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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.


Week of 17 Pentecost – Even – 10/05 – 11/2014

October 4, 2014

Week of 17 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.

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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.

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Podcast Download: Sunday 17 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 17 Pentecost – Even
First posted 09/25/04;
Podcast: Sunday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 25:1-6; 27:1-6  -  Man’s unrighteousness;
Revelation 14:1-7, 13  -  Coming Judgment;
Matthew 5:13-20  -  Witness of the Disciples;

Job Paraphrase:

Bildad the Shuhite (a descendant of Shuah; one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah; Genesis 25:2), one of three friends who consoled Job during his suffering, said that God is all-powerful and the ruler of heaven. His armies are beyond reckoning. There is no one who does not receive light (enlightenment) from him. How then can any human be judged righteous before God. Even the moon and stars are not bright in comparison with God. How much less man, who is not much better than a maggot, or the son of man who is comparable to a worm?

But Job continued to maintain his innocence and integrity.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John, the Apostle, had a number of visions from God through the Spirit of Christ (Revelation 1:1). In this vision John saw the Lamb (Jesus) with his one hundred and forty-four thousand (the number symbolizing the entire number of the redeemed). John heard loud singing; the redeemed sang a new song (Revelation 5:8-10) before the throne of God (Revelation 4:1-11), the four living creatures (perhaps representing all creation) and the twenty-four elders (perhaps the Twelve Old Testament Patriarchs and the Twelve New Testament Apostles).

The redeemed are chaste (in contrast to followers of pagan cults which practiced cultic prostitution). They “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4); they are dedicated to God and the Lamb as an offering from the harvest of mankind. In them no falsehood is found, for they are spotless (without sin or blemish; faultless). Those who are in the Lord (who have been “born again” by his indwelling Holy Spirit; John 3:3-8) at their physical death, will be blessed (with eternal life in Heaven) “for their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14:13e).

Matthew Paraphrase

Matthew 5:1-7:28 is called The Sermon on the Mount. It represents a summary of the basic teachings of Jesus Christ, and it is addressed to his disciples (Matthew 5:1-2). Jesus’ disciples are to be the salt of the earth. In order to do that they must maintain the character of disciples (their “saltiness”); otherwise they will be useless.

In the same way, disciples are called to be light.  A true disciple’s nature cannot be hidden, nor can a person be a disciple without producing “light.” Disciples are to produce the light they are intended to produce so that God may be glorified. Jesus has not come to abolish God’s Law but to fulfill it. Those who teach and demonstrate laxity in obeying any of the commandments will be disgraced in Heaven, but those who obey and teach others to obey God’s commandments will be commended in Heaven. Jesus declared that unless his disciples’ righteousness exceeded that of the scribes (teachers of the Law; i.e. scripture) and Pharisees (a Jewish faction which advocated the strict observance of the Law) they would never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Commentary:

Job and his three friends agree that man is unrighteous in comparison with God (Bildad:  Job 25:1-6; Eliphaz: Job 4:17-21, 15:14-16; Zophar: Job 11:5-12; Job: Job 9:2-12, 12:9-25; 14:4). Job is committed to doing what is right, and he longs for justice and vindication. Job needs a Redeemer (Job 19:25-29) to bridge the gap between what he is able to do and what God requires.

John’s vision is of the redeemed who have been made righteous by the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb, slain so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus is the Redeemer. Jesus’ death on the Cross is the sacrifice by which our sins are cleansed and we are made faultless before God through trust in, and obedience to Jesus.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when all who have ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life (John 5:28-29). Those who have been “born again” through the indwelling Holy Spirit through trust and obedience to Jesus Christ will be blessed with eternal life in Heaven with the Lord. Those who have not been “born again”, who have not been filled with the Holy Spirit, because they have not trusted and obeyed Jesus, will receive eternal death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

“Salt” represents the fruit of discipleship. The world is “unsalty,” and needs salt. One cannot be a Christian and not be a disciple; one cannot be a disciple and not produce the fruit of discipleship. If one is truly a disciple it will be impossible to hide, and no disciple would try to avoid producing the fruit of discipleship.

Light is the symbol of righteousness and truth. Disciples are called to pass on to others the light they have received from Jesus.

Jesus hasn’t come to free us from the Law so that we can sin; he came to free us from sin so that we could fulfill the Law. The problem of the scribes and Pharisees is that although they outwardly kept the smallest details of the Law, in their hearts they missed the major principles by a wide margin (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).

Jesus came and died for us so that we might receive his Holy Spirit. Those who live in obedience to the Holy Spirit fulfill the requirements of the Law (Romans 8:1-9). We are not made righteous by works (keeping) of the Law; we fulfill the Law because we have been made righteous by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). Christians aren’t saved because they’re righteous; they’re righteous because they’re truly saved. The difference is that the truly saved have a personal relationship with the risen Jesus 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)?

Monday 17 Pentecost – Even
First posted 09/26/04;
Podcast: Monday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 32:1-10, 19-33:1, 19-28  -  Elihu Speaks;
Acts 13:44-52 – Paul at Antioch of Pisidia;
John 10:19-30 -  The Good Shepherd;

Job Paraphrase:

Job’s three friends “ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1). Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite (descendant of the second son of Nahor, Abrahams’s older brother; Genesis 22:20-21) was angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God, and at Job’s friends for judging Job guilty without being able to offer answers. The three friends were older than Elihu, so he had deferred to them, presuming that they had acquired wisdom with age and experience. But Elihu had realized that it is the Spirit, the breath of the Almighty, in a person, that gives understanding, rather than age and experience, so Elihu spoke.

There was an urge within Elihu to speak, like pressure building in an un-vented wineskin. Elihu did not intend to flatter or show favoritism because these are things the Lord detests. Suffering prepares a person to be receptive to God. When a person faces his mortality he is receptive if there is an angel (an angelic messenger or a manifestation of God’s presence) or mediator who can declare what is right.

Elihu envisioned a mediator who can deliver or ransom the sufferer from death, and restore his youthful vigor. Through the mediator the sufferer prays to God and God accepts him and he comes into God’s presence with joy. Then the redeemed sufferer recounts his salvation to other men, saying, “I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit (grave) and my life shall see the light” (Job 33:27:28).

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch of Pisidia after the conversion of the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus at Paphos on Cyprus. Paul preached the Gospel at Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor north of Pamphylia; distinguish from Antioch in Syria), and the people had begged to hear more (Acts 13:13-42).

The next Sabbath nearly the entire city gathered to hear God’s Word, but the Jews were jealous and contradicted what Paul said, and reviled him. Paul and Barnabas told them that it had been necessary to proclaim the Gospel to them. Since the Jews rejected the Gospel, thus judging themselves unworthy of eternal life, Paul and Barnabas would present the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul quoted Isaiah 49:6 to show that the Gospel was intended not just for Jews but for all people on earth.

The Gentiles rejoiced at this and many believed. The Gospel spread throughout the area but the Jews stirred up the city leaders who began to persecute Paul and Barnabas and drove them from the area. But they shook off the dust from their feet against the persecutors (Acts 13:51a; compare Luke 10:10-12) and went to Iconium. Those who had become disciples “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).

John Paraphrase:

After healing the man born blind, Jesus had declared that he is the good shepherd who gives his life for his sheep. There was controversy among the Jews over these words. Some said that Jesus had a demon; that he was crazy. Others said that Jesus’ words were not the words of a madman, and that if he were crazy he couldn’t heal the blind.

It was the feast of Dedication (commemorating the rededication of the Temple after its restoration following desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 B.C). Jesus was walking in Solomon’s Portico (a public meeting place on the east side of the Temple mount platform). The Jews gathered around and asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ.

Jesus said that he had told them but they had not believed. Jesus had also demonstrated that he was the Christ by the miracles he had done, but they had not believed because they did not belong to Jesus’ “sheep.” Jesus’ sheep are those who hear Jesus’ words and obey Jesus. Jesus gives his sheep eternal life; they will never die, and they cannot be taken from Jesus. It is the Father’s will that they should belong to Jesus, and no one can alter God’s will. Jesus and the Father are one.

Commentary:

Job considered himself righteous (Job 32:1). His attitude suggested that Job thought he was more righteous than God (that Job was right, so God must be wrong.) Elihu was angry with Job’s self-righteousness and with the judgmentalism of the three friends who found Job guilty without being able to support their conclusions.

Elihu pointed out that it is the Spirit of God within a person, not chronological age or worldly experience, which produces spiritual wisdom and spiritual maturity. Elihu suggested that suffering prepares a person to be receptive to God. While things are going well we feel self-sufficient and have no realization of our need for a savior. It is only when we come to the end of our own resources that we can recognize our need.

Elihu’s vision of a mediator is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who declares to a person what is right (Job 33:23;  compare Acts 9:5,10-18). Jesus is the mediator who can deliver or ransom from death. Jesus gave his life on the cross as a ransom for sinners. Jesus is the mediator through whom the believer prays to God; through whom the believer is restored to fellowship with God; through whom the believer comes into God’s presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit, now and eternally. The redeemed sufferer recounts his salvation to others and confesses his sin.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is an illustration of a redeemed sufferer. He had been struck blind on the road to Damascus as he pursued the persecution of Christians (Acts 9:1-22).  He illustrates how suffering prepares one to be receptive to God’s Word, and how the Spirit of Christ was there to declare the truth (Acts 9:5, 11-12), directly and through a Spirit-led disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-18). Paul confessed his sins and recounted his salvation to others. (Acts 9:20; Acts 13:26-41)

The Jews had enough information from scripture, from Jesus’ words and from Jesus’ miracles to know who Jesus was. Yet here was controversy among them. Some believed and some didn’t. Those who are in Jesus, who are truly redeemed, are those who hear what Jesus says, trust in him and act in faith in obedience to his teaching; they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life which Jesus has promised (Acts 13:52).

It is not enough to be a “good” person (Who says we’re “good?”). All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). If we say we have not sinned we call God a liar and his Word is not in us (1 John 1:10) and we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God, and the only way to eternal life in Heaven (John 14:6). People who think they can justify themselves by good works apart from faith in Jesus are actually condemning themselves as unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46).  We have all the information we need to know who Jesus is. Each individual must make his own decision.

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 17 Pentecost – Even
First posted 09/27/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 29:1-20  -  Job recalls past happiness;
Acts 14:1-18 -  Mistaken for gods;
John 10:31-42 – Son of God;

Job Paraphrase:

Job longed for the days of the past when God blessed him and he was happy. Job was in his “days of fruit gathering” (autumn; Job 29:4a), when God’s friendship was upon Job’s house (Job 29:1-4). He was prosperous and respected by his peers for his righteousness. Job helped the poor, the fatherless, the suffering, the widowed, the blind and lame. Job defended the cause of strangers. Job rescued victims of the unrighteous (Job 29:7-17). During those days Job thought that he would die happy at the end of a long life (Job 29:18). Job thought that he would always continue to live in prosperity and glory and that he would never lose his material, physical and intellectual blessings (Job 29:19-20).

Acts Paraphrase:

Having been rejected by the Jews at Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:13-52), Paul and Barnabas went on to Iconium (in the Province of Galatia; central Asia Minor; present-day Turkey), where they preached the Gospel, and a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But unbelieving Jews stirred up opposition among the Gentiles.

Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time in Iconium preaching Jesus, who allowed them to do many great miracles. But the people of the city were divided by controversy over them; some sided with the Jews and some sided with the Apostles. There was an attempt by both Jews and Gentiles to abuse and stone the Apostles, and when the Apostles learned of it they fled to Lystra and Derbe, in the region of Lycaonia, where they continued to preach the Gospel.

At Lystra there was a man with crippled feet who had never been able to walk. Paul noticed that he had faith to be healed, and commanded the man to stand on his feet. The man jumped up and walked. At this the people declared, in the Lycaonian language, that Paul and Barnabas were gods in the likeness of men. They called Barnabas Zeus and Paul was called Hermes. The priest of Zeus brought oxen and intended to offer sacrifice to them with the people.

When Barnabas and Paul heard, they tore their clothes (an act of ritual mourning) and told the people that they were mere mortals like the Lycaonians, and that they should turn from the useless worship of idols, to worship instead the living God, the Creator of the Universe. Paul declared that in the past God had allowed the people of the world to go their own way, but that they had received God’s blessings of rain and harvest which bore witness to his goodness. Saying this, Paul and Barnabas were barely able to keep the people from sacrificing to them.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had declared that he and the Father are one, so the Jews picked up stones to kill Jesus. Jesus asked them to declare for which of his good works they were preparing to punish him. They said that they were going to execute him, not for good works, but for blasphemy, because Jesus, being human, had made himself God.

Jesus used Psalm 82:6 to support his statement. The scriptures call those who receive God’s Word “gods” because they have become God’s children. Since that is scripture (and scripture cannot be contradicted) how could they condemn Jesus for blaspheming because he said “I am the Son of God” (John 10:36)? Jesus told them that his works bear witness that he is doing God’s works and that he and the Father are one. They continued to try to arrest Jesus, but he eluded them.

Commentary:

When Job was doing well, he assumed that God was “with” him; that he deserved to be blessed because he was a “good” person. He assumed that his success would continue for the rest of his life because he deserved it; he couldn’t see any reason for that to change. God had blessed Job in the past, although Job hadn’t any personal knowledge of God.

