Beware the Foreign Figurehead

November 21, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Posted in Matthew, The Fives | Leave a comment
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The first two beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount deal with people who are blessed because of the situation in which they find themselves: the poor in spirit and those who mourn. But the third beatitude pronounces a benediction upon people who are exercising a certain virtue:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

A person who has the capacity to be meek is someone who already appears blessed. It is a person who has strength, but then, in humility, and out of a desire to love and serve others, brings that strength under control.

Jesus says that the blessing for being meek is inheriting the earth. How much of a blessing is this, though, really? The earth – the arena of Adam’s fallen and sin-sick race – has become quite a shabby place. And perhaps that is the point at which Jesus connects the idea of meekness with receiving it as an inheritance.

See, Adam, the first man, was supposed to exercise dominion over the earth. This was a great honor. As the image-bearer of his Supreme Creator he was supposed to use his position to make His Creator seem great – in other words, to “glorify” Him. However, Adam – acting as our accurate representative even before we showed up – blew it big time. He did not glorify his Creator. He acted like the Creator was a promise-breaker: unwilling, unable, or at least unlikely to keep His Word concerning disobedience. And therefore Adam lost his dominion and our “inheritance,” if you will.

So, here we are, a little over 6000 years later, give or take, and the Creator has managed to redeem us at the greatest possible cost, and restore our inheritance. But how do we claim it? By acting like it should have been ours all along? By no means. We are to remember that this earth is a temporary inheritance compared to the eternal home we shall inherit in Christ Jesus. We are to think of Heaven as our home, and to think of ourselves as foreigners in this world. A faithful ambassador of his king, when visiting a foreign land, does not set himself up as a “figurehead.” Instead, he makes it clear that he is on a mission for his Lord. He brings under control the authority he has been granted, and exercises it temperately, reminding everyone that “the earth” is going to be reclaimed by its rightful Owner one day soon, and that He will deal accordingly with those who pretended that they owned it, and that He will demand an accounting from those He sent to be His emissaries.

Two Kings

November 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Matthew | Leave a comment
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Our Savior’s name is “Jesus.” His title is the “Christ,” because He was anointed and sent by the Father. His description is “Immanuel,” because He is “God with us.”

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 2:1-2

Gentiles came to worship Jesus as King of the Jews, but the traditional manger scenes are inaccurate. The Magi arrived much later.

The Jewish people themselves did not recognize Jesus as their king. Herod the Great was called “king” because of the influence of Mark Antony on the Senate in Rome. Herod was a descendant of Esau, whereas Jesus was a descendant of Jacob. Esau was carnal and Jacob was spiritual. Esau was worldly and Jacob was godly.

Herod died in 4 B.C. and Jesus was born in 6 or 5 B.C. Jesus had a reputation of being “from Nazareth,” even though He was born in Bethlehem, because He grew up in Nazareth. Nazareth was a humble place, and this prepared Him for a life of humility. As a parent, your prayers for your children may be answered in their persecution and humiliation. Contrary to the cliche’ whereby it sounds noble to want your children to have all the things you never had as a child, there is no command in the Bible to give them all the things that we never had. Sometimes we perceive over-bearing parents as legalistic when in reality they are just preparing their children for adversity for Christ’s sake later in life. Will a child who is embarrassed to dress modestly ever stand up in public and proclaim Christ? Will they ever knock on a stranger’s door and confront him about the condition of his soul? Jesus “of Nazareth” was probably used to being looked down upon, scorned, and ridiculed.

