which no one can deliver them from, because they have turned away from the Lord.

Yet the Lord loves Israel and Ephraim (Ephraim is the major portion of the territory which became Samaria, as a result of intermingling of a Jewish remnant with pagan settlers introduced by Assyria as a means of subjugating the region). The Lord’s compassion restrains him from totally destroying Ephraim. The Lord promises that he will give a mighty call and his people will return to him humbly from Egypt and Assyria, and the Lord will return them to their homes.

Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul compares his situation as an apostle (a mature disciple; a messenger; of the Gospel) with prisoners of war in a triumphal procession: A captive of his Lord, treated with contempt and abuse by the world for their entertainment. Like those prisoners, the apostle is weak, disreputable, hungry and thirsty, ill-clad, beaten and homeless, while the world has the power and honor.

Christians are to bless those who curse them, endure when persecuted, and conciliate when slandered, as Paul has demonstrated in his own life. Christians are regarded as worthless and treated like garbage by the world. Paul tells Christians this not to shame but to admonish them, as his beloved children. Paul considers the Corinthians as his spiritual children, because they were reborn through Paul’s preaching of the Gospel. They have other Christian teachers, but Paul considers himself as their father, and he urges them to copy Paul’s example.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon (in the province of Syria). A Canaanite (Gentile) woman of the region came to him addressing him as Lord and Son of David (i.e. Messiah) and told him her daughter was severely possessed by a demon. Jesus did not respond. The woman followed along crying out, and annoyed the disciples, so they asked Jesus to tell her to go away. Jesus answered that he was sent only to the people of Israel. The woman came up to him and knelt down and begged Jesus to help her. Jesus told her that it would not be right to take one’s children’s bread and feed it to dogs. She agreed, but pointed out that dogs are allowed to eat scraps that fall from the master’s table. Jesus commended her faith and agreed to heal the woman’s daughter.

Commentary:

God is Israel’s father, not only as their creator, but by adopting them through the call of Abraham. The Lord taught them how to walk during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, like a parent watches over and helps his child in that development phase. Israel is like a willful child which must be disciplined, or an unruly animal that must be bridled in order to be controlled and led.

Israel did suffer exile and captivity as a result of her disobedience, but the Lord is a faithful and loving father. He promised that Israel would not be completely destroyed. He promised that some remnant would return. Some remnant of the Northern Kingdom of Israel probably did return with the  Exiles from Babylon. A remnant has returned to repopulate Israel after World War II, and some remnant will be saved in the Great Tribulation (through faith in Jesus).

Jesus said that a disciple is not greater than his teacher, but when fully taught will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Paul is a reflection of Jesus, as Jesus is a reflection of our Heavenly Father (Jesus is Emmanuel; God with us in human form; Matthew 1:23). In Jesus the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is the only begotten son of the Father – through Christ, we’re “adopted”; he’s “begotten” (John 1:14). Thomas called him God and Jesus didn’t correct him (John 20:28.)] Paul is the Corinthian Christians’ father in Jesus Christ. Paul urges his spiritual children to follow his example, as he has followed Jesus’ example, as Jesus had learned from his Heavenly Father.

The Canaanite (Gentile) woman became a child of God through faith in Jesus. She demonstrated the attitude and character of a disciple that Paul had described (1 Corinthians 4:12-13). She didn’t get offended by Jesus’ seemingly harsh response, but persisted humbly in faith (Matthew 15:26-27). She was willing to accept the Lord’s discipline and correction, so the Lord was willing to be her spiritual father.

As our creator, God is our father, but he is willing to adopt us as his spiritual children through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus. We are called in Jesus to be disciples; to learn to walk in obedience to God’s Word. We need to be open to the Lord’s correction.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 22 Pentecost – Even
To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.
First posted 10/31/04;

Podcast: Monday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 11:12-12:1  –  Israel’s rebellion;
Acts 26:1-23  –   Paul’s defense before Agrippa;
Luke 8:26-39  –  The Garasene demoniac;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Ephraim (Samaria) and the Northern Kingdom of Israel were condemned for dealing falsely with God, although Judah was still known by God and faithful to him. But Ephraim “herds and chases the wind” (i.e., does what is foolish and attempts what is impossible). “They multiply falsehood and violence” (Hosea 12:1b). They made a pact with Assyria and “oil is carried to Egypt” (Hosea 12:1c); olive oil was one of the most valuable products of the land. It was used notably to anoint kings, and was used for certain offerings to God).

Acts Paraphrase:

The Jews were trying to kill Paul, and he had been transferred to the custody of Antonius Felix, governor of Judea. Felix had given Paul the option of being tried in Jerusalem by a Jewish Court, but Paul feared the Jews and requested his right as a Roman Citizen to be tried by Caesar.

Herod Agrippa (great-grandson of Herod the Great) had come to Caesarea to visit Felix, and Felix had told him about Paul. Agrippa expressed an interest in hearing Paul, so Felix arranged for Paul to present his case to Agrippa.

Paul made his appeal on the basis of Agrippa’s familiarity with Judaism, saying that he had been raised as a Pharisee, the strictest party of Judaism, and that his imprisonment was a matter of disagreement with the Jews over the belief in the resurrection of the dead. Paul testified that he had formerly persecuted Christians and opposed the name of Jesus. He had imprisoned Christians and had voted for their execution.

Paul testified how he had been on the way to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to imprison Christians, when he was struck down by a bright light from heaven and heard a voice from heaven ask, in Hebrew, why Paul (formerly known as Saul) was persecuting Jesus. The voice said that it hurt Paul to “kick against the goads” (sharp sticks used to get cattle to do what the herdsman wanted). Paul, acknowledging him as Lord, asked who was addressing him, and the voice identified himself as Jesus.

Jesus declared that he had appeared to Paul to appoint Paul to testify about Jesus and to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus promised to deliver Paul from the Jews and the Gentiles, to whom Paul would be sent as an evangelist, so that their spiritual eyes might be opened, and that they might be transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, and from the power of Satan to the power of God, that their sins might be forgiven and they might receive a place among those who are made holy by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

Paul told Agrippa that he had been obedient to the revelation, and had begun to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should turn to the Lord and perform deeds befitting their repentance. For that reason the Jews had attacked Paul in the Temple and were trying to kill him. Paul acknowledged that it was by God’s help that he had been preserved and was still testifying, and that his testimony was in accordance with the scriptures: “that the Christ must suffer, and that by being the  first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to both the people (Jews) and the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus and his disciples had crossed to the east side of the Sea of Galilee to the Gerasene (or Gergesene, or Gadarene) region. As they disembarked from the boat they met a demoniac. The demoniac had not worn clothes for a long time, and lived outdoors among the tombs. When he saw Jesus he cried out, addressing Jesus by name, and acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God.

The man asked Jesus what he intended to do with him, and begged Jesus not to torment him. The demoniac had been bound with chains and ropes and kept under guard, but always managed to break loose, and was driven into the wilderness. Jesus asked the demoniac his name and the man replied “Legion” because the man had many demons. The demons pleaded not to be sent into the abyss.

A herd of pigs was feeding nearby and they asked Jesus to allow them to enter the pigs. Jesus gave them permission, and they entered the pigs, which stampeded over a cliff into the sea and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened to the pigs they fled to the city and told what had happened.

A crowd came out to see what had happened and found the demoniac sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind. The townspeople were afraid, and when they heard from eyewitnesses what had happened, they asked Jesus to depart from their region, so Jesus got back in the boat and left. The man who had been healed of the demon begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to return to his home and declare all that God had done for him, and the man immediately did as Jesus had told him.

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of Israel, and Samaria, were condemned for dealing falsely with God (disobedience). They were trying to “herd” and “chase” the “wind.” They pursued worldly alliances with Egypt and Assyria. Hoshea, the last king of Israel, sought security by entering into futile alliances with Assyria and Egypt, instead of turning to the Lord. As a result, the Lord abandoned them to their fate and the Northern tribes ceased to exist; they were carried off to captivity in Assyria and scattered among the nations. But Judah was the faithful remnant. (Judah was later exiled to Babylon because of disobedience, but was allowed to return after seventy years.)

At the time of Jesus’ ministry, Israel was again divided into those who were rebellious and those who were faithful.  The Jews were not faithful or obedient to God. They rejected his salvation in Jesus Christ and instead pursued worldly alliances. They allied with the Roman government to execute Jesus, and they negotiated with the Roman governors, Felix, and Festus, and the captain of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, to execute Paul because he preached the Gospel of Jesus.

Paul is an example of the righteous remnant. Although at first he clung to tradition and persecuted Christians, he was open to correction by the Lord, and he repented and changed his ways. He became immediately obedient to the Lord (Acts 26:19-20). Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:51). The righteous remnant are those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Church is the “New Israel.”

The Gerasene (or Gergesene, or Gadarene) region was the territory of Manasseh in the tribal inheritance. Swine were unclean, could not be eaten and would not have been herded by Jews. The residents were primarily Greeks* (Gentiles). Jesus came to save and to heal and give life. Jesus healed the demoniac, but the residents were more concerned with the material proceeds of pork production; they asked him to leave. Instead of receiving the healing and salvation only Jesus can provide, they wanted to preserve their way of life; their traditional livelihood. The healed demoniac immediately became obedient to Jesus (Luke 8:39).

There are two kinds of “God’s people;” the ones who rebel, who follow their own will, and are destroyed, and the ones who trust and obey and are saved. Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Decapoils” (sic: Decapolis) digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html


Tuesday 22 Pentecost – Even
To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.
First posted 11/01/04;

Podcast: Tuesday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 12:2-14  –  Rebellion and restoration;
Acts 26:24-27:8  –  Paul’s voyage to Rome;
Luke 8:40-56  –  Raising Jairus’ daughter;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord had a complaint against Judah (named for the son of Jacob -Israel; Judah was the Southern Kingdom of the Divided Monarchy) and would punish Jacob (the Northern Kingdom; “Israel;” Judah’s father; patriarch whose twelve sons became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel). Jacob strove with his brother, Esau, at his birth (Hosea 12:3; see Genesis 25:26) and as an adult, strove with God (Hosea 12:4a; see Genesis 32:22-30). He came to a personal knowledge of God at Bethel (Hosea 12:4b; see Genesis 28:11-17).

Judah is urged, by the help of God, to return to God, to hold fast to love and justice and to wait for God. Ephraim (one of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom; their tribal inheritance was territory which later became Samaria) is indicted for economic injustice. Ephraim has placed confidence in material wealth, but material wealth cannot circumvent punishment for his guilt. The Lord will cause them to return to the wilderness.

The Lord had led Israel by his prophets since the time of the Exodus from Egypt; those who ignore the prophets will be held responsible to God’s judgment. Gilead had become a place of evildoers (Hosea 6:8; 12:11). Gilgal had become a place of idolatrous worship. Ephraim will be held accountable for his provocation (disobedience and unrepentance), so the Lord will not forgive his sins and will cause him to receive punishment according to his deeds.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by Jews in the temple in Jerusalem. He had been arrested and imprisoned by Roman authorities awaiting the outcome of an investigation. During his detention he presented his case to Festus, governor of Judea, and Herod Agrippa, the governor of northern Roman provinces of Israel. Paul had presented testimony of the Gospel and his conversion (Acts 26:1-23).

On hearing that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy, Festus declared that Paul’s learning had caused him to become crazy, but Paul replied that he was not crazy, but speaking the truth. Paul appealed to King Agrippa to verify the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, suggesting that these events had not escaped Agrippa’s notice, and asked Agrippa if he believed the prophets.

Agrippa replied that Paul was not going to convert him to Christianity so quickly. Paul replied that he hoped that all who heard him would come to know the truth of the Gospel. Then Festus and Agrippa and their associates left the hall, and as they discussed the case among themselves, they agreed that Paul had done nothing deserving execution or imprisonment. Agrippa told Festus that if Paul had not appealed to Caesar he could have been set free.

Arrangements were made to send Paul by ship to Rome with other prisoners in the custody of a Centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. They sailed from Caesarea to Sidon on a ship of Adramyttium which was heading for Asia (Modern Turkey), accompanied by Aristarchus, (Paul’s missionary companion and “fellow worker;” Acts 19:29; Philemon 1:24). Paul’s guard treated him kindly and allowed him to stay with friends. Then they sailed along the southern coast of Asia Minor to Myra. There they transferred to an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy. It took several days to sail to Cnidus, because of unfavorable winds, and then they sailed south of Crete to Fair Havens near the city of Lasea.

Lukes Paraphrase:

When Jesus returned from Gerasa (one of the cities of the Decapolis, east of the Sea of Galilee), a ruler of the synagogue at Capernaum, named Jairus, came to Jesus and asked him to come and heal his twelve year old daughter who was dying. On the way, a crowd followed, and a woman in the crowd who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his garment, and her hemorrhage was healed instantly.

Jesus asked who had touched him. Those around him denied it, and Peter suggested that it was probably just jostling by the crowd, but Jesus said that he had perceived that power had gone forth from him. When the woman realized that she could not remain anonymous she came and confessed why she had touched him and how she had immediately been healed. Jesus told her that her faith had made her well, and told her to go in peace.

Commentary:

The Lord sent his prophets to lead and preserve his people (Hosea 12:13). By his prophets the people were delivered from bondage to sin and death, and led through the wilderness into the Promised Land. Those who ignore the warnings of the prophets will receive God’s punishment. (Hosea 12:11, 14).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets; Jesus is the help that comes from God (Acts 26:22-23). Festus thought Paul was crazy; Agrippa was not convinced. Both realized that Paul was innocent, but instead of acting on that belief they went along with the worldly system; they tried to avoid personal responsibility and passed the decision on to Caesar.

The hemorrhagic woman recognized her need, believed in Jesus, and acted on her faith. She took personal responsibility for her actions. Because she believed and acted in faith, she was healed. She received the help that comes from God; the salvation that is only through Jesus.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when each of us will be individually accountable to God for what we have done with the Good News of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who have ignored the warnings of the prophets (the scriptures, apostles and evangelists) will not be forgiven and will receive eternal punishment. Those who come to Jesus in trust and obedience will receive forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven with the Lord. (Matthew 25:31-46; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Will we return to the Lord, hold on to love and justice and wait for the help that comes from God, or will we pursue economic injustice and trust in our material wealth (Hosea 12:6-8)?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 22 Pentecost – Even

To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.

First posted 11/02/04;

Podcast: Wednesday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 13:1-3  –  Israel’s idolatry;
Acts 27:9-26  –  Storm at sea;
Luke 9:1-17  – Feeding the five thousand;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Tribe of Ephraim (the tribal territory later became Samaria) had an exalted status among Israel but because of idolatry they died. Their idolatry increased; they made idols of silver, worked with great craftsmanship. The people loved calves (idols; instead of the Lord). Because of their sin, they will be like morning mist or like dew that disappears early in the day; like chaff that blows away, or like smoke through an open window.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was being transported by ship to Rome for trial before Caesar on false charges brought against him by Jews in Jerusalem. They had arrived at Fair Havens on Crete. They had lost a lot of time because of adverse sailing conditions, and it was now late in the season; the Fast (Day of Atonement, in September or October) was already past.

Paul realized that the voyage now would be dangerous and advised them not to proceed, but his guard took the captain’s and owners’ advice rather than Paul’s. Fair Haven was not suitable as a winter port, so they pressed on hoping to winter in Phoenix, another harbor on Crete that was more suitable. When a fair wind arose they set sail close inshore, but then a storm arose. The ship couldn’t make headway and was forced to turn and was driven by the wind.

They made it to the tiny island of Cauda (off the coast of Crete), where they made a few repairs. They had lowered the sails and were driven by the wind, afraid that they would be driven onto the Syrtis (shoals on the coast of Tunisia and Libya). They were violently storm-tossed and the crew began to throw the cargo and ship’s rigging overboard.

After many days of violent storm all on board abandoned hope of being saved. They had eaten nothing for a long time. Paul came forward and told the crew that they should have listened to him and not sailed from Crete, but Paul told them to be encouraged, because they would survive, although the ship would be lost. Paul had had a visit from an angel of God who told him that it was God’s will for Paul to stand before Caesar, and that God had promised that all who sailed with Paul would survive. Paul declared that he believed what the angel had told him, and that they would have to beach the ship on some island.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus gave the Twelve (disciples) “power and authority over all demons and diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1). He told them not to take any provisions; neither extra clothing, nor food, nor money. They were to rely on God’s providence through the hospitality of the villages they visited. Jesus told them that if any village did not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against them. The disciples left and did as instructed.

Herod Antipas (who had beheaded John the Baptizer, and was a son of Herod the Great) heard about Jesus’ miracles. Some were saying that John had been raised from the dead; others said Elijah had returned, and others thought one of prophets of old had been raised. Herod knew that he had had John beheaded, but he wondered who Jesus was, and desired to see Jesus.

When the twelve returned from their mission, Jesus took them to Bethsaida (on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee). The crowds followed them there, and Jesus welcomed them and preached the Gospel and healed their diseases. At evening the disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowd away to seek food and lodging in the nearby villages, but Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowd.

The disciples only had five loaves of bread and two fish and the crowd was about five thousand people. Jesus told them to have the crowd sit down in groups, and they did so. Jesus took the bread and fish, blessed and broke them into pieces, and gave them to the disciples to distribute. “All ate and were satisfied” (Luke 9:17), and there were twelve baskets of food left over.

Commentary:

Ephraim’s tribal allotment in the Promised Land was the central and most desirable land available. It constituted most of what after the Assyrian conquest became Samaria, a region of mixed race and religion, because of the Assyrian practice of deporting the inhabitants of conquered regions to other areas and repopulating it with other deported aliens in order to subdue the region. A remnant of Jews in the region thus intermingled with the alien immigrants, resulting in the Samaritans.

Ephraim was also a center of idolatry. The people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel worshiped a golden calf set up at Bethel (Beth-aven: i.e., “house of wickedness” or “house of idolatry;” by Jeroboam, king of Israel, to prevent the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom from worshiping in the temple at Jerusalem; 1 Kings 12:28-29).]  At the time of Jesus, Samaria was not considered to be part of Israel. So Hosea’s prophecy regarding Ephraim had been fulfilled.

Paul and those traveling with him survived a terrible storm at sea because it was God’s will for Paul to testify to the Gospel before Caesar in Rome, and because Paul trusted and obeyed the Lord. Even though the captain and crew didn’t heed Paul’s warning (Acts 27:9-10) to avoid getting into the storm, the Lord was able to reassure Paul and to keep his promise to deliver them from it without loss of life.  The Lord’s Word to Paul was fulfilled just as he said.

The Lord commissioned his disciples to proclaim the Gospel and gave them the power and authority and the resources (Luke 9:3; 16) to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the people as the disciples trusted and obeyed his instructions. Jesus sent the twelve out without money, food or spare clothing and they lacked nothing (Luke 22:35). When he told the disciples to feed the crowd he took what they had and blessed it, and as they distributed it, the crowd was satisfied and there was more left over than they had started with (Luke 9:17).

Do we love the Lord enough to trust and obey him, or do we love our silver, and the work of our hands, and our own desires and goals more? Are we willing to go through trials and storms in life because we know it is God’s will for us to proclaim the Gospel and because we trust his promise to save us from those storms and trials?

God’s promises are absolutely dependable; Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who refuse to trust and obey Jesus will die eternally in Hell (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), but those who trust and obey Jesus will live eternally in Heaven with the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 22 Pentecost – Even
To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.
First posted 11/03/04;

Podcast: Thursday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 13:4-8   –  God’s judgment on Israel;
Acts 27:27-44  –   Shipwreck;
Luke 9:18-27   –  On discipleship;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord is God; there is no other savior. Israel had a close relationship with the Lord during the wilderness wandering, when they were dependent on the Lord’s providence for day-to-day survival, but when they came into the Promised Land and began to be prosperous they began to rely on themselves and their material resources instead of the Lord. Because they turned from the Lord, the Lord became their predator and adversary. The Lord will tear and devour them as would a wild beast.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was being transported by ship to Rome for trial before Caesar. The vessel had encountered a great storm. On the fourteenth night they were drifting near land. The sailors determined that the depth of the water was decreasing, so they let out four anchors from the stern, hoping to avoid running aground in the dark. The sailors were intending to escape in a small boat on the pretext of laying anchors, but Paul told the centurion that without the sailors, the passengers would have no chance of surviving. The centurion ordered his soldiers to cut the small boat free, preventing the crew from escaping.

At dawn Paul urged all aboard to eat some food, since they hadn’t had anything in fourteen days. Paul repeated the Lord’s promise that none was to perish (Acts 27:24, 34). Paul took bread, gave thanks to God, and then began to eat. The others were encouraged and also began to eat. When they had eaten, they threw the remaining food into the sea to lighten the ship.

When there was sufficient daylight, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a sand beach on which they hoped they could land the ship. They cast off the anchors, unbound the rudder, hoisted a sail and headed for the beach, but the ship ran aground on a reef and broke apart in the surf.

The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, but the centurion wanted to save Paul, and he ordered the soldiers not to harm the prisoners. The centurion ordered those who could swim to jump overboard and swim for the beach. The rest came ashore using pieces of wood from the ship for flotation, and all survived.

Luke Paraphrase:

When Jesus and his disciples were alone, he asked them who people were saying that Jesus was. They said that some thought Jesus was John the Baptizer; some thought he was Elijah, and others thought he was one of the prophets of old who had risen (from the dead). Jesus then asked his disciples who they thought Jesus to be, and Peter said that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) of God. Jesus told them to tell no one (because he wanted each individual to decide for himself who Jesus is).

Referring to himself as the “Son of man,” Jesus told them that he must suffer and be rejected by the Jewish leaders and be killed, and be raised from death on the third day. Then he said that if anyone wanted to follow Jesus, he must take up his own cross daily and follow Jesus’ example. Whoever wants to preserve his life in this world will lose it eternally, but whoever is willing to lose his life in this world for Jesus’ sake will save his life eternally.

What good does it do a person if he were to gain everything in this world if he perishes eternally? Anyone who is ashamed of Jesus and his words now will experience Jesus’ scorn when Jesus returns in glory and the power and authority of God. Jesus declared that some would not experience physical death before they witness the kingdom of God.

Commentary:

The Lord is God, whether we believe and obey him or not; there is no savior apart from him. The Lord had a plan of salvation from the beginning of creation (John 1:1-18; see also God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The history of God’s dealings with Israel is also a parable; a metaphor; an illustration of that plan of salvation. Jesus is the fulfillment of that plan of salvation.

Jesus is the “Moses” who leads us out of bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world, through the “Sea” of baptism into Jesus Christ, and leads us through the “Wilderness” of life, where we learn to walk in obedience to his word, through the “River” of physical death, and into the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom in Heaven. The wilderness experience is intended to teach us to rely on God’s providence rather than our own resources.

Because Israel forgot the lessons taught in the wilderness, when they came into the earthly Promised Land they turned from trust and obedience of God to reliance on their own will and their own resources. God warned them through the prophets, over and over, to return to the dependence on him that they had known in the wilderness, but they refused and ignored his warnings. The Lord declared that because of their disobedience they would be destroyed. That prophecy was fulfilled; the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians; the ten northern tribes essentially ceased to exist.

Because God’s Word is eternal, it also applies to us today. It applies to all people, but particularly to the Church, which is the “New People of God;” the “New Congregation of Israel,” and to America, which in a sense is the “New Promised Land” on earth. America was founded by Christians seeking religious freedom. When this country was still a wilderness, they were aware of their dependence upon the providence of God; but as we have prospered in the new land we have turned from the Lord, and have come to rely on our material wealth and our own abilities.