One other thing Job didn’t know is that we are all eternal; there is eternity beyond physical death (John 5:28-28). One could physically die happy in his bed after a full life of worldly success and honor, but if one hasn’t come to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit, one will spend eternity in destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The Lycaonians saw the miracles that Paul and Barnabas did, and thought God had come down to them in human form; they recognized that Paul and Barnabas did things only God could do, but they had not yet come to a personal knowledge of God. Paul and Barnabas were there to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is God’s fullest revealing of himself to us physically. Paul points out that, in the past, God overlooked human lack of personal knowledge of him. God’s blessings were freely given to us, regardless of our faith or knowledge of God, and those blessings testify to God and to God’s goodness and mercy.

The Jews claimed to know God but they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah (the one whom God consecrated and sent into the world; John 10:36 RSV), although they had the scriptures which promised the coming of the Messiah. They didn’t recognize and acknowledge that the miracles Jesus did could have come only from God. They didn’t believe that Jesus was Emanuel (or Immanuel) which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23; compare Isaiah 7:14). They thought God was “with” them because they kept the Law. They didn’t have personal knowledge of God through Jesus, because they refused to believe that he was the Son of God; God in human form.

Job thought he knew God because he believed in God, did what he thought was right, and had been blessed with worldly success and honor. The same was true of the Jews, and it was also true of the Lycaonians. None really knew God, because God had not yet revealed himself to them.

The Jews considered the Gentiles (including the Lycaonians) spiritually-ignorant pagans, while the Jews considered themselves educated authorities on God. Job, the Lycaonians, and the Jews all knew about God, but they didn’t know God. The Lycaonians heard the words of Jesus and saw the works of Jesus through the lips and hands of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3), and recognized that it was of God; they just needed to know God. The Jews’ problem was that they knew so much about God that they were not open to any further self-disclosure of God to them.

There is a Day of Judgment coming. All who have ever lived will be accountable to God through Jesus Christ. 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 and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). Good works won’t save us; religion won’t save us; church membership won’t save us. Only a personal relationship with God through trust and obedience to Jesus Christ and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit will save 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)?


Wednesday 17 Pentecost – Even

First posted 09/28/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 29:1; 30:1-2, 16-31  -  Job mourns his present wretchedness;
Acts 14:19-28   -    Paul finishes his first missionary trip;
John 11:1-16  -  Lazarus’ death;

Job Paraphrase:

Job mourned that he had become an object of ridicule for young and old. Job felt imprisoned by his situation, and ignored by his God. Job knew that death awaited him. It is natural for a person in a desperate situation to call for help. Job had been compassionate to the less fortunate, and expected to be rewarded with goodness, but instead had received the opposite.

Acts Paraphrase:

Paul and Barnabas had been sent by the Lord on a mission trip to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. On their way they had encountered persecution, forcing them to flee from one town to the next (Acts 13:1-14:18). They had been driven from Iconium to Lystra, where they had healed a lame man and had been regarded as gods. But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the people of Lystra to stone Paul, leaving him for dead outside the city. But when the disciples gathered around him he rose and re-entered the city.

The next day he and Barnabas went on to Derbe, where they preached the Gospel and made many disciples. Then they returned through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia, to strengthen and encourage the new disciples and to warn them to persevere in their faith, telling them that many tribulations were to be expected on their way to the kingdom of God. They appointed elders in every church, whom they dedicated to the Lord with prayer and fasting.

Then they passed through Pisidia and Pamphylia, and preached the Gospel at Perga. From there they went to Attalia, where they sailed for Antioch where they had been commissioned for the mission which they had fulfilled. On their arrival “they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Paul and Barnabas remained there quite a while with the church at Antioch (in Syria).

John Paraphrase:

Lazarus, of Bethany (in Judea), the brother of Mary and Martha, was ill. Mary was the woman who had anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment (John 12:1-3). The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was ill. When Jesus heard it he told his disciples that the illness would not result in Lazarus’ death but that God would be glorified and would glorify Jesus through it. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, but he stayed where he was for two more days.

Then he told his disciples that they were leaving for Judea. The disciples knew that the Judeans were seeking to execute Jesus by stoning, and questioned Jesus’ decision to return there. Jesus replied that there are only a certain number of hours of daylight, during which a person can walk without stumbling; he can’t safely walk in darkness because he has no light within himself. Jesus then said that Lazarus had fallen asleep and that Jesus was going to awaken him.

The disciples did not understand that Jesus spoke of Lazarus’ death, and replied that if Lazarus was sleeping he could awaken on his own, (without need of Jesus’ presence). Then Jesus told the disciples plainly that Lazarus was dead, and that Jesus was glad that he hadn’t been there, so that the disciples’ faith might be strengthened (by what would follow). Jesus said, “Let us go to him”, and Thomas, the Twin, added, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:15-16).

Commentary:

Job mourned his situation. He had been compassionate to the less fortunate and had expected to be rewarded with goodness, but instead had received trouble and suffering. He had nothing to look forward to but death, and nothing beyond that.

Paul and Barnabas had been commissioned and led by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2-3) on this mission trip to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. At each stop along the way the preaching of the Gospel resulted in new believers and new churches, but it also was met with persecution, so that Paul and Barnabas were forced to flee to the next place (Acts 13:50, 14:5-6). Paul was actually stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead at Lystra. Ignoring the obvious risk, they returned to the places where they had been persecuted in order to encourage and strengthen the new believers, and to warn them that the way to the kingdom of God would be accompanied by many tribulations.

Jesus and his disciples knew that the Judeans were looking for an opportunity to execute Jesus by stoning. His disciples would have preferred to stay where they were and avoid trouble, but Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, and he wanted God to be glorified and his disciples’ faith to be strengthened. His disciples’ faith obviously needed strengthening because they weren’t willing to risk tribulation for the sake of the Gospel. Thomas’ reply to Lazarus’ death and the risk of going to him was quite cynical. He couldn’t see any benefit in that prospect; all he could see was death.

Many people today think that God should bless them with luxury and comfort because of their “good works.” There is a tendency to blame God for any trouble or difficulty that arises. Job had no hope of life beyond physical death. Jesus came not just to promise that there is life beyond physical death, but to demonstrate that truth.

Many church people want to keep their faith within the church where it is comfortable and safe. Thomas found out that following Jesus into uncomfortable and unsafe places leads to resurrection and eternal life. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was able to return to uncomfortable and unsafe places because he knew the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9:1-22). Now is the time to be sharing the light of the Gospel with others; the time is coming when it will be 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)?

Thursday 17 Pentecost – Even

First posted 09/29/04;
Podcast: Thursday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 29:1; 31:1-23  -  Job defends his integrity;
Acts 15:1-11  -  Controversy over Gentile believers;
John 11:17-29  -  Jesus is the resurrection and the life;

Job Paraphrase:

Job asserted self-discipline over his flesh, so that he might have favor with God. He believed that God sees all his deeds and punishes unrighteousness. Job asked to be judged fairly. Job agreed that if he had practiced deceit and falsehood, if he had turned aside from righteousness, if he had coveted or was guilty of any sin, then he deserved to be penalized, and it would be right for God to withhold his blessings. If he had committed adultery or ambushed his neighbor or prostituted his own wife, those would be terrible crimes, to be punished by the courts; they would be worthy of his destruction and would merit the loss of everything.

Job acknowledged that if he had dealt unfairly with his servants when they had a complaint against Job, how could Job expect justice from God, who has created them all? If Job had withheld any necessity from the poor, from widows or orphans, then he would deserve physical affliction. Job asserts that he is not guilty of any of this because he was afraid of God’s just punishment of these offenses.

Acts Paraphrase:

When Paul and Barnabas had returned to Antioch (in Syria) at the end of Paul’s first missionary trip, Jewish Christians came from Jerusalem and were teaching the believers at Antioch that it was necessary for Gentile Christians to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had quite a disagreement and debate with them over this issue, and the Church at Antioch delegated Paul and Barnabas and several others to go to Jerusalem to Church Headquarters and get a ruling from the Council.

As they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they visited congregations along the way and reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and the brethren rejoiced at this news. At Jerusalem they were welcomed, and they declared all that God had done with them (regarding the mission trip and the conversion of Gentiles). But some believers among them who had been Pharisees (a group within Judaism which advocated strict adherence the Law) argued that it was necessary to circumcise Gentile converts and require them to keep the Law of Moses.

The Apostles and elders gathered together to consider the issue, and after much debate, Peter spoke, saying that, earlier, God had chosen and led Peter to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Cornelius and his household; Acts 10:1-48), and that God, who knows the inner thoughts and attitudes of all people, had made no distinction between Jewish believers and Gentile believers.

God bore witness that they were equal, by giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as it had been given to Jewish believers. The Gentiles’ hearts were cleansed by faith (through the indwelling Holy Spirit). What right do humans have to insist upon conditions which God does not require? Why should we test God’s forbearance by requiring the Gentiles to fulfill requirements that the Jews had never successfully fulfilled. Jewish Christians are just as dependant upon the grace (free gift; unmerited favor) of God in Jesus Christ as the Gentile converts.

John Paraphrase:

Lazarus, of Bethany, the brother of Mary and Martha, had gotten sick. They were close friends of Jesus, and the sisters had sent for Jesus. Jesus had delayed coming, and Lazarus had died. (John 11:1-16; see entry for yesterday, Wednesday, 17 Pentecost, even year). When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been the tomb four days. Bethany was close to Jerusalem and many Jews from Jerusalem had come to console Mary and Martha. “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she got up to meet him, while Mary sat in the house” (John 11:20).

Martha told Jesus (calling him “Lord”) that if he had been there her brother would not have died, but that even now she knew that whatever Jesus asked of God, God would give him. Jesus told her that her brother would rise again. Martha said that she knew that Lazarus would rise in the resurrection at the end of time. Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:26)? Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world (John 11:27-28).

Commentary:

Job acknowledged that God was sovereign and that God sees and punishes sin. Job’s concept of justice was that the punishment should be appropriate to the crime. Job acknowledged that he could not expect justice from God unless he himself had been just in his dealings with others. The problem was that Job thought he was as righteous as (or even more righteous than) God. Job thought he was entitled to God’s favor because of his good deeds, and blamed God for allowing him to suffer. Job was trying to dictate to God the terms of God’s judgment of Job.

Israel’s long experience living under the Law of Moses demonstrated that it is impossible for humans to fulfill the just requirements of the Law. All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). God sent Jesus into the world so that our sins could be forgiven and cleansed by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God declared that the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

One might feel that the penalty does not fit the crime, but the real sin is in defying God. God offers forgiveness and salvation, which we do not deserve and cannot earn, as a free gift through faith (trust and obedience) in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). That doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we please because God has forgiven us. We’re free from the law which condemns us to eternal death as long as we live in obedience to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2-4).

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12, John 14:6). If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and accept him as your Lord, he promises that you will never die eternally, but instead will live eternally with him.

God’s Word says we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23). If we claim that we have not sinned, we call God a liar and we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8-10). Jesus keeps his promises! Jesus said that he is the resurrection and the life, and he raised Lazarus, who had been in the tomb for four days, from death to life.

Jesus promised that there will be a resurrection and a Day of Judgment (John 5:28-29). Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who reject and refuse to obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). Is God right, or do you think that you’re right and God is wrong? Good deeds won’t save us. Keeping the Jewish Laws or man-made rules won’t save us. Only a personal relationship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save 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 17 Pentecost – Even

First posted 09/30/04;
Podcast: Friday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 29:1; 31:24-40 -  Job’s final defense;
Acts 15:12-21  -  The Council at Jerusalem;
John 11:30-44  -  Lazarus raised from the dead;

Job Paraphrase:

Job continued his final defense, asserting that, if he had placed money or worldly success or power ahead of his obedience to God, if he had practiced nature-worship or any other form of idolatry, then Job agreed that he would be guilty of sin and worthy of punishment. Job denied that he had hated his enemies, been less than generous to those of his household, or neglected the traveler. Job denied that he had any guilt to hide from anyone. Job challenged God to indict him; he claimed he had nothing to fear and would consider any indictment as a symbol of honor.

Job was confident that he could account to God for every aspect of his life. Job would approach judgment nobly and unbowed (not humbly). Job said, “If I have concealed my transgressions like Adam (or like men; Job 31:33, note q, RSV; compare Genesis 3:8)…If my land has cried out against me (Job 31:38; compare Genesis 4:10-11)…let thorns grow instead of wheat” (Job 31:40; compare Genesis 3:17-18).  Job felt that he did not share in the guilt of Adam which resulted in God’s curse upon the ground (Job 31:33; 38-40; Genesis 3:17-18).

Acts Paraphrase:

Controversy over whether to require Gentile converts to be circumcised and to keep the Jewish Laws had resulted in Paul and Barnabas being delegated to go to Jerusalem to get a ruling on the issue from Church headquarters. Peter pointed out that God had given his Holy Spirit to the first Gentile converts, Cornelius and his household, who had been converted by the preaching of Peter (Symeon, i.e. Simon) at the direction of the Holy Spirit, without requiring them to be circumcised or to keep the Jewish Laws (Acts 15:1-11).

The Council listened to Paul and Barnabas describe the miracles God had done through them among the Gentiles. Then James (the kinsman of Jesus) pointed out that Peter’s observations about the conversion experience of Cornelius were supported by scripture, and cited Amos 9:11-12, Jeremiah 12: 15 (14-16), and Isaiah 45:21 to show that God intended salvation for all people.

God promised to return to rebuild this salvation from the ruins of Israel, and from the fallen dwelling of David (Acts 15:16; compare Amos 9:11). Thus James recommended that the Gentile converts not be required to conform to the Jewish Laws, and that they should merely be warned to abstain from any form of idolatry, unchastity, and from meat not ritually butchered (not bled and therefore containing its blood; i.e. strangled; this had been forbidden to Noah’s sons and thus to all mankind; Genesis 9:4. This is what was taught in the synagogues every Sabbath; Acts 15:21).