Matthew Chapter 3 records the first information on John the Baptist. John the Baptist appears in the New Testament of the Bible, but he was not the first New Testament prophet. He was actually the last Old Testament (Covenant) prophet. I doubt he would be any more popular today than he was in his own day. As people gathered to hear his message, he called the religious leaders a generation of vipers.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Matthew 3:11

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:5

Lord, help us to turn away from our idols, and to turn toward You. Help us to turn our faces, and our feet, and our minds, and most of all our hearts, to You. Lord, turn Your face toward us. Draw near to us, Lord. We don’t say this lightly, for Your presence will destroy the unholy and the vain – the empty and foolish things which stand in places where only Your glory should stand. We make a dangerous request, Lord, for You are holy, but we do it with great trust in Your mercy, and in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

The Promise of the Paraclete

November 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 1 Comment
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)
IV. The Promise of the Paraclete (John 14:15-26)

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:16

“Comforter” is translated from the Greek word Parakletos or “Paraclete,” meaning one who comes alongside to pick you up when you are hurt or weary, and to encourage you as he goes with you.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

The promise of the Paraclete was a mysterious promise. In the Old Testament He was known, but He seemed to be poured out upon only select anointed individuals, and only for temporary time periods. Jesus promised that He would abide with believers forever, and the Holy Spirit is not second fiddle, so to speak, to Jesus. In fact, He reinforces and perfectly identifies with the ministry of Jesus.

He was there at the incarnation of Jesus in His conception.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:20

He was there at Jesus’s baptism to empower His earthly ministry.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:22

He was there as Jesus battled Satan and was tempted.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

He was there at Jesus’s Ascension to take His place.

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

Acts 1:2

He is here today, and if you will yield to Him you will experience the fulfillment of the promise of the Paraclete in your life.

Next time, we will see the provision of peace.

Three Words about God: His Supremacy, His Image, and His Name

November 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Exodus | Leave a comment
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Exodus 20 contains one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. We usually refer to it as “The Ten Commandments.” Theologians call it “The Decalogue,” or “The Ten Words.”

The word “commandments” isn’t even used until Verse 6, but there is certainly nothing wrong with calling them the “Ten Commandments,” although they might be more properly thought of as the “sanctions” section of the Mosaic (Old) Covenant, which was in the form of a suzerainty treaty.

A suzerain is a greater king or overlord who enters into a covenant or agreement with a “lesser” king or nation, known as the “prince” or “lord” or “vassal.” A suzerainty treaty is a treaty – an agreement containing terms or conditions – between a greater king and a lesser king, ruler, nation, or group. The Decalogue itself is not a suzerainty treaty, but it is part of the suzerainty treaty that we call the Old Covenant. The Decalogue is similar to the U.S. Constitution, and the other 600 or so laws in the Old Covenant are similar to America’s federal statutes.

The Decalogue may also be thought of as a broad overview – a comprehensive survey – of the two greatest commandments or laws: Love God with everything within you, and love your neighbor as yourself.

The first Word of the Decalogue is:

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1-3

This prohibits idolatry. It does not mean that there are other divine beings, with God being the greatest one. It means that human beings are forbidden from thinking of any created thing or being, as being above, or equal to, God. “Before Me” doesn’t mean that God is number one, with some other god as number two. It means not to place anyone or anything (even anything fictitious) “in opposition to God” or to worship anything other than Him “in His presence” (which is everywhere).

The worship of any other being, or the ascription to any entity other than God of a status greater than or equal to God, would be considered by Him to be disloyalty, treachery, and an attack on His glory and His name.

We tend to think of the First Commandment as having a different application today from the application it had for Moses and the Israelites, but, actually, it applied to people in the ancient world in a very similar way. The little g gods that people worshiped in the ancient world were typically representations of their perceived needs or pleasures – their life-sustaining activities and their “fun” or distracting activities. In the First Commandment, God reminded them and us that He created us, and that He obviously “owns” us, but also that our activities, our joys, even our very thought processes, are to be exclusively centered around Him. If you are a parent, your two greatest responsibilities might be the clear teaching of the Gospel (which includes Who Christ is) to your children, and helping them to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God.