Paul is an example of a disciple of Jesus Christ, who has learned to walk through the “wilderness” in trust and obedience, carrying his cross daily, and relying on God’s providence. A prisoner, on his way to trial for the Gospel of Jesus, in the midst of a terrible storm, after fourteen days without food, facing imminent shipwreck on some unknown land, Paul is trusting in the promise of God that Paul will testify to the Gospel in Rome, and that all on the vessel will survive the shipwreck.

In the midst of the storm, Paul is calm, and he gives thanks to God and proceeds to eat. God’s promises were fulfilled; in spite of the intentions of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, the Lord moved the centurion to use his power to preserve Paul. The sailors’ hope of escaping disaster in their small boat was a false hope; if they had done so they would have removed themselves from God’s protection. If those on board had attempted to hang on to their food resources after they had eaten, instead of trusting God’s providence, the provisions would have been lost anyway in the resulting shipwreck, and the added weight would have caused them to run aground further from shore, perhaps costing them their opportunity for survival.

All survived the shipwreck, just as the Lord had promised. Paul did eventually reach Rome. [Paul had earlier written the Church in Rome, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith…” (Romans 1:16a).]

Each of us must decide for himself who we believe that Jesus is. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ; the savior promised by God, then we must follow him. We must trust and obey him, and follow his example. We must be his disciples. We must be willing to leave the comfort and security of “Egypt” and be willing to go through the “wilderness” in order to reach the “Promised Land.”

Any attempt on our part to secure our salvation through any other means than through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus is false security. Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). If we try to hold on to any worldly resources in an attempt to provide our own security and salvation they will weigh us down to our own destruction. Jesus promised that he would be killed and would rise from the dead on the third day, and that promise was fulfilled. The Disciples testified to that truth, and Paul testified to his personal encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts Ch. 9).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 22 Pentecost – Even

To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.
First posted 11/04/04;

Podcast: Friday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 13:9-16   –  God’s judgment on Israel;
Acts 28:1-16  –   Paul arrives in Rome;
Luke 9:28-36  –  The Transfiguration;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord will destroy Israel (because of her rebellion); who can save them from the Lord’s judgment? Israel’s kings and princes cannot help her now. The Israelites insisted on having a (human) king (instead of the Lord). The Lord gave them kings, but now in his anger he has taken them away. Ephraim’s sin is stored up. The time of delivery (from sin and death; as in childbirth) comes, but he doesn’t present himself for delivery.

“Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the grave)? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction” (Hosea 13:14 RSV)? The Lord no longer has compassion for them. Israel may seem to be flourishing, but the “wind” of the Lord’s judgment will come upon him and dry up his fountain, and strip his treasury of every valuable. Samaria shall bear her guilt for rebellion against God. The sword of warfare will destroy her posterity.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been shipwrecked on his way to Rome under guard for trial on false charges by the Jews. All onboard made it to shore on the island of Malta (offshore of Sicily). The natives were kind to the survivors and built a fire to warm them. Paul gathered some sticks for the fire, among which was a snake that bit him as he put the sticks on the fire. The natives were sure that Paul would die or become very sick, and took the incident as an omen that Paul must be evil. But when he didn’t suffer any ill effects, they changed their assessment and regarded him as a god.

The chief man of the island was named Publius. His father was sick with fever and dysentery and Paul visited him and prayed and laid his hands on him, healing him. After that, all the sick of the island were brought to Paul and were healed. As a result the people were very grateful and gave gifts and supplied whatever Paul’s group needed.

After three months, Paul and his group boarded a vessel of Alexandria which had wintered at Malta. After a three-day layover in Syracuse (on Sicily) they went to Rhegium and then up the west coast of Italy to Puteoli. There they found Christians and were allowed to stay with them for a week before going on to Rome. Christians in Rome came to meet Paul as he arrived, and encouraged him. Paul was allowed to stay in Rome in his own quarters with his guard.

Luke Paraphrase:

About eight days after Jesus had asked his disciples who they understood him to be, and had then discussed the demands of discipleship (Luke 9:18-27), Jesus took Peter, James and John and went up on a mountain to pray. As Jesus was praying his appearance was altered and his clothing became radiant. Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus about Jesus’ departure, which would happen at Jerusalem. The three disciples were sleepy, but not asleep (nor dreaming) and they witnessed Jesus’ glory and the appearance of the two men with Jesus.

As the two were leaving, Peter blurted out that it was good that the three disciples were present. He suggested that they should build three booths; one each, for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, not realizing what he was saying. As Peter said this, a cloud overshadowed them, and the disciples were afraid. A voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen (or “my Beloved”); listen to him” (Luke 9:35). When the voice had spoken, Moses and Elijah had disappeared. The three disciples didn’t discuss with anyone what had happened (until after Jesus’ resurrection).

Commentary:

God condemned Israel to destruction for her refusal to return to the Lord and obey him. Because they refused to obey him God refused to redeem them from Death. God’s Word of judgment was fulfilled by the conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist, because they were carried off and scattered throughout the peoples of the earth.

Jews who remained (the old and infirm) in Ephraim intermingled with aliens brought in to repopulate the territory resulting in the Samaritans, a religiously and racially mixed people. For this reason, at the time of Jesus, Samaria was not considered to be part of Israel. God passed judgment on Israel and Ephraim (and that judgment was fulfilled just as God said.

Sheol is the realm of the Dead. All have sinned (disobeyed God; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). There is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what he has done in life (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected Jesus and refused to obey him will receive eternal destruction and death in Hell with Satan and all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). God loves us and doesn’t want us to die eternally (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God wanted to ransom Israel and Ephraim from eternal Death, but Israel and Ephraim refused; they did not present themselves to the Lord for his deliverance, so they experienced the destroying “wind” of God’s judgment. Jesus is the ransom (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) which God has provided for his people, to deliver them from eternal death. Jesus is the victory over sin and death.

Paul said: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. When the mortal puts on immortality then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ (Isaiah 25:8a). ‘O death, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting’ (Hosea 13:14). The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:52-57).

The Jews wanted to kill Paul for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 23:12-15). In contrast, the people of Malta thought Paul was evil because he had been bitten by the poisonous snake. When they saw the power of Jesus’ resurrection at work in Paul they changed their minds.

Jesus’ transfiguration is a glimpse of the kingdom of eternal life in Heaven, in contrast to the realm of Sheol. The kingdom of Heaven is the realm of light and eternal life; not gloom and darkness and eternal death. Moses and Elijah are both Old Testament saints who walked with the Lord in trust and obedience. Elijah did not experience physical death; he was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1-18). They were discussing Jesus’ departure from Jerusalem (Luke 9:31); not his physical death on the cross, but his ascension into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment the same way that he departed (Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:11).

The Israelites wanted a human king and princes because the other nations of the world had kings and princes. The Israelites wanted worldly status and recognition, rather than to please and honor God. The Jews hated Paul because his message upset their worldly status and traditions. The inhabitants of Malta thought Paul was evil because he was having a lot of difficulty in his life, but when Paul appeared to be successful as a healer, their attitudes quickly changed.

Jesus didn’t have the outward appearance of a worldly king. Only the closest of his disciples were allowed to have a glimpse of Jesus’ Heavenly glory. Jesus’ first coming was as a helpless infant; his first entry into Jerusalem for his “coronation” (with a crown of thorns; Matthew 27:29) was on a donkey (Luke 19:28-38). His second coming will be with glory and power to judge the Earth.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 22 Pentecost – Even

To be used only if there is a 23 Pentecost Sunday – Otherwise skip to 27 Pentecost.
First posted 11/05/04;

Podcast: Saturday 22 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 14:1-9   –   Return to the Lord;
Acts 28:17-31  –  Paul and the Jews of Rome;
Luke 9:37-50  –   Faith;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord entreats Israel to return to him. Israel has stumbled because of sin. He should bring his petition and return to the Lord, asking the Lord to take away his iniquity, accept his offerings, and promising that Israel will do what he has promised the Lord. Israel shall not seek salvation from Assyria, shall not rely in his own strength, nor worship the work of his hands. The Lord helps the orphan. The Lord will heal Israel’s faithlessness and love him freely without anger.

The Lord will prosper Israel like dew waters plants. Israel shall return and dwell in the Lord’s shadow and flourish. Why would Ephraim seek help from idols? It is the Lord who provides for him. The Lord is ever-living and the source of all fruitfulness. Whoever is truly wise and discerning will realize that [all] the ways of the Lord are right and those who are upright walk in obedience to them; but transgressors stumble in them.

Acts Paraphrase:

Three days after arriving in Rome, Paul called the local leaders of the Jews together and told them that he had done nothing against the Jewish people or traditions and had been examined by the Romans and found not guilty. But the Jews in Jerusalem had objected to Paul’s release and Paul had been forced to appeal to Caesar. Paul was on trial because of the hope of Israel.

The local Jews had heard nothing about Paul from the Jews in Jerusalem but had heard much negative opinion about the (Christian) “sect,” and were anxious to hear Paul’s views. So they arranged a date when a great crowd assembled at his lodgings and all day Paul discussed Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Jewish hope according the scriptures.

Some were convinced but others did not believe. They left in disagreement after Paul declared that the Holy Spirit had said of them through Isaiah (6:9-10) that they had closed their hearts, their ears and their eyes to God’s Word and refused to turn to the Lord for salvation. Paul declared that since the Jews rejected the salvation of God, it has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.

Luke Paraphrase:

When Jesus had returned after his transfiguration on the mountain (Luke 9:28-38; see entry for yesterday, Friday, 22 Pentecost, even year), a crowd came to Jesus. A man in the crowd asked Jesus to heal his only child, who had a demon. The man had brought the child to Jesus’ disciples but they had been unable to heal him. Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you” (Luke 9:41)? Jesus healed the child and the crowd was astonished at God’s majesty.

While the crowd was praising him, Jesus told his disciples to remember that the Son of man (Son of God; Jesus) was going to be delivered into the hands of men. (These people were impressed with God’s power in Jesus; Jesus was going to lay aside that power and allow them to crucify him.) The disciples did not understand; the meaning was concealed from them so that could not perceive it, and they were afraid to ask Jesus about it.

The Disciples argued among themselves as to who was the greatest among them, but Jesus used a child as an illustration, saying that whoever receives a child in Jesus’ name receives Jesus, and whoever receives Jesus, receives God. Jesus said that the one who humbles himself is great.

John mentioned that the disciples had encountered an exorcist invoking Jesus’ name and had told him to quit because he was not one of the group of Jesus’ followers. Jesus told him not to forbid him, because anyone who is not working against us is with us.

Commentary:

The Lord doesn’t want anyone to perish (John 3:16-17); he sends his prophets to warn us to turn to him for our salvation. He wants to heal, forgive, love and bless us. The Northern Kingdom of Israel and the territory of Ephraim (which became Samaria) had plenty of warning from Hosea and other prophets, but they insisted on seeking their salvation through political alliances with Assyria and Egypt, in relying on their own military and political strength, in trusting in the work of their own hands and in turning to false gods, rather than trusting and obeying the Lord.

The Lord warned them through Hosea what was coming, but they refused to heed the warning. Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled; The Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians, and the ten northern tribes of Israel were scattered throughout the world and ceased to exist. The remnant which stayed in the land intermingled with aliens brought in by the Assyrians to settle and subdue the territory, which became Samaria.

In Jesus’ day the Jews still refused to listen to God’s Word; they still refused to turn, from their reliance on political alliances, their traditions, and the work of their own hands, to trust and obedience of the Lord. The Lord wanted to heal them and prosper them, but they refused. The prophecy of Hosea was fulfilled again in them: The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. It is only since World War II that Israel has been re-established. Their treatment of Jesus and Paul illustrates the truth of the indictments of Hosea: they made alliances with the Roman governors to execute both Jesus and Paul, and they rejected God’s salvation through Jesus in preference for their traditions.

The man with the possessed child came to Jesus in faith (trust and obedience; Luke 9:41b) and Jesus healed the child. The Lord wants to heal our faithlessness and save us but we have to come to him in trust and obedience. It is trusting and obeying Jesus that matters; not faith in a Church or faith in a Pastor. The crowd that witnessed the healing recognized and praised God’s sovereign power.

Jesus humbled himself, laid aside that sovereign power and allowed men to crucify him, in order to save them. Jesus was trying to teach his disciples that it is not wealth, social status, political or military clout that saves us, but obedience to God’s will. Jesus trusted God the Father and obeyed God’s will for Jesus to die for our salvation. Jesus told his disciples that greatness in the kingdom of God will be determined by humble trust and obedience of Jesus rather than by worldly status and power.

Are our hearts and ears and eyes open to the God’s Word? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 21 Pentecost – Even – 11/02 – 08/2014

November 1, 2014

Week of 21 Pentecost – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 21 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 21 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/23/04;
Podcast: Sunday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 5:8-6:6   –  The Day of Punishment;
1 Corinthians 2:6-16  –  Wisdom of God;
Matthew 14:1-12  –  Death of John the Baptist;

Hosea Background:

Gibeah was the site of an ancient sanctuary used for idolatrous worship, and the site of great sin by, and reprisal against, the tribe of Benjamin (Judges Chapters 19 & 20). Ramah (Rama) was the site of Rachael’s weeping for her children (Jeremiah 15); a prophecy fulfilled by the re-awakening of that mourning over Herod’s infanticide at Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16-18). Beth-aven (“house of idols”) is the name given to Bethel (“house of God”) because Bethel had been corrupted by idolatry.

Hosea was speaking in the context of the Assyrian war against the Northern Kingdom of Israel and near-anarchy of the Northern Kingdom at the time. The Lord had turned against Israel. The situation was seen as the punishment of Israel for her idolatry. “Those who remove a landmark” are those who alter the boundaries of an inheritance.

Hosea Summary:

Ephraim is under judgment because they went against God’s command. Therefore God has become Ephraim’s destroyer, like a moth, or like dry rot. Ephraim tried to make a deal with the Assyrians, in whom there was no real help (instead of turning to the Lord). Therefore the Lord has become their enemy.

The Lord declared that he would remove himself from them until they acknowledged and sought him, turning to the Lord in faith that he would heal and bind up again. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” Israel is encouraged to press on to know the Lord, because his existence is as certain as the dawn and his faithfulness is as sure as the spring (latter) rains. Israel’s love of God is as transient as a morning cloud or dew. Because of their faithlessness God’s judgment is upon them. God values faithful love more than sacrifices, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Divine wisdom is imparted to the spiritually mature (those who have been taught by the Holy Spirit). Divine wisdom (the wisdom of God by which the world was created) is different from worldly wisdom (what the world falsely considers wisdom). Those who are worldly-wise will pass away. But those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit impart a wisdom which is secret and hidden from the world, according to God’s eternal plan, that we might be glorified. The rulers of this world (demonic forces; Ephesians 6:12) did not understand this wisdom, or they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus (because they were defeated through the crucifixion of Jesus (Colossians 2:14-15).

God reveals, through the Spirit, what no man has seen, and no human imagination can conceive. Just as no one can truly know our innermost thoughts except our own spirits, so only the Holy Spirit knows the inner thoughts of God. Those who have been born-again have received not the spirit of the world, but God’s Spirit, so that we might understand the gifts which are from God. We teach not human wisdom but spiritual wisdom, “interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the (Holy) Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13 RSV). (I believe Paul quoted Ezekiel 40:4 to show that this prophecy has its fulfillment in the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

“The unspiritual person does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 RSV). The spiritual person has the mind of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit and thus has sound spiritual judgment which unspiritual people do not possess.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Herod (Antipas, son of Herod the Great) was ruler of the province of Galilee (and Perea). Herod had John the Baptizer imprisoned because John had criticized Herod for having married Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip (Herod Philip I; not the tetrarch of Iturea, Herod Philip II; Luke 3:1). Herod would have executed John except that the people regarded John as a prophet, and John’s execution would have been unpopular.

But at the celebration of Herod’s birthday, Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Philip, danced for the guests and pleased Herod. Herod rashly promised Salome publicly anything she might ask. Prompted by Herodias, Salome asked for John’s head on a platter. Herod was sorry that he had made such a rash promise, but he gave the order and John was beheaded. John’s head was brought to Salome on a platter, and she gave it to her mother.

John’s disciples claimed his body for burial, and told Jesus of John’s death. When word of Jesus’ ministry came to the attention of Herod, he told his servants, as an explanation for the powers that were at work in Jesus, that Jesus was John the Baptizer who had been raised from the dead.

Commentary:

Israel had turned from following God to idols. Therefore God had become their enemy. God had allowed Israel to waste away, like a moth-eaten garment or a house with dry-rot. God had removed himself from them until they acknowledged him and sought him in faith that God would heal and bind them up again. God promised that he would revive us from the dead after two days and would raise us up (to eternal life) on the third day, that we might live (eternally) before him (Hosea 6:2).

That promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead on the third day, through whom we have eternal life in Heaven with the Lord! We are urged to “press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3 RSV; personally, through his indwelling Holy Spirit). His existence and his faithfulness are certain, unlike human love and faithfulness. God values faithful love and the knowledge of God more than religious ritual.

That knowledge of God (and faithful love) comes only through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we truly understand the scriptures and come to a personal knowledge of and relationship with the Lord. Only those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit can interpret and impart the wisdom of God and spiritual truths, and only those who have received the Holy Spirit can understand those spiritual truths and know the wisdom of God.

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great who had ordered all the male infants two years old and younger to be killed in an attempt to destroy Christ. John the Baptizer spoke spiritual truth to Antipas, but Antipas didn’t heed it. The people regarded John as a prophet, but Herod did not. Herod’s promise to Salome was obviously unwise. Instead of recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, acknowledging that God’s Spirit dwelt in Jesus (John 1:32-34; Colossians 2:8-9), and receiving forgiveness and salvation, Herod was “haunted” and condemned by the “ghost” of his guilt and sins.

Will you come to Jesus and be forgiven and restored to eternal life with the Lord in heaven, or will you be haunted and condemned to eternal destruction with all evil in Hell?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 21 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/24/04;
Podcast: Monday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 6:7-7:7  –   The Lord’s judgment on Israel;
Acts 22:30-23:11  –  Paul before the Sanhedrin;
Luke 6:39-49  –  Parables;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord judged Israel’s apostasy. As Adam broke his covenant with God, so had Israel. The Lord wanted to heal and restore, but Israel had not cooperated by keeping the covenant. The leaders of the people were pleased with wickedness and treachery. [Shechem was the site of idol worship at the Tower of Shechem (Baal-berith) after the death of Gideon (Judges 8:33; 9:4, 46)]. Ephraim was also condemned by Hosea for idolatry.

Hosea foresaw a Day of Judgment appointed for Judah also. All the people were (spiritual) adulterers; they were like a heated oven. On the day of the king’s enthronement the princes had become drunk (with the heat of their sin -their wickedness- as one becomes flushed with wine; Hosea 7:5). Their hearts burned with intrigue, like a hot oven. Their anger smoldered and then blazed like a roaring fire. Their heat devoured their rulers. Their leaders had fallen and none called upon the Lord.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by Jews in the Temple and had been arrested by the captain (tribune) of the Roman garrison. The next day the captain commanded the Sanhedrin to assemble and had Paul brought before them to investigate the charges against him. Paul declared that he had a clear conscience before God, but Ananias, the high priest, commanded him to be struck on the mouth.

Then Paul told Ananias that God would strike Ananias, and called him a whitewashed wall. Paul rebuked him for presuming to judge Paul according to the law, and yet violating the law by ordering Paul struck. Bystanders rebuked Paul for reviling the high priest, and Paul apologized, because he had not realized that Ananias was high priest, and would not have intentionally dishonored the office the high priest held, citing Exodus 22:28.

When Paul perceived that the Sanhedrin was composed of Sadducees and Pharisees, he declared his background as a Pharisee and used it to divide the council. The Sadducees do not believe in resurrection, angel, or spirit, but the Pharisees do. The Pharisees therefore took Paul’s part. When the dissention became violent the captain ordered the soldiers to remove Paul from the council by force and bring him back to the barracks. The following night the Lord was present with Paul and told him to have courage, because Paul would have to testify also in Rome as he had done in Jerusalem.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables (comparisons drawn from everyday occurrences through which spiritual truth is conveyed). Jesus suggested that a blind man cannot lead another blind man, because they will both stumble into disaster. A disciple is not better than his teacher, but will be like his teacher when he is fully trained. We tend to see minor faults in others, while oblivious of serious faults in ourselves. How can we presume to correct the minor faults of others, when we have not corrected our own serious faults? We should make the corrections we need to make in ourselves first; then we will be qualified to correct others.

Fruit trees bear fruit according to their nature. A bad tree won’t produce good fruit, nor will a good tree produce bad fruit. Plants are known by the fruit they produce. You won’t find figs on thorns, or grapes on brambles. Likewise good people produce good fruit, and evil people produce evil. The words and actions of a person come from and indicate the condition of his heart.

Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say (Luke 6:46)? Those who come to Jesus and hear his teachings and apply them in their daily lives are like one who builds a house founded firmly on a rock. Such a house will survive storms because it has been well-built. But those who hear Jesus’ teachings and do not do them are like one who builds a house on sand, without any foundation. The first storm to come along reveals the unsoundness of the house and it collapses causing a great disaster.

Commentary:

Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled; Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and the Northern Kingdom of Israel ceased to exist. The people were scattered throughout the world. Later, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians and their people were exiled in Babylon for seventy years. The prophecy was also fulfilled by the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ’s coming (Hosea 7:5). In the day of Christ’s “enthronement,” the Pharisees and Sadducees, the “princes” of Israel, were filled with anger and intrigue. They killed their Messiah, and didn’t call upon the Lord (Hosea 7:6-7).

Paul’s interrogation by the Sanhedrin is an illustration of the truth of Hosea’s prophecy. The Sanhedrin was so divided with intrigue and animosity that it was ineffective. Paul didn’t realize that Ananias was the High Priest because Ananias didn’t act like the Lord’s High Priest.

Jesus’ parables were describing the state of Judaism in his day. The spiritually blind were being led by those who were equally blind. Those who were correcting others had not corrected their own deficiencies. Jesus said that the tree would be known by its fruit; one can examine the fruit and determine the type of the tree.

The words of Hosea and Jesus are still relevant to the Church and to society today. Are we following leaders who personally know the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit, or do they just claim to be the Lord’s representatives? Are we following leaders who have truly been healed of their spiritual blindness? Are we examining their fruit to determine their true nature? How about ourselves; are we bearing the fruit of Christian discipleship?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 21 Pentecost – Even
First Posted 10/25/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 7:8-16  –  Chastisement of Israel;
Acts 23:12-24  –  Plot against Paul;
Luke 7:1-17  –  Jesus’ power over death;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Ephraim was part of what would later become Samaria. At the time of the Assyrian conquest, the Israelites were deported and were replaced, as a means of subduing the territory, by people of other lands conquered by the Assyrians. These foreigners intermarried with the remnant of the Jews who had not been deported (Hosea 7:8). Ephraim became a “half-baked cake;” aliens devoured his strength (and he wasn’t there to know it; Hosea 7:8b-9a).

In all these tribulations, Israel did not return to the Lord or seek him. Ephraim is portrayed as a dove, seeking peace by alliances with Egypt (from which they had been delivered by God from captivity), and also with Assyria. Israel fell because they had rebelled against the Lord and had strayed from him.