John Paraphrase:

Lazarus had been dead four days before Jesus arrived in Bethany. When Martha had heard that Jesus had arrived she went out to meet him while Mary had stayed in the home with the mourners. After Martha had talked to the Lord (John 11:17-27), she went and told Mary that Jesus had arrived and was calling Mary. Mary went to Jesus, who had not yet entered the village. When the mourners saw Mary leave abruptly, they followed, thinking that she was going to the tomb to mourn.

When Mary came to Jesus she fell at his feet saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and also the mourners who had followed her, he was deeply moved and wept also. The mourners realized how much Jesus loved Lazarus, but some said “could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying” (John 11:37)? Jesus asked where Lazarus had been laid, and Mary took him to see the tomb.

It was a cave, sealed with a stone. Jesus asked for the stone to be removed, and Martha told Jesus that there would be a stench, because the body had been in the tomb four days. Jesus told her that if she would believe she would see the glory of God. The stone was removed and Jesus prayed, thanking God the Father for hearing (and granting) what Jesus asked. Jesus wanted the witnesses to know that this miracle was by God’s power, and not sorcery. Then Jesus called Lazarus by name, and commanded him to come out. The dead man came out, covered with burial wrappings, including his face. Jesus told the people to unbind Lazarus “and let him go” (John 11:44).

Commentary:

Job denied that he possessed the sinful nature of all mankind. We’re all descendants of Adam and have inherited Adam’s sinful nature. Adam’s sin was disobedience of God’s command (Genesis 3:17). Adam desired the forbidden fruit for food (the lusts of the flesh), it was a delight to the eye (lusts of the eyes; i.e. covetousness) and it could make one wise (human pride; Genesis 3:6). Satan tempted him with the possibility of being “like God” (God’s equal; Genesis 3:5).

Job was so sure of his own righteousness that he challenged God to indict and judge him. By that very attitude he indicted himself as a descendant of Adam who had inherited Adam’s sinful nature. Job had indicted himself as guilty of trying to be God’s equal or even superior to God.

From the beginning of Creation mankind has been resisting obedience to God, his creator. It isn’t that God has been hiding from mankind, but that mankind has been trying to hide from God (Genesis 3:8). God promises that if we seek him in faith, we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13; Hebrews 11:6). Mankind denies God’s existence because man wants to be his own “god;” he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he is under God’s authority.

At the time of the Flood the descendants of Noah had personal knowledge of God. God made a covenant with Noah and his sons based on God’s promise and his commands, by which all mankind is bound. Idolatry is anything which interferes with obedience to God. Blood is sacred to God; it represents life-force. Murder has been condemned from the beginning when Cain became the first murderer by killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8-12).

There was an ancient belief that one who drank the blood of an animal received the spirit of that animal (and obtained that animal’s nature). God specifically forbade the Israelites from drinking blood or eating meat containing blood for this reason. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist; Sacrament of Holy Communion) on the night before his Crucifixion he declared that the wine was his blood, shed on the cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, so that believers could drink it in faith and receive forgiveness and the infilling of his Holy Spirit. God doesn’t want us to be filled with animal spirits; he wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit!

All of us share the sin-nature of Adam; we have all 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 we will all be accountable to the Lord. Jesus will stand at the door of the tomb and call us forth as he called Lazarus (John 11:43; compare John 5:28-29). Those who are judged righteous will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who are judged unrighteous will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil.

None of us will be judged righteous on our own merit or deeds. God loves and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). 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). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will be saved and live eternally in paradise restored in Heaven; those who have rejected and disobeyed Jesus will receive eternal death, punishment and shame in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46).  When Jesus calls you forth from the grave, will he release you from the bonds of sin and death and free you to live eternally with him, or will he send you bound, to be imprisoned eternally in death and misery 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)?

Saturday 17 Pentecost – Even

First posted 10/01/04;
Podcast:
Saturday 17 Pentecost – Even

Job 38:1-17  -   God speaks;
Acts 15:22-35  -  Apostolic decree;
John 11:45-54 -  The Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus;

Job Paraphrase:

Job had been seeking personal communication with God. Job had asked why misfortune had happened to him. Now God answered Job. The Lord said that Job had obscured the truth by speaking without knowledge.  Job had been trying to interrogate God; now God will interrogate Job. Job had challenged God’s sovereignty. Now God challenges Job’s qualifications. God is the creator of earth, the heavens, sea, time, space, and light; and the restrainer and punisher of darkness (evil). How did Job compare with God; did Job think he was qualified to be God?

Acts Paraphrase:

A controversy had arisen in the Church over whether Gentile converts should be required to be circumcised and keep the Jewish laws. The issue had been decided by the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-21), and Silas (Silvanus),  and Judas Barsabas, Christian leaders in Jerusalem, accompanied Paul and Barnabas as they returned to Antioch (in Syria) with a letter to the churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilisia stating the decision of the Council. The letter exhorted the Gentile Christians to abstain from idolatry (participation in sacrifices offered to idols; compare 1 Corinthians 10:27-29), from eating or drinking blood (meat not butchered according to Jewish ritual; not bled; i.e., strangled), and from unchastity.

When they arrived in Antioch they delivered the letter and when it had been read the congregation rejoiced at the exhortation. Judas and Silas were prophets, and they exhorted and strengthened the congregation. After spending some time at Antioch they returned to Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching, along with many others.

John Paraphrase:

Because of Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44), many Jews (Judeans) believed in Jesus; but some reported Jesus’ miracle to the Pharisees. The Jewish religious council of chief priests and Pharisees gathered to rule on this matter. They were afraid that if they allowed Jesus to continue preaching and working miracles, that everyone would believe in Jesus, and the Romans would come and destroy the holy place (the Temple) and the nation. But Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, told them they knew nothing; that they did not understand that it was in their best interest that one person should die for the people, so that the whole nation would not perish.

Caiaphas said this, not of his own authority, but he prophesied, because of his office as high priest, that Jesus should die not only for the Jews but for all who would become children of God (through faith in Jesus). From that day, the Jewish authorities plotted to execute Jesus. So Jesus no longer went about openly, but stayed with his disciples in a town near the wilderness called Ephraim in the Judean hills about fourteen miles north of Jerusalem.

Commentary:

Job had obscured the truth by speaking without knowledge. He lacked a personal relationship with, and knowledge of, God. Job had come to think that he was equal or even superior to God, because Job considered himself righteous and not deserving of suffering. Job had questioned God. Now God revealed himself to Job in the whirlwind (a symbol for the manifestation of God’s presence; compare Nahum 1:3, Zechariah 9:14, Psalm 50:3 RSV, Ezek 1:4; 2 Kings 2:11; Jeremiah 4:13); now God spoke to Job; God interrogated Job.

The Church was divided over the issue of circumcision and the keeping of Jewish law. The controversy was resolved by the church leaders in Jerusalem. Apostles who had been filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, used their experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:7-11), in agreement with the scriptures (Acts 15:13-21), to reach their decision. The result was in the best interest of the Gentile Christians and the Church. It was liberating rather than repressive.

The Jewish religious leaders knew a lot about God and the scriptures, but they didn’t know God personally because they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, God’s Son. They knew the scriptures and they had the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the prophecy by Caiaphas, but they did not allow their decision to be guided by these. They knew the scriptures but they did not understand them because they did not listen to the Holy Spirit. Instead, they made their decision based on their personal interests rather that on God’s will.

They had the opportunity to cooperate with God’s plan, but chose to follow their own plan. God’s plan anticipated that. God’s plan will be fulfilled whether we choose to cooperate with it or not. The only question each individual must answer for himself is which side of God’s plan we will be on.

The Jewish religious leaders thought it was in their best interest from their worldly viewpoint to kill Jesus. They were afraid of losing their jobs as religious leaders of the people (John 11:48a); of losing their Temple and their national status as People of God (John 11:48b). Their plan was to kill Jesus to prevent this, but it actually brought it about.

Judaism effectively ended at the Crucifixion of Jesus. Jerusalem and the Temple (and the system of sacrifice required by Jewish law) were destroyed by the Roman Legions in 70 A.D. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and it is only since World War II that Israel has been re-established as a nation. What they thought was in their best interest turned out to be in their worst interest. They were not freed but instead repressed.

How are we doing? Are we seeking a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit? Are we seeking to know and do God’s will by studying the scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or are we pursuing human careers and agendas. Are we proclaiming the truth based on personal knowledge and experience of the Lord, or are we obscuring the truth because we speak without that personal knowledge?

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 16 Pentecost – Even – 09/28 – 10/04/2014

September 27, 2014

Week of 16 Pentecost – Even

This Bible Study was originally published at:

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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.

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Podcast Download: Week of 16 Pentecost – Even
Sunday 16 Pentecost – Even 
First posted 09/18/04;
Podcast: Sunday 16 Pentecost – Even

Job 11:1-9, 13-20  -  Zophar accuses Job;
Revelation 5:1-14  -  Worthy is the Lamb;
Matthew 5:1-12  – The Beatitudes;

Job Paraphrase:

Zophar, the Naamathite (probably from Naamah in Arabia) one of Job’s three friends, rebuked Job for complaining and accused him of wrongdoing. Zophar suggested that Job had claimed to be pure in doctrine and clean in God’s eyes, but that God would have a different judgment. Zophar told Job that God had exacted less punishment than Job’s guilt deserves. Zophar points out mankind’s limitations compared to God’s infinite faculties. Can man find out the deep things of God? Can one find the boundaries of the Almighty? They are beyond man’s comprehension.

Rvelation Paraphrase:

John,  the Apostle, described a vision, which he received from Jesus Christ through an angel (Revelation 1:1), of God on his throne in Heaven. In his right hand God held a scroll sealed with seven seals. In a loud voice, a strong angel asked who was worthy to break the seals of the scroll and open it. No one in heaven or earth was found to be worthy to open the seals and look into the scroll. John was very sad that no one was found to be worthy. Then one of the twenty-four elders (probably representing the twelve Old Testament Patriarchs and the Twelve Apostles of the New Testament), comforted John and declared that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9-10), the Root of David (Isaiah 11:1,10; i.e., the Messiah; Jesus Christ) had conquered, so he is able to open the scrolls and its seven seals.

Between the throne of God and the four living creatures (perhaps representing mankind and all creatures) and among the elders, John saw a Lamb (Jesus Christ) who appeared to have been slain. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes (representing unlimited power and insight; “seven” represents completeness; infinity) and the seven spirits of God (representing the infinite power and presence of God’s Spirit). The Lamb took the scroll from the right hand of God.

Then the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and a golden bowl of incense, representing the prayers of the saints. They sang a new song, saying that the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals because he was slain and by his blood people of every tribe, language, race and nation were ransomed for God, to become a kingdom and priests to God and to reign upon the earth.

Then John saw that this group at the throne of God was surrounded by an innumerably large group of angels saying in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to received power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12; note the sevenfold praise). Every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth (those who have died) and in the sea, praised God and the Lamb as equally worthy of eternal praise, honor, glory and power. The four living creatures said Amen (meaning “let it be so”)! And the elders bowed down and worshiped God and the Lamb.

Matthew Background:

The Beatitudes are the beginning of what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27), which is a synopsis of Jesus’ teaching. It is Jesus’ announcement of the coming Kingdom of God which he came to accomplish. It is addressed to Jesus’ disciples. The Beatitudes proclaim God’s favor to those who are committed to living within God’s reign.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Blessed are those who recognize their spiritual “neediness;” God’s eternal kingdom is open to them. The Lord will comfort and strengthen those who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). The meek will inherit the earth (Psalm 37:11). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Isaiah 55:1-2; John 4:14; 6:48-51). The merciful will obtain mercy (Matthew 6:12).

Those who are “pure in heart” (sincere; not divided in their loyalties) will see God. Those who earnestly work to make peace will be called sons of God. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Those who are hated and persecuted for Jesus’ sake are blessed. Those who proclaim Jesus can expect persecution; the world has always persecuted those who proclaim God’s Word. Those persecuted for Jesus’ sake can rejoice that they will receive great reward in Heaven.

Commentary:

No one can claim to be blameless in God’s judgment, because all have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). What we deserve is eternal death, but God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). 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). We need to recognize and acknowledge our human limitations and God’s infinite powers. God has plans which only he knows.

God has a plan for eternity. It is sealed (unalterable) and known only by God. Only Jesus Christ, the Messianic King, can carry out that plan. Jesus is the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed (on the cross), whose blood marks the people of God so that the Destroyer will pass over them and they will not be eternally destroyed (Exodus 12:13). No one can enter that eternal kingdom except through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is worshiped as equal with God in majesty and infinite power (Revelation 5:6, 13) and in identity with the Spirit (Revelation 5:6; i.e., the Trinity). The call to be a kingdom and priests, originally given to Israel (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6) has been transferred to the Church (1 Peter 2:9; the Church is the New Israel; the kingdom of God; God’s people).

God’s kingdom is coming whether we want it or not. Jesus is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not. The plan for God’s eternal kingdom was accomplished at Jesus’ crucifixion. God won’t force anyone to live in his eternal kingdom, but he promises that those who choose to accept Jesus as their Lord will be blessed eternally.

The other side of the blessing is the warning. Woe to those who those who do not realize their spiritual poverty. Woe to those who do not mourn now. Woe to those who are not meek; who do not long for righteousness; who are not merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers; and who are unwilling to bear persecution for the name of Jesus (compare Luke 6:20-26).

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. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven; those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with Satan and all evil. (John 5:28-28; 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)?