The second Word of the Decalogue is definitely referential to the first, but it is also definitely a separate Word:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:4-6

An overly literal, out-of-context reading of this commandment would seem to prohibit the representation of any creature. In that case, it would be sinful to have a toy fluffy pony or an army man or even a sculpture of a tree. However, when we recognize that the Second Commandment is tied to the idea of “worship” and therefore idolatry, then we get a truer perspective. The worship of false gods in ancient times always involved imagery – figures that in those days they were “graven.” This is still being prohibited by the Second Word, but the command goes even further, as it prohibits us from making a making a mental image of God as being so loving as to be unjust, or as being so kind as to not really have wrath. In other words, we break the Second Commandment any time that we make up a god in our minds that is not revealed in Scripture. This happens frequently when professing Christians claim that God rewards the “good works” of unconverted sinners by counting them as righteous based on their deeds.

Additionally, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, (and liberal seminary students) are flagrant violators of Word number two. They concoct a false “Jesus,” or they profess to believe something about God based on what they “feel” He is like.

The Third Word is:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

Why would God not hold guiltless those that take His name in vain? Why is this such a serious crime? Because vanity is emptiness masquerading as fullness, and God’s name has great weight. It is empty of neither holiness, nor authority. Taking something “in vain” is ascribing negligible value to it. If there is anything in this universe that’s not vain, it is the Lord our God, and His name is a great gift and a great blessing, because it is a great revelation. God is providing the very air and breath that people are using to mock or to even curse His name.

This is one of the reasons why we shouldn’t flippantly exclaim, “Oh my G–,” or even say or type “OMG” or “gosh” or whatever else fills in for His name. Don’t say Jesus’s name like a curse word. One of the proofs of the depravity of man is the ubiquity of blasphemy and the complete absence of epithets such as “Adolf Hitler!” or “Muhammadd- – n!” or “Buddhad- – n!” I teach my kids not to use God’s name unless we are talking to, or about, God.

Catechism Question 13

November 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | Leave a comment
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Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Prove it.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20

God’s overwhelming holiness is too great for sinful human beings to look upon His unveiled presence without being supernaturally strengthened. This will be one of the great benefits and blessings for Christians in Heaven. We shall be able to gaze upon our Lord in our glorified state without fear.

Other verses to consider:

God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I Corinthians 13:12

The Path of Sacrifice

November 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Biblical Walking | 1 Comment
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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Old Testament sacrifices weren’t living sacrifices – at least not for long. When a lamb or a goat or a dove or a bull was sacrificed, it was put to death – then it had no trouble staying on the altar. As New Testament Christians, we are called to present our bodies before the Lord, but I’m thankful we are not called to be dead sacrifices. We are called to be living sacrifices.

This means, among other things, that our bodies need to be God-oriented. They need to be focused on God, moving toward God, and moving with God. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to accomplish this yielding of our bodies by the renewing of our minds. Proverbs 4 tells us that it starts with our hearts, but it is the same idea.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

“Keep with diligence” is redundant, because that’s what diligence is: it is taking care of something by watching it closely. The “heart” has control over the more literal body parts.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Guard your mouth from being froward – from saying something that will cause problems. “Perverse lips” means saying anything wrong – from telling lies, to being hurtful, to cursing.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Christians know their destination: He is Jesus. We have to keep our eyes on Him to move toward Him, and we have to keep our eyes on the Bible to move with Him.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Proverbs 4:26

Watch your step. Stay on the right path. It’s a narrow path. If you’re wandering all over the place, you’re not on it.

Let your ways be “established” – let them be made stable by leaning on the Rock – by “amening” – leaning your whole weight upon the Lord.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:27

A little step in either direction takes you out of the path of being a living sacrifice. It makes you a living, but wandering, rebel. Continuing on in a direction, either right or left, will eventually bring you to the point of having made a 180 degree turn – the exact opposite direction.

Remove your foot from evil. People who wander in the minefield are going to get blown up – along with the children and wives and others who were following them.

A Prize-Winning Run

November 4, 2014 at 11:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

I Corinthians 9:24-26

There are many metaphors for life: a battle, a trial, a journey, a puzzle. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to compare the Christian life to a race. This would have been a familiar theme for the Corinthian Christians because of the Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games were a smaller version of the Olympic games. They featured organized athletic contests, including fights and races.