The Lord was willing to redeem them, but they believed lies against the Lord. They did not sincerely call on the Lord from their hearts. Their real desire was not to do the Lord’s will, but to satisfy their own desires, and they sought their fulfillment from Baal (idols; false gods) instead of from the Lord; they rebelled against the Lord; they “gash themselves;” (ritual mutilation to gain an idol’s favor; idolatrous practice forbidden by the Lord; Hosea 7:14 RSV; see Deuteronomy 14:1).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked in the Temple by Jews, and had been arrested and jailed by the Romans. He had been examined before the Sanhedrin, and the Sanhedrin had been divided by dissension between the Sadducees and Pharisees. The next day, a group of more than forty Jews made a plot to kill Paul and vowed not to eat or drink until it was accomplished. They went to the members of the Sanhedrin and told them their plot. They asked the Sanhedrin to send for Paul to be brought before them again on the pretext of further examination the following day, and then the plot would be carried out as Paul was being brought.

The son of Paul’s sister heard of the plot and went to Paul in prison and told him. Paul summoned the guard and asked the guard to take his nephew to the captain of the garrison. When the nephew was brought to the captain he told the captain privately about the plot, which was to be carried out the next day, and the captain told the nephew to tell no one that the captain had been informed of the plot. Then the captain ordered a large force of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to take Paul on horseback to Felix, the governor of Judea, in Caesarea.

Luke Paraphrase:

At Capernaum, a Centurion had a slave who was dear (or valuable) to him who was sick and dying. The Centurion heard about Jesus and sent Jewish elders to Jesus asking him to come and heal the slave. The elders urged Jesus to do this because the Centurion loved Israel and had built a synagogue there.

As Jesus drew near to the Centurion’s home, the Centurion sent friends to Jesus, asking Jesus not to bother coming further. The Centurion felt unworthy to have Jesus in his home, and since the Centurion was a man of authority whose command was obeyed, he believed that Jesus had the power and authority to command that the slave be healed and it would be done. Jesus commented that even in Israel he hadn’t found such faith. When the delegation returned to the Centurion’s home they found that the servant had been healed.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to the city of Nain (perhaps 25 miles southwest of Capernaum). As he approached the gate of the city a large funeral procession was coming out. The man who had died was the only son (and only means of support) of his mother who was a widow. Jesus had compassion on the mother and told her not to weep. Jesus touched the bier and the bearers halted. Jesus commanded the dead man to rise and he sat up and began to speak. The entire crowd was awed, and they glorified God, and declared that a great prophet had arisen, and that God had visited his people. This incident was widely reported throughout Judea and Galilee.

Commentary:

The Lord wanted to redeem Israel, but Israel refused to return to the Lord and call upon him. Israel’s desire was not to accept God’s will; they wanted God to do their will. They tried to have their own way by turning to “other gods” and “other rulers,” but their plans did not produce the results they hoped to receive. If they had returned to the Lord, the Lord would have redeemed them, and they would not have been deported from the Promised Land.

In Paul’s time, the Jews were still pursuing their own will instead of turning to the Lord and doing it his way. Paul was proclaiming God’s plan of redemption in Jesus Christ, but they refused to accept that plan. They created their own plan and alliances to kill Paul so they could continue with their own way of doing things. But their plans didn’t work out because they were not in accordance with God’s plan (see Acts 23:11).

Jesus is God’s only plan for our redemption (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to redeem us from sin and death, so that we could live eternally with him in the Promised Land of Heaven.

Jesus has the power and authority of God to do what he says, far beyond human ability or understanding. He is able to keep the mortally sick from dying, and he is able to raise the dead to life. What Jesus promises will be done. The Centurion understood power and authority, because he possessed worldly power and authority, but the Centurion realized that his power and authority were limited, and that he needed Jesus to accomplish what he could not. The Centurion (a Gentile) put his trust not in men, but in the Lord Jesus.

God’s dealing with the people of Israel is a parable as well as historical fact. The Assyrian deportation is an illustration of life in this world. If we turn to the Lord and become obedient to his will, we will be redeemed and will be healed of sin and raised to eternal life from death. If we refuse to turn to the Lord and accept his will, we will ultimately be sent off to eternal captivity and destruction in Hell.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 21 Pentecost – Even

First posted 10/26/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 8:1-14  –  Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind;
Acts 23:23-35  –  Paul sent to Felix in Caesarea;
Luke 7:18-35  –   Jesus and John the Baptizer;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The trumpet warns of the approaching enemy. The vulture closes in on Israel because Israel has broken the Covenant and the Law of God. They claim to know God, but have turned from what is good. They make kings, but not according to God’s will and direction. They make idols of silver and gold. The calf of Samaria (Hosea 8:5) is idolatry (compare 1 Kings 12:28-30). They sow the wind (they strive for what is foolish and impossible) and reap the whirlwind (judgment; destruction).

Their deeds have determined their future. Israel will not receive the benefits of her labor; aliens will. Israel will be swallowed up and scattered among the nations. Israel is punished because she sought political alliances with Assyria and Egypt (Hosea 8:9-10a, 13) and spiritual alliances with idols (Hosea 8:5, 11) instead of turning to the Lord (Hosea 8:14). Ephraim (Samaria) attempted to “hire lovers” (instead of turning to the Lord who truly loved her).

Israel couldn’t remember God’s Laws no matter how many times God reminded them. They sought security through alliance with Egypt; instead they returned to captivity like the Egyptian captivity from which God had delivered them. Israel had built palaces and fortified cities instead of trusting and obeying God; their palaces would do them no good, because they would be forced to cease anointing kings and princes (Hosea 8:10b RSV) and their fortified cities could not protect them against their enemy.

Acts Paraphrase:

The Captain of the Roman garrison had been informed by Paul’s nephew, of a plot by the Jews to assassinate Paul. The Captain had arranged for a large military guard to take Paul to Felix, the Roman governor of Judea, in Caesarea, for safety.

The captain sent a letter to Felix, explaining that Paul had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed. The captain had rescued Paul, having learned that Paul was a Roman citizen. Paul had been examined in the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin) and the captain had found that Paul had been accused of matters in regard to Jewish Law, but nothing warranting death or imprisonment. The captain had discovered a plot to assassinate Paul, and had therefore sent him to Felix, and ordered the Jews to present their charges to Felix.

The soldiers took Paul by night to Antipatris which was about halfway between Jerusalem and Caesarea. The foot soldiers returned to Jerusalem the next day, leaving the horsemen to escort Paul on to Caesarea. When they arrived in Caesarea they delivered Paul and the captain’s letter to Felix.

After Felix had read the letter he asked Paul what province he was from, and Paul replied that he was from Cilicia. Then Felix told Paul that he would hear Paul’s case when Paul’s accusers arrived. Paul was placed under guard in Herod’s praetorium (formerly Herod’s palace; then the governor’s residence.

Luke Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer had been imprisoned by Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great) because John had criticized Herod for marrying Herod’s brother’s wife. John’s disciples had told John the things that Jesus was doing, and John sent two disciples to Jesus seeking confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah.

While the disciples of John were with Jesus, Jesus was healing the sick and blind and demon-possessed. Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John what they had seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor hear good news (compare Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6, Isaiah 61:1-2).  Those who are not offended by Jesus will be blessed.

After John’s disciples had returned to John, Jesus began to talk to the crowd concerning John. Jesus asked them what they had expected of John. John wasn’t just a pointless noisemaker, nor was John someone grand to look at. He was a prophet, but more than just a prophet. He was the messenger sent by God to prepare for the coming Messiah, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi 3:1. John is the greatest of the prophets who had gone before, but could not compare to the least of those coming after in the kingdom of God.

When the people heard this, they believed Jesus’ word of God’s purpose in John, since they had received the baptism of John; but the Pharisees and scribes (teachers of the law) who had rejected John’s baptism had thus rejected the God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus compared the people of the time to children who expect others to conform to their will; they expect to get their own way. Because John the Baptizer practiced asceticism (an austere lifestyle) the people accused him of being crazy; on the other hand Jesus wasn’t enough of an ascetic to suit the people, so they accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton. But the children of wisdom recognize wisdom.

Commentary:

The Israelites were pursuing their own plans, rather than relying on God. They thought they could protect and provide for themselves. They thought they could create spiritual and political alliances which would further their own interests. They thought they could buy friends. They found out that building palaces did not guarantee good government; that building fortresses did not guarantee peace and security.

God’s Word through Hosea was fulfilled. The Israelites had turned from God to idols and to the pursuit of their own selfish interests. They didn’t get to enjoy what they had worked for. They lost their land, which was occupied by foreigners. The people of the Northern Kingdom were scattered among the nations. They were returned to bondage like the bondage in Egypt from which God had delivered them.

Paul was no longer pursuing his own plan; since he had encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road and had been converted and filled with the Holy Spirit he was obedient to God’s plan and direction (Acts 9:1-22). Paul had lots of enemies, but the Lord was able to protect Paul from them. The Jews who were trying to assassinate Paul were pursuing their own plans instead of God’s plan, but they did not succeed.

The people of Israel heard Jesus’ words and saw what he was doing. They had to decide for themselves whether to believe Jesus and cooperate with God’s plan or not. Many of the people in Israel in Jesus’ day were like children who want to have their own way, and who expect others to conform to their self-centered goals. They weren’t seeking God’s will and purpose. They were pursuing the same course that their ancestors had followed, and they had the same results.

Their rejection of Jesus as God’s purpose for themselves led to the conquest of Judea and the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D.. Israel effectively ceased to exist as a state until the end of World War II, Judaism effectively ended (the temple sacrificial system on which it was based ended with the destruction of the Temple, which has never been rebuilt) although it is still practiced, and the people were scattered among the nations.

God’s Word was fulfilled by the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Judah was also carried off into Babylonian captivity, but they hadn’t learned from their past, and so they repeated their mistake in the day of Jesus.

God’s Word is eternal. God’s dealing with Israel is a parable of life in this world, as well as historical fact. Those who reject God’s plan for our salvation and pursue their own plans, and try to create their own security, will fail, and will ultimately be carried off to bondage of sin and eternal death in Hell. Those who trust and obey God’s plan of salvation (see sidebar, top right, home) in Jesus Christ will be saved from sin and death and receive eternal life in the kingdom of God in Heaven.

Each of us must evaluate Jesus for ourselves and choose whether to believe him and cooperate with God’s plan or not. Are you cooperating with God’s plan?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 21 Pentecost – Even

First posted 10/27/04;
Podcast: Thursday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 9:1-9  –  The days of punishment have come;
Acts 24:1-23  –  Paul’s trial before Felix;
Luke 7:36-50  –  The woman who was a sinner;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Israel has turned away from God and has committed spiritual prostitution with idolatry. She has delighted in the proceeds from her idolatry. Therefore God declared that the rewards of their labor would not satisfy. They would not be able to remain in the Promised Land, but would be forced to return to Egypt (the land of their former bondage) and to Assyria, where they would be forced by circumstances to cease the practice of their religious laws and cultural traditions.

They would no longer have access to the sacrificial system (which provided forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God). Their bread (all their physical resources) would supply only their physical (not spiritual) need. There would be no provision to continue the spiritual aspects of the religious feasts and festivals. Their possessions and dwellings would be replaced by nettles and thorns.

God declared that Israel would experience days of punishment and recompense. The prophets, who are the spiritual watchmen of God’s people, no longer speak God’s Word because of the sin of the people (perhaps because God has ceased to make his Word known through them). They have deeply corrupted themselves as in the days of Gibeah (where the tribe of Benjamin raped the Levite’s concubine to death and were almost completely wiped out in retribution; Judges 19 & 20). The Lord will remember their sins and punish them.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked in the temple in Jerusalem and had been imprisoned awaiting trial. A plot to assassinate Paul had been discovered and he had been transferred to the custody of Felix, the governor of Judea, at Caesarea.

When the Jewish prosecutors arrived, Paul was brought before Felix and the Jews presented their charges against Paul. They charged Paul with being an agitator and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5;  followers of Jesus of Nazareth). They said that they had seized Paul in order to prevent him from profaning the temple in Jerusalem.

Then Paul was given an opportunity to respond to the charges. Paul said that in the twelve days that he had been in Jerusalem there was no evidence to support their charge that he tried to stir up anyone in the temple, synagogue, or in the city. Paul declared that he worshipped the God of Israel according to the Way (of Jesus Christ; John 14:6), which the Jewish authorities called a sect. Paul declared that he believed everything in the law and the prophets (the Jewish scriptures), and hoped in the resurrection of the just and the unjust (everyone; the forgiven to eternal life, and the unforgiven to eternal destruction; John 5:28-29). Paul declared that he always tried to do what was right in God’s sight. Paul had come to Jerusalem bringing alms and offerings to God. The Jews had found Paul ritually purified (not profaning) in the temple; not attracting a crowd or raising a disturbance.

Paul said that the instigators of the disturbance were Jews from Asia (the Roman Province; now western Turkey), who had not come to testify at the hearing before Felix. Paul also pointed out that the Jewish authorities hadn’t found any evidence against Paul when they had examined him before the Sanhedrin (Jewish Court). The only thing the Sanhedrin could charge Paul with was belief in the resurrection (which the Sanhedrin itself was divided over; Acts 23:6-10).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was invited to dinner at a Pharisee’s house. A local woman learned that Jesus was the Pharisee’s guest, and she came, bringing an expensive ointment, and, weeping, began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. She kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

The Pharisee, named Simon, thought to himself that if Jesus were a prophet Jesus would know what sort of woman this was who was touching Jesus, for she was a sinner. (The Pharisee presumed that if Jesus knew the woman’s background that he would not have anything to do with her.)

Jesus knew what the Pharisee was thinking (and also that the woman was a sinner), and posed a question in the form of a parable (a comparison drawn from everyday occurrences through which spiritual truth is conveyed). Jesus asked which of two debtors would be more grateful for the forgiveness of a debt; the one who owed a great amount, or the one who owed a small amount. The Pharisee supposed that the one forgiven the larger amount would be more grateful.

Jesus then told the Pharisee that he had provided no means for Jesus to wash his feet (a customary form of hospitality) but the woman had not only provided water, but had washed, dried, and kissed Jesus’ feet. The Pharisee had not anointed Jesus’ head with oil (a customary sign of respect) but the woman had anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment. One can tell that she has been forgiven much, because of her love. One who loves little has not been forgiven much. Then Jesus declared to the woman that her sins were forgiven. The guests at the table discussed with one another who Jesus was, that he forgives sins. Jesus told the woman that her faith had saved her; she could go in peace.

Commentary:

Israel had turned away from God and had pursued spiritual prostitution through idolatrous worship (literally as well as  figuratively; temple prostitutes were part of idolatrous worship associated with fertility cults). God offered forgiveness but she refused to come to him to receive it. So she was judged and punished for her sins. Israel’s exile in Assyria and return to Egypt are parables of God’s judgment on sin, as well as historical fact.

Egypt and Assyria are metaphors for exile to eternal bondage and destruction in Hell. Bread was used in the Temple worship as a symbol of the covenant between God and Israel, and as an offering to God. It was made holy by being in the presence of God. Because of God’s judgment, the sacred aspects of bread were no longer available for the Israelites. In exile the Israelites might still keep the physical aspects and traditions of the feasts and fasts but would have lost the spiritual benefits. Their prophets might still speak, but their words would not be the Word of God, and therefore would not be true or meaningful.

The religious leaders of Israel in Jesus’ time were in the same situation. They rejected God’s plan in Jesus Christ, and pursued spiritual prostitution. They regarded themselves as just, but their judgment of Paul was unjust. They were using religion to serve their own ends. They could maintain the traditions, but they had lost the spiritual significance and benefits. The chief priests claimed to be speaking for God, but what they said was not true or spiritually meaningful, as their charges against Paul, and Paul’s own testimony, indicate.

The Pharisee was observing the traditions of his religion, but he was not receiving the spiritual benefit. The Pharisee regarded himself as righteous because he kept the traditions and the appearance of the Law. So he judged the local woman, who had the reputation of being a sinner (probably a known prostitute).

If the woman was a prostitute in the physical sense, she at least was not a spiritual prostitute; she had turned to Jesus for forgiveness, rather than trying to obtain favor with false gods. She recognized her sinfulness and need for forgiveness, which she demonstrated by her tears and her gratitude to Jesus. The Pharisee on the other hand was the real prostitute spiritually, trying to gain favor with God by the outward appearance of keeping the Law without a real inner change and commitment to obeying God; without loving Jesus, the Son of God and Messiah, or his neighbor, the sinful woman.

How are we doing? Are we trusting in the Lord for our provision and security, or are we turning to false gods such as materialism, humanism and militarism, and to worldly powers and alliances? Do we acknowledge our need for forgiveness and come to Jesus, God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), or do we think we’re good people and don’t need forgiveness? Have we committed to follow Jesus in faith (obedient trust), or are we trying to get God to do our will and give us what we desire? Are we truly worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth, or are we “just going through the motions;” keeping the traditions? Are our spiritual “watchmen” preaching God’s Word, or are they babbling nonsense?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 21 Pentecost – Even

First posted 10/28/04;
Podcast: Friday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 9:10-17  –  Israel’s disobedience;
Acts 24:24-25:12  –   Paul before Festus;
Luke 8:1-15  –   Parable of the sower;

Hosea Paraphrase:

God delighted in Israel, in the wilderness, as one would delight in finding grapes in the wilderness, or in the first fruit in the first season of a fig tree. But as soon as they came into Canaan they began to turn to Baal (the fertility god of the people of the land) “and became detestable like the thing they loved” (their idol; Hosea 9:10d). Because they committed spiritual adultery with the fertility god, God made them barren.

Near where Abraham had erected his first altar (Gen. 12:6, 7), Gilgal was the first permanent camp, after Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land (Josh. 4:19, 20; 9:6), and where they first began to disobey God’s command to destroy and drive out the people of the land (see Joshua 9:3-27), right after the solemn reading of the Law (Joshua 8:30-35). It later became a center of idolatrous worship.

God declared that because of Israel’s spiritual adultery, God would drive her from his house, like a husband would deal with a faithless wife. The tribal allotment of Ephraim (which means “double fruitfulness”) included most of what became Samaria. God declared that God would make them barren, and scatter them among the nations, because they have not obeyed him.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by Jews in the Temple in Jerusalem, and was arrested and transferred to the custody of Felix, governor of Judea at Caesarea, for Paul’s safety, after an assassination plot against him was discovered. Felix had heard Paul’s case, but put off making a decision, and kept him in custody (Acts 24:22-23).

After a number of days, Felix brought his wife Drusilla, a Jewess, and summoned Paul to tell them about Jesus, but as Paul talked about justice and self-discipline, and the Day of Judgment, Felix became alarmed, and sent Paul back to his confinement. Felix was hoping Paul would offer him money for his release, so he kept summoning Paul frequently over the course of two years. But then Felix was succeeded by Portia Festus, and Felix wanted to please the Jews so he left Paul in prison.

When Festus took office, he went to visit Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders informed Festus of their charges against Paul, and asked that he send Paul to Jerusalem as a favor, intending to have Paul assassinated on the way. But Festus told them to come to Caesarea to present their case to him. After eight or ten days he returned to Caesarea, and the next day he ordered Paul brought and tried. The Jews had come from Jerusalem and made many charges against Paul, but without any evidence.

Paul declared himself innocent of any wrongdoing against the Jewish law, the temple or against Roman law. Trying to ingratiate himself with the Jews, Festus asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem for trial by Festus. Paul replied that he was being tried in the proper venue already. Paul said that he was not trying to avoid justice, but unless the Jews could substantiate their charges, they should not have any jurisdiction over him. Paul therefore appealed to Caesar (as a Roman citizen, Paul had a right to trial under Roman law). After conferring with his advisors, Festus ruled that Paul would have a Roman trial.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus traveled through the cities and villages of Galilee preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, accompanied by the twelve disciples, and a larger group of followers, including Mary Magdalene, who had been healed of seven demons, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Susanna, and others, who provided for the group from their own resources.

When a great crowd gathered from surrounding towns, Jesus told a parable about a sower. The sower scattered seed, and as he did, some fell along the path, where it was walked on, and eaten by birds. Some seed fell on rocks, where it sprouted, but quickly withered, since it had no soil to retain moisture. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns choked the young seedlings. Some seed feel on good soil, and grew and produced a great harvest. Jesus said that those who have ears that hear should listen and understand.

Jesus’ disciples asked what the parable meant, and Jesus told them that God had granted the disciples to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but that to others Jesus spoke in parables so that they were free to not understand if they chose. The seed is God’s Word. People are represented by the different types of soil.

Those represented by the path are those who hear, but the devil “takes away the Word from their hearts” (Luke 8:12), so they fail to believe and be saved. Those represented by rock are those who receive the Word gladly, but don’t allow it to take root in their lives through obedience in applying it. They believe for a while, but when testing comes along, they fall away. Those represented by thorny ground are those who receive the Word, but allow it to be choked out by worldly cares, material things and physical pleasures, so that the Word does not grow to maturity and produce fruit. But those who are represented by good soil are those who hear the Word and apply it, grow to maturity and ultimately produce fruit.

Commentary:

Israel had been trained by God in the wilderness. They should have learned during that forty year experience to trust and obey God’s Word. God had brought them through the wilderness, across the Jordan River on dry ground, and into the Promised Land. God had given them victory over their enemies and they had gained possession of the land. They had heard God’s Laws read again, so they knew how to live in the Promised Land, but almost immediately, as they began to prosper, they turned from seeking God’s will and began to pursue their own will and interests.

God repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them and urge them to return to the Lord, but they ignored the warnings until the day of God’s judgment finally came. The prophecy of Hosea was fulfilled. The people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were deported by the Assyrians and scattered among the nations. The ten northern tribes effectively ceased to exist. The remnant of the Jews, who were allowed to remain, intermarried with the people of other lands conquered by the Assyrians who were brought in to occupy Israel, and became the Samaritans.

Paul was “good soil;” he had received God’s Word and trusted and obeyed. He put it into practice in his life, he grew to spiritual maturity and he produced much “fruit.” He was led by the Holy Spirit, and he was “sowing” the Word in trust and obedience. He proclaimed the Gospel at every opportunity, at great personal cost.

Not everyone who heard Paul bore the fruit of the Gospel. The Gospel made the Jews in Jerusalem angry enough to want to kill Paul (Acts 22:22; 23:12). Felix heard Paul’s testimony, but put off making a decision (Acts 24:22). Paul’s warning about justice and self-discipline and ultimate judgment made Felix uncomfortable and afraid (Acts 24:25), so Felix stopped listening. Instead of heeding Paul and benefiting spiritually, Felix tried to profit politically and financially from Paul, by using Paul to ingratiate himself with the Jews, and by giving Paul the opportunity and incentive to offer a bribe for his release. Festus also was more interested in material and political benefits than in spiritual benefits (Acts 25:9).

Jesus’ followers heard the Gospel and trusted and obeyed Jesus. They dedicated their resources to supporting Jesus’ mission. Jesus discipled them and then sent them out to be “sowers” of the Word.

What kind of “soil” are we? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 21 Pentecost – Even

First posted 10/29/04;

Podcast: Saturday 21 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 10:1-15  –   God’s judgment on Israel;
Acts 25:13-27  –    Paul to testify before King Agrippa;
Luke 8:16-25  –   Obedience;

Hosea Paraphrase:

As Israel prospered in the new land, the more she turned from the Lord to idolatry. Her heart was not loyal to the Lord, so she bore the Lord’s judgment. The Lord declared that he would break down the altars and pillars they had erected to false gods. Since they don’t fear the Lord (honor him as their king) they will have no king; what could a king do for them (more than the Lord)? Their word is unreliable; their oaths are meaningless; “so judgment springs up like poisonous weeds” in a plowed field (Hosea 10:4c).