Monday 16 Pentecost – Even 
First posted 09/19/04;
Podcast: Monday 16 Pentecost – Even

Job 12:1-6, 13-25  -  Job affirms God’s Omnipotence;
Acts 11:19-30  -  Mission to the Greeks;
John 8:21-32  -  The Truth Will Make You Free;

Job Paraphrase:

Job rebukes his friends for presuming that they are wiser than Job because he is suffering and they aren’t. Job, a righteous and blameless person who claimed a personal relationship with God, had become an object of ridicule because of his troubles. Job points out that it is easy for the comfortable to look with contempt on the unfortunate. Job notes that often it is the godless and unrighteous who seem to have peace and comfort. God’s wisdom and power are superior to ours. Man cannot hope to prevail over God. God is not impressed with human status or accomplishment.

 Acts Paraphrase:

After the stoning of Stephen, believers were scattered from Judea into the surrounding area. Some traveled as far as Phoenicia (on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel), Cyprus (the island off the coast of Syria), and Antioch (in Syria). The believers generally sought out Jewish exiles and shared the Gospel only with Jews, but some converts from Cyprus and Cyrene (in modern Libya in North Africa) shared the Gospel of Jesus with Gentiles also, and there were a great number of Gentile converts.

This news reached Jerusalem and the Church sent Barnabas [an apostle originally from Cyprus who had advocated for Paul (Saul of Tarsus) at Jerusalem after Paul’s conversion; Acts 9:26-27] to Antioch. Barnabas was a good man “full of the Holy Spirit” and he rejoiced at the new Gentile believers and “exhorted them to remain faithful to the Lord” (Acts 11:23 RSV). Since there was a large company of new believers Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch, where for a whole year they taught (“discipled”) the new believers. It was at Antioch at this time where Jesus’ disciples were first called “Christians.”

A prophet named Agabus came from Jerusalem to Antioch and foretold by the Holy Spirit that there would be a worldwide famine, and this took place (probably in A.D. 46*), as foretold, in the days of Claudius (the fourth Roman emperor, who succeeded Caligula in A.D. 41*, and died in A.D. 54*). The disciples took an offering for the Christians who lived in Judea, sending it to the elders (in Jerusalem) carried by Barnabas and Saul (Paul).

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. As he taught in the Temple, Jesus said to the Pharisees that he would go away and that they would seek him and die in their sins. The Jews wondered if Jesus intended to kill himself, since he had said that where he was going they could not come.

Jesus told them that they are from below, but Jesus is from above; they are of this world, but Jesus is not of this world. Jesus had told them that they would die in their sins because that is what would happen to them unless they believed “that I am he” (John 8:24). They said, “Who are you” (John 8:25). Jesus replied that he was who he had told them he was from the beginning.

Jesus told them he had much to say about them and much to judge, but the One (God the Father) who had sent him is true, and that Jesus declares to the world what he heard from him, but they did not understand that he spoke of the Father. Jesus told them that, when they had lifted up the Son of man, then they would know that Jesus is he and that Jesus did nothing on his own authority, but according to all that the Father taught him. Jesus declared that the Father was with him and had not forsaken him because Jesus was completely obedient to the Father.

Many believed what Jesus said. Jesus told the Jews who had believed in him that if they continued in (obedience to) Jesus’ word, that they would truly be Jesus’ disciples and that they would know the truth and the truth would make them free.

Commentary:

The world equates success with righteousness and God’s favor. Job’s friends deduced from Job’s suffering that he must have deserved it. Job points out the error of this reasoning. Those who claim a relationship with God are persecuted while the godless and unrighteous seem to have peace and comfort.

Jesus told his disciples that they would have persecution, because the world has always persecuted those who proclaim God’s Word (Matthew 5:10-12; see entry for yesterday, Sunday, 16 Pentecost, even year.) God’s plan was designed with persecution taken into account. The persecution which arose with the stoning of Stephen didn’t hinder the spread of the Gospel; it promoted and encouraged it. The disciples were scattered to the outlying areas, and the Gospel was proclaimed to Gentiles rather than only to Jews.

Barnabas is an example of a true Christian, who welcomed a new convert even though the convert wasn’t an “insider” and had a questionable reputation. That convert was Paul (Saul) who became one of the greatest evangelists of all time to the Gentiles, and the prototype and example of the “post-Resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian.

The Christians at Antioch cared for and contributed according to their means to provide relief for the unfortunate. Christians are not called to be comfortable or successful; they’re called to be faithful disciples (Acts 11:23 RSV). Note that Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciples are not just a special category of “super-Christian.” One cannot truly be a Christian without being a disciple.

Jesus warned the Pharisees that they would die eternally in unforgiven sin unless they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus knew that would be their fate, because Jesus was physically present among them, and they were hearing him and seeing the miracles he was doing and they still hadn’t believed. After Jesus ascended into heaven they would continue to look for the coming Messiah but they would never find him, because they had failed to recognize him when he was present.

The Pharisees were so focused on worldly success and status that they could not see the spiritual significance of what Jesus was saying and doing. Spiritual success is achieved by obedience to Jesus. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus and not do what he commands.

How are we doing? Are we willing to risk discomfort for Jesus, or are we seeking to be comfortable and successful by worldly standards. Are we willing to take the Gospel into the world, or do we prefer to stay within the Church where we are comfortable? Do we look with contempt on the “unsuccessful” and unfortunate?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Do you know 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 11:28n, p. 1333, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Tuesday 16 Pentecost – Even 
First posted 09/20/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 16 Pentecost – Even 

Job 12:1; 13:3-17. 21-27   -  Job’s despair;
Acts 12:1-17  -  Herod Agrippa’s persecution;
John 8:33-47 -  Jesus is the truth;

Job Paraphrase:

Job longed to present his case to God. Job rebuked his friends, saying that they “whitewash with lies” and were worthless physicians. Job accused his friends of speaking falsely for God and showing partiality toward God. Job asked his friends to consider how they would fare in Job’s place. Is God as easily deceived as mankind? God will surely rebuke Job’s friends if they show partiality. They would surely be humbled in the majesty of God’s presence. Their answers are superficial and empty. Job saw no other recourse, and was ready to commit himself to risk coming before God to present his case.

Job hoped that because he was God-fearing that he might survive his encounter with God. Job asked God to reassure and calm Job’s fear of God, so that Job could approach God to present his case, and then to allow Job to speak. Job asked God to show him his sins and help him know his transgressions. Job felt that God was avoiding Job and considered Job his enemy. Job felt that he was perhaps being punished disproportionately for the sins of his youth. Job felt shackled and imprisoned.

 Acts Paraphrase:

Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, was made king of Judea by Roman Emperor Claudius in A.D 41. Around this time Herod began persecuting Christians. He killed the Apostle James, John’s brother) with the sword. When Herod saw that this pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested and imprisoned. This occurred during the feast of the Passover, and Herod intended to try Peter after the festival.

Peter was imprisoned under heavy guard. He was sleeping between two soldiers, he was bound with two chains, and there were sentries at the door guarding the prison. An angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. The angel awakened Peter and told him to get up quickly. Peter’s chains fell from his hands. The angel told him to dress and follow the angel.

Peter did as instructed, but did not realize that what was happening was real; he thought he was having a vision. They passed by both guards and came to the gate, which opened on it own accord. They left the prison and went down the street. At that point the angel disappeared.

Peter realized that this was not a vision and that he had been saved from Herod’s intentions by the angel of the Lord. Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many believers were gathered and praying. Peter knocked and Rhoda, the maid, came to answer, but when she recognized Peter’s voice, in her joy she ran to tell the others, leaving Peter standing at the gate.

The others thought Rhoda was crazy; or that it must be Peter’s spirit, but Peter knocked again, and they opened and saw that it was him.  Peter motioned for them to be silent and then described how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. Peter told them to pass the news to James [Son of Alphaeus; brother (or cousin) of Jesus] and the brethren.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had told the Jews who had believed in him that if they continued to trust and obey Jesus’ word they would be Jesus’ disciples and they would know the truth and the truth would make them free (John 8:31-32). They replied that they were descendents of Abraham and had never been in bondage to anyone. Jesus replied that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Slaves have no inheritance in the Master’s estate, but the Son has the power to free the slaves (and make them sons and brothers).

Jesus knew that the Jews were physical descendants of Abraham, but they proved by their actions that they were not spiritual descendants of Abraham. They did not have the faith of Abraham, so they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus spoke God’s Word, but the unbelieving Jews acted according to the nature of their spiritual father, Satan, and sought to kill Jesus. They insisted that they were Abraham’s children, but Jesus pointed out that their actions denied that claim. They insisted that they were not born of fornication, and insisted that God was their Father. Jesus replied that if God was their Father they would love Jesus, because Jesus came from God and was sent by God.

Jesus told them that they couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying because they couldn’t bear to hear the truth. Jesus declared that they shared the nature of their spiritual father, Satan, and that their desire was to do Satan’s will. Satan is a murderer and in him there is no truth. Satan is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The unbelieving Jews had rejected Jesus for telling them the truth. Who can convict Jesus of sin? Anyone who believes in God recognizes and obeys God’s Word. The reason people do not recognize and obey God’s Word is because they do not believe God.

Commentary:

Job recognized that his hope for truth, freedom and justice lay only in God. His friends meant well, but they could only offer worldly, human, superficial and empty answers. Only God could heal Job. Job was ready to risk coming to God to present his case. Job hoped that the fact that he believed in and reverenced God would save him from God’s wrath. Job gave up his insistence that he was blameless, and asked God to show him his faults. Job felt shackled and imprisoned by sin and despair.

Peter was imprisoned awaiting probable execution. It was the middle of the night, when the angel of the Lord came to Peter; the light of the Lord shone in the darkness of that cell. Peter’s chains fell from him; the doors were unlocked; the guards were powerless. The Lord had delivered Peter from prison and bondage and restored him to life.

Jesus told believers that if they continue to trust and obey his words they will know the truth, and the truth will set them free. The Jews insisted that they were descendants of Abraham and had never been in bondage, which was not true. They were forgetting their history of slavery in Egypt, and they did not acknowledge their present bondage to sin and death. They couldn’t understand Jesus’ words because they couldn’t bear to know the truth, and it is that truth alone which could set them free from bondage to sin and death.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want anyone to perish (John 3:16). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s plan of salvation, sidebar, top right, home). We are all “prisoners of sin” awaiting eternal execution, until we turn to Jesus in trust and obedience.

It is Jesus who makes it possible to approach God without fear. If we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, Jesus will release us from all our sins and give us freedom and eternal life in him. It is Jesus who restores us to fellowship with God.

Are we willing to acknowledge our sinful nature? Are we willing to hear the truth, even if it makes us uncomfortable? Do we acknowledge that Jesus is the truth and that he alone can heal and restore us, or do we think we can find truth and help elsewhere? Do we think church membership makes us children of God?

Whose child are you? 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 16 Pentecost – Even 
First posted 09/21/04;
Podcast:
Wednesday 16 Pentecost – Even 

Job 12:1; 14:1-22  –   The frailty of mankind;
Acts 12:18-25 -   Herod’s death;
John 8:47-59   -  Whom do we glorify?

Job Paraphrase:

Job said that human life is short and full of trouble. Like flowers, we fade; like shadows, we disappear. What is mankind that the Lord would hold him accountable? “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean” (Job 14:4)? Since man’s days are few and God has fixed limits man cannot pass, God should overlook man’s shortcomings and allow mankind to enjoy their brief lives. Job points out that there is hope for a tree that it may re-sprout even if cut back to the stump, but there is no hope for man beyond the grave (as far as Job knows).

Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again” (Job 14:14)? Job said that, if so, he would wait patiently through all the days of his troubles, until his release would come. Job felt as if God was counting each of Job’s steps, but Job longed for a relationship with God where God would no longer keep account of Job’s sins. God would call and Job would answer. Job’s transgression would be sealed up in a bag and his iniquity would be covered. But mountains crumble and water wears away stone; since the most durable things wear away, what hope can mankind have? Life is a constant struggle, and in death there is only pain and mourning.

Acts Paraphrase:

 Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great was made king of Judea in A.D. 41 by Roman Emperor Claudius. Herod wanted to be popular with the Judeans. He had the Apostle James (brother of John) killed by the sword, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he arrested Peter also (Acts 12:3; see entry for yesterday Tuesday, 16 Pentecost, even year). The angel of the Lord freed Peter from prison. When day came, Herod sent for Peter, and Peter wasn’t found in prison. This caused a great commotion; Herod interrogated the sentries and ordered them executed for allowing Peter’s escape. Herod went to Caesarea and dwelt there.

There was a feud between Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came to Herod in a large delegation and asked for a treaty, because they were dependent on Herod’s country for food. On an appointed day, Herod appeared before them on his throne and gave a speech. The people cheered Herod, saying that he spoke with the voice of a god and not of a man. Immediately Herod was stricken by an angel of the Lord, and he was eaten by worms and died.

The Word of God grew and multiplied. Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, [where they had delivered an offering for famine relief for the brethren of Judea (Acts 11:29)], bringing with them John Mark.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus told unbelievers that the reason they do not recognize that Jesus is proclaiming God’s Word is because they have not committed themselves to trust and obey God. The Jewish religious authorities accused Jesus of being a Samaritan (a spiritual “mongrel;” racially and religiously mixed) possessed by a demon. Jesus replied that he did not have a demon, but that he honored God and they dishonored Jesus. Jesus didn’t seek his own glory; he trusted that God would vindicate him. Jesus told them that those who keep Jesus’ words will never die.