Everyone knows how a race works. Everybody who signs up to run gets to participate, but only one wins. This makes for a good analogy, even though it is not precisely true in the Christian life. As Christians, our prize is the approval of our Master, and we do run to obtain it, but it is not a zero sum game. Christ has enough “well dones” to go around, which means we are competing, but not against each other. It is like we are competing against ourselves.

The prize for winning a race at the Isthmian Games would have been a laurel or a grass crown – which is corruptible. It would look splendid on race day, but it would look like dead straw after a couple of days. In the race of the Christian life, our prize has eternal value.

Running in place or shadow boxing are handy for warming up before an earthly race or fight, but, in spiritual matters, we are not supposed to be playing games. We are affecting the lives of others for the sake of Christ. As fallen sinners, we may expect to encounter our share of relational drama, petty gossiping, even bickering, in-fighting, and childish squabbling, but Christ commands us to be victorious over those things. Our race is well underway, and we don’t have time to play around. We’re going to see King Jesus in a few days, and we don’t want to be ashamed or regretful.

So, let me give you a few things to keep in mind as you hit the ground running and keep your eyes on the prize.

1. Get started right.

Make sure you are saved, and make sure you know the Gospel. If your life is not Gospel-centered, then it’s not Christ-centered, and you are either loitering around the starting line long after the gun has sounded, or you’ve jumped the gun and are going to have to start over.

2. Don’t carry too much weight.

Material possessions will weigh you down in this race. So will cares and concerns and burdens that need to be given to God. You can’t win a race carrying a suitcase full of baggage.

3. Don’t get tangled up with the other runners.

This is the only kind of race where helping the other runners actually speeds you up instead of slowing you down, but there is a difference between being a problem-solver and a busybody.

4. Stay on the race track.

Taking a shortcut in a race will get you disqualified – like the lady who may have a taken a subway in the Boston Marathon. There are no shortcuts in the Christian race. You’re going to have to discipline yourself to read your Bible, to pray, to go to church every week, to serve, to love people you don’t feel like loving. You will need to learn to expect suffering, and to recognize it as an an opportunity to glorify God.

Beware the Feminine Force

October 29, 2014 at 8:24 am | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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God’s angel had just shown Zechariah the vision of the flying roll when he told him to “look up” and see another sight.

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

Zechariah 5:5

This vision was even stranger, and Zechariah needed the angel to explain to him exactly what he was seeing.

And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.

An ephah was a standard form of measurement, used to measure wheat or barley. It may have been symbolic of the way that the Jewish merchants had been swindling their customers by using false weights and measurements, a sin which God detests. Inside this ephah, instead of kernels of wheat, was a woman being held down by a lead weight, as though she might escape and cause great mischief.

And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

Zechariah 5:7-8

It is not a mistake that the subject of the vision was a woman, and the word translated as “wickedness” in verse 8 is a feminine noun. The Jewish people in Zechariah’s day had gone far into idolatry, not only worshiping false male gods, but bowing down and sacrificing to false female deities as well.

The vision continued as two more women with large and powerful wings intercepted the ephah and the wicked woman trapped inside, and swooped them away to judgment – probably predicting the manner in which the Roman army would fly down upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and execute God’s judgment upon the nation that had rejected His Son and Messiah.

Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

Zechariah 5:9

We praise the Lord today for Godly women who serve faithfully in His Kingdom. The Bible does warn, though, of a feminine propensity toward gullibility and usurpation (I Timothy 2:12-14). When Christian men are exercising their God-ordained leadership roles, loving sacrificially and serving humbly, then helpful and gifted women will be better able to exercise their callings in Christ liberally and without a weight of worldly oppression constraining them in a container of guarded suspicion.