The people of Samaria worshiped a golden calf set up at Bethel (Beth-aven: i.e., “house of wickedness” or “house of idolatry”) by Jeroboam, king of Israel, to prevent the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel from worshiping in the temple at Jerusalem; 1 Kings 12:28-29). Hosea said that the people and its idolatrous priests would mourn for it; it will be carried off to Assyria as tribute to the Assyrian king. (It was carried off in the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel, by Shalmaneser; 2 Kings 15:29; 17:33 RSV.)

The territory of Ephraim constituted most of what later became Samaria. (The people were scattered by the Assyrian conquest, and the remnant intermarried with aliens brought in to settle the conquered territory.) “And they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us,’ and to the hills, ‘fall upon us’” (Hosea 10:8c; compare Amos 9:1; Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16). Israel has sinned since the days of Gibeah; she can anticipate a similar retribution. (Gibeah was where the tribe of Benjamin raped the Levite’s concubine to death and were almost completely wiped out in retribution; Judges Chs. 19 & 20).

Ephraim means “double fruitfulness;” they will be chastised for their “double iniquity” (Hosea 10:10c). Repentance is visualized in terms of plowing a field (to remove weeds and prepare for crop production). Ephraim loved to “thresh” (perhaps to gather the fruits without the labor of repentance and self-discipline).

Now is the time to repent, in order to be ready to receive the “rain” of the Lord’s salvation. “You have [sown] iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies” (Hosea 10:13a). They have trusted in military might; they will be destroyed by military conquest by Shalman (probably Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria; 2 Kings 17:3) at Beth-arbel (unknown location; meaning “house of God’s court” or house of God’s “ambush” or “den”). Thus it will be done to Israel because of her great wickedness; the Kingdom of Israel will end.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been accused by Jewish leaders of capital crimes and was in the custody of Festus, who had recently become governor of Judea. Herod Agrippa II, great-grandson of Herod the Great, was king of the Roman provinces of Philip and Lysanias in Northern Israel. He and his wife visited the new governor of Judea and Festus told Agrippa that Paul had been left imprisoned by Festus’ predecessor.

Festus had heard the case against Paul and found no violations of law, but that there were disputes over religious beliefs regarding Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul claimed was alive. Festus said that since he couldn’t determine the truth of these matters, he had asked Paul if he was willing to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul had appealed to be tried by Caesar in Rome.

Agrippa was interested in hearing Paul, and Festus arranged it. The next day Paul was brought in to testify before Agrippa. Festus told Agrippa that the Jews wanted Paul executed, but that he had found nothing deserving death. Since Paul had appealed for trial by Caesar, Festus needed to write charges to accompany Paul, and hoped by further examination to find some charge against him.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus had just told the parable of the sower (how people respond to the Gospel like different soils respond to seed). Then Jesus said that no one lights a lamp and then hides it, but instead places it on a stand so that it gives light that all present can see. Nothing is hidden that will not become known. So Jesus said we should be careful how we hear, because one who has, will receive more, but one who has not, will lose even that which he thinks he has.

Jesus was surrounded by a crowd and his mother and brothers were trying to get to Jesus but were unable to reach him. When he was told that they wanted to talk to Jesus, Jesus replied that those who hear God’s Word and do it are his real mother and brothers.

One day Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee by boat. On the way Jesus fell asleep. A windstorm arose and threatened to swamp the boat. The disciples awakened Jesus and said they were about to perish. Jesus awoke and commanded the wind and waves to cease, and there was a calm. Jesus asked his disciples what had happened to their faith. They were afraid and amazed, wondering who Jesus really is, that he commands wind and wave and they obey him.

Commentary:

Israel should have learned to walk in obedience to the Lord during the forty years of wilderness wandering, but as soon as she came into the Promised Land and began to prosper she turned from the Lord to idolatry and disobedience. The Lord repeatedly sent prophets to call her to repentance but they were ignored and often killed. Hosea’s prophecies of God’s judgment on the Northern Kingdom were fulfilled.

Paul is an example of obedience to God’s Word. Paul had thought he was serving God by persecuting Christians. When he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts Chapter 9), he realized his sin, he repented, and changed his life. He came to a new understanding of God’s Word and will, and he applied it immediately and fully in his daily life.

The Jews who sought Paul’s execution were not receptive to new understanding of God’s Word. They were repeating the error of their ancestors. They refused to listen to Paul’s testimony. They wanted to kill Paul for proclaiming God’s Word, even though impartial observers concluded that Paul had done nothing deserving punishment.

Jesus had just told the parable of the sower to illustrate how people respond to God’s Word. Jesus taught in parables so that people were free to not understand his point if they so chose. Jesus can command even wind and waves and they obey him, but he allows us to choose whether to obey him or not. It’s our choice, but the choice bears eternal consequences.

If we have seen the light of God’s Word we should be sure to apply it in our lives so that we can benefit from its application, and so that others may see the light also. We should be careful how we hear God’s Word.

We’re free to not understand and to not obey if we choose, but if we make that choice we will lose everything eternally, even what we think that we possess. But those who choose to understand and obey will receive more, now and eternally. Jesus used the occasion of his mother and brothers’ attempted contact to illustrate how important obedience of God’s Word is to a relationship with Jesus.

The Church is the “New Israel;” the historical wilderness wandering of Israel is also a metaphor for life in this world. We’re to learn to walk in obedience to the Lord, so that we’ll be able to enter the Promised Land of Heaven. Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin and death, if we trust and obey him. Hosea’s prophecy regarding the Northern Kingdom was fulfilled, but God’s Word is eternal, and it also applies to us today. Those who don’t heed and obey God’s Word will suffer similar consequences.

The fall of the Northern Kingdom is a metaphor for eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell. In a sense America is the “New Israel” and the new earthly “Promised Land.” Has she turned away from God as she has prospered? Has she turned to false gods of materialism, humanism and hedonism? Has she placed her trust in scientific, political and military solutions instead of relying on God? Do we want the fruit of salvation without the work of repentance and obedience?

Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46). Jesus says that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of God (Matthew 7:21). Those who hear God’s Word but don’t do it may think that they have salvation, but what they think they have will be taken from them (Matthew 7:22-24; Luke 8:18).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 20 Pentecost – Even – 10/26 – 11/01/2014

October 25, 2014

Week of 20 Pentecost – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 20 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/16/04;
Podcast: Sunday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 1:1-2:1  –  Israel the unfaithful wife;
James 3:1-13  –  True wisdom;
Matthew 13:44-52 –   Parables of the kingdom;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Hosea (meaning “Salvation”) was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during its decline and fall in 745 to 721 B.C. The Lord told Hosea to take a prostitute as a wife and have children through her unfaithfulness as an illustration of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord, so Hosea took Gomer and she conceived and bore a son. The Lord told Hosea to name the son Jezreel (after the town where Jehu slaughtered Ahab and his household), predicting the location of the battle that would end the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Hosea 1:5).

Gomer conceived again and bore a daughter, and the Lord told Hosea to name her “Not pitied,” because God would no longer pity Israel and forgive her sins. God promised that he would have pity on (the Southern Kingdom) Judah; he promised to deliver them, not by weapons, or warriors, or by war, but by the Lord their God. Gomer bore a third child, a son, and the Lord told Hosea to name him “Not my people” because Israel was not God’s people (because they had forsaken God), and God was not their God (because God chooses not to be responsible for people who do not obey him).

But the Lord promised that the punishment of Israel (the nation) would not be final. The people of Israel would be numerous beyond counting. God promised that although they had been called “Not my people” (because they had forsaken God), they would later be knows as “Sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10; compare Romans 9:25-26). The people of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah would be reunited under one head. Jezreel means “God sows” or “God scatters.” So the name suggests future restoration, as well as God’s punishment. In the day of the Lord’s restoration, “Not my people” will become “My people” and “Not pitied” will be “She has obtained pity.”

James Paraphrase:

Those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. We all make many mistakes; no one is perfect. We should try to control not only our actions but also our words (and even our thoughts; Matthew 5:27-28). Consider that a horse can be led around by its tongue; so we should bridle our tongues, so that we can control them, rather than have them control us.

Our tongues are also like a rudder on a ship; if we don’t control our tongues, our tongues may cause us disaster. A tongue is small but it can cause big problems, like a spark can set a great forest ablaze. The tongue may be the most difficult thing in creation for mankind to control. The same tongue is capable of blessing and cursing; what in nature seems more perverse? If anyone is wise and understanding, his life should reflect this by righteousness and meekness.

Matthew Paraphrase:

The kingdom of heaven is like buried treasure. When one discovers its riches, one joyfully gives up everything else in order to possess it. The kingdom of heaven is like a perfect pearl of incalculable value. When one who seeks the finest of pearls finds it, one would happily exchange all that one has to obtain it.

The kingdom of heaven is like a net; it is a selection process. It gathers everything in its path, but then the collection is sorted into two groups. The good are kept for eternity; the bad are destroyed. Jesus declared that at the end of time, angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will be destroyed in eternal fire (in Hell), where people “will weep and gnash their teeth” (Matthew 13:50).

Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what Jesus had said. They replied that they had. Then Jesus told them that “scribes” who had been trained for the kingdom of heaven select from their treasure what is new and what is old.

Commentary:

God scatters and God sows. God punishes; God also restores. Ahab was considered perhaps the most evil king of Israel. He married a Phoenician pagan, Jezebel, who promoted the worship of Baal in Israel. Jehu was anointed King of Israel and commissioned to destroy Ahab and his household. The Northern Kingdom continued to slide into apostasy, which finally culminated in their conquest by the Assyrians in 721 B.C..

The ten northern tribes were scattered over the earth and the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist. [The Southern Kingdom of Judah was later carried off into captivity in Babylon in 587 B.C., but were subsequently restored in 517 B.C., with the dedication of the temple (Ezra 6:15; fulfilling Jeremiah 25:12]. Thus the prophecy of Hosea 1:6-7 was fulfilled. Hosea prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (Hosea 1:1) who was a descendant of Jehu.

God promised to deliver Judah by “the Lord their God (i.e., the Messiah). Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior. He is also the Righteous Judge (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). Those who turn away from God’s salvation will be punished and destroyed, but he will restore those who come to him. Christians are the New People of God; the New Israel of Jews and Gentiles united under one head, Jesus Christ. We look forward to final restoration in God’s kingdom in heaven.

True wisdom is divine wisdom, the wisdom of God by which the world was created, not what the world falsely considers wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24). Those who teach in the Church will be accountable to stricter standards. They should be mature disciples of Jesus Christ; they should show by their lives and their conduct that they have learned the wisdom which is from God.

The kingdom of God is a priceless treasure; if one recognizes its worth one will be willing to sacrifice everything else to obtain it. The kingdom of God is also a selection process. There is a standard against which selection will be made. There will be judgment (condemnation; eternal destruction) for those who do not meet the standard, and there will be restoration and reward for those who do. Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what he was saying, and then referred to those who had been trained for the kingdom of heaven as “scribes.” (Scribes were those who were trained in and teachers of the Mosaic Law.)

Disciples were to be trained to spiritual maturity, and to teach others to be trained likewise to spiritual maturity, not exclusively in Mosaic Law, but in all of God’s Word (and also in the Holy Spirit). They were not to be legalists; not New Testament Jews, insisting on keeping the Old Covenant of Law. But they weren’t to completely disregard the Old Testament either. Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it; (Matthew 5:17). In Jesus we are freed from slavery to the Law, provided that we walk according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). There is a Day of Judgment coming, when all who ever lived will be accountable to God. God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s only plan for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus Christ is the standard by which all will be judged. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal punishment and destruction in Hell with Satan and all evil.

It is not sufficient to claim Jesus as Lord if we do not obey his teachings (Matthew 7:21-24). We must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9b). Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), and Jesus gives his Holy Spirit only to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e).

Is Jesus truly your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/17/04;
Podcast: Monday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 2:2-15  –  Israel, the unfaithful wife;
Acts 20:17-38  –  Paul’s departure for Jerusalem;
Luke 5:1-11  –  The unexpected catch;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord said that the children of Israel should plead with their mother, Israel, to turn from spiritual adultery (idolatry). She has been unfaithful to God, her husband. God will publicly shame her and punish her. Her children are illegitimate, because they have been conceived by harlotry. Israel has an illicit affair with Baal who she thinks provides her material needs (Hosea 2:5b), not realizing and acknowledging that it is God who provides for her (Genesis 1:29-30; James 1:17).

The Lord is going to withhold his blessings from Israel because she has forsaken the Lord. Her sins will be exposed. She will lose the proceeds she acquired by unfaithfulness. The Lord promises to woo Israel back to himself. He will bring her back to the wilderness, where she walked faithfully with the Lord. (The valley of Achor is where the sins of Achan, whose disobedience of God’s command caused Israel to be unable to stand against the Canaanites, were punished.)

Acts Paraphrase:

On the return from his third missionary journey, Paul was anxious to get to Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost, so rather than making a side-trip from Miletus to Ephesus he called the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. Paul reviewed his ministry among them. He had not let trials or persecution by the Jews keep him from publicly declaring the Gospel truth.

Now Paul was going to Jerusalem at the command of the Holy Spirit, not knowing what was to befall him except that the Holy Spirit had revealed that imprisonment and affliction awaited him. But Paul didn’t consider his own life of any value; Paul’s only priority was the ministry of the Gospel.

Paul realized that he would probably never see his Ephesian brethren again, and he told them that he had satisfied his obligation to declare the whole counsel of God; they would bear their own responsibility for what they did with that counsel. Paul urged them to be careful for themselves and for the flock which the elders oversaw, to see that the congregation for whom the Lord had shed his blood was nurtured and sustained.

Paul warned that after Paul’s departure false teachers would arise who would attempt to pervert and draw away the disciples from the true faith, which Paul had labored at considerable personal cost for three years to instill. Now Paul commended them to the grace of God who is able to strengthen them and fulfill the promised inheritance to those who are sanctified (cleansed and consecrated by the Holy Spirit).

Paul did not pursue his ministry for material gain. In fact, he worked to support himself so that the church was not burdened. He had taught by example to help the weak and to give rather than seeking to receive. Then Paul knelt down and prayed with them and they all wept and embraced and kissed, sorrowing that they would never see Paul again. Then they saw him aboard his ship.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus was standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a crowd was around him, pressing upon him to hear God’s Word. Jesus saw two boats beached nearby, and the fishermen were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats which happened to be Simon Peter’s and asked Simon to put out a little from shore. Jesus sat in the boat and taught the crowd on the shore.

When he had finished teaching, he asked Simon to take the boat out into deeper water and let down his nets. Simon replied, addressing Jesus as “Master,” and saying that the crew had fished all night and had caught nothing. But at Jesus’ word Simon was willing to let down the nets. When the crew had done this they caught a huge shoal (“school”) of fish, which threatened to break their nets, so they called to their partners in the other boat to come out and help them. They filled both boats to the point that they were in danger of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened he fell down at Jesus’ feet and acknowledged Jesus as Lord and that Peter was a sinner unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence. All the fishermen, who included James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners, were amazed at the catch of fish they had taken. Jesus told Simon not to be afraid, and told him that from then on Simon would be catching men (rather than fish). When they beached the boats they left everything and followed Jesus.

Commentary:

Israel was committing spiritual adultery with Baal, the false “god” of this world. God had judged her and was going to punish her in order to lead her to repentance. The Lord declared that he would withhold his blessing from her because she had forsaken him. Her sins would be exposed. Her children were illegitimate because they were conceived by her unfaithfulness. Israel would lose the proceeds she acquired by her unfaithfulness.

The Lord promised to woo Israel back to himself. He would bring her back to the wilderness, where she would once again walk faithfully with the Lord. The valley of Achor was the entrance to the Promised Land, where Israel sinned by disobedience to the Lord’s command. Going back through that door into the wilderness where they could be obedient to the Lord made it a door of hope.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was driven and scattered throughout the wilderness of this world by the conquest by Assyria in 721 B.C.. The hope was that with the coming of Jesus they would learn to trust and obey the Lord in the wilderness of this life, and would be led by Jesus into the Promised Land of Heaven. The children of Israel were commanded to plead with Israel to turn from her spiritual adultery.

Paul had not let persecution and trials keep him from preaching the Gospel (Acts 20:19-20). Paul was an example of obedience to the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:22). Paul didn’t allow worldly things to become his idols (Acts 20:24, 34-35). He had fulfilled his obligation to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27; not just the parts that make hearers feel good). His hearers would bear their own responsibility for what they did with that counsel.

Paul warned the church leaders to exercise care for the church, for which Jesus had literally shed his own blood, and which Paul had labored for three years to strengthen and sustain. He warned that false prophets would attempt to pervert and draw away the disciples from the true faith.

Simon Peter trusted and obeyed Jesus. Simon was an experienced fisherman and had caught nothing after fishing all night, but he obeyed Jesus’ command to try again. Because Simon had come to know Jesus personally, had acknowledged and repented of his sinfulness, and trusted and obeyed Jesus, he was qualified to become a “fisher of men.” The Lord rewards obedience beyond what we can expect or imagine.

The followers of Jesus are the New Children of Israel; the Church is the New Israel. (In another sense America is also the New Israel.) The Children of Israel are called to plead with their mother to return from her spiritual adultery, before she suffers God’s judgment.

Have our church and national leaders allowed or encouraged the worship of material things to supplant the worship of God? Have they allowed worldly teachings to pervert and draw away disciples? Have we allowed those who were not obedient and Spirit-led to become teachers and leaders? Are we attempting to be disciples without obeying the Lord’s commands? Are we pleading with our “mother” to turn from her spiritual adultery? Are we “fishers of men?”

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/18/04;
Podcast:  Tuesday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 2:16-23  –   Promise of restoration;
Acts 21:1-14  –  Paul’s return to Jerusalem;
Luke 5:12-26 –  Forgiveness of sins;

Hosea Paraphrase:

In the day of restoration, his people will regard the Lord as their “husband” instead of their “Baal” (master; lord), because God “will remove the names of the Baals (false gods; idols) from their mouths and they shall be mentioned by name no more” (Hosea 2:17).

The Lord will make a new covenant on that day with all creatures. War and fighting will be abolished, and all will dwell in safety. He will betroth us to himself in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness. We shall know the Lord (have intimate personal fellowship).

In that day God will answer (hear and respond). He will cause the creation to be fruitful. That fruitfulness will be the fulfillment of God’s promise of Jezreel, which means “God sows.” God will have pity on “Not pitied” and will declare that “Not my people” have become “my (God’s) people” and they shall declare that God is their God.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul was returning from his third missionary journey and was on his way to Jerusalem, knowing by the Holy Spirit  that imprisonment and affliction awaited him (Acts 20:23). He left Miletus (in modern Turkey) and sailed along the coast to Patara, where they boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. They crossed to Syria, landing at Tyre. He and his companions stayed with Christians at Tyre for seven days.

The brethren at Tyre knew by the Holy Spirit what awaited Paul, and did not want Paul to go on to Jerusalem. But at the end of the week, they accompanied Paul and his companions to the docks and saw them off.
Paul’s group sailed from Tyre to Ptolemais and then to Caesarea, where they stayed with Philip, the evangelist, one of the seven (original deacons; Acts 6:1-6). Philip had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

During their stay with Philip, a prophet named Agabus (see Acts 11:28) came from Judea and used a symbolic act to dramatize his prophecy. He took Paul’s belt and wrapped it around his own hands and feet, and said that, according to the Holy Spirit, the Jews at Jerusalem would likewise bind the hands and feet of the owner of the belt.

His Christian brethren begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem, but Paul, although he cared for them very much, was ready to be imprisoned and even to die at Jerusalem for the name of Jesus. Since Paul could not be persuaded otherwise, his Christian friends accepted his decision and the will of the Lord.
Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus encountered a man who had a bad case of leprosy, and the man bowed before Jesus and declared that if Jesus was willing Jesus could heal him. Jesus replied that he was willing, and commanded that the man be healed.

Immediately the leprosy left him. Jesus told the man to tell no one, but to go to the priest and complete the sacrificial requirements to be restored to the congregation. But the report of the healing spread far and wide, and great crowds gathered to hear and be healed of their ailments. Jesus “withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

Another day when Jesus was teaching and healing, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law (scribes; authorities of scripture) among the crowd. Men were bringing a paralyzed man on a stretcher but were unable to get close to Jesus because of the crowd, so they went up on the roof and removed some of the tiles and lowered the man through the roof. When Jesus saw their faith, he told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven.

The Pharisees and scribes discussed Jesus’ saying among themselves, saying that Jesus had blasphemed, since no one can forgive sins but God alone. Jesus perceived their inner thoughts, and asked them why they were questioning Jesus’ statement. Jesus suggested that it would have been simpler for him to tell the paralytic to rise and walk than to tell him that his sins had been forgiven, but that he had declared forgiveness so all might know that Jesus has authority on earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus told the paralytic to rise, pick up his cot and go home. The man immediately did as Jesus had commanded, glorifying God. All the people were amazed and glorified God, realizing that they had witnessed something quite remarkable.

Commentary:

God has promised a Day of Judgment and punishment of unfaithfulness and disobedience, but he also promised forgiveness and renewal of his people. He promised to make a door of hope (Hosea 2:15). In the day of restoration, his people will be joined to him and serve him in love, as a bride with her “husband,” rather than in fear as a slave with his master. The Lord promised to make a new covenant with all creatures. Idolatry will cease. War and fighting will be no more; all creation will live in peace and safety. Creation will be restored to the abundance of paradise.

Paul was living in the day of renewal; in the new covenant promised in Hosea 2:18. That day of renewal began with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Idolatry, war and fighting have not yet ceased in this world, but Jesus is the door to the new creation in the kingdom of God, where those things have ceased and we have peace and safety in the paradise of Heaven.

As God declared that the way to Heaven is through the wilderness of this world, walking in obedience to the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit, so Paul was doing. He was obedient to the Holy Spirit, and he was willing to suffer and die for the name of Jesus (Acts 21:13), knowing that God’s promises are trustworthy. Paul and his Christian friends were willing to trust in God’s will, even in the face of persecution and death (Acts 21:14).

It is God’s will for us to be saved and restored. God sent Jesus for that very purpose (John 3:16-17). The Leper believed that Jesus had the power to heal him. He trusted himself to Jesus’ will, and Jesus assured him that it is Jesus’ will to heal and restore us. Jesus told him to rise, pick up his cot and go home, and the paralytic was healed instantly as he began to obey Jesus. Jesus came so that we might be forgiven and reconciled with God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus is the Door of hope (Hosea 2:15; John 10:9). Jesus has the authority to judge the Earth and the authority to forgive sins (Matthew 28:18; 25:31-46). It is God’s will for us to be saved, but he won’t force us to receive his salvation. God doesn’t want us to perish, but we will if we refuse to accept his forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. He gives us the choice.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Wednesday
20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/19/04;
Podcast: Wednesday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 3:1-5  –  Faithless wife restored;
Acts 21:15-26  –  Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem;
Luke 5:27-39  –  New wine;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord told Hosea to love, again, a woman who had committed adultery, as an illustration of God’s love for the people of Israel, even though they have been spiritually adulterous by turning to other gods and participating in pagan festivals (raisin cakes were associated with pagan festivals). So Hosea bought back his adulterous wife for fifteen shekels of silver and about 10 bushels of barley.

Hosea told her that she must be faithful to him and dwell with him for many days, and Hosea would also be faithful to her. Hosea said that the children of Israel would live many days without king or prince, sacrifice or pillar, ephod or teraphim (religious paraphernalia). “Afterward, the children will seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul returned to Jerusalem, knowing by the Holy Spirit that imprisonment and suffering awaited him (Acts 20:22-23). After staying several days with Philip, the evangelist and deacon (Acts 6:1-7), Paul and his fellow workers went up to Jerusalem where they stayed with a disciple named Mnason, of Cyprus, a long-time disciple.