The Jews thought that Jesus’saying proved that he had a demon, because even Abraham had died. They asked Jesus who he claimed to be. Jesus replied that he didn’t seek glory; his Father, God, glorifies Jesus. Jesus told the Jews that they claimed to know God but that they did not, and that their claim was a lie. Jesus knows God and obeys God’s Word.

Jesus told them that Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus’ day. The Jews replied that Jesus couldn’t be more than fifty years old, so how could he have claimed to have seen Abraham? Jesus said, “…before Abraham was, I AM” (I AM is the name by which God identified himself to Moses; Exodus 3:14). At this they took up stones to kill Jesus, but he hid himself and left the temple.

Commentary:

Without hope of eternal life, suffering in this life would be unbearable. If Job could look forward to life beyond the grave, he could endure his present suffering with patience and see death as his release from suffering. Job longed for a relationship with God in which he would not be constantly judged by God. He longed to have a relationship with God where his sins were forgiven and remembered no more.

Herod sought worldly popularity and success. He sought to please men instead of trying to please God. [He coerced his popularity among the people of Tyre and Sidon by controlling their food supply (Acts 12:20).] He first inherited power in A.D. 37, was appointed king of Judea in A.D. 41, and died in A.D. 44. He had achieved worldly popularity and success, but it was very brief. He died because he put his will ahead of God’s; he sought his own honor and glory instead of God’s.

The Jewish leaders were not seeking God’s glory; they were seeking their own glory and worldly status. They were so focused on worldly things that they couldn’t see the spiritual implications of what Jesus said. Jesus promised that those who obey Jesus’ words will not die eternally; he was not speaking about physical death.

Jesus kept telling them who he was, but they couldn’t accept what Jesus said. They claimed to know and believe God, but they didn’t recognize and believe Jesus, the Son of God, in whom the whole fullness of God dwelt bodily (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus didn’t seek his own glory or worldly success; instead he trusted and obeyed God and left his glory and success in God’s hands, and God has glorified Jesus above every name in heaven and earth (Philippians 2:8-11).

Jesus is God’s gift to us, through whom we are forgiven all our sins and restored to fellowship with God. Our sins will be forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). Through Jesus, God can make an unclean thing clean and give us eternal life. Through the Holy Spirit of Christ we can hear God call and can be obedient to that call.

We can choose whether we will spend our earthly lives honoring and glorifying the Lord or ourselves. If we choose to pursue our own success and glory we will receive eternal death and dishonor (John 5:28-29); but if we choose to honor and glorify the Lord, he will give us eternal honor, glory and life (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 16 Pentecost – Even 

First posted 09/22/04;
Podcast: Thursday 16 Pentecost – Even 

Job 16:16-22; 17:1, 13-16 -  A mediator in heaven;
Acts 13:1-12 -  Elymas struck blind;
John 9:1-17  -  Healing a man born blind;

Job Paraphrase:

Job prayed that his cause would not be forgotten; that he would have a witness in heaven to vouch for him, who “would maintain the right of a man with God, like that of a man with his neighbor” (Job 16:21). Job’s spirit was broken; death was closing in. Job lamented that death is the end of hope.

Acts Paraphrase:

In the Church in Antioch there were a number of prophets and teachers. While they were worshiping, the Holy Spirit told them to appoint Saul (Paul) and Barnabas to work which the Spirit would show them. So the congregation laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and commissioned them to this work.

Led by the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas sailed to the island of Cypress, and arrived at Salamis, the largest city (on the east end), where they began to proclaim the Gospel in the Jewish synagogues. They traveled through the island until they arrived at Paphos on the western shore. There the Roman Proconsul named Sergius Paulus summoned Saul and Barnabas, desiring to hear the Gospel.

With the proconsul they encountered a Jewish false prophet named Elymas (meaning “magician”) Bar-Jesus (“son of Jesus;” or “son of Joshua;” Jesus is the Greek word for the Hebrew name “Joshua”), who opposed Saul and Barnabas and was trying to turn the proconsul from the Gospel. Saul looked directly at Elymas and called him a son of the Devil and an enemy of righteousness. He told Elymas to “stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord” (Acts 13:10), and invoked the hand of the Lord to cause temporary blindness in Elymas. Immediately Elymas became blind and needed someone to lead him by the hand. The proconsul was amazed at the teaching of the Lord and he believed the Gospel when he saw what had occurred.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus encountered a man who had been born blind, and his disciples asked him whose sin had caused this. Jesus denied that the disability was caused by sin, and suggested that the cause was not important; what was important was the opportunity for God to heal. Jesus said that it was important not to miss opportunities now to do the work of God, because there would come a time when further work would no longer be possible.

Jesus declared that he is the light of the world. Jesus spat on the ground, made mud of the spittle and dirt, anointed the man’s eyes with the mud, and told the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (which means “Sent”). The man did as instructed and returned seeing.

Those who had known the man as a blind beggar recognized him and were amazed; some believed that it was he, but others thought he only resembled the blind man they knew. The man testified that he was the man. They asked how he had been healed and the man told them how Jesus had healed him. The people asked him where Jesus was and the man did not know.

They brought the healed man to the Pharisees. The healing had taken place on the Sabbath. The Pharisees asked and the man told them how Jesus had healed him. Some of the Pharisees said that Jesus was not of God because he had broken the Sabbath, while others said that if Jesus were a sinner he could not do such a healing. So there was disagreement among them and they asked the healed man what he thought about Jesus. The man declared, “He is a prophet” (John 9:17).

Commentary:

Job foresaw a mediator who would be the advocate for mankind before God. Job’s suffering had brought him to recognize his need for the mediator, and made him receptive to God’s self-revelation. Job realized that death is the end of hope.

The First Century Church was marked by the occurrence of numerous prophets and teachers. Prophecy and teaching are gifts of the Holy Spirit, and are to be expected in any healthy disciple-making congregation. The congregation’s ministry was directed by the Holy Spirit. Spirit-filled members were sent out into the surrounding area, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Saul (Paul) had been struck blind by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus because he was opposing the Gospel of Jesus, and was later healed when he repented and believed in Jesus (Acts 9:1-20). Physical affliction had made Saul receptive to God’s self-revelation to Saul through Jesus Christ; it made Saul recognize and acknowledge his spiritual blindness. Elymas’ suffered the same spiritual blindness. Saul invoked physical blindness on Elymas, in the name of the Lord, for opposing the Gospel, in the hope that Elymas might come to spiritual healing.

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). Affliction and trouble in this world are not evidence of God’s condemnation any more than worldly success and honor are evidence of God’s approval.  Affliction and trouble are opportunities to recognize our human limitations and our need for God. Affliction and trouble happen to everyone at some time in their lives.

Christians are called to be ministers of God’s healing to people when they are receptive. People often cannot recognize their spiritual need until they experience physical need. Jesus is the light of the world. As the blind man trusted and obeyed Jesus’ words, he received his sight; the darkness of his blindness was replaced by light. He was able to walk by the light Jesus had given him.

All have sinned, and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is our mediator (1Timothy 2:5). Jesus vouches for the forgiveness of our sins by his blood (death; sacrifice on the Cross), provided that we are in the New Covenant through trust and obedience in Jesus (Hebrews 9:15). Jesus is God’s only plan for our forgiveness and salvation Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven; those who reject and do not obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in hell (Matthew 25:31-46; see God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Physical death is the end of hope, for those who are not in Christ, by faith (obedient trust) in him. We have only this lifetime in which to receive salvation in Jesus Christ. (We cannot be “prayed out” or “baptized out” of our eternal destiny after our physical death.) No one can be certain that they will live until tomorrow. Jesus is the only one who can heal spiritual blindness. Jesus is the only one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12). The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual enlightenment, guidance, and empowerment (John 14:15-17). My personal experience testifies to these truths.

Physical death is not the end of hope for believers in Jesus Christ. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “born-again” by the gift (anointing) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee of salvation and eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit have a personal fellowship with the risen Jesus and can be certain that because Jesus is eternally alive, we will also be raised to eternal life (Romans 8:11).

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 16 Pentecost – Even 

First posted 09/23/04;
Podcast: Friday 16 Pentecost – Even 

Job 19:1-7, 14-27  -  My Redeemer lives;
Acts 13:13-25  -  Sermon at Antioch of Pisidia;
John 9:18-41  -  Blindness;

Job Paraphrase:

Job’s friends blamed Job for his suffering. Job admited that his words may have erred, but that they did not constitute sin against God or other people. Job’s situation had reduced him to less than human dignity, but he reminded his friends that if they exalted themselves in comparison to Job and made Job’s humiliation an argument against Job, that it was God who had allowed Job’s suffering, and that did not mean that they are more worthy of honor than Job.

Job felt completely alienated from God and mankind. His kinfolk and close friends had failed him. His servants refused to acknowledge him. He was repulsive to his wife and brothers. Job mourned that his friends attacked him instead of showing him compassion. Job longed to be vindicated by posterity, his story recorded in a book, or engraved on a monument.

Job expressed faith that his “Redeemer (or Vindicator) lives and at last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Job believed that after his flesh had been destroyed by physical death, he would see God for himself, with his own eyes. Job warned those who seemed intent on unjustly blaming Job that there will be a day of judgment when wrongdoing will be punished.

Acts Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary trip, after the conversion of the Roman proconsul at Paphos on Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch of Pisidia (in Asia Minor north of Pamphylia; distinct from Antioch, which is in Syria). On the Sabbath they attended the Synagogue, and the leaders of the Synagogue invited them to preach.

Paul began to preach the Gospel by reviewing the history of God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt, God’s leading during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, bringing them into the Promised Land and giving them victory over the people who had occupied the land. God had given them judges. Then they had asked for a king and God had given them Saul (the son of Kish; not Saul of Tarsus) and later David, of whom God declared, “…a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). “From this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised” (Acts 13:23; Psalms 89:20-36). John the Baptizer had come before Jesus, preaching a baptism of repentance. John had said that he was not the promised Savior, but preceded the Savior’s coming.

John Paraphrase:

On a Sabbath, Jesus had healed a man who had been born blind. The religious leaders considered this a breach of Sabbath Laws and began to investigate (John 9:1-17). After interrogating the man, they didn’t believe that the man had been born blind so they questioned his parents.

The parents verified that the man was their son and that he had been born blind. The parents said they did not know who healed him or how, but they told the authorities to ask the son, who was of age and could speak for himself. The parents feared the religious authorities because the authorities had warned that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ (Messiah) would be expelled from the synagogue.

The authorities called the man and told him to give praise to God for his healing, and they declared that Jesus was a sinner. The man replied that he did not know if Jesus was a sinner, but he knew that he had been blind but now he saw. They asked him again how he had been healed, and the man asked them why they wanted to hear it again. He suggested that perhaps they might want to become Jesus’ disciples.

The authorities reviled the man, saying that he was Jesus’ disciple; they were disciples of Moses. They said that they were certain that God had spoken to Moses, but they did not know where Jesus comes from. The man was amazed that, in spite of evidence that Jesus had healed the man’s blindness, they were uncertain about Jesus’ authenticity.

The man said, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him” (John 9:31). Never before in human history had anyone been healed of blindness. If Jesus were not of God, he could do nothing. The religious authorities replied, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us” (John 9:34)? Then they expelled the man from membership in the synagogue.

Jesus heard that the man had been expelled, and came to him and asked if he believed in the Son of man. The man expressed willingness to believe and Jesus revealed himself to him as the Son of man. The man called him Lord, and declared his faith in Jesus as the Son of man, and he worshiped Jesus. Jesus declared that he had come into the world to heal the blind, and to cause those who see to become blind.

Some Pharisees overheard this and asked Jesus if he thought they were blind also. Jesus replied that if they were blind they would have no guilt; but since they declared that they could see they were accountable for their guilt.

Commentary:

Job longed to be restored to fellowship with God. He longed to be in God’s presence; to see God. Job’s experience of alienation from his family and friends is an accurate picture of how the world responds to the “down-and out.” The world tends to blame the victim. Job longed for a Redeemer, a Vindicator, who would vindicate Job and restore him to fellowship with God, and Job expressed faith that his Redeemer lives and that the Redeemer would be revealed.

God had been revealing himself to Israel through her history. God delivered Israel from bondage to sin and death in Egypt. God led them through the wilderness by his Spirit in the pillar of smoke and fire. God led them into the land he had promised to give them.

God demonstrated government by a righteous judge. When they wanted a king, God raised Saul and then David. God had promised to bring forth from David’s descendants an eternal king, the Messiah (Christ), who would be the righteous judge of all the earth, a Savior, Redeemer, and Vindicator.

Israel was looking for the coming Messiah. John the Baptizer had come to prepare Israel by leading them to repent and to look for the coming of the Messiah. Paul and the followers of Jesus were proclaiming the good news that God had fulfilled his promise; that Jesus is the Messiah; God’s anointed eternal king and promised Savior.

The scriptures contained God’s promise to send the Messiah. The religious leaders claimed to know and believe God and God’s Word, they claimed to be looking for the coming of the Messiah, yet they stood in his very presence and with their own eyes saw him reveal who he was and still refused to believe. That is spiritual blindness!

The man who was healed of his blindness was willing to believe. He listened to Jesus’ words, he trusted and obeyed Jesus (John 9:7), he was willing to believe and obey (John 9:36) and Jesus revealed himself to that man (John 9:37). The religious leaders were spiritually blind and yet emphatically denied it. The result was that they were not healed of their blindness; they did not see their Savior and Redeemer, and their sins were not forgiven.

Jesus is the Savior, the Redeemer, Vindicator, and Righteous Judge who will return to judge all who have ever lived on Earth. Those who have trusted and obeyed him will receive eternal life in the Promised Land of Heaven with Jesus as our eternal King. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal 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)?