Prophecy Fulfilled in a Person

October 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Matthew | Leave a comment
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Lord, help us to endure – to be focused and energized, not weary. Help us to be excited about Your will, zealous for Your glory, and ready always to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Please help us even to look for opportunities to give an answer, and teach us how from Your Word. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

The Book of Matthew starts off with a genealogy. All reasonable Jewish people would agree that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. No one in the last 2000 years can prove that He is a descendant of David except for One. The Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D.70 and destroyed all the genealogical records. Only Jesus’s genealogical record survives today and we find it in Matthew. The Holy Spirit has published the proof that Jesus of Nazareth is a son of David.

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:16-18

Matthew was a historian as well as an inspired writer of Scripture. The three major periods of Israel’s history are outlined with sections of 14 generations each because the numerical value of the Hebrew letters for “David” equals 14.

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

Genesis 5:1 (emphasis added)

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1 (emphasis added)

There was a “first Adam” and there is a “last Adam.” The first one lost his kingdom through disobedience, and the last One obtained His Kingdom by obedience unto death.

One reason Matthew was written was to show the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:22-23

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matthew 2:14-15

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Hosea 11:1

But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Matthew 2:22-23

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Isaiah 11:1

The Hebrew word for Branch in that verse is netser, which is related to “Nazareth,” the hometown of Jesus.

Matthew was written primarily for a Jewish, rather than a gentile, audience. Matthew was a tax collector, also known as a publican, by trade. We might think of him as an ancient IRS agent, and, as such, he would have been highly organized. Matthew is a very organized book that focuses on the “Kingdom” of God. It is the only one of the four Gospels that uses the word “church.” (Matthew 16:18; 18:17) A church is a “called-out assembly.”

Matthew’s original name was “Levi,” which was also the name of the third son of Jacob (by Leah) – a name which meant “joined unto me” or “attached.” The name “Matthew” itself means “the gift of God.” Tax collectors in those days were considered to be thieves and traitors, so we must remember that your old life will not keep Christ from using you in a great way in your new life.

Of course, it is Jesus, not Matthew, however, who is really the subject of his book. The name “Jesus” means Savior. In Hebrew it is “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” There were many people with the name, but only one Jesus was the Christ: the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is “Immanuel:” “God with us.”

From Garbage to Glory

October 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.

Psalm 68:13

There was a time when God’s people were in bondage in Egypt. Like pots that had been thrown away, they were the least of the least of the least. They had been that way for a long time before God called Moses to deliver the news of their deliverance. Why did God allow their bondage to go on so long?

One reason may have been because freedom is more greatly appreciated when the pain of bondage is known. I seldom walk around during the day thinking about how “good” my head feels. However, after enduring a long sinus headache, when the relief finally comes, I really appreciate the feeling that comes with having a non-aching head! I thank the Lord for it, I smile, I tell my wife and children how wonderful it feels just to feel “normal.” Freedom is something we are prone to take for granted until God allows us to experience the reality, or at least the threat, of losing it.

Another reason is that we tend to appreciate gifts more when they are novel – when they are things to which we are unaccustomed. I’m thankful to receive a tie for Father’s Day, but – because I have a rack full of them already – I would be hard pressed to describe myself as “delighted” over another one. However, when I received four free tickets and a parking pass to Cowboys Stadium, it was a whole different story! I was thrilled because this would be a whole new experience. The Lord has a way of surprising us with His graciousness so that we remember that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

Note that Psalm 68:13 describes a covering of gold and silver over things that had been cast aside as broken and useless. These precious metals were not intrinsic to the doves’ wings themselves. They came from another source, and were applied with skill and care. This is an illustration of the “alien” righteousness that Christians receive from Christ at the moment of salvation. It benefits us, but it comes solely from Him. It is our only basis for claiming usefulness and worth.

We don’t like it when this world’s system treats us the way that Egypt treated the Israelites, but we will find ourselves more anxious to leave the bondage of it behind when we recognize its cruelty. We may be thankful to God, in a sense, even for God’s allowance of our sins – for they pursued us to the Savior.

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