The next day Paul met with James (the head of the apostolic council at Jerusalem, and the cousin, or kinsman, of the Lord; Galatians 1:18-19), and all the elders of the council were present. Paul told them all the things God had done through Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles, and the council praised God. Then they told Paul that there were thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who were committed to keeping the Jewish Law and traditions, and who had heard that Paul taught the Gentiles to forsake the Law of Moses.

The council therefore suggested that Paul undertake to sponsor four Jewish Christians who had taken temporary Nazirite vows. Paul would undergo ritual purification along with them and pay their expenses, so that they could complete their purification. The council thought that would convince the legalistic segment of the Christian community that Paul was not guilty of preaching against the Law of Moses, and that Paul personally lived in accordance with it. The council had previously ruled that it was not necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised or keep the Jewish Laws (Paul had initiated and participated in the ruling; Acts 15:1-21). So Paul agreed and the next day he purified himself and went into the temple to make arrangements for the fulfillment of the vows.

Luke Paraphrase:

During his ministry in Galilee, Jesus passed by a tax collector’s office, and called the tax collector, named Levi (Matthew, son of Alphaeus, possibly brother of James, the Lord’s kinsman), to follow Jesus. Levi “left everything, and rose and followed him” (Luke 5:28). Levi made a great feast in his house for Jesus, and there was a large group of tax collectors and others also invited.

The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus’ disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus replied that it is those who are sick who need a physician. Jesus declared that he had come to call sinners to repentance; not the righteous. The scribes and Pharisees also criticized Jesus’ disciples for not fasting, unlike the disciples of John the Baptizer and the disciples of the Pharisees.

Jesus answered by comparing his situation with a wedding feast. Jesus was like the bridegroom; while he was present the wedding guests did not fast, but after the feast, when the groom had left, they would fast again. Jesus also told several parables: One cannot patch an old garment with un-shrunk cloth; otherwise the patch would tear the old garment the first time it is washed again, and the new fabric would be unsightly because it would not match the old.

Likewise no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if they did the skin would burst and the wine would be spilled. New wineskins must be used for new wine. No one prefers new wine after they taste the old because the old tastes better.

Commentary:

The Lord had Hosea buy back his adulterous wife, discipline her, and reaffirm his love, as an illustration of God’s plan to redeem the people of Israel. Hosea prophesied that Israel would live for many days without civil or religious institutions. Afterward they would return to God and their Messiah (Hosea 3:5).

The prophecy of Hosea began to be fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus. The veil in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). The veil of the temple separated the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, from the sanctuary. This symbolized that the people henceforth had direct access to God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:8; 10:19).

In 70 A.D. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. The Jewish nation and Jewish religion effectively ceased to exist. It wasn’t until after World War II that the Jews began to return to Israel; the temple has never been rebuilt. (Without the temple, there is no sacrificial system, on which the Old Covenant of Law is dependent).

Jesus is the “Passover Lamb” that was slain as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, once for all (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus is the descendant of David (Luke 2:4) who is the eternal heir to David’s throne (Matthew 21:9; 2 Samuel 7:11c-16). Jesus paid the price for our salvation, on the cross, with his blood.

Paul taught that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (as Jesus taught: Matthew 5:17). He earnestly believed and taught that salvation was by grace (unmerited favor; free gift) through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ and not by keeping the Law (Ephesians 2:8-9). He was instrumental in the apostolic decree (Acts 15:1-21) which was cited in Acts 21:25.

I don’t believe that Paul compromised his convictions, but that he was willing to make personal sacrifices out of love for the Jews  (compare Acts 16:3; 1 Corinthians 9:20-21; 10:32). Paul was living out the costly, sacrificial, redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ. Paul was participating in the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy; God was extending the costly redeeming love of Jesus Christ through Paul to the children of Israel.

Jesus’ call of Levi (Matthew) is an illustration of God’s redeeming love. Jesus came to redeem sinners; he came to heal the spiritually sick. We’re all sinners (Romans 3:23), but Jesus can’t heal those who refuse to acknowledge that they are sinners in need of healing. Jesus can’t heal those who consider themselves righteous because they think they have kept the Law; because they think they have not done anything bad.

The scribes and Pharisees considered themselves righteous because they would not eat with sinners. They rejected Jesus because Jesus did eat with sinners. The Old Covenant of Law was broken beyond patching. Jesus was “new material,” which required a “new garment:” a New Covenant of grace through faith. Jesus is “new wine” which requires “new wineskins,” a change of heart to accept the New Covenant. The Pharisees were unwilling to give up the old traditions in order to participate in the New Covenant.

Jesus also foretold his crucifixion (Luke 5:35), the ultimate illustration of God’s redeeming love, where Jesus paid the ultimate price as a ransom to buy us back from our spiritual adultery. Jesus is the door which has been opened to forgiveness and restoration of fellowship with God; Jesus is the door to the Promised Land of eternal life in Heaven .

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/20/04;
Podcast: Thursday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 4:1-10  –  The Lord’s controversy with Israel;
Acts 21:27-36  –  Paul assaulted in the temple;
Luke 6:1-11  –  Lord of the Sabbath;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord has a controversy with Israel because there is no faithfulness, kindness or knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, killing, stealing and adultery abound. For that reason the land mourns and all its inhabitants languish. Also, the animals of the land and the fish of the sea decline. The Lord will contend with his priests and his prophets; they will stumble.

The people are destroyed for lack of (divine) knowledge. Because you (God’s people) have rejected (divine) knowledge, God has rejected you from being his priests. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, God will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against God. God will change their glory into shame.

“They (religious leaders) feed on the sin of my (God’s) people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and requite them for their deeds. They shall eat but not be satisfied; they shall play the harlot (fornicate), but not multiply; because they have forsaken the Lord to cherish harlotry” (Hosea 4:8-10).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had gone to Jerusalem knowing by the Holy Spirit that arrest and persecution awaited him there. At Jerusalem he had accepted the suggestion of the apostolic council that he sponsor four Jewish Christians who had undertaken Nazirite vows, to show the Jews that he was not teaching against Moses and the Law.

Paul did as suggested, but before the end of the seven day purification ritual Paul was seen in the temple by Jews from Asia (who had persecuted him in Asia; Acts 13:45, 50; 14:5, 19), and they started a commotion, charging Paul with preaching against Moses, the law and the temple, and of desecration of the temple by bringing Gentiles into it (although they had no evidence that he had done so). A mob formed and they dragged Paul out of the temple and were trying to kill Paul.

Word of the disturbance came to the commander of the Roman garrison stationed near the temple, and he sent troops. When the mob saw the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. The commander came up and arrested Paul and ordered him bound with chains. The commander began investigating the cause of the disturbance, but the mob shouted conflicting information and he could not determine the facts, so he had Paul imprisoned in the barracks overnight. At the steps to the barracks, the soldiers had to carry Paul up, because of the violence of the crowd.

Luke Paraphrase:

One Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples were going through a grainfield and the disciples snacked on some of the heads of grain, rubbing them with their hands. The Pharisees accused them of breaking the Sabbath laws by “harvesting” and “threshing” grain. Jesus pointed out that David had fed his soldiers with “bread of the Presence” from the house of God, which is unlawful for any but priests to eat (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Jesus told them that the Son of man (Jesus) is Lord of the Sabbath.

On another Sabbath, Jesus went to a synagogue and taught, and there he encountered a man with a withered arm. The scribes and Pharisees were watching Jesus, looking for some wrongdoing with which they could charge him.

Jesus knew their thoughts, so he told the man to come and stand beside him. Then Jesus asked the crowd whether it was lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm; to save life or to destroy. Then, looking around at the crowd, Jesus told the man to stretch out his arm. The man did so and it was restored. But the Pharisees were enraged and discussed among themselves what they might do to Jesus.

Commentary:

God accused Israel of lack of faith, kindness and knowledge of God. In consequence, the Lord warned that he would oppose his priests and prophets and cause them to stumble. Israel had been called to be a kingdom of priests to God (Exodus 19:6).

The religious leaders were no more righteous than their congregation. The Lord promised that they would be punished for their sin: The priests and prophets would stumble, the people would be destroyed for lack of divine knowledge; those who reject God will be rejected by God; the children of those who have forgotten God’s law will be forgotten by God. Their glory will be turned to shame. They will eat and not be satisfied; they will pursue pleasure but not find it.

The Jews’ treatment of Paul at the temple is evidence confirming God’s accusation through Hosea. The Jews proved that they were not faithful, kind, or possessing knowledge of God. They were proof of lying and killing abounding in the land. Their religious leaders fed on the sin of the people and lusted for iniquity. Paul had made personal sacrifice to avoid offending the Jews (see entry for yesterday, Wednesday, 20 Pentecost, even year, above).

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, but the religious leaders accused Jesus of defiling the Sabbath. The Pharisees considered themselves knowledgeable about God and the scriptures, but they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, Emmanuel (God with us; Matthew 1:23), and Jesus had to remind them about the incident of David and the bread of the Presence. The religious leaders condemned Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath while they plotted evil and murder on the Sabbath (Luke 6:9, 11).

God’s judgment on Israel was accurate. Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). True wisdom is divine wisdom, the wisdom of God by which the world was created, not what the world falsely considers wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24). Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled! Because they rejected divine knowledge in Jesus, God rejected them from being his people and his kingdom of priests.

The Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.. The people were scattered throughout the world. The Jewish nation and religion effectively ceased to exist. It wasn’t until after World War II that the Jews began to return to Israel; and the temple has never been rebuilt. (Without the temple, there is no sacrificial system.) The Christian Church is the New Israel and the New kingdom of priests.

God’s Word is eternal! What applied to Israel in the time of Jesus’ physical ministry, applies to the world today. It should also be a warning to the Christian Church, the “New people of God”, and to America, which in a sense is the “New (national) Israel,” the “New Promised Land.”

Have the people of the Church fulfilled their call to be priests and prophets of God? Have the people of the Church and of America forgotten God’s Word? Have they failed to obtain personal knowledge of Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit? Have we grown more sinful as we’ve prospered? Does swearing, lying, killing stealing and adultery (and immorality) abound?
Have religious leaders been as sinful as or even more sinful than their congregations? Are animals of the land and fish of the sea in decline? Do we have plenty, but no satisfaction? Will we repent and receive the forgiveness God offers through Jesus Christ before it’s too late?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Friday
20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/21/04;
Podcast: Friday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 4:11-19  –  Israel’s apostasy;
Acts 21:37-22:16  –  Paul’s defense before the people;
Luke 6:12-26  –  Choosing the Twelve Apostles;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord has a controversy with Israel because all have forgotten the Lord and turned to other gods. Drunkenness takes away understanding; so does following idols. Spiritual adultery leads people astray. Both the women who are prostitutes and the men who use them are equally to blame. “A people without understanding shall come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14d).

Hosea’s ministry was to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (in the period of the Divided Monarchy), where idolatry was rampant. Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is warned not to follow Israel’s course. Hosea condemned Gilgal and Bethel (which he called Beth-aven: i.e. “house of idolatry;” see 1 Kings 12:28-29) because both had become centers of idolatry. Israel’s stubbornness makes it impossible for the Lord to (spiritually) feed and sustain her. The territory of Ephraim surrounded Bethel and Gilgal. Hosea condemned Ephraim for idolatry, which is both spiritual drunkenness and spiritual adultery.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by the Jews in the temple in Jerusalem, and had been arrested by Roman soldiers (Acts 21:27-36). He was going to be imprisoned overnight, and as he was being brought into the barracks, he asked his guard for permission to address the crowd. The Roman soldier was surprised that Paul could speak Greek, and accused him of being an Egyptian rebel, but Paul told him he was a Jew from Tarsus. Tarsus was the chief city of Cilisia, with a reputation as a center of learning which compared to that of Athens and Alexandria.

The soldier gave permission, and Paul began to speak to the crowd in Hebrew. He told them he was a Jew born in Tarsus but educated in Judaism in Jerusalem under the Rabbi Gamaliel. Paul told the crowd that he had persecuted “the Way” (Christianity) to death. He had arrested and imprisoned Christian men and women, and had been on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians there.

Paul said that as he had approached Damascus around noon, a bright light from heaven shown upon him and he fell to the ground and heard a voice calling him by name (Saul; which he subsequently changed to Paul). Paul had asked who was addressing him and the voice identified himself as “Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 22:8).

Paul’s companions on the journey had seen the light but had not heard the voice. The Lord told Paul to go into Damascus and there he would be told what to do. Paul was blinded by the light and had to be led by the hand into Damascus.

Ananias, a devout and respected Jewish Christian, came to Paul, and Paul’s vision was restored, and he received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17b-18). Ananias told Paul that God had chosen Paul to know God’s will, to see the “Just One” and to hear his voice; Paul would be a witness to all people of what he had seen and heard. Then Ananias had baptized Paul, washing away his sins, and calling on Jesus’ name.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus went into the hills to pray and he spent all night in prayer. In the morning, he called his disciples to him, and he chose twelve of them, and called them apostles (ones who are sent; special messengers from God). Simon (whom Jesus named Peter; see Matthew 16:18), Andrew (Peter’s brother) James and John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James (Possibly Thaddeus; Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18), and Judas Iscariot, who became the betrayer.

Commentary:

Hosea was a special messenger sent by God to warn the people of the consequences of turning away from God to the worship of idols. Hosea told Israel that idolatry is like drunkenness; the more one indulges the less one is capable of understanding. When a nation loses understanding it comes to ruin.

True understanding is divine wisdom; the wisdom by which the world was created; not what the world falsely calls wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24). Spiritual harlotry is similar to physical harlotry. Those who offer the services of spiritual harlotry and those who use the services of spiritual harlotry are both equally guilty.

God revealed his Word to Hosea and Hosea faithfully proclaimed it (Hosea 1:1; 4:1a). His prophecies were fulfilled: The Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians; the people were scattered throughout the world and the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist (721 B.C.). The Southern Kingdom of Judah later was carried off into Babylonian exile (587 B.C.), but subsequently was restored (517 B.C.).

Ananias had told Paul that God had chosen Paul to know God’s will, to see and hear the risen Jesus, and to be a witness to all people of what he had seen and heard. Since his baptism by Ananias and his infilling with the Holy Spirit, Paul had been doing exactly that. Paul’s defense before the people at Jerusalem is an illustration of that. Paul was fulfilling his call by God to be a messenger of the Gospel.

Ananias had also been a messenger of the Gospel. Ananias was a Christian disciple (Acts 9:10). God’s Word came to Ananias to go to Saul to heal his blindness and to lead him to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17), and Ananias had done what the Lord called him to do.

Jesus spent all night alone in the hills in prayer before selecting the Twelve original Apostles from the larger group of his followers. The Twelve were to be with Jesus day and night for approximately the next three years. Jesus was preparing them to be special messengers sent by God to proclaim the Gospel and carry on Jesus’ ministry.

We are all called by God to know God’s will, to have fellowship with Jesus, and then to be witnesses to all people of what we have seen and heard, if we will trust and obey Jesus. All Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. “Christian” is the name first given to disciples of Jesus at Antioch (Acts 11:26).

All Christian disciples, not just ordained ministers, are also called to be messengers (witnesses) of the Gospel, but the requirements are that we must first come to a personal fellowship with Jesus and be discipled by him through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Since Jesus’ ascension we can only have a personal relationship with him through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

During his earthly ministry the original Twelve were able to be with him physically while they were being trained. But Jesus told them not to begin their ministry of the Gospel until after they had received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5).

Paul is the prototype of the ” modern,” “Post-Resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul apparently did not know Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Paul encountered the risen Jesus on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-20).

Paul acknowledged Jesus as his Lord, repented of his sins, was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he was led by the Holy Spirit into ministry. Paul’s conversion was very rapid, but Paul was already well educated in the scriptures and Judaism. The Twelve spent about three years in constant physical fellowship with Jesus, before they were ready. Expect discipleship to take some time.

One cannot be a witness for Jesus without a personal relationship with Jesus. One cannot make disciples of Jesus unless one is a disciple of Jesus. One cannot be led and sent until one is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

One receives the promise (“authority;” John 1:12) of the Holy Spirit in (water) baptism , but one must seek the fulfillment of that promise by fulfilling his baptismal covenant. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernable event (Acts 19:2). Faith is not like “wishing on a star;” it is not getting what you wish for if you believe “hard enough.”

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday
20 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/22/04;
Podcast: Saturday 20 Pentecost – Even

Hosea 5:1-7  –  Spiritual harlotry;
Acts 22:17-29  –  Paul’s defense before the people;
Luke 6:27-38  –  Higher righteousness;

Hosea Paraphrase:

Israel’s religious and political leaders had become a snare and a trap to Israel. Mt. Tabor was a worship center for the Northern Kingdom which had been corrupted by idolatry. Mizpah was a city northwest of Jerusalem where the people were accustomed to meet in times of national emergency, (and where Samuel began the great reformation of his time by convening a great assembly. Israel had repented and renewed her covenant with God. It had been a time of great religious awakening and renewal). Shittim was the last campsite in Moab before Israel crossed into the Promised Land, and was the scene of harlotry and idolatry of the Israelites with the Moabites (Numbers 25:1-3).

The Lord knows the thoughts and deeds of his people; they cannot be hidden from him. The people have turned to spiritual harlotry (idolatry); they have been defiled. Their deeds hinder them from returning to the Lord. They have been filled with a spirit of harlotry, and do not know the Lord. Their guilt and their pride will be their downfall.

They will seek the Lord without being willing to give anything up (Hosea 5:6a), but they will not find him, because the Lord has withdrawn from them (compare Jeremiah 29:13). They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; they have produced alien (faithless) children (or perhaps, they have produced the offspring of spiritual harlotry). Now the new moon (the pagan festival) will devour them and their possessions.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had been attacked by Jews in the temple in Jerusalem, and was arrested. He asked to speak to the crowd before he was imprisoned, and was given permission. Paul had told them of his Damascus road conversion (Acts chapter 9). Continuing, Paul said that in Jerusalem after his conversion, the Holy Spirit had told him to leave Jerusalem and proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, because the Judeans would not accept Paul’s testimony, even though Paul’s former persecution of Christians was well known (and therefore his changed life should have been a convincing witness). When the crowd heard this they were enraged and began to riot, calling for Paul’s execution.

The commander of the Roman garrison ordered Paul brought into the barracks and examined by scourging in order to gather evidence. When Paul was tied up for flogging, Paul questioned the guard about the legality of scourging Paul, since Paul was a Roman citizen (and thus protected, since he had not been tried and condemned).
When the centurion heard that Paul was a Roman citizen he warned the commander, who questioned Paul in order to verify this information. The commander had purchased his citizenship for a large sum, but Paul had been born into Roman citizenship. Paul’s interrogators withdrew immediately, and the commander was afraid of the personal consequences, since he had ordered Paul bound.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus began to teach his followers how to live in relationship with others. We must go beyond worldly concepts of goodness and righteousness. We must love those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who persecute us. We’re not to fight with those who want to fight; we’re not to resist those who want to rob us. We are to give to those who beg, and forgive un-repaid loans.

It is not enough for us to love those who love us, and to do good to those who do good to us. Even sinners do that much. Even sinners are willing to lend to sinners from whom they expect to be repaid. We must aim for a higher standard: we must love our enemies, and do good deeds and lend to those who cannot repay us, because that is what God does for us.

God is kind to the ungrateful and selfish. We are to show mercy as God has shown mercy. Then we will truly be his children. We are not to judge others, or we will suffer the same judgment; we should not condemn if we hope to avoid condemnation. We will be forgiven as we have forgiven others. Generosity will be rewarded abundantly. We will receive according to what we have done.

Commentary:

The religious and political leaders of Israel had failed to hold the people accountable and lead them to repentance and renewal. The people had turned away from the Lord to idolatry. The Lord knows everything; their deeds could not be hidden. They had been defiled by their sin; their deeds kept them from returning to the Lord. They were filled with the spirit of idolatry instead of being filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Guilt and pride prevented their forgiveness. They were unwilling to give up the proceeds of their idolatry (Hosea 5:6a). There will be a Day of Judgment when they will receive the consequences of their deeds.

Up until his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul had been opposing God’s will by persecuting Christians, although he had believed at the time that he was serving God. When he was confronted with his error (sin), he repented and his life was completely changed. Paul had been highly educated in Judaism, but he was willing to surrender his status in Judaism; he didn’t let pride in his human accomplishments keep him from returning to the Lord and receiving forgiveness and restoration.

The Judeans who assaulted Paul were just as guilty of resisting God’s plan as Paul had been, but they were unwilling to acknowledge their sin and they were unwilling to give up their status in Judaism, and their traditions, to return to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration. Paul addressed his persecutors in love and truth; his persecutors responded with hatred and lies.

The Judeans judged and condemned Paul; they were not willing to forgive. They knew the scriptures, and they were violating the Ten Commandments, but they were unrepentant and unconcerned about God’s judgment. In contrast, the secular Roman soldiers knew their civil law and when they found out that Paul had rights under that law they repented of their actions and were afraid of the consequences of judgment on them.

Paul was living out the higher righteousness that Jesus taught. Paul was repeatedly persecuted by Jews, but he kept trying to share the Gospel with them. Paul recognized that he had been forgiven of the same persecution which he was now experiencing, and he extended to his persecutors the same forgiveness which Paul had received, but they rejected it. Paul gave the Gospel freely to others, without expecting them to compensate him for it (1 Corinthians 9:11-15a). Paul risked calling the Judeans to repentance, but they repaid him with hatred and violence.

Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled, but God’s Word is eternal; it applies to us today as much as it did to Israel twenty-seven hundred years ago. His Word is a warning to the Church (the “New people of God”) and also to America, which is also, in a sense, the “New Israel,” the New Promised Land.” Aren’t both the Church and America in a position today similar to that of Israel at the time of Hosea?

Haven’t the leaders of both Church and State allowed and facilitated the people to turn from the Lord to idolatry and sin? Are our leaders unwilling to risk calling their people to repentance and renewal? Does our guilt and pride prevent us from returning to the Lord? Are we unwilling to give up our material prosperity to seek the Lord? Those who are unwilling to give up the proceeds of idolatry will receive the consequences of their deeds. Are we so full of the spirit of idolatry that we have no room for the personal knowledge of the Lord through his indwelling Holy Spirit?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 19 Pentecost – Even – 10/19 – 25/2014

October 18, 2014

Week of 19 Pentecost – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Sunday 19 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/09/04;
Podcast: Sunday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 3:1-4:3  –  Haman’s plot against the Jews;
James 1:19-27  –  True worship;
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18  –  Practical piety;

Esther Paraphrase:

Esther (Hadassah), a Jewess in the Babylonian exile, was selected to be the Queen of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), King of Persia. She was an orphan, adopted and raised by her cousin Mordecai, who was a minor officer of the King (perhaps a gatekeeper).

The King promoted Haman the Agagite (Amalekite descendant of Agag) to the office of Prime Minister. The minor officers were required to bow to Haman, but Mordecai refused to bow to Haman (because Haman was a descendant of Agag, the enemy of Saul, who was a Benjamite, as was Mordecai).

His fellow officers told Mordecai day after day that he should bow and show respect for Haman, but when Mordecai continued to refuse, they told Haman. Haman was furious, but he decided to destroy not just Mordecai, but all the Jews throughout the kingdom, since it was known that Mordecai was a Jew. Haman having determined by the casting of Pur (lot; i.e., by chance) the best time to go to the King, went to him in the twelfth month.