Saturday 16 Pentecost – Even 

First posted 09/24/04;
Podcast:
Saturday 16 Pentecost – Even

Job 22:1-4, 21-23:7  -  Job yearns for God;
Acts 13:26-43  -  Fulfillment of scripture;
John 10:1-18  -  The Good Shepherd;

Job Paraphrase:

Eliphaz the Temanite (from Teman, in Edom), one of Job’s three friends who had come to console Job during his suffering, suggested that God does not need man; it is man who needs God. Man’s wisdom benefits himself, not God. Man’s righteousness also benefits himself, rather than God. God reproves us and judges us for our benefit. “Agree with God and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his Word in your heart” (Job 22: 21-22 RSV).

If one returns to the Almighty and humbles oneself, stops doing unrighteousness, turns from idolatry, and makes the Almighty his treasure, then one will delight in the Lord and worship him. Then he will call on the Lord and the Lord will hear him. God will prosper him and give him understanding. God humbles the proud but saves the meek. God delivers the innocent; if you would be delivered, do what is right. Then Job responded with renewed longing for access to God’s presence which seemed to elude him. Job longed for God’s counsel and for acquittal.

Acts Paraphrase:

On his first missionary trip, led by the Holy Spirit, Paul was invited to preach at the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. He had proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13-25). He told them that the message of salvation through Jesus Christ had been given to the descendants of Abraham. Those living in Jerusalem and their leaders were thoroughly familiar with the scriptures, but because they didn’t truly understand them, they thus fulfilled them by condemning Jesus, whom they failed to recognize as the Messiah.

The Jews asked Pilate to execute Jesus even though they could not prove Jesus guilty of anything deserving death. When they had fulfilled all that had been foretold in the scriptures, they placed Jesus in the tomb, but God raised him from the dead. He subsequently appeared, over many days, to his followers, who are now his witnesses. The good news is that what God promised in scripture he has fulfilled by raising Jesus.

Paul cited the Psalms 2:7, Isaiah 55:3 and Psalms 16:10 to show that Jesus’ Resurrection is the fulfillment of scripture. Forgiveness of sins is only through Jesus Christ, “and by him everyone who believes is free from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). Paul warns that scoffers and doubters will perish.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus said that one who doesn’t enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in another way is a thief and a robber; the shepherd enters by the door. The gatekeeper opens to him; the sheep recognize his voice and obey him, and he calls them by name and leads them. The sheep will not follow strangers; they will run from them.

The people didn’t understand what Jesus meant, so Jesus told them that he is the “door” of the sheep. Those before and since who have claimed to be the Messiah are false messiahs; they’re pretenders. Only those who enter by Jesus will find eternal safety and “pasture.” The thief (false messiah) comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus has come to give abundant life (real life, now and eternally).

Jesus is the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep. A hireling cares nothing for the sheep; when the hireling sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. Jesus knows his sheep and his sheep know him, as Jesus knows God the Father and God the Father knows Jesus.

Jesus said in this text that he would be laying down his life for his sheep. He also said that he had other sheep (Gentiles) and they would become one flock with one shepherd. Jesus declared that God loved him because Jesus was obeying God’s will that he die for his “flock,” and that he would rise again from the dead.

Commentary:

We need to have a right understanding of our relationship to God. We’re not doing God a favor by going to Church or reading the Bible. We’re not doing the Lord a favor by obeying his Word. He has given us his Word for our benefit, so that we can have the good life he intends for us.

If we want peace and success we should agree with God, be taught by him and treasure his Word. Jesus is the Redeemer and Vindicator that Job longed for (see entry for yesterday, Friday, 16 Pentecost, even year), the only one who restores us to God’s presence, provides us with God’s counsel through his indwelling Holy Spirit, and brings us acquittal from all our sins.

The Jews were descendants of Abraham. They had been born into the “People of God;” they were the physical heirs of God’s promises. They had knowledge of the scriptures which contained the promises and the prophecies. God’s Word is fulfilled whether we obey it or not. The Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah did not prevent the promises and prophecies from being fulfilled; they helped fulfill them. They only lost the promises for themselves. God’s Word is faithful and true. Those who trust and obey Jesus will be saved and receive eternal life; doubters and scoffers will perish eternally.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Those who trust and obey him will be led by him and they will have eternal safety and “pasture.” They will have a personal relationship with Jesus through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the Door to eternal life. Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation; for our acquittal (Acts 4:12). Money won’t save you; power or fame won’t save you; education won’t save you; good deeds won’t save you; church membership won’t save you, and religion won’t save you. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save you.

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 15 Pentecost – Even – 09/21 – 27/2014

September 20, 2014

Week of 15 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.

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Podcast Download: Week of 15 Pentecost – Even

15 Pentecost – Sunday – Even

First posted 09/11/04;
Podcast: Sunday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 4:1-6, 12-21 -   Eliphaz’ first discourse;
Revelation 4:1-11 -   Vision of God on his throne;
Mark 6:1-6a  -  Jesus’ rejected at home;

Job Paraphrase:

Job was a blameless man who had suffered the loss of his health, wealth and posterity. Three friends came to comfort Job when they heard of his suffering. After listening to Job’s lament, the first to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite (a native of Teman, i.e. Edom; or perhaps of Tema in Arabia). Eliphaz noted that Job had counseled others, but now his situation was reversed.

Eliphaz suggested to Job that it was Job’s fear of God which was his reason for confidence and his blamelessness was his reason for hope. Eliphaz offers a supernaturally-inspired question: Can mortal man be judged righteous before God? Can one be considered pure before his creator? If even the heavenly servants and angels of God fall short of God’s perfection, how can mankind hope to be found righteous, considering his mortality. Human life is so brief; one’s life and one’s passing are barely noticed. Status and character are of no avail in extending one’s life, and human wisdom is only an illusion.

Revelation Paraphrase:

The Revelation to John is a series of visions given by Jesus through an angel (a manifestation of Jesus’ presence; or a messenger from God) to the author (John the Apostle) in exile on the Isle of Patmos. Here John sees the Glory of God on the throne of heaven described in terms of precious jewels. The rainbow around the throne perhaps symbolizes the covenant promise we have in Jesus Christ. Around the throne are twenty-four elders (possibly representing the twelve Old Testament Patriarchs and the twelve New Testament Apostles), clothed in white robes and wearing golden crowns.

Thunder and lightning issue from the throne, suggesting the awesome power and majesty of the scene. Around the throne are four living creatures (compare Ezekiel 1:5-10; Isaiah 6:2-3). Their descriptions here may be suggestive of the principle divisions of created animal life. The scene is of the worship of the Creator by all creation. All human authority is surrendered to God.

Mark Paraphrase:

When Jesus was in Nazareth he taught in his home-town synagogue on the Sabbath, but he was not well-received. To them, Jesus was a local boy. They knew his parents and his brothers and sisters. They didn’t accept that Jesus could be extraordinary, and because of their unbelief, Jesus was unable to do many great miracles among them. Jesus commented that a prophet is honored elsewhere, but not among his own people or in his own home. Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.

Commentary:

Job was suffering from a sudden change in perspective. He had gotten used to thinking of himself as a righteous and successful person. He had though that his successfulness validated his righteousness. He had gotten used to the idea of being a teacher of others. Suddenly he was no longer successful; suddenly he found himself seeking answers rather than providing them.

Job’s confidence in his righteousness before God had been based on his belief that he was worthy, because of his good works, of God’s affirmation of Job’s righteousness. Job considered himself blameless. Job probably felt that he was entitled to God’s blessings because he was righteous. Eliphas offered him a different perspective. From God’s perspective, we all fall short. Worldly status, reputation and wisdom won’t entitle us to eternal life.

We tend to view ourselves as the center of the universe. Everything tends to look smaller the farther things are from us. John’s vision of the throne of God offers us a different perspective. John’s vision is a reminder that God is the Creator and center of the Universe. God is the Lord and ruler of the Universe, whether we realize and acknowledge that fact or not.

The people in Jesus’ hometown weren’t able to receive the blessings Jesus offered, because in their perspective they possessed the status, reputation and wisdom in their world; in their opinion, Jesus was a newcomer, trying to establish himself in an area outside of his credentials.

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). All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally, but to have eternal life in Heaven with him (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when all who have ever lived will be accountable to the Lord. 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 trust and obey him will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46). Salvation is the gift of God received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, not earned by doing good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10). Job’s affliction gave him the opportunity to re-examine his beliefs and get a new perspective [like Saul’s (Paul’s) encounter on the Damascus road had done for Saul].

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)?

15 Pentecost –  Monday – Even

First posted 09/12/04;
Podcast: Monday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 4:1; 5:1-11, 17-21, 26-27 – Eliphaz’ first discourse continued;
Acts 9:19b-31  -  Saul at Damascus;
John 6:52-59  -  Jesus’ body and blood;

Job Paraphrase:

Job was a blameless man who had suffered the loss of his health, wealth and posterity. Three friends came to comfort Job when they heard of his suffering. After listening to Job’s lament, the first to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite (a native of Teman, i.e. Edom; or perhaps of Tema in Arabia). Eliphaz asked Job who anyone can call upon for help (apart from God alone).

Usually when bad things happen they are the deserved consequences of our actions. Trouble and affliction don’t come out of nowhere. But trouble is a natural condition of life; a reasonable certainty. Eliphaz recommends that Job seek God and commit his cause to God, who does great things beyond number or understanding.

God lifts up to safety the humble and those who mourn. Those who are reproved by the Lord should rejoice, and not despise the chastening of the Almighty. He disciplines, but he also heals. The Lord doesn’t abandon us in our troubles; he delivers us from them. We may experience troubles but the Lord will not allow us to be destroyed by them. The Lord is able to provide fulfillment of our lives. Realizing this is in our best interest.

Acts Paraphrase:

After Saul (Paul) had regained his sight and been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18), he stayed with disciples in Damascus and immediately began proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. The Jews in Damascus were amazed, because they knew that Saul had persecuted Christians in Jerusalem and had come to Damascus for the purpose of arresting Christians and bringing them to Jerusalem for trial. But Saul grew in spiritual strength “and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:22).

After many days, the Jews plotted to kill Saul, but the plot became known. The Jews were watching the gate of the city, to apprehend him, but the disciples lowered Saul down outside the wall in a basket at night.

Later, Paul went to Jerusalem [Paul said that his first visit to Jerusalem was three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:15-20)] and the disciples there were afraid of him, but Barnabas brought Paul before the apostles and told them how Paul had seen and spoken with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and how he had preached Jesus boldly in Damascus.

As a result the believers in Jerusalem accepted him as a fellow believer. Paul preached boldly also in Jerusalem, and disputed with the Hellenists (Jews who adopted Greek customs or Greek converts to Judaism) who also plotted to kill Paul. But the Christians learned of the plot and brought Paul to Caesarea (a seaport) and sent him (by boat) to Tarsus (Paul’s home city). Despite the persecution of Christians, the Church had peace and was growing, as believers walked in obedience and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had returned to Capernaum after feeding the five thousand. The multitude had followed Jesus there seeking more free bread. Jesus told them that his flesh was the living bread of heaven which has come down to give life to the world. The Jewish religious authorities questioned how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat. So Jesus told them that unless one eats the flesh of the Son of man (Jesus) and drinks his blood one does not have eternal life.

Jesus declared that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in them. As God gives Jesus eternal life, so those who eat Jesus’ flesh and blood will live because of Jesus. Thus Jesus is the true bread which comes down from heaven, unlike the manna, which the patriarchs ate and did not receive eternal life from it. Those who eat this bread (Jesus’ flesh and blood) will live forever. This took place in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Commentary:

Eliphaz told Job that when bad things happen they are often the deserved consequences of our actions, but that trouble is to be expected as a natural condition of life. If troubles represent the reproval of the Lord, we should accept his reproof, because he disciplines us for our benefit. One should commit one’s welfare to the Lord because only the Lord has our best interests at heart, and only he is faithful and able to preserve and deliver us.

Paul is a great example of how the Lord disciplines us for our good, and how although he disciplines, he also heals and delivers us from trouble. Paul had been successful in his culture, but he was headed in the wrong direction. If he had not been disciplined by the Lord on the road to Damascus he would have wasted his life persecuting Christianity and would have missed eternal life in Heaven with the Lord.

Instead, Paul became one of the great Christian evangelists and received eternal life. He went from a leader of his society to a persecuted minority of that society, but he became a leader in the Church, had fellowship with Christians throughout the world, and a personal relationship with the King of the Universe. He had trouble and persecution but the Lord was faithful and able to deliver him from them.

Jesus is the only one who can offer security and life, in this world and for eternity. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have troubles, but he does promise that in him we will be saved and delivered from all our  troubles. Material things seem to promise security and life, but they are false promises.

What Jesus promises will be fulfilled. The Jewish religious leaders doubted what Jesus had said about giving his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. What Jesus said sounded impossible to them. They were relying on worldly wisdom. Jesus’ words were fulfilled when he instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper; Matthew 26:26-29) on the night of his betrayal.

Do you believe 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)?

15 Pentecost – Tuesday – Even

First posted 09/13/04;
Podcast: Tuesday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 6:1-4, 8-15, 21  -  Job replies;
Acts 9:32-43  -  Peter restores Aeneas and Dorcas;
John 6:60-71  -  Words of eternal life;

Job Paraphrase:

Job had suffered more than ordinary misfortune. Job wished that God would end Job’s life. Job’s one consolation was that he had not yet renounced his faith in God, but he was afraid that he might come to that point. He recognized that he did not have sufficient resources within him to sustain himself. He could see no hope beyond his present situation which would make continued suffering worthwhile.