Haman told the King that the Jews had different laws from the other people of the Kingdom, and did not keep the king’s laws, so it was not in the King’s interest to tolerate them. Haman offered a large amount of silver in exchange for a royal decree that the Jews be destroyed. The King refused the bribe, but gave Haman permission to draft the decree, and the King’s signet ring to validate it. So Haman drafted the decree in the King’s name and sealed it with the King’s signet, and had copies delivered to all the provinces of the kingdom.

All the Jews, young and old, male and female, were to be destroyed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, and their property confiscated. Couriers were sent in haste, and the proclamation was delivered. When Mordecai learned of the decree, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes (formal manifestation of grief, making him ritually unclean). He went to the King’s gate, but was not allowed to enter because he was in mourning. Throughout the kingdom there was great mourning and fasting among the Jews.

Acts Paraphrase:

Christians should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Mankind’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. We should weed out all unrighteousness from ourselves and receive the Gospel, now implanted and growing within us, which is able to save our souls. It’s not sufficient merely to hear the Gospel, without acting upon it. One who hears and doesn’t act deceives himself.

Unless one acts on what he hears he’s like a person who has seen his reflection in a mirror. The experience produces no lasting benefit and he quickly forgets what he has seen. But a hearer of the Gospel who acts upon it and perseveres will be blessed in his doing. Religion is more than outward appearance. True religion is acting in faith on what we believe.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus taught his followers that piety (devoutness of religion) is a matter of inner attitude, rather than outward display. Those who do good deeds to receive praise from other people will receive only that. God does not reward such behavior. God wants us to do what is right because it pleases him. God sees our inner attitude, so we don’t need to draw attention to our good deeds.

Behavior which draws attention to our good deeds reveals that we are seeking human approval. Likewise, ostentatious prayer is not really prayer. If our prayers are designed to impress people, that’s all they will accomplish. If we truly want to pray to God, he knows what we need before we ask. We don’t need to pray loudly in public and use fancy words. When we do those things we reveal that we are more interested in human approval that God’s approval. When we fast we should not try to draw attention to our fasting. Let our fasting be between ourselves and God alone. God knows whether our piety is sincere or not, and he rewards sincerity and truth.

Commentary:

Mordecai, a Benjaminite, of the tribe of King Saul, would not honor Haman, a descendant of Agag, the defeated enemy of Saul. Mordecai would not let the standards of the worldly culture in which he lived influence him to do something contrary to his belief, even at the risk of his job and his life. He refused to act insincerely or to conform to the standards set by society in order to “get along.”  Haman sought acclaim and worship from men. The Lord, not Ahasuerus, was Mordecai’s King; Saul, not Haman, was the Lord’s anointed.

It is not sufficient to believe in Jesus if we don’t do what he teaches. Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46; compare Matthew 7:21-24). How can we call ourselves Christians if we don’t follow Jesus’ teachings? Christianity is more than just saying a prayer before we eat in public, or going to church on Sunday morning.

James describes the Gospel as a growing plant transplanted into the garden of our lives. We need to weed around it and feed and water it, allowing it to grow to maturity so that it can yield the harvest of salvation. We need to read the Bible thoroughly and daily if we expect the Gospel to grow to maturity and produce fruit in us. We need to apply the Gospel in our lives daily. True Christianity is acting on what we profess, not pretending to be something we aren’t.

True Christianity is trusting and obeying Jesus with all our hearts. We can’t follow Jesus and follow the ways of the world. We must be willing to sacrifice worldly success and popularity in order to please and serve the Lord. The Lord rewards sincerity and truth. Worldly rewards are uncertain and temporary; the Lord’s rewards are certain and eternal. Are we worshiping the Lord, or do we worship the defeated enemy of our King?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/10/04;
Podcast: Monday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 4:4-17  –  Esther promises to intercede;
Acts 18:1-11  –  Founding the church at Corinth;
Luke (1:1-4) 3:1-14   –  The ministry of John the Baptist;

Esther Paraphrase:

Haman, the Prime Minister of the Persian King Ahasuerus, plotted to destroy the Jews living in Persia following the Babylonian deportation, because Mordecai, Queen Esther’s cousin and adoptive father, had refused to bow down to him. The King had issued an order appointing a day when all the Jews in Persia were to be destroyed. When Mordecai learned of the plot, he clothed himself in sackcloth of ritual mourning (Esther 3:1-4:3).

When Esther learned that her foster father was in mourning she sent clothes so that he could remove his sackcloth, but he refused. Esther sent one of her eunuchs to Mordecai to learn what had happened. Mordecai relayed to Esther through her eunuch that Haman had offered money to the King for the destruction of the Jews, and he sent her a copy of the written order by the king ordering the destruction. Mordecai asked her to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews. Esther replied that anyone who entered the King’s chambers without being summoned by the King would be executed, unless the King extended his golden scepter to them and pardoned them. Esther said that she had not been summoned to the King’s chambers for thirty days.

Mordecai told her that although she was in the Palace, she was not any safer than the other Jews. If she kept silent during this crucial moment, God would raise up deliverance from some other source, but in trying to save herself she and her household would be destroyed. Mordecai suggested that perhaps God had caused her to be made Queen so that she could intervene in this situation. Esther asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews in Susa, the capital, and fast for three days and nights. Esther and her maids would also fast. Then Esther promised to risk her life by approaching the King without an invitation. Mordecai went and did as they had agreed.

Acts Paraphrase:

On Paul’s second missionary trip, he came to Corinth by himself from Athens, having been separated from Silas and Timothy, his fellow missionaries, by persecution arising from the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus (in northern Asia Minor; i.e. modern Turkey), who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Roman Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul visited, and, since they were tentmakers, Paul stayed with them and worked with them.

Every Sabbath, Paul debated in the synagogue and persuaded Jews and Greeks. Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth, where Paul was busy preaching to the Jews. When the Jews rejected his message Paul told them that they would bear the guilt for their rejection of the Gospel, and that he would thereafter take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul moved to the home of Titius Justice (probably a Gentile who worshiped God), who lived next door to the synagogue.

Crispus, the ruler, of the synagogue believed in Jesus along with his household, and many of the Corinthians also believed and were baptized. The Lord encouraged Paul one night, in a vision, not to be afraid to speak out. The Lord assured Paul that he was with Paul, would protect Paul, and that many people in Corinth belonged to the Lord. So Paul stayed there a year and a half, teaching God’s Word.

Luke Background:

The Gospel of Luke is believed to have been written by a Gentile physician named Luke, who was a friend of Paul’s. The stated purpose was to record the accounts of those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Gospel. In A.D. 26 or 27,*

Luke Paraphrase:

God’s Word came to John (“the Baptizer”) in the wilderness and he began “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3: 3). Luke quotes Isaiah 40:3-5 to show that John the Baptizer is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of a prophet (messenger) who would prepare the people for and announce the coming of the Messiah (Compare Malachi 3:1).

John called the crowds that came to him for baptism vipers (poisonous snakes; evil), and asked who had warned them to flee from the coming wrath (of God). He told them to bear fruit befitting (sincere) repentance and not to suppose that they did not need forgiveness because they were physical descendants of Abraham (and thus having God’s favor).

John proclaimed the beginning of judgment, when those who haven’t produced the fruit of righteousness will be destroyed. The crowds asked what they should do, and John replied that those who had more than they needed should share with those who don’t have enough. Tax collectors were told to be honest and fair in their dealings, and soldiers were told not to misuse their authority, and to be content with their pay.

Commentary:

Esther had to choose whether she was willing to risk losing her status as the Queen of Persia and her life, in order to do God’s will. God’s will would be done, whether she cooperated with God’s will or not, but if she loved her life in this world more than she loved the Lord, she would lose her life.

Paul was persecuted from place to place by his own people because of the Gospel, but that didn’t stop him from visiting synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel. He had been driven out of Thessalonica and Beroea, but when he came to Corinth he entered the synagogue and began proclaiming the Gospel. When they opposed and reviled him, he told them that they would bear the responsibility for their eternal destruction; Paul would not be to blame.

Having been rejected by his own people, he took the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord told Paul not to be afraid, but to speak boldly and not be silent. The Lord promised to be with him to protect him. Paul spent a year and a half there in Corinth teaching the Word of God.

John the Baptizer was the prophet (the “Elijah”) who was to come to prepare the people and announce the coming of Messiah (Matthew 11:7-10; Mark 9:11-13). He wasn’t pursuing worldly success or popularity. His lifestyle, living in the wilderness and eating locusts, is not an image of worldly success. His message, calling those who came to him for baptism “vipers,” was not calculated to make him popular.

John was telling his hearers to consider why they were coming to him. Were they truly turning to the Lord in repentance, intending to trust and obey the Lord, or were they only trying to avoid the just punishment of their sins? If they were truly repentant they should show that repentance by doing the deeds that accompany sincere repentance. John warned them not to suppose that they had God’s favor just because they happened to have been born into the congregation of God’s people. John declared that the coming of Jesus marked the beginning of judgment. Those who do not produce the fruit of righteousness will be destroyed.

How are we doing? The Lord doesn’t call us to be successful or comfortable or popular; he calls us to be faithful! Esther had to be willing to risk the loss of her worldly status, comfort and popularity, as Queen of Persia, in order to do God’s will. God’s will shall be done whether we cooperate with it or not, but only God is able to protect us and give us life eternally.

Paul was able to proclaim the Gospel in the face of persecution because he believed and came to know from personal experience that God was able to protect him and was able to raise him even from physical death to eternal life. John the Baptizer wasn’t trying to be successful, comfortable or popular. He was honestly and boldly doing what God had called him to do.

Are we following the Lord, or are we going along with the worldly system? Are we serving the Lord or are we trying to be successful, comfortable and popular? Are we willing to speak out in times like these, or will we keep silent and try to protect and save ourselves?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Luke 3:1 n, p. 1244, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Tuesday 19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/11/04;
Podcast:  Tuesday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 5:1-14  –  Esther before the King;
Acts 18:12-28 –  Paul at Corinth;
Luke 3:15-22  –  Ministry of John the Baptizer;

Esther Paraphrase:

Esther, a Jewess living in Persia as a result of the Babylonian Exile, had been chosen Queen. There had been a decree, instigated by Haman, the King’s Prime Minister, to kill all the Jews living in Persia and Esther had promised her foster father, Mordecai, the King’s gatekeeper, that she would appeal to the King at the risk of her life. She fasted for three days, and on the third day, she appeared before the King in the inner court of the palace.

When the King saw her, he held out his royal scepter to her and allowed her to approach. The King asked her to state her request, and she invited the King and Haman, the Prime Minister, to dinner. The King and Haman came to dinner and again the King asked Esther to make her request, but Esther invited them to return for dinner the next night, and promised that she would reveal her request then.

Haman left the Queen’s dinner happy, but was angered, passing through the King’s gate, that Mordecai did not humble himself before Haman. But Haman restrained himself and went home and assembled his friends and his wife and boasted about his success in the King’s administration, climaxed by his invitations to dine privately with the King and Queen.

The one thing that spoiled all this for Haman was Mordecai’s refusal to honor Haman. So Haman’s wife and friends suggested that Haman have a huge gallows built and tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it, and then Haman could go merrily to dinner. The idea pleased Haman and he did as they had suggested.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months, and during this time the Jews organized an effort to get rid of him by charging him before Gallio, proconsul of Asia, with teaching men to worship God in violation of Roman law. Paul was about to make a defense, but Gallio told the Jews that he refused to hear the case because it did not involve any actual acts of wrongdoing, but was merely a disagreement about words and names and Jewish law. He told them to settle the matter themselves.

The Jews seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue and beat him in front of Gallio, but Gallio paid them no attention. Paul stayed in Corinth for many days after this incident, but later sailed for Syria with Priscilla and Aquilla, with whom he had stayed when he first came to Corinth (Acts 18:2-3).

Paul had taken a temporary Nazirite vow (which involved avoiding alcohol, haircutting, and contact with dead bodies) in Corinth, which had ended when he arrived in Cenchreae, so he cut his hair (which was to be brought to the temple in Jerusalem to complete the vow). At Ephesus, Paul preached at the synagogue, but declined an invitation to stay longer, promising to return if God permitted. Paul left Priscilla and Aquilla there and sailed for Caesarea, greeted the church there, and then went to Antioch. After spending some time in Antioch, Paul traveled through Galatia and Phrygia encouraging the disciples there.

Meanwhile at Ephesus, a Jewish disciple of John the Baptizer arrived, and was accurately teaching about Jesus from the scriptures although he knew only the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquilla heard him speak in the synagogue they took him and “discipled” him (Acts 18:26). When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia (Greece), the Ephesian church encouraged him and sent a letter of recommendation to the church at Achaia. At Achaia, Apollos built up the believers by debating convincingly in public against the Jews, showing from scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Luke Paraphrase:

The Jewish people were looking expectantly for the coming of the Messiah (Christ), and they were seriously considering that John might be the Christ. John proclaimed that he baptized with water (for repentance), but that the Christ, who is mightier and much more worthy of honor than John, was coming, and the Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The Christ will judge the earth like mankind winnows grain from chaff. The grain (the fruitful part of the harvest) will be gathered into the Lord’s “barn,” but the chaff (the unfruitful portion of the harvest) will be burned with “unquenchable” (eternal) fire. John preached the “good news” (of forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God).

But Herod, whom John had rebuked for unlawfully marrying Herod’s brother’s wife, Herodias, and for all the other evil things Herod had done, added another evil deed (instead of repenting and receiving forgiveness) by having John arrested and imprisoned.

John was baptizing people in the Jordan River, and Jesus also came to John for baptism (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; John 1:29-34). After being baptized by John, Jesus was praying and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, physically manifested in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven declared that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, with whom God is well pleased (fulfilling Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1).

Commentary:

Esther was successful from the worldly point of view; she was Queen of the Persian Empire. She was comfortable, pampered, wealthy and powerful. But she was willing to risk all that, to do God’s will and protect God’s people by making an appeal on their behalf to the King. Haman’s only interest was his own career. He boasted to his family and friends of his wealth, power, and prestige. Haman was quite impressed that he had private personal fellowship with the King and Queen. Haman’s only problem was that Mordecai did not show the respect that Haman thought he deserved.

Haman was obsessed with his own importance. He convinced the King to allow him to decree that all the Jews be killed because one Jew, Mordecai, refused to humble himself before Haman (Esther 3:6). Haman thought he was rich enough to buy the King’s permission (Esther 3:9). His family and friends fed his ego by suggesting that he build, not an ordinary gallows, but a huge one (as a demonstration of his power and greatness).

The Jews thought they could manipulate their Roman governors to accomplish their worldly ambitions. Paul was challenging their authority and their position in society. When they couldn’t manipulate Gallio through the Roman legal system, they tried using the threat of civil disobedience, but Gallio wasn’t worried. The persecution of Paul by the Jews didn’t stop Paul from preaching the Gospel and didn’t keep the Gospel from being successful; persecution of Christians didn’t prevent people from believing the Gospel and becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.

Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptizer. He had received water baptism by John for repentance. He knew the scriptures and he knew of Jesus and knew that Jesus was the Christ, but he apparently had not yet been “baptized” (anointed; filled) with the Holy Spirit (had not yet been “born-again;” John 3:3-8; compare Acts 19:1-6). Priscilla and Aquilla took him aside and presumably “discipled” him, leading him to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Priscilla and Aquilla were fulfilling the Great Commission which was given by Jesus to his disciples, to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Trinity), and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20).

John the Baptizer was not the Christ; he was the prophet (the “Elijah”) whom scripture prophesied would come before, to announce the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 11:7-10; Mark 9:11-13). John testified that Jesus was the Christ; John testified that he had seen the Holy Spirit descend bodily on Jesus at Jesus’ baptism, and that Jesus was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (John 1:31-34). This was first fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4). Jesus had told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5; Luke 24:49). John was not pursuing his own success and building up his own ministry; he was pointing people to Jesus.

The infilling with the presence of the Holy Spirit is a discernable (and ongoing, rather than one-time) event (Acts 19:2). It is essential to the work of ministry. It is not sufficient to know the Bible, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and to be an eloquent and persuasive preacher. Only “born-again,” Spirit-filled disciples can “make disciples.” Unless one is “born-again,” one cannot see the kingdom of God, now or eternally (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and that we have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Are we seeking the infilling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit or are we pursuing worldly success? Are we more interested in friendship with worldly leaders than fellowship with the Lord? Are we missing the opportunity to have personal intimate fellowship with the Lord, the King of the Universe and his Bride (the true body of Christ) which is only possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit? Are we attempting to be successful in ministry in our own strength, using worldly methods, or are we truly obedient to and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Wednesday
19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/12/04;
Podcast: Wednesday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 6:1-14  –  Mordecai honored by the king;
Acts 19:1-10  –   Baptism of the Holy Spirit;
Luke 4:1-13  –  Jesus’ temptation;

Esther Paraphrase:

Haman  had attended a private banquet with the king and queen, and had been invited to return for another banquet the next night. But on his way home Haman had been not accorded the honor he thought due him by Mordecai, so Haman had erected a huge gallows intending to have Mordecai hanged on it. That night the king couldn’t sleep so he had the book of chronicles of memorable deeds read to him.

The incident of Mordecai reporting the plot by two of the king’s eunuchs against the king was read (Esther 2:21-23), and the king asked what had been done to honor Mordecai for this act of loyalty. The king’s servants reported that nothing had been done. Haman happened to be outside the king’s chambers waiting to tell the king to hang Mordecai from Haman’s gallows.

The king invited Haman in and asked him “what should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor” (Esther 6:6a)? Haman thought the king was referring to Haman, so he told the king what would most please himself. He suggested that the king have the man dressed in the king’s own robes and set him on the king’s horse by one of the king’s most noble princes, and led through the square of the city, proclaiming that this is what shall be done “to the man whom the king delights to honor” (Esther 6:9). So the king ordered Haman to do for Mordecai as Haman had said.

After carrying out the command, Haman returned home disgraced and mourning. He gathered his wife and his friends and told them all that had happened. His wise men told him that he had begun to fall because of Mordecai, and that if Mordecai was Jewish, there was no way that Haman could prevail, or avoid complete failure. While they were still discussing this, the king’s eunuchs came to bring Haman in haste to the banquet Esther, the queen, had prepared.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul encountered some disciples at Ephesus, and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. They said that they had never heard of (the indwelling of) the Holy Spirit. Paul asked them about their baptism and they told him that they had been baptized by John the Baptizer. Paul told them that John had baptized for repentance, telling the people to believe in the Messiah, Jesus, who was coming after John. When they heard this they were baptized in the name of Jesus, and when Paul laid his hands on them they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues and prophesied.

At Ephesus, Paul preached the Gospel in the synagogue for three months. But some of the Jews were stubborn and disbelieving, and they spoke against the Gospel to the Jewish congregation, so Paul withdrew from the synagogue, taking the Christian converts with him, and began meeting daily in the hall of Tyrannus, for a period of two years, so that all the people of the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey) heard the Gospel.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus, having been baptized by John and filled by the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21-22), came from the Jordan River into the wilderness where he was led by the Spirit for forty days. He fasted during this period, and at the end of forty days he was hungry. The devil tempted Jesus to use his power to change stones into bread, but Jesus refused the temptation, citing Deuteronomy 8:3b to show that obedience to God is more beneficial in sustaining and prolonging life than physical bread.

The devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and offered to give all their authority and glory to Jesus if Jesus would worship the devil. Again Jesus refused, citing Deuteronomy 6:13, that mankind is commanded to worship and serve only God.

Again Satan tempted Jesus to prove that he was the Son of God by throwing himself off the roof of the Temple. Satan cited Psalm 91:11-12, suggesting that if Jesus were indeed the Son of God, angels would catch Jesus and save him from injury. Jesus answered with Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Satan had exhausted every temptation, so he departed from Jesus to await an “opportune time” (Luke 4:13 RSV).

Commentary:

Haman was only interested in promoting himself. His interest was not in serving his king but in seeking his own success. In fact, he wanted to be king; he wanted to wear the king’s clothes, ride the king’s horse, and be honored and glorified like the king. He thought he was succeeding, but his fall was sudden and disastrous. The reason his wise men told Haman that his fall could not be prevented was because they knew that if Mordecai was a Jew that God’s will must be for Mordecai and against Haman.

Mordecai’s heroism in serving the king’s interests by warning him of the plot against him serves as contrast to Haman’s self-centeredness. Haman rushed off to what he expected to be a banquet, but turned out to be his day of judgment. We have been invited to a banquet with the King, Jesus (Luke 14:16-24; Matthew 26:26-29; Revelation 3:20).

In one sense, the water baptism of the Church is like the baptism of John. That baptism signifies our repentance and prepares us to look for the coming of Jesus personally to us through the Holy Spirit as we begin to follow Jesus’ teachings in trust and obedience.  [I regard Baptism as a covenant, between God and the candidate, containing the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12-13). It is up to the candidate to seek the fulfillment of that promise by fulfilling his covenant obligation. My personal experience testifies to this truth.]

Without the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can’t truly serve the Lord. We may teach scriptures and preach eloquently, like Apollos (Acts 18:24-28), we may be building “church buildings” and making “church members,” but we cannot make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ unless we are Spirit-filled, Spirit-led disciples of Jesus Christ.

It should be obvious that someone like the two disciples of John at Ephesus, who had never heard that they could be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, could only spread to others the baptism with which they were baptized. Paul had experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17), so he was able to lead them to experience the fullness of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). They waited in obedience; they received the fulfillment of the promise on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2).

Believers are to wait in the “Jerusalem” of the discipling Church until they have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. The discipling Church is a church of ‘born-again” disciples who disciple new believers. This is the fulfillment of the Great Commission:  Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

Please notice that the Jews who were stubborn and disbelieved Paul’s preaching of the Gospel (Acts 19:9) rejected the opportunity to accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. They continued to practice their “religion,” but they only accomplished worldly goals. They continued to build synagogues and make converts but weren’t pointing their members to the Messiah.

Satan knows and quotes scripture (Luke 4:9-11)! Believers need to know scripture at least as well as Satan does. Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit through the wilderness. We need to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit if we are to make it through the wilderness of this life.

Jesus experienced all the temptations in the wilderness that we will ever face. He faced the same temptations that caused Adam to fall (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and lust of human pride; Luke 4:3, 5-6, 9; compare Genesis 3:6) and Jesus defeated them by quoting scripture combined with the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice that Adam was tempted to be “like God” (Genesis 3:5 RSV); Jesus was not tempted to be “like God;” he is God (Luke 4:12; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). (Satan quoted scripture too, but he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit.)

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/13/04;
Podcast: Thursday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 7:1-10  – Haman hanged;
Acts 19:11-20  –  Paul’s ministry at Ephesus;
Luke 4:14-30  –  Jesus’ teaching at Nazareth;

Esther Paraphrase:

Haman, the Prime Minister, returned to dine with the King of Persia and Queen Esther a second night, having planned to have Mordecai, Esther’s foster father, executed on the gallows Haman had prepared. At dinner the king again inquired about Esther’s request, promising to grant whatever she asked. Then Esther asked the king to spare her life and the lives of her people, explaining that the decree had been made that the Jews in Persia be destroyed.

The king asked Esther who would do such a thing and Esther replied “A foe and an enemy” (Esther 7:6), and named Haman. Haman was terrified in front of the king and queen. The king got up from the banquet and went out into the garden in anger. Haman stayed and pleaded with Esther for his life. He was kneeling at Esther’s couch when the king returned, and the king thought he was assaulting the Queen.

At the king’s accusation, his servants grabbed Haman and covered his face (a customary practice with one who was doomed). One of the eunuchs suggested that the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordecai, who had saved the king (by exposing a plot against the king; Esther 2:21-23), was “available,” so the king commanded them to hang Haman on Haman’s gallows.

Acts Paraphrase:

God did great miracles through Paul. Handkerchiefs and articles of clothing which had been in contact with Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed. Some Jewish exorcists tried invoking Jesus’ name in their exorcisms. Seven sons of the Jewish high priest, Sceva, did this, saying “I adjure you by the Jesus that Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13). But the demon answered them, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you” (Acts 19:15)?

Then the demon-possessed man leaped on them and overpowered them all, forcing them to flee naked and injured from the house. Everyone in Ephesus heard about this, and they were awed, and the name of Jesus was glorified. Many new converts confessed that they had practiced magic arts, and brought their books on the occult to be burned. The value of the books thus burned was calculated at fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Luke Paraphrase:

After Jesus’ baptism by John and his testing in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee empowered by the Spirit, and news about him began to spread throughout the region. Jesus taught in the synagogues throughout the area and was praised by all.

He came to his hometown, Nazareth, and on the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and stood up to read. He was given the scroll of Isaiah, and he read from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, …to proclaim release to the captives, …recovering of sight to the blind, …to set at liberty the oppressed, …to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then he sat down and began to speak, saying that they had just witnessed the fulfilling of that scripture. The people were impressed with him and the graciousness of his words, and said, “Is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22)? Jesus told them that they would expect him to do the miracles in Nazareth that he had done in Capernaum, but Jesus warned them that a prophet is not respected in his own neighborhood.

Jesus pointed out that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, but Elijah was sent only to Zarephath, and there were many lepers in the time of Elisha, but only Naaman was cleansed. When the people heard this they were enraged, and they dragged Jesus out of the synagogue and out of the city. They were going to throw Jesus off the cliff on which the city sat, but Jesus walked through their midst and went his way.

Commentary:

Haman was self-centered. He pursued only his own self-interest. Haman didn’t care about the king’s interests and he didn’t care what God wanted (Esther 6:13). He thought he could manipulate the king to do whatever Haman wanted. Haman thought that the banquet with the king and queen would serve Haman’s purpose and exalt Haman. His spiritual “blindness” brought him to sudden disaster. Esther and Mordecai reverenced God and cooperated with God’s plan, even risking their lives. They were also loyal to the king, and the king cooperated with God’s will.

God was able to do great things through Paul because Paul was obedient to God’s will. Paul wasn’t pursuing his own agenda; he wasn’t trying to build his own “empire.” Paul was led by and obedient to the Holy Spirit. In contrast, the Jewish exorcists were trying to establish themselves in the exorcism business. They thought they could appropriate the name and power of Jesus Christ to accomplish their own agendas. They found out that the power of God cannot be manipulated for personal benefit.

The appeal of the occult is that people hope that it will give them power over their circumstances. People hope they can manipulate demonic forces, but they wind up being enslaved by them. The real power belongs to the Lord. The Lord has power over demonic forces.

Ephesus was a world center of occult practices. When the Ephesians were converted to Christianity, they no longer needed or wanted their occult arts, and they were no longer enslaved by sin and evil, because they had come to know the Lord who alone has the real power to heal and free them.

The Nazarenes liked Jesus’ message as long as it was gracious and pleasant to hear. They thought he was doing fine, for a local boy, although they were somewhat condescending. They just wanted Jesus to tell them what they wanted to hear. When he started pointing out things about themselves that needed to change they got angry. They’d show him who was in charge. They missed the point of Jesus’ comments about the prophets.

God’s blessings through his prophets are available to all who welcome and heed the prophets. Jesus’ message is only good news to those who recognize that they are spiritually needy. Only Jesus can heal the spiritually “blind,” and free those who are enslaved and oppressed by sin and evil. The Nazarenes could have had the blessings that others in Capernaum and the surrounding areas received if they had welcomed Jesus as the Son of God instead of as the son of Joseph, and if they had taken to heart what he told them, instead of trying to manipulate him to say only what they wanted to hear.

Are we earnestly trying to know and serve the Lord’s will, or do we expect the Lord to serve us? Are we willing to hear and apply the Lord’s Word in our lives, even if it is critical of us?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Friday
19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/14/04;
Podcast: Friday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 8:1-8, 15-17,    Revocation of the edict;
Acts 19:21-41,    Riot at Ephesus;
Luke 4:31-37    Healing at Capernaum;

Esther Paraphrase:

At the second dinner given by Queen Esther, Haman was condemned and executed on the gallows he had created for Mordecai (see entry for yesterday, 19 Pentecost, Thursday, even year, above). The king gave the house of Haman to Esther. The king took the signet ring he had given to Haman and gave it to Mordecai. Esther made Mordecai overseer of the house of Haman, and Esther pleaded with the king to rescind the edict which Haman had made for the destruction of all the Jews in Persia.

The King replied that Haman had been executed and that Mordecai, as Haman’s successor, overseeing his house and possessing the king’s signet ring and the king’s authority, could write a new order rescinding the first. Mordecai appeared in official state uniform and the city of Susa celebrated. Throughout the Empire the Jews celebrated with a feast and a holiday, and many of the people of the country declared their support of the Jews because they feared them.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had decided by the guidance of the Spirit to go through Macedonia (Eastern Europe) and Achaia (Greece) and then go to Jerusalem, after which Paul planned to see Rome. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus, two of his helpers, on to Macedonia while he stayed in the Province of Asia (Modern Turkey).

In Ephesus controversy arose over the Christian movement. A silversmith named Demetrius stirred up the other silversmiths because their main business came from making silver shrines of Artemis, the chief goddess of the Ephesians, and Paul had been persuading the people throughout Asia to turn away from the worship of idols. Demetrius suggested that not only would they lose their business, but that Ephesus would lose its prominence as the holy city of the worship of Artemis.

The silversmiths were enraged and shouted “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:28).  The commotion stirred up the city, and the people rushed into the outdoor theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonian Christians who were accompanying Paul. Paul wanted to go to the assembly, but the other disciples would not let him. Leaders of the Roman provincial government who were friends of Paul also warned him not to go to the assembly.

There was great confusion and disorder in the assembly because many did not know why they had assembled. Some in the crowd urged Alexander, a Jew, to be their spokesman, but when the crowd recognized that he was a Jew, they began to shout over and over, with one voice, for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

The town clerk finally quieted the crowd. He said that the fact that the City of Ephesus was the temple keeper of Artemis was not in dispute. He pointed out that Gaius and Aristarchus had done nothing sacrilegious and had not blasphemed Artemis. He suggested that if Demetrius and the silversmiths had any legal complaints against anyone they should pursue them in the courts. Any other matters should be settled through the regular meeting of the Roman provincial assembly (which met in Ephesus, the provincial capital). Thus he dismissed the assembly, warning that otherwise they could be charged with rioting.

Luke Paraphrase:

After being rejected by the people of Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum (which became his base of operation thereafter; Matthew 4:13; Mark 2:1). Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and the people were astonished at his message, for he taught with authority.

In the synagogue, there was a man who had a demon. The demon recognized Jesus, knew his name and origin, and acknowledged that Jesus was the Holy One of God (the Messiah; Christ). Jesus told the demon to be silent and come out of the man. The demon convulsed the man and came out of him, without harming the man. The people were impressed at the authority and power of Jesus, who was able to command evil spirits and they obeyed him. Reports about Jesus spread throughout the region.

Commentary:

Haman had been the Prime Minister, the second in authority in the Persian Empire under King Ahasuerus. His opposition to God’s will and God’s people cost him his authority, his career and his life. Esther, who God had made Queen so that she could save her people (Esther 4:14b), used her position to accomplish God’s will and save God’s people, even at the risk of her position and her life.

Mordecai had used his influence with Esther to urge her to act on behalf of God’s people, and he had risked his job and his life by resisting Haman (Esther 3:2). As a result those who cooperated with God’s will were saved and prospered, while those who opposed God’s will were destroyed. Mordecai received the authority, status and success which Haman lost. The people now respected the Jews because Mordecai was Prime Minister. Esther is an illustration of the Savior whom God raises up, who risks his life to save God’s people.

The silversmiths’ self-interest was threatened by Paul’s preaching. They wanted to control religion for their own economic and social benefit. They succeeded in stirring up a commotion and inciting the citizens of Ephesus to the verge of riot. The city was divided over religion; the crowd rejected Alexander as a spokesman because he was a Jew. The crowd had arrested and held Gaius and Aristarchus accountable because they were Christians and associates of Paul. They were acting outside of any authority but their own. Finally the town official re-asserted civil authority.

The people of Capernaum recognized that Jesus taught with authority and that his message was authoritative (trustworthy). The demon knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the one authorized by God to be King of the Universe; the demon knew that Jesus had the power to destroy Satan and all demons (Luke 4:34). When the people saw Jesus cast the demon out of the man they realized that Jesus did have authority even over supernatural demonic forces.

Jesus is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not. Jesus is the king God has raised up to save his people from sin and evil, and restore them to life and fellowship with God (compare Esther 4:14b). Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Jesus is God’s authorized agent; God’s “Prime Minister.” He speaks in God’s name and has the power of God to act in God’s authority (Matthew 28:18). We can either acknowledge his authority, or we will be working for chaos and evil. Jesus has the power to judge and destroy evil (John 5: 28-29; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Saturday
19 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/15/04;
Podcast: Saturday 19 Pentecost – Even

Esther 9:1-32  –  The Jews destroy their enemies;
Acts 20:1-16  –  Paul’s third missionary trip ends;
Luke 4:38-44  –  Jesus heals and teaches at Capernaum;

Esther Paraphrase:

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar (February-March), the same day originally chosen by Haman by casting lots (Pur) and set by edict for the destruction of the Jews in Persia (Esther 3:7, 13), the Jews rose up and killed their enemies. All the local officials helped the Jews because they were afraid of Mordecai, the new Jewish Prime Minister of Persia. In Susa, the Jews killed five hundred of their enemies, in addition to the ten sons of Haman. The account emphasizes that the Jews did not plunder their enemies.

The fourteenth day was the day of feasting among the country Jews, but the fifteenth day was the day of feasting for the Jews of Susa (accounted for by the hanging of Haman’s sons on Haman’s gallows on the fourteenth day). Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews of Persia ordering them to keep the fourteenth and fifteenth day of Adar as a day of feasting commemorating relief from their enemies and the occasion when their sorrow and mourning was turned to gladness and joy. The celebration included feasting and exchanging gifts of food with each other and the poor. Esther also sent a letter to all the Jews of Persia commanding them to keep the days of the festival of Purim along with the other Jewish feasts and fasts.

Acts Paraphrase:

After the near-riot at Ephesus, Paul said farewell to the church at Ephesus and went through Macedonia, encouraging the churches, on his way to Greece. Paul spent three months in Greece, and was about to return to Syria when another plot against him by the Jews developed. Paul and some of his fellow workers returned to Philippi in Macedonia (in Eastern Europe), while others traveling with him went on to Troas (in Modern Turkey.

After Passover, Paul and his group sailed from Macedonia to Troas and rejoined the others. They stayed in Troas for a week, and on Sunday they gathered to celebrate the “Lord’s Supper.” Paul was intending to leave the next day, and he stayed up late talking with the brethren. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting in the window of the room in which they were gathered on the third story. He dozed off around midnight, as Paul talked, and fell out of the window and apparently died. But Paul went down and bent over, embraced him, and declared that he was alive.

They went back upstairs and after eating they continued talking until dawn. The young man was alive and the disciples were (greatly) comforted (Acts 20:12). Paul’s companions sailed from Troas, while Paul traveled overland and rejoined them at Assos. They all continued on by ship to Miletus, where Paul arranged to meet with the elders of the church at Ephesus, rather than make a separate trip, since he was anxious to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost.

Luke Paraphrase:

Having been rejected in Nazareth, Jesus moved his headquarters to Capernaum. After casting out a demon in the synagogue there, he went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they asked Jesus to heal her. Jesus stood over her and commanded the fever and it left her. She immediately got up and served them.

At sunset a crowd gathered, bringing all the sick to Jesus for healing, and he laid his hands on each one and healed them. Jesus also cast out many demons, and the demons recognized and declared Jesus to be the Son of God, but Jesus forbade the demons to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.

At dawn he went off to be alone, but the people searched and found him. They wanted to keep Jesus from leaving them, but Jesus told them his mission was to preach the “good news” of God’s kingdom to other cities also. So Jesus traveled throughout Judea (or Galilee) preaching in synagogues.

Commentary:

Esther is an illustration of a savior raised up by God, who was willing to sacrifice her life to save God’s people (see Esther 4:14). Mordecai also is an illustration of the Christ, God’s “Prime Minister” who has the authority to reverse the death sentence we are all under through the plot to destroy us by our enemy, Satan. Jesus is the one who gives us victory over our enemies, sin and death, and turns our sorrow and mourning into joy and gladness.

Eutychus is an illustration of the healing and the hope of resurrection and eternal life that we have in Jesus.  He’s an illustration of how the Lord turns sorrow and mourning into joy and gladness (Acts 20:12). Only Jesus can heal us and give us hope of life beyond physical death. Only Jesus can save us from eternal death.

Jesus heals the sick, and frees us and saves us from Satan and the forces of evil. The demons know that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) and that he is the Son of God. When Jesus commanded, they obeyed because they had to, but they refused to serve him willingly. When Jesus had healed Simon’s mother-in-law she got up immediately and served him. Jesus healed everyone in Capernaum who came to him. They sought to keep Jesus near them, but they weren’t willing to share Jesus with others, and they weren’t thinking about joining in Jesus’ ministry.

How are we doing? Do we seek the healing and blessings that Jesus provides, without trying to share Jesus with others? Do we want Jesus to be close to us without being willing to join Jesus’ ministry to others? Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, even call him Lord, but refuse to serve him and obey his commands (Matthew 7:21-24; Luke 6:46)?

Jesus is Lord, whether we serve and obey him or not! Right now we have a choice of whether to serve and obey Jesus or not; the Day of Judgment is coming when Jesus will command those who have refused to trust and obey Jesus to depart from him into eternal death and punishment in Hell and they will have no choice but to obey (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 18 Pentecost – Even – 10/12 – 18/2014

October 11, 2014

Week of 18 Pentecost – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

http://shepherdboy.journalspace.com/, (now defunct).

It is based on the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978.

The daily readings are according to a Calendar  based on the Church Year, which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, usually sometime at the end of November in the year preceding the secular calendar year.

Available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/evenyear/wklx_even.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible/oddyear/Wklx_odd.html

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Sunday 18 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/02/04;
Podcast: Sunday 18 Pentecost – Even

Job 38:1, 18-41  –  The Lord answers Job;
Revelation 18:1-8 –  The fall of Babylon;
Matthew 5:21-26  –  Higher righteousness;

Job Paraphrase:

Job had thought that he was equal or superior to God because he believed that he was righteous and did not deserve his suffering. Job had challenged God to judge him; now God challenges Job’s qualifications to challenge God (Job 31:1-40; 38:1-17). God asked Job to prove that Job completely understands the vastness of the earth and the sources of light and darkness.

God reminds Job how brief mankind’s life is in comparison with eternal God. (How can Job hope to learn in his brief life everything that God knows?) God is the creator and master of the forces of nature: snow, hail, lightning, rain, frost and ice. God is the master of the stars and the astrological seasons (Mazzaroth: the Zodiac). Does Job think he understands and controls those forces? Can Job call forth rain and lightning by Job’s word? Who has made it possible for man to acquire wisdom and understanding? Mankind’s wisdom and understanding are minute in comparison to God’s. Would Job want to be responsible for providing for all the creatures of the earth?

Revelation Paraphrase:

The Apostle, John, who, while exiled on the Island of Patmos, received the revelation from Jesus Christ, saw a vision of an Angel announcing the fall of Babylon. The Angel declared that Babylon has become a dwelling place of demons and evil spirits. “All nations have drunk (and fallen by) the wine of her impure passions” (Revelation 18:3a); the earth’s leaders “have committed fornication with her and the merchants of the earth have grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness” (Revelation 18:3b-c, RSV).

John heard another voice from heaven, calling God’s people to come out of Babylon, lest they participate in her sins and share in her punishment, because God remembers her iniquities. Babylon will be repaid double according to what she has done. “As she glorified herself and played the wanton, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning” (Revelation 18:7, RSV). Babylon considers herself a Queen rather than a widow; she thinks she will never see sorrow and mourning. “So shall her plagues come in a single day; pestilence, mourning, and famine, and she shall be burned with fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:8).

Matthew Paraphrase:

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27) represents a summary of Jesus’ basic teachings. Jesus declared that he had come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus taught that righteousness is more than keeping the letter of the law. True righteousness is not merely refraining from murder, but from anger and insult, (which might lead to murder, and which kill love and brotherhood). We will be accountable to God not only for actual murder but for anger and insult also. So if there is enmity between yourself and others, be reconciled with them before you try to approach the Lord. Jesus advises us to be reconciled with our accusers on the way to court, so that we might not be accused before the Judge, and condemned to prison, where there is no release until the penalty has been fully paid.

Commentary:

Job had judged himself righteous in his own eyes. Job denied that he possessed the sinful nature of all mankind. He thought that he was righteous because of his good deeds. He thought he didn’t deserve punishment by God. Job thought that since he was righteous, God must be doing wrong by allowing Job to suffer. Job concluded that he was as righteous as, or more righteous than God.

Job challenged God to judge Job, since Job was convinced of his own righteousness. Job thought he could dictate to God the terms of God’s judgment of Job. Job wanted God to conform to Job’s notion of righteousness. Job’s attitude demonstrated the “original” sin that led to the fall of mankind from fellowship with God: the temptation to be “like God” (Genesis 3:5); the desire to be God.

Babylon is the kingdom of this world, where individuals want to be their own god. Mankind wants to make his own rules, and dictate to God the terms of God’s judgment of him. But God is sovereign! He alone is God, and he will judge the Earth according to his Word. The Angel of the Lord declares God’s judgment upon Babylon, and warns God’s children not to participate in the sins of Babylon, or they will receive the same condemnation.

Jesus warns that salvation is not earned by keeping the letter of the law (or by doing good deeds). Jesus is the fulfillment of the law; apart from him we cannot ever fulfill the law. We are estranged from God because of our sin-nature, which we inherited from Adam. If we want to be reconciled to God, we must be willing to be reconciled to our fellow human beings (compare Matthew 18:23-35; Matthew 6:14-15). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home).

As it is worldly wisdom to be reconciled with one’s accuser in hopes of avoiding trial and condemnation, so it is spiritual wisdom to be restored to friendship with God through Jesus Christ before the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment those who have refused to be reconciled to God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus will be thrown into the eternal death and punishment of Hell. There will be no release, because Jesus offered, on the Cross, the only payment there is, for the penalty for sin.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/03/04;
Podcast: Monday 18 Pentecost – Even

Job 40:1-24  – Will you find fault with God?
Acts 15:36-16:5  –  Paul’s second missionary trip;
John 11:55-12:8  –  The anointing at Bethany;

Job Paraphrase:

The Lord asked whether a faultfinder would contend with God (and expect to prevail)? Job responded that he realized his insignificance, and yielded to God. Then the Lord began to challenge Job. The Lord asked if Job was willing to condemn God in order to justify himself. God challenged Job to prove that he was God’s equal, if Job expected God to vindicate Job. Job was not only no match for God; Job was not even the equal of other creatures God has made, but God is in control of all of his creation, regardless of how it may seem.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul wanted Barnabas to return with him to the congregations they had established on their first missionary trip. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, who had accompanied them on the first trip (Acts ch.13-14) but who had left them at Perga and had returned home (Acts 13:13b), but Paul felt that John Mark had abandoned the work in Perga on the first trip and didn’t want to take him again. Sharp contention arose between Paul and Barnabas over this issue, and they separated from each other.

Barnabas took John Mark with him to Cyprus, and Paul chose Silas (Silvanus) who was a leader of the Jerusalem Council and who had accompanied Paul and Barnabas with the decision of the council following the controversy over whether to require Gentile Christians to keep the Jewish Laws (Acts 15:1-35). Paul and Silas went through Syria, Derbe and Lystra.

At Lystra there was a disciple named Timothy, whose mother was Jewish but whose father was Greek. He was highly regarded by the Christians at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany them so he had Timothy circumcised, since the local Jews all knew that Timothy’s father was a Greek (Gentile). As they visited the churches in the region they made known to them the decision of the Jerusalem Council.

John Paraphrase:

The season of Passover, (the commemoration of God’s deliverance from bondage and death in Egypt, celebrated in March-April) was at hand. Many Jews went to Jerusalem to (ritually) purify themselves before the feast. There was a lot of speculation and anticipation regarding whether Jesus would also come to Jerusalem for the festival. The religious leaders had given orders that if anyone knew Jesus’ whereabouts they should inform the authorities so that they could arrest Jesus. Six days before the Feast, Jesus came to Bethany to the home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, and his sisters, Mary and Martha.

They prepared supper for Jesus. Martha served, and Lazarus was at the table with Jesus. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment and anointed Jesus’ feet with the ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, filling the air in the house with the fragrance of the ointment. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, who later betrayed Jesus, criticized this extravagance, suggesting that the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Judas didn’t really care for the poor, but he used to steal from the moneybox. Jesus told Judas to leave Mary alone; there would always be opportunities to help the poor but there would not always be an opportunity to do something nice for Jesus.

Commentary:

Job was arguing with God. Job was criticizing God in order to justify himself. Job was not God’s equal, and Job was not even as powerful as other creatures God has created and controls. But God didn’t destroy Job in anger over his insubordination; God reasoned with Job.

Barnabas had been Paul’s only friend and advocate among the Apostles in Jerusalem just after Paul’s (Saul’s) conversion (Acts 9: 26-27). Barnabas had recruited Paul to help oversee the church in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26), they traveled to Jerusalem to deliver an offering from the Church at Antioch, and were partners on the first missionary journey to Asia Minor (present-day Turkey; Acts 13:14). But a sharp disagreement arose between them over the selection of an assistant for their second missionary journey.

Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, his cousin, who had gone along on the first trip but had quit mid-trip. Barnabas supported and encouraged Mark as he had previously supported and encouraged Paul. The disagreement caused them to separate from one another, but they did not allow the dispute to interfere with their ministry of the Gospel. Paul chose Silas to accompany him, and Barnabas chose John Mark. They divided the territory between them; Barnabas and Mark went to Cypress, and Paul and Silas went to Asia Minor. Paul and John Mark eventually were reconciled (Colossians. 4:10; Philemon 1:24).

At Lystra, Paul wanted to take a disciple named Timothy along as a co-worker and trainee. Timothy was considered a Jew because his mother was Jewish, but since his father was Greek, Timothy had not been circumcised. Although Paul believed strongly that Gentiles should not be required to be circumcised, and had in fact been involved in the Apostolic ruling on that issue (Acts 15:1-35), Paul had Timothy circumcised “because of the Jews that were in those places” (in Asia Minor where they were going; Acts 16:3).

Paul compromised, so that Timothy would not suffer persecution, and so that the Gospel would not be hindered. Paul did not betray his belief or values; he knew that true circumcision is a matter of the heart and not the flesh and that physical circumcision in itself means nothing. Paul later said, “In Jesus Christ, neither circumcision nor un-circumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Although the doctrinal significance of “works-righteousness” that circumcision implies is not insignificant, in Timothy’s case Paul and Timothy weren’t trying to achieve righteousness through keeping the law. They were just trying not to provoke an argument and hinder the Gospel. Paul just didn’t let his strongly held opinion interfere with the Gospel.