One who withholds kindness from a friend has abandoned his faith in God. That kind of friend is as dangerous as a flash-flood. Job suggested that his three friends, who had come to console him, had become that sort of friend; they saw Job’s calamity and were afraid for themselves.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter traveled throughout the region visiting Christian congregations. At Lydda (Lod, Ludd; about 9 miles southeast of Joppa) he found a man named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter told him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed” (Acts 9:34) and immediately the man arose. Word of this healing caused many from Lydda and the surrounding area to turn to the Lord.

At the same time there was a disciple in Joppa named Tabitha (Aramaic for Gazelle; Dorcas is the Greek equivalent). She was known for her good works and charity. She died, and she was washed and placed in an upper room. Knowing that Peter was in Lydda, the congregation sent messengers to him asking him to come. Among the mourners were widows for whom Dorcas had made coats and clothing.

Peter put everyone out of the room and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the body and called Tabitha’s name and told her to rise. She opened her eyes, saw Peter and sat up. He held out his hand and she took it and stood up. Then Peter brought her out to her friends. This healing became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord as a result. Peter stayed for many days in Joppa, with Simon the tanner.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had told the crowds that came to hear him that those who eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood will live forever (John 6:41-59). His disciples told him that this teaching was disturbing. Jesus knew his disciples’ inner thoughts, and he asked, if they took offense at this saying, how would they react at Jesus’ ascension? Jesus said that it is the Spirit which gives life; flesh is not eternal. Jesus had spoken of spirit and life. But Jesus knew that some did not believe. Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe, and who would betray him. Jesus said that was why he had said that no one can come to him unless God the Father granted it.

After this many of his followers turned away from him. Jesus asked the Twelve if they would also stop following Jesus, and Simon replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Jesus replied that he had chosen the Twelve, and that one of them was a devil, referring to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray Jesus.

Commentary:

Job had lost almost everything. He still had faith in God, but he was afraid he might come to the point where he would lose even that. He recognized that he did not have the resources within himself to sustain him. He had no hope beyond his present life. Job feared that he might be forced by suffering to abandon his faith, but he realized that there is another kind of abandonment of faith, when believers do not respond to the suffering of others with compassion.

Peter is an example of how disciples of Jesus should respond to people who are suffering. Peter encountered a man who had been bedridden for a long time. Peter had been given the gift of healing by the Holy Spirit. Peter was led by the Holy Spirit to heal the man and restore him to useful life.  Peter acted in faith guided by the Holy Spirit, and faith increased, in himself and in those around him.

People in Joppa knew of Peter’s gift of healing and knew he was nearby, so they sent for him in faith, and he responded to their request. He restored Dorcas to them, and faith increased.

Peter stayed with Simon, a tanner of animal skins. Simon’s occupation made him a social outcast among Jews, because according to Jewish Law, he was ritually unclean.

Jesus speaks spiritual truths, which the world finds offensive. One will either trust and obey what Jesus says, or one will take offense and turn away from him and ultimately betray him. Jesus warned his disciples that their faith would face more difficult challenges in Jesus’ crucifixion and his ascension into heaven that this “offensive” teaching. Our worldly thinking needs to be disturbed by Jesus’ teaching, because our unchallenged worldly thinking will lead us to our eternal death.

Faith is the gift God gives us as we trust and obey. Peter’s reply demonstrates the gift of faith in Jesus: if we will trust and obey Jesus, we will come to know for ourselves with certainty that he is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). We won’t have to wait until we die in order to know whether we were right or not. Not all of Jesus’ “followers” will trust and obey Jesus; those who do not trust and obey will eventually betray.

Job didn’t have the benefit of the revelation of God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. He didn’t have the promise of eternal life. He didn’t have the gift of the Holy Spirit to sustain, comfort and encourage him. Job recognized that the faithful response to the suffering of others is compassionate; those who have not learned to trust in the Lord respond to misfortune in others by withdrawing from the sufferer. Suffering in others makes them fearful for themselves.

Those who have experienced the comfort and encouragement of the Lord can share that comfort and encouragement with others (2 Corinthians 1:4). If we will trust and obey the Lord we do not need to fear that we will lose our faith. Are we willing to hear Jesus’ words even when they make us uncomfortable?

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)?

15 Pentecost – Wednesday – Even

First posted 09/14/04;
Podcast: Wednesday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 6:1; 7:1-21  -  Life is hard and transient;
Acts 10:1-16  -  Peter’s vision at Joppa;
John 7:1-13  -  The Feast of Tabernacles;

Job Paraphrase:

Mankind’s lot in life is hard labor; he’s no more than a slave. Job’s days were full of emptiness and his nights were full of misery and tossing. Job suffered a miserable skin disease. Job realized that life is brief, and feared that he would never again experience good. He had no hope beyond his physical death. Job could not find relief in sleep; when he managed to sleep he was troubled by bad dreams. Job felt that God had singled him out for torment. Job didn’t know what he had done to deserve God’s punishment, but he longed to be forgiven.

Acts Paraphrase:

Cornelius was a Roman Centurion attached to the Italian Cohort, a military garrison at Caesarea. Cornelius and his household were worshipers of God (but had not adopted the Jewish religion; he was not circumcised, and did not keep the Jewish dietary laws). Cornelius contributed liberally to the poor and he prayed constantly. About 3:00 PM, Cornelius had a vision of an angel of the Lord who addressed Cornelius by name. Cornelius was frightened, but the angel told him that the Lord had seen his charitable deeds and heard his prayers.

The angel told Cornelius to send messengers to Joppa to bring Simon Peter to Cornelius. The angel told Cornelius that Peter was staying at the house of Simon the Tanner, by the seaside. When the angel departed, Cornelius called two of his servants and a soldier under his command and sent them to Joppa to do as the angel had directed.

The next day, as Cornelius’ men approached Joppa, Peter went up to the housetop at noon to pray. During his prayers, he became hungry and asked for a meal. While the food was being prepared he fell into a trance and had a vision.

In the vision he saw what looked like a bed sheet containing all kinds of animals lowered down from heaven by its four corners. A voice from heaven instructed him to select something to eat from the assortment. Peter at first objected, saying that he had never eaten anything regarded as “unclean” (Jewish dietary laws forbid eating any animals other than cloven-hoofed ruminants). But the voice replied that Peter should not regard as unclean what God has cleansed. This vision was repeated three times.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus was teaching openly in Galilee, but avoided Judea, because the Jewish authorities in Judea were seeking to kill him. The feast of Tabernacles was at hand, and Jesus’ brothers told Jesus he should go to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, so that he could declare himself to the pilgrims from all over the world who would be there. Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in Jesus.

Jesus told them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.” Jesus told his brothers that the world could not hate them, but the world hated Jesus because Jesus testified that the works of the world are evil. Jesus told his brothers to go to Jerusalem themselves; Jesus chose to remain in Galilee because his time of self-disclosure had not yet fully come.

After his brothers had left for Jerusalem, Jesus also went to the feast, but privately. The Judeans were looking for Jesus at the feast. There was considerable controversy among them regarding Jesus. Some thought Jesus was a good man, while others thought he was leading the people astray. But the people were afraid to speak openly about Jesus for fear of the religious authorities.

Commentary:

In the midst of his suffering Job blamed God. Job felt that he was being unjustly punished. Death seemed to be his only hope of relief. He longed to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God. Job’s situation is an illustration of the eternal fate of all mankind, apart from Jesus Christ. God didn’t cause Job’s suffering; it’s the natural consequence of life.

Sooner or later, all will come to a point of suffering, despair and utter hopelessness, except those who are in Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus to save us from that fate. In Jesus, God shows that he loves us; that he’s not causing our suffering but actively working to heal it and give us assurance of eternal life without suffering. In Jesus, we have the forgiveness Job longed to have; we have the hope of long life free from suffering beyond our physical death which Job didn’t have.

The record of the conversion of Cornelius shows God actively at work in the lives of Cornelius and Peter to bring Cornelius to salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s salvation is offered not just to a select few but to all who are open to receive it. Cornelius was open and obedient to God’s leading, and so was Peter. Peter was not rigid in his doctrine, but open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Peter followed the Lord’s example, administering the gospel not to afflict and oppress but to relieve and save.

Religion in Jesus’ day had gone from being the ministry of God’s forgiveness, to become a means of oppressing the people. The religious leaders were not open to the leading of the Lord. They weren’t seeking the Lord’s will and direction; they were pursuing their own doctrines and agendas.

Jesus’ brothers thought Jesus should adopt the worldly ways of doing things to promote his ministry. They saw the feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem as an opportunity for Jesus to publicize his teachings, achieve recognition and win worldly approval. Jesus declined to adopt worldly methods to “promote” his ministry. Instead, Jesus focused on seeking and following God’s will and timing, and earning God’s approval.

Jesus is God’s only plan for our forgiveness and salvation from sin and death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). That plan is not devised by man. It is designed by God to free us, not to oppress us. We can do it God’s way or our way. Our way leads to eternal suffering and death; God’s way leads 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)?

15 Pentecost – Thursday – Even

First posted 09/15/04;
Podcast: Thursday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 8:1-10, 20-22  -  Bildad affirms divine justice;
Acts 10:17-33  -  Peter goes to Cornelius;
John 7:14-36  -  Controversy over Jesus;

Job Paraphrase:

Bildad, the “son of contention,” a Shuhite (probably a descendant of Shuah, who was the sixth son of Abraham by Keturah), responds to Job’s complaint, basically telling Job to stop complaining. He suggests that Job’s children must have sinned and had therefore deserved their demise. He suggests that if Job is righteous, as Job insists that he is, then Job should seek God and God will bless him.

Bildad advises Job to turn to the scriptures, for they are the accumulated experiences of the patriarchs. Bildad offers several proverbs which affirm that God will not reject the blameless, nor vindicate evildoers; that when things seem hopeless God is still able to restore hope and joy; those who hate the righteous will be put to shame and the wicked will perish.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter had had a vision of animals which were not lawful to be eaten, according to Jewish Law, and had been instructed by the Lord that it was alright to eat them; that they should no longer be regarded as unclean because the Lord had cleansed them (Acts 10:13-15). Cornelius, a Roman Centurion had also had a vision instructing him to send to Joppa for Peter.

While Peter was contemplating his vision, the men sent by Cornelius arrived at the gate of the house where Peter was staying. The Holy Spirit told Peter that the men seeking him had been sent by the Lord’s will, and that Peter should accompany them without hesitation, so Peter went down to the men and invited them to be his guests.

The next day he and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied the men to Cornelius in Caesarea. Cornelius had called together his kinsmen and close friends in anticipation of Peter’s arrival. When Peter arrived, Cornelius fell down at his feet and worshiped him, but Peter lifted him up and told Cornelius that Peter was only an ordinary man like Cornelius.

Peter told them that Jewish Law forbids Jews to associate with Gentiles, but that God had shown him that he should regard no person as common or unclean, and had therefore come without objection. Cornelius told of his vision of the angel prompting him to send for Peter. He said they were ready to hear what Peter had to say.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem anonymously for the feast of Tabernacles, instead of publicly as his brothers had suggested. Around the middle of the feast Jesus went into the temple and taught. The people wondered how Jesus had attained such knowledge without formal education.

Jesus told them his teaching was not his own; it was from God his Father. Any person who is committed to doing God’s will will be able to recognize that Jesus’ teaching is from God. One who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but Jesus was not seeking his own glory. Because Jesus’ purpose was to glorify God, his testimony is true.

Jesus told them that they were under condemnation by the Law of Moses. They had been given the law but they did not keep its precepts. Jesus knew they were seeking to kill him, but they denied it and suggested that he was crazy. Jesus said that the Jews practiced ritual observance of the law but not the spirit of the law. The Jews practiced circumcision on the Sabbath but wanted to kill Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Their keeping of the law and their judgment were superficial, based on outward appearances.

It was common knowledge in Jerusalem that there were people seeking to kill Jesus (John 7:25). The people were amazed that Jesus was speaking openly and that the authorities could do nothing. The people wondered if the authorities actually realized that Jesus was indeed the Christ. But they discounted Jesus as the Christ because they thought they knew where Jesus came from, which seemed contrary to scripture.

The people didn’t know God, although they thought they did. Jesus said that they only thought they knew where Jesus had come from. Jesus declared that he been sent by God, had come from God and knew God. So the Jews sought to arrest Jesus, but were unable to because it was not in God’s timing. But many people believed in Jesus because of the many miracles he had done.

The Pharisees heard the crowd talking about Jesus so they sent officers to arrest Jesus. Jesus told them he would be with them a little longer, and then he would go to him who had sent Jesus; they would seek Jesus and not be able to find him, and where Jesus is they cannot come. The Jews discussed among themselves what Jesus meant. They though Jesus meant to go to the Jews living among the Gentiles.

Commentary:

Faith is not a matter of outward appearance but of inner conviction which results in trust and obedience. Bildad was making judgments about Job and Job’s children based on outward appearances. Bildad assumed that since the children had been destroyed, that they must have sinned, and that if Job was as righteous and blameless as he claimed that God would restore him.

Peter had been raised in the legalistic Judaism of his time. The Lord needed to teach Peter not to judge people by outward appearances so that he could bring the Gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles.

Cornelius was seeking to know and do God’s will with his whole heart. The facts that he was an Italian and not a Jew, that he was not a member of the Jewish religion, and that he was not circumcised didn’t matter. He was open to the leading of God’s Word and God’s Spirit and he sought the truth. He acted on God’s Word in trust and obedience. The result was that he and his household had the opportunity to hear the Gospel; they believed, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The Jews of Jesus’ day wanted the appearance of righteousness without the commitment of obedience to God’s will. They judged Jesus on the basis of outward appearances: they were amazed by Jesus’ knowledge since he didn’t have a “diploma;” they thought they knew where Jesus was from because they knew his earthly home and parentage; they thought they knew God, but did not recognize God’s Son; they thought they knew God’s Word but did not recognize that Jesus was the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14).

They did not recognize Jesus’ teaching as God’s Word because they were not committed to obedience to God’s will (John 7:17). Many people believed in Jesus because of the miracles which he did. They were so focused on outward appearances that they couldn’t see the spiritual significance of what Jesus said and did; only the outward superficial implications (John 7:35).

How are we doing? Jesus said, “Why call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say (Matthew 7:21-23)? Good deeds won’t save us. Church membership won’t save us. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us.

The Holy Spirit is the “seal” of God’s approval, the “down-payment” and the “guarantee” of eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). The Lord gives his Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e).

Do we choose our spiritual leaders by evidence of the Holy Spirit within them, or by evidence of their formal education? 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)?

15 Pentecost – Friday – Even

First posted 09/16/04;
Podcast: Friday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 9:1-15, 32-35 -  Job acknowledges God’s Power;
Acts 10:34-48  -  Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit;
John 7:37-52  -  Living water;

Job Paraphrase:

Job asks how any person can be deemed righteous in God’s judgment; how can any mortal prevail against God’s wisdom and power? Who can argue with God and win? Who can oppose God’s will and succeed? Creation bears witness to God’s wisdom and power.

God’s works are beyond mankind’s ability to understand or even count. We can’t even see and find God (except as he chooses to reveal himself to us), but he knows where we are and he can snatch us away at any moment, and who can prevent it?

There is no way that mankind can vindicate himself before God; our only chance is to appeal for mercy. We are not God’s equals, that we could be tried impartially, man versus God, as equals. There is no one to mediate between God and man, who could restrain God’s power so that we might face him without fear.

Acts Paraphrase:

Peter had been called by the Holy Spirit to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile living in Caesarea, to share with him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:1-33). Peter said that he perceived that God does not show partiality to any person. Anyone who reverences God and does what is right is acceptable to God, regardless of race or nationality.

Then Peter told Cornelius and his household the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ; how Jesus proclaimed this Gospel throughout Judea and Galilee, following his baptism by John the Baptizer; how God had anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power to heal and restore.

Peter told how Jesus had been crucified, but that God had raised him from the dead on the third day; how Jesus had appeared, after his resurrection, to his disciples, who testify to the truth of Jesus and his resurrection.

Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the good news of Jesus Christ “and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; compare 1 Peter 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:1). “All the prophets (i.e., scripture) bear witness that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

While Peter was still speaking “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). Jewish Christians from Joppa who had accompanied Peter to Cornelius were amazed to realize that the Holy Spirit had been given to (uncircumcised) Gentiles. Peter asked rhetorically what possible reason could prevent these Gentiles, who had obviously received the Holy Spirit (just as the circumcised had; Acts 2:4-11) from being baptized. The Gentile converts were baptized and Peter remained there for a number of days.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles, a seven-day festival of the final harvest of the year, which began on a Sabbath (in September-October). It was concluded by a special Sabbath on the eighth day (Numbers 29:35-38). “On the last day of the feast [probably the eighth day] Jesus stood up and said, ‘If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

On hearing this, some said that Jesus was the prophet who scripture prophesied would come to announce the coming Messiah. Others thought that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (Christ). But some argued that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because Jesus had (apparently) come from Galilee, and the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem. So there was controversy among the people over him. Some wanted to arrest Jesus, but no one did.

The chief priests and Pharisees asked the officers of the Temple why they had not arrested Jesus, and the officers replied, “No one ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46)! The Pharisees ridiculed the officers for being carried away with Jesus’ words, pointing out that none of the religious authorities believed Jesus; only the uneducated and sinful crowds believed what Jesus said.

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus at night (John 3:1-16) and was one of “them” (he was a Pharisee; he was also a disciple; John 19:39), reminded them that the Law does not condone judgment without a fair trial. The Pharisees responded by asking if Nicodemus was from Galilee also; they told him that there was no scripture to support any prophet arising from Galilee.

Commentary:

Job recognized the chasm which separates man from God. 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 no way that mankind can vindicate himself before God. Our only hope is to appeal to God’s mercy to forgive our sins.

God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to die eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; see also God’s plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). God sent Jesus to be the mediator between ourselves and God, so that we could be reconciled and restored to a right relationship with God. Jesus is the bridge over the chasm which separates us from God. God made Jesus the impartial judge who restrains God’s power and allows us to face God without fear (provided that we trust and obey Jesus).

The good news of Jesus Christ is that all who believe (trust and obey; believe and act on that belief) in Jesus receive forgiveness of sins. [Salvation is not earned by “doing good deeds” (Ephesians 2:8-9) but how can one truly believe that Jesus is Lord and not do what Jesus commands (Matthew 7:21-24)?] God is committed to being totally impartial. He has appointed Jesus to be the impartial judge.

Jesus will judge the living and the dead; the physically living and dead, and the spiritually living and dead. Everyone will be judged by the same standard, and that standard is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “seal” of God’s approval, the “down-payment” and the “guarantee” of eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to him (Romans 8:9b). The Lord gives his Holy Spirit to his disciples who trust and obey him (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e).

The feast of Tabernacles was the celebration of the final harvest. It was a time of remembrance and thanksgiving for what God has done for his people in bringing them through the wilderness to the point of receiving the fruits of the final harvest in the Promised Land.

One of the features of the festival was the carrying of water from the pool of Siloam to be poured on the altar each dawn during the feast as a reminder of the water brought forth from the rock in the wilderness (Numbers 20:2-13) and as a symbol of hope of the coming Messiah. This is the context in which Jesus declared that he was the source of Living Water that would flow out of the hearts of believers and become a river of living water, corresponding to an image of the water poured upon the altar in the Temple becoming a river flowing down the steps and through the gates into the world (compare Exodus 47:1-6a; Revelation 22:1-2).

The Holy Spirit is the water of eternal life, which only Jesus can provide, which quenches our spiritual thirst. What Jesus said stirred up great controversy. Each individual must decide for himself who he believes Jesus to be. Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, our savior and Lord, the Son of God and righteous judge? Or do we think he’s merely a prophet, or a “good” man? Do we think he’s just a “Galilean;” a swindler; a pretender?

Have we condemned him without giving him a fair hearing? The religious authorities who thought they knew so much about Jesus and the Scriptures decided Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because he wasn’t from Bethlehem, not realizing that by God’s will Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem  (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7). The experts didn’t know as much as they thought they did.

Jesus has promised that he will return to judge everyone who has ever lived (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 refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with Satan and all evil.

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)?

15 Pentecost – Saturday – Even

First posted 09/17/04;
Podcast: Saturday 15 Pentecost – Even
Job 9:1; 10:1-9, 16-22 -  Job’s complaint;
Acts 11:1-18  -  Peter’s defense;
John 8:12-20  -  The Light of the World;

Job Paraphrase:

Job was a blameless man who had suffered the loss of his health, wealth and posterity. He had come to loathe life. Job decided to voice his complaint and his bitterness. He asked God not to condemn him, and to tell him why God was allowing Job to suffer. He appealed to God as his creator. He acknowledged that God’s faculties are greater than mankind’s, and thus hoped that God would do right to Job.

Job regretted that he had ever been born. He wished that he had been “still-born” so that he could have gone directly from the womb to the grave. Yet he knew that life is short, and longed for a little “brightness” (Hebrew: “brighten up;” Job 10:20 RSV, footnote “a”) before he died. He visualized death as a land of gloom and darkness.

Acts Paraphrase:

News of the conversion of Gentiles (Cornelius and his household; Acts 10:1-48) reached the Church in Jerusalem. When Peter went to Jerusalem, a group of Jewish Christians who insisted on keeping the Laws and traditions of Judaism (“Judaizers,” the “circumcision party”) criticized Peter for associating with and eating with Gentiles. Peter explained step-by-step in detail how he had seen the vision from the Lord teaching him not to regard anything (or anyone) as ritually “unclean,” how the men had arrived from Cornelius precisely at the moment the vision had ended, and how the Holy Spirit had told Peter to accompany these men to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.

Peter told the Church in Jerusalem that when he had arrived at Cornelius’ house, Cornelius described a vision Cornelius had seen of an angel telling him to send for Peter at Joppa, with specific directions to Peter’s location. The angel had told Cornelius that Peter had a message by which Cornelius and his household would be saved.

When Peter told Cornelius and his household the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, just as the Church in Jerusalem had been filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The Gentiles received the Holy Spirit by the Lord’s will and timing; Peter had merely co-operated with the Lord’s will and timing. When they heard this, Peter’s critics were silenced, and the Church acknowledged that salvation had been granted to Gentiles as well as to Jews.

John Paraphrase:

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1-52), a seven-day festival of the final harvest of the year, which began on a Sabbath (in September-October). It was concluded by a special Sabbath on the eighth day (Numbers 29:35-38).

One of the special features of the festival was the lighting of large golden lamps in the Temple court as a memorial to the pillar of fire by night during their wilderness wandering (Exodus 13:21-22), and by all-night dancing by torchlight to the music of flutes. In that context, Jesus declared that he is the light of the world. Jesus promised that those who follow him will not walk in darkness, but will have the “light of life.”

The Pharisees rejected Jesus’ words because Jesus was testifying about himself, and they felt that was unreliable. Jesus replied that even if he was testifying about himself his testimony was true. Jesus declared that he knew his origin and destiny, but mankind did not know Jesus’ origin or destiny. Jesus said that mankind judges according to the flesh (worldly, human nature). Jesus is not “judgmental;” Jesus’ judgment is impartial and “just,” because Jesus does not judge according to his own judgment but in accordance with God the Father’s judgment.

Jesus told them that “the Father who sent me bears witness to me” (John 8:18; satisfying the Jewish requirement for collaborative testimony). The Pharisees responded by asking Jesus, “Where is your Father” (John 8:19a)? Jesus replied, “You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me you would know my Father also” (John 8:19b). This exchange occurred in the Temple treasury; but Jesus was not arrested, because it was not yet in God’s timing.

Commentary:

Job’s hope for justice and vindication was in God’s superhuman wisdom and righteousness. Thus Job was able to trust that God would do right to Job. Job was having trouble waiting for God to act on Job’s behalf. Job visualized death as darkness and longed for a little brightness before the inevitability of death. [Death is not nothingness, and there is no such thing as reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27; John 5:28-29). We will all spend eternity either in Heaven with Jesus or in Hell with Satan and all evil (Matthew 25:31-46)]. Job’s suffering is a picture of eternity without Jesus; physical death will not end suffering for those who die without Jesus.

The indwelling Holy Spirit gave Peter the “vision” and the guidance to present the Gospel to Cornelius and his household. The angel (manifestation of the Lord’s presence) who appeared to Cornelius corresponds to the manifestation of Jesus’ presence (as “light”) to Paul (Saul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-5), the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9b). Cornelius trusted and obeyed the Lord’s instructions, and he subsequently received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as he responded to the Gospel with faith. Cornelius and his household received spiritual sight, spiritual light, and spiritual guidance through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The “Gentile Pentecost” was in God’s timing, as the “Jewish” Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) had been. [The disciples had been commanded by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24: 49; Acts 1:4-5).] Peter had been accused by the “Judaizers” of having “stumbled;” of having made a “misstep” in allowing uncircumcised Gentiles to join the Church.

Jesus declared that he is the “light of the world;” that those who follow (trust and obey) him will not stumble because they will not walk in darkness (John 11:9-10; they will have spiritual enlightenment, and they will be obedient to Jesus, and not participating in works of darkness. Jesus’ statement is both a promise and a command.). Those who follow Jesus will have the “light of life” (the joy and brightness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in this lifetime, and the comfort and joy of eternal life in Heaven, where there is no more death, pain or sorrow; Revelation 21:4).

The Pharisees were “judgmental” concerning Jesus. They decided Jesus’ testimony was unworthy of belief because Jesus was testifying about himself. They refused to accept that Jesus’ father was God, and they challenged the legitimacy of Jesus’ earthly parentage. The Pharisees proved that they did not know God (or the scriptures) as well as they thought, because they did not recognize Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah.

Their attitude contrasts the difference between human judgment and divine judgment. Jesus’ judgment is the judgment of God, totally impartial and in complete agreement and obedience to God’s will. The Pharisees had already judged Jesus as deserving to die (without having been tried under Jewish Law) but no one arrested Jesus, because it was not yet God’s timing for that to be allowed to happen.

Notice that Jesus spoke these words in the Treasury of the Temple (John 8:20). Jesus is “the riches of the glory of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”  [The Greek word translated “glory” means abundance, wealth, treasure, honor; it also means the splendor of God’s presence, and the bliss of heaven. (Colossians 1:27).

Jesus is the fulfillment of Job’s (and mankind’s) longing for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, for comfort of sorrow and brightness of hope for life beyond physical death.  The gift of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be light within us to comfort and guide us, to keep us from stumbling in the darkness of this present world; to be the “pillar of fire” which guides us through the “wilderness” and “night” of this world. The Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be the light of life; to be the “seal,” “down payment” and “guarantee” of eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16) in the brightness of Heaven (Revelation 21:23-25), where there is no more suffering and death (see above).

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). Are we co-operating with God’s plan and God’s timing? Are we waiting on God’s timing, or are we making God wait for 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)?


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