The Passover was the celebration of God’s deliverance of the people from slavery and death in Egypt. Jews went to Jerusalem to seek ritual purification (the forgiveness of their sins through the Temple sacrificial system) so that they could celebrate the Passover. The Jews needed God’s forgiveness of their sins, but they were plotting to kill Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Son, whom God had sent to provide forgiveness eternally, to replace the Temple sacrificial system.

Jesus is the Passover “lamb” which was sacrificed once for all for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus is the “Moses” who leads the New “People of God” from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world, through the wilderness of this present life, into the Promised Land of Heaven. They were preparing to celebrate the Passover but they couldn’t see the connections.

Within the group of Jesus’ disciples there was argument over Mary’s gift and service to Jesus. Mary had done it for Jesus in love. Judas criticized it as an extravagance. Judas justified his criticism and even made it sound pious, by suggesting that the money could have benefited the poor. But it wasn’t love for Jesus, his brethren in the Lord, or the poor that he cared about. His only concern was himself. He criticized faithful followers of the Lord, showed no love for the Lord himself, coveted what had been given to the Lord and stole from the poor. Jesus patiently reasoned with Judas and gave him opportunity to repent. Are we loving followers of the Lord and encouragers of our brethren, or are we faultfinders?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/04/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 18 Pentecost – Even

Job 40:1; 41:1-11  –  The Lord speaks;
Acts 16:6-15   – The Macedonian call;
John 12:9-19  –  Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem;

Job Paraphrase:

Because Job believed that he was righteous, he concluded that God must be wrong for allowing Job to suffer, since Job felt that he did not deserve his suffering. Job had questioned God’s authority; now God questioned Job’s challenge to God’s authority.

Leviathan is the mythological sea monster which symbolizes chaos and the forces of evil. Could Job subdue the forces of evil? Man is no match for the forces of evil and chaos, but God is their master. No one and nothing can withstand God and prevail. Everything that exists belongs to God; God doesn’t owe anything to anyone.

Acts Paraphrase:

On his second missionary journey, Paul and Silas had gone to Lystra where Paul invited Timothy, a disciple whom Paul had apparently “discipled” on his first missionary journey, to accompany them. The Holy Spirit had forbidden them to preach the Gospel in Asia (modern Turkey) so they passed through the Roman Province of Galatia and the region of Phrygia to the region of Mysia in the Province of Asia (all in modern Turkey).

They attempted to go north into the Province of Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit would not allow them to go, so they went to Troas on the coast of the Aegean Sea. During the night, Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man beseeching Paul to come to Macedonia and help them. Paul and his group immediately concluded that the Holy Spirit was leading them to preach the Gospel in Macedonia. They sailed from Troas to Neapolis (on the coast of present-day Greece) and then to Philippi, which was a leading city and Roman Colony in Macedonia.

Paul’s group stayed there for a number of days. On a Sabbath, Paul and his fellow missionaries went outside the city to a nearby river where Jewish women and converts to Judaism in the area met for prayer. The missionaries proclaimed the Gospel to the women. One, named Lydia, from Thyatira, a seller of purple goods (clothing for nobility) who was a worshiper of God, believed Paul’s message and was baptized, along with her family. She invited the missionaries to stay at her house.

John Paraphrase:

Six days before the Passover, Jesus and his disciples came to Bethany, which is only a couple miles from Jerusalem, and where Jesus’ close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. News that Jesus was in Bethany attracted a large crowd to Bethany. The people came not only to see Jesus, but to see Lazarus, who Jesus had raised from the dead. The Jewish leaders planned to kill Lazarus in addition to Jesus, since Lazarus’ resurrection was causing many people to believe in Jesus.

The next day the crowd learned that Jesus was on his way from Bethany to Jerusalem, so they took palm branches and went to meet him, crying “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13b)!

Jesus had obtained a young donkey and rode on it, manifesting himself as the Messiah and fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. At the time, his disciples did not understand the significance, but after Jesus’ resurrection, they realized the connection between what had been written about him in scripture and what had happened.

The people who had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus had testified to this miracle, which is what had attracted the crowd to watch Jesus enter Jerusalem. The Pharisees’ reaction was that it seemed that the whole world was turning to faith in Jesus, and they were powerless to prevent it.

Commentary:

God created an orderly universe out of chaos and darkness [Genesis 1:1-2, (3-31)]. God created light and separated darkness from it (Genesis 1:3-4). Light symbolizes goodness; darkness symbolizes evil. Everything that exists was created by God and belongs to him. God is, whether we believe in him and obey him or not, and he doesn’t owe anything to anyone. God is sovereign.

Paul and his missionary associates were obedient to the Lord. The Lord told them not to preach the Gospel in Asia and so they didn’t. The Lord told them not to go to Bithynia so they didn’t. They had come to preach the Gospel, and they were looking for ways to do that in accordance with God’s will. The Lord showed them where he wanted them to go and preach.

When we choose to cooperate with God’s plan and seek his guidance, God will lead us, provide opportunities, and enable us to accomplish his plan. We must avoid the mistake of going ahead with our own plans for proclaiming the Gospel without seeking the Lord’s guidance and empowerment.

God has had a plan for his creation from the beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). The entire Bible bears witness to that plan. Jesus is God’s anointed King (Messiah; Christ). Jesus comes in the authority and power of Almighty God. God has manifested himself to us in Jesus Christ in a way that allows each individual the freedom to believe or not.

God is sovereign, but he does not force us to trust and obey him. That is why God’s plan depends on faith. For those who need proof in order to believe, there is none; but for those who believe, there is abundant proof. It is only after we have believed that we are able to see the connections between Jesus and scripture.

The Pharisees discovered that they were powerless to thwart God’s plan. God’s plan is not dependant upon our approval; God’s plan will be accomplished, whether we accept it or not. We must choose whether to cooperate with God’s plan or not.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/05/04;
Podcast: Wednesday 18 Pentecost – Even

Job 42:1-17 –   Job’s restoration;
Acts 16:16-24  –  The disciples’ mission;
John 12:20-26  –  The cost of discipleship;

Job Paraphrase:

Job had come to accept that God is sovereign and has a plan which cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). Job quoted God’s indictment of Job from 38:2: one who obscured truth by speaking without knowledge (Job 42:3), and confessed his guilt. Job quoted God’s questioning from  Job 40:7, and then answers that up to that time Job had known of God by what others said about God but now Job knows God personally, having experienced spiritual communion with God (Job 42:5). Having experienced God, Job realizes his status in relationship to God and is completely humbled and repentant.

Then the Lord told Job’s friends that they had not spoken right of God to Job, and God commanded them to go to Job and offer a sacrifice and that Job would pray for them so that God would forgive them. They did as the Lord commanded.

Then the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, after Job prayed for his friends. Job was twice as well-off as before. Everyone in his family came and comforted him and fellowshipped with him, and they each gave him a silver coin and a gold ring. He had twice as many herd-animals, and he had exactly as many sons and daughters as before. Job’s daughters were the most beautiful of the land, and Job gave them a share in his inheritance along with their brothers. Job lived one hundred and forty years after his restoration, and saw his grandchildren before he died.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul, Silas and Timothy had gone to Philippi on Paul’s second missionary journey. There was a place of prayer along the river outside of the city, and in going there the missionaries had encountered a slave girl who earned money for her masters as a fortuneteller. She followed Paul shouting that the missionaries were “servants of the Most High God, who proclaim…the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17).

She did this day after day, until Paul became annoyed. He commanded the spirit of divination to come out of her and it did so at once. Her owners realizing that she was no longer profitable for them, seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the magistrates. Paul and Silas were charged with disturbing the city and for trying to make converts of Roman Citizens which was against Roman law. The magistrates had Paul and Silas stripped and beaten with rods, with many blows. Then they were thrown into prison with their feet bound in stocks.

John Paraphrase:

It was the Passover season, and Jesus had come to Jerusalem. There were also some Greeks (Gentiles) among those who had come to Jerusalem for the feast. These came to Philip, and asked to see Jesus. Philip, a native of Bethsaida in Galilee, went to his fellow disciple, Andrew, who was also from Bethsaida, and Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus told them that the hour had come for the Son of man (Jesus) to be glorified.

Then Jesus told them that a seed must “die” and be buried in order to bring forth fruit; otherwise it remains unproductive. So also one who loves his life loses it, and one who hates his life in this world will have eternal life. Jesus told them that if anyone chooses to serve Jesus he must follow Jesus and do as Jesus does. God will honor anyone who serves Jesus.

Commentary:

God is the Creator and Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. God has a purpose for creation which cannot be thwarted. It is not sufficient to know about God; one must have a personal knowledge of God through his Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33-34; Matthew 3:11), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Having come to a personal experience of God, Job became a priest and mediator on behalf of his friends to lead them to repentance, forgiveness and a personal relationship with God. When Job had interceded for his friends, God restored Job.

Job had more than he could have imagined or hoped, he lacked no good thing, and enjoyed a long, full life. The image of Job’s restoration is the illustration of the promise we have in Jesus: we will receive abundant blessings beyond what we can imagine and we will be reunited with our family, even those who have physically died, in eternal life (provided that they have believed in Jesus).

Paul, Silas and Timothy had come to a personal knowledge of God through faith in Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. They were on a missionary journey to proclaim the Gospel. The Gospel is not man’s ideas about God; the Gospel is God’s revelation of himself to man through Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-9). No one comes to God the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). No one knows the Father except Jesus and those to whom Jesus chooses to reveal him (Matthew 11:27). Anyone who knows Jesus knows the Father (John 14:7). The disciples had joined Jesus’ mission to be the intercessor, mediator and priest between mankind and God.

The world offers alternatives to personal knowledge of and communion with God that result in conflict with the Gospel. God wants us to be led by his Word; God wants us to seek and follow God’s will and God’s plan. God’s people are specifically warned not to seek the council of fortunetellers and mediums for that reason (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). The Gospel is going to encounter opposition in the world because the world profits from alternatives to the Gospel.

Jesus said that if anyone wants to see Jesus, they must be willing to sacrifice their own desires and will, and become obedient to Jesus in order to be fruitful for God’s kingdom. We must be willing to die to our worldly ambition.

Jesus came not to be a worldly king; he came to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He gave up his life, and he produced the fruit of salvation for all who trust and obey him. Jesus declared that those who love their life in this world will lose it, but those who are willing to give up that life, who recognize that it is not worth comparing to eternal life with Jesus, will receive true eternal life with him in Heaven.

Once we have come to a personal knowledge of God in Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are to join Jesus’ ministry of intercession and mediation so that others will also come to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is what God commanded Job to do, it’s what we saw Paul, Silas and Timothy doing, and it is what Jesus commanded his disciples to do. If we try to hang on to this worldly life we will lose eternal life; if we follow Jesus we will be blessed beyond what we can imagine.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/06/04;
Podcast: Thursday 18 Pentecost – Even

Job 28:1-28 –  The fear of the Lord is wisdom;
Acts 16:25-40 –  Release from the Philippian prison;
John 12:27-36a   –  Walk in the Light;

Job Paraphrase:

Man can mine iron and copper, precious stones, gold and silver. He can tunnel under the earth and find these things, which other animals are incapable of doing. He is able to overturn mountains and cut through rock, dam up streams and light up subterranean darkness. But where can wisdom be found?

Man does not know the way to wisdom, and it is not to be found on this earth. It cannot be bought with silver or gold. It is more precious than any material thing. Where does wisdom come from and where is understanding? Wisdom is hidden from all creation. God knows the way to wisdom, because he knows everything. At creation God established it and declared it. “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul had cast out a demonic spirit of divination from a slave girl at Philippi, and the girl’s owners had arrested Paul and Silas and had them beaten with rods and imprisoned (Acts 16:16-24; see entry for yesterday, Wednesday, 18 Pentecost, even year). Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns when an earthquake occurred, causing all the doors of the prison to be opened. The jailer awoke, and seeing the doors open and supposing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself with his sword. But Paul called out to him to not harm himself, because the prisoners were all there.

The jailer called for lights and rushed in, trembling with fear. He fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out of the cell. He asked them what he must do to be saved, and they told him to believe in the Lord Jesus, and he and his household would be saved.

Paul and Silas told the Gospel to the jailer and his household. The jailer attended to the wounds of Paul and Silas, and he and his household were baptized. He brought them into his house and fed them “and he rejoiced with his entire household that he had believed in God” (Acts 16:34).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem knowing that he would be crucified. He told his disciples that the hour had come for Jesus to be glorified (by obeying God’s will that Jesus should be crucified; John 12:23, John 13:31-32). Jesus told his disciples that his soul was troubled (by the prospect of crucifixion) but he realized that he could not ask God to spare him from that because that was God’s purpose in sending him. Instead Jesus prayed that God’s name would be glorified through Jesus. A voice from heaven said “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:28). The crowd nearby heard the voice, but some said it was just thunder.

Jesus said that the voice had come not for Jesus’ benefit, but for the benefit of the eyewitnesses. Jesus declared that his crucifixion would mark the judgment of earth, and removal from power of the rulers of this world. Jesus said that when he had been lifted up (on the cross) he would draw all people to himself.

The crowd said that, according to scripture, the Christ was to remain for ever; they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by the Son of man, and that the Son of man must be lifted up. Jesus replied that the light would be with them a little longer, and urged them to walk in the light while they have light, so that the darkness might not overtake them. Those who walk in darkness do not know where they go. Jesus urged them to believe in the light while they have the opportunity, so that they might become children of light.

Commentary:

What the world calls wisdom is false wisdom; true wisdom comes from God alone. The wisdom of God is the wisdom by which the world was created (see Proverbs 3:19-20; see Proverbs 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24). Jesus is the true wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). The real treasure we can seek and find in this world, which endures to eternity, is a personal relationship with Jesus.

Jesus came to free us from bondage to sin and death. All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10 ). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). There is a Day of Judgment coming when all who have ever lived will be accountable to God for what they have done in life (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal death in Hell with all evil.

God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8). Jesus is God’s only plan for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Although we may experience persecution for the Gospel, Jesus will deliver us from it. Jesus turns our darkness into light and our fear into rejoicing.

Jesus was obedient to God’s will, even to being willing to die to accomplish it. If we follow Jesus in obedience, God’s Spirit will be with us and will reassure us. Jesus is the light of wisdom, understanding and righteousness. Darkness represents sin and evil. If we walk according to Jesus’ light we won’t stumble and we will avoid eternal death and destruction. Now is the time to seek the light of Jesus, while it may be found, so that we may be children of light and live eternally in the city of light in Heaven.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


Friday
18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/07/04;
Podcast:Friday 18 Pentecost – Even

Esther 1:1-4, 10-19  –  The fall of Vashti;
Acts 17:1-15 –  Paul and Silas at Thessalonica;
John 12:36b-43 –  Conclusion of Jesus’ public ministry;

Esther Paraphrase:

During the reign (485 to 464 B.C.*) of Ahasuerus (Xerxes*) king of  the Persian Empire, in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his princes, generals, and provincial governors. The festival lasted one hundred and eighty days, during which the King displayed his royal glory and splendor. Then the King gave a banquet, lasting seven days, for all the people of Susa (his winter capital) in the garden of his palace.

On the seventh day the King summoned Queen Vashti, in order to impress the people with her beauty. But Vashti refused to come, and that made the King angry. The King asked his wise men and legal counselors for advice in dealing with Queen Vashti’s disobedience, and they said that the Queen had wronged not only the King but the people. They advised the King that the Queen’s disobedience would lead all the women of the empire to assert their independence. So they advised the King to depose her as Queen and choose another.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Silas had been released from the Philippian jail, and had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, arriving in Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. Paul spent  three weeks there debating the Gospel with them, showing from the scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. Some of the Jews were persuaded, along with a number of Gentile worshipers and leading women. But the Jews were jealous, stirred up a mob and went to the home of a man named Jason (where Paul and Silas had apparently been staying) to arrest Paul and Silas, but since Paul and Silas were not there, they dragged Jason and some other Christians before the magistrates.

The Jews charged the Christians with civil unrest and political rebellion, and Jason with harboring them. The magistrates required a security deposit (bail) and released them. The Christians at Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas to Beroea by night.

Paul and Silas went into the synagogue at Beroea. The Jews in Beroea were more receptive to the Gospel and they listened to Paul and Silas eagerly and examined the scriptures daily to verify what the Apostles said. Many of them believed, including Greek women as well as men. When the Jews of Thessalonica heard that Paul and Silas were in Beroea, they went there and stirred up persecution against them, so the believers sent Paul off to Athens, but Silas and Timothy stayed behind, with instructions to join Paul as soon as possible.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had come to Jerusalem knowing that he would soon be crucified. He had told his disciples that the time for him to be glorified had come. He had told the crowds to believe in him while they had the opportunity. (John 12:20-36a; see entry for yesterday, Thursday, 18 Pentecost, even year). Having said this, he withdrew and no longer appeared in public.

Although Jesus had done many miracles demonstrating who he was, many did not believe. (This was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10.) Many did believe, even among the authorities, but did not confess their belief because they did not want to be expelled from the synagogue. They cared more for the approval of men than the approval of God.

Commentary:

Worldly rulers flaunt their wealth and power. They treat their friends vastly better than they treat the public. Their favor is arbitrary and subject to change at any moment. They make commands at a whim which must be obeyed unquestioningly, and the penalty is whatever those in power say. They use their power to impress and intimidate others.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not require unquestioning obedience. It can be verified by careful examination of the scriptures. The Gospel does not create class divisions; all are equal in God’s eyes. The Gospel can be and historically has been perverted by using worldly methods to advance the Gospel, but that is not the true Gospel demonstrated and taught by Jesus to his disciples. It was not the Apostles who were guilty of civil unrest at Thessalonica; it was their accusers, the unbelievers. The Apostles continued to carry on their ministry of the Gospel, regardless of the opposition against them They were not seeking worldly approval.

Jesus is not the world’s idea of a king. Jesus came to serve and give his life for his people. Worldly kings expect their people to serve and give their lives for the king. Jesus’ glory was to do God’s will; the world considers wealth, success and beauty as its glory. Jesus doesn’t demand our unreasoned obedience. The Lord is faithful; he will never fail or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:5).

Many people believed in Jesus but were afraid to confess their belief, because they cared more for worldly approval than for God’s approval. The truth of the Gospel is plain to see; refusal to believe the evidence of the Gospel in scripture leads to spiritual blindness. Are we trying to please the world, or are we trying to please God?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Esther 1:1-9n, p. 603, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday 18 Pentecost – Even
First posted 10/08/04;
Podcast: Saturday 18 Pentecost – Even

Esther 2:5-8, 15-23  –  Esther made Queen;
Acts 17:16-34  –  Paul’s speech at Athens;
John 12:44-50 –  Jesus’ concluding teachings;

Esther Paraphrase:

Mordecai was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, living in Susa (in present-day Iran). His great-grandfather, Kish, had been deported to Babylon with the people of Judah during the reign of Jeconiah, king of Judah, by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He had adopted and raised his cousin Esther (Hadassah) who had been orphaned.

The Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) commanded all the beautiful young virgins to be gathered so that the King could select a new Queen to replace Vashti, whom he had deposed. Esther was among the young virgins, and was taken into the King’s harem, in the custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the harem. Esther cooperated with the eunuch and he helped her advance to the best place in the harem.

Esther concealed the fact that she was a Jew, because Mordecai had told her not to reveal that; Esther was obedient to her foster father, Mordecai. Mordecai, employed as a palace gatekeeper, was able to check on her daily. When Esther’s turn came to go in to the King she followed Hegai’s instructions, she won the King’s favor, and the King made her his Queen. The king gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor, and he granted tax relief and gave gifts liberally to celebrate the occasion.

In his position as a gatekeeper, Mordecai learned of a plot on the king’s life by two eunuchs who guarded the door to the King’s bed-chamber. He told Esther and she relayed the information to the King, in Mordecai’s name. The matter was investigated and found to be true. The conspirators were executed, and the incident was recorded in the King’s record book.

Acts Paraphrase:

Because of persecution for the Gospel which arose in Beroea, Paul had been taken to Athens to wait for Silas and Timothy to rejoin him. While waiting for them, Paul was upset by the idolatry rampant in the city. Paul debated the Gospel in the synagogues and in the marketplace daily. He met some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who brought Paul to Mars’ (Ares;’ a Roman/Greek idol) Hill where there was a judicial council (Areopagus).

Athens’ culture at that time was one of intellectual curiosity. Paul told the men of Athens that he had noticed that they were very “religious.” Paul had seen their shrines, and noted that there was a shrine to an unknown god. What they had worshiped as unknown, Paul made known to them.

Since God is the creator of everything, he doesn’t need man to make shrines for him to dwell in, nor is God dependent on mankind for anything. God has created from one (man; i.e. Adam) every nation, having established their boundaries and life spans, “that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet God is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Paul used his formal education to quote from the Greek philosopher/poets Epimenides and Aratus* to show that they acknowledged one God as Creator, who is not far off.  Paul argued that God is not the creation of the hands and imagination of mankind. Paul said that God overlooked former times of lack of knowledge by mankind, but now has fixed a day when mankind will be held accountable.

God has (revealed himself through and) appointed Jesus Christ to be the Judge, and has attested to him by raising him from the dead. Some of the Athenians were skeptical of the resurrection of the dead, but others were anxious to hear more; several believed and joined Paul, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.

John Paraphrase:

In Jesus’ final statement before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus said that those who believe in Jesus believe in God who sent Jesus. Those who know Jesus know God. Jesus is the light (righteousness, understanding, spiritual sight, hope and joy) of the world; those who believe in him will not remain in the darkness of sin, ignorance, spiritual blindness, hopelessness and despair.

Jesus came not to condemn us but to save us. Those who don’t keep Jesus’ commands reject the salvation that Jesus came to bring. Those who reject Jesus’ words reject God’s Word and God’s only plan of salvation, because all that Jesus has said and done has been in complete obedience to God’s will and command.

Commentary:

God is not detached and remote from his creation. Instead of complaining about her lot in life, Esther trusted God and cooperated with her circumstances in the culture in which she found herself, so God was able to use her to bring deliverance through her to his people (see Esther 4:14).  She did what she could to the best of her ability and left the results up to God.

Persecution for the Gospel had driven Paul to Athens. Paul was alone, surrounded by a worldly, idolatrous culture, but he did the best he could with his circumstances. Instead of hiding, he interacted with the culture, using his education and experience (guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit) to present the Gospel winsomely, in the context of the culture, but without compromise.

In a culture devoted to philosophy and the search for the meaning of life, Paul showed that God’s purpose for creation, and the meaning of life, is to seek and find personal fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ. In a culture devoted to “religion” and the search for God, Paul showed that Jesus is the revelation of God. Paul did what he could to the best of his ability and left the results to God. Some scoffed at the idea of the resurrection of the dead, but others were anxious to hear more, and some were convinced.

God has not abandoned his creation. He is actively participating in it to restore us to fellowship with God which Adam had in the beginning and lost through disobedience (Genesis Chapter 3). The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find God. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world so that we might be restored to fellowship with God through Jesus.

Jesus is God’s fullest physical revelation of himself to us. Jesus is Emmanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and for restoration to fellowship and eternal life with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus is our example of obedience to God’s will. Jesus came to save us; if we reject that salvation, we condemn ourselves. It is God’s will and intention that we be restored to life and fellowship with him, but he won’t force us against our will. Are we cooperating with God’s plan, or are we pursuing our own plans? Are we obedient to our adoptive Father, God, and loyal to our King, Jesus?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Acts 17:28nn, p. 1342, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: