Tags: Bible study, blogging, Christian blogs, Jesus Christ, Shark Week, the deep end
I’m taking a short break for a week or so from posting on The Deep End, but since (believe it or not) I do have regular readers and subscribers, I didn’t want anyone to think I had gone under for good. By the way, if you are one of those regular readers or subscribers, or even an occasional passer-by, or someone who shares some of the posts here from time to time, let me say a big “thank you.” I really appreciate it.
Feel free to take this opportunity to catch up on some of the categories you might have missed, such as an especially relevant overview of the story of Naboth’s vineyard called Arise, the Quarterback Commandments (with football season just around the corner), some random rants called I’m Just Sayin’, or The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (in honor of “Shark Week”).
Any comments will most likely be held in moderation until next week. Enjoy!
Tags: 2 Peter 3, Bible catechism, God's love, Gospel, John 3, love of God, Romans 5, sin, sinners
Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
I John 3:4
Question 8: What is the punishment for sin?
Answer: The punishment for sin is death.
Question 9: Since you are a sinner, how does God feel about you?
Answer: Even though I am a sinner, God loves me.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
When you ask question nine to your child, what you are hoping for here is an amazement – almost an incredulity that God could love a wicked sinner like me. You want your child to think or ask, “How can He forgive me when He has promised to punish all who sin?” You know you’re on the right track if you are getting those kinds of questions.
Do not gloss over the wickedness of sin. HOWEVER, you must not gloss over the richness of God’s love, either. Dwell on it here.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
II Peter 3:9
Tags: adultery, Christian marriage, contentment, Gospel marriage, Hebrews 13, Jesus Christ, marriage, marriage counseling, submission
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Marriage is honorable in all, but Hebrews 13:4 seems seems like a strange place for a principle about marriage. The surrounding passage is dealing with the difference between how Christians are supposed to live, and the way the ungodly, by default, live unloving lives. The word translated as “honorable” is usually translated as “precious,” and it reminds us that our marriages are very valuable things. They are to be cherished and cared for and never taken for granted – analogous to the effort that some people put into protecting a family heirloom or some great treasure that has come into their possession.
Sadly, most married Christians know more about the gadgets on their phones than about the intricacies of how our marriages are supposed to work and look. Marriage is supposed to be reflective of the love between Jesus and His Church. Therefore, adultery and whoremongering are things that are certainly antithetical to this relationship and image.
Marriage is supposed to remind us to rely on God, not on our own faculties.
Finally, marriage is a good reminder that no one makes a good Jesus except for Jesus Himself.
Tags: Christ in the Old Testament, Christology, Exodus 14, Genesis 22, Genesis 3, Genesis 7, Jesus Christ, Old Testaments Types, Types and Shadows
In lesson one we learned that Jesus is everywhere in the Bible. Let’s look at just a few Old Testament examples.
When Adam and Eden sinned in the Garden of Eve, they ruined it for everyone. No matter how many times I read Genesis Chapters 1 – 3, I almost can’t help feeling a little surprised that they did the only thing they weren’t allowed to do. It shouldn’t surprise me, though. Sadly, I am more guilty than them in my regular disobedience to God. And it definitely did not surprise God. He told the serpent who had successfully tempted them to sin:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Somehow, one of Eve’s descendants would one day defeat the devil. That descendant turned out to be Jesus. In the Person of Jesus Christ God came into this world as a man born of a woman to reverse the curse which God had pronounced because of Adam’s sin.
Long before that, though (but still many years after Adam and Eve had been kicked out of the Garden), God decided to flood the earth and kill all the sinners – except for one sinner and his family. God chose one man – Noah – and He told him to build an ark, so that everybody that believed what God said through Noah would be spared.
And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
That really happened. It’s not a myth or a fable. But why an ark? Why not put Noah on a mountain or in outer space? Because the ark is a picture of Somebody. It’s a picture of Jesus. Everybody who gets inside the safety of Jesus’s salvation is going to be spared when God destroys the world again (this time by fire, not by water). The story of Noah’s ark is true: a male and female giraffe really did get on a big ship with all the other kinds of land animals, and a big world-wide flood really did happen. But the key to truly understanding the message of this is to understand that it typifies important truths about Jesus.
Years after Noah (but still way before the New Testament), God found a man named Abram, and promised that he would be the ancestor of a great nation. God promised that through him would come the One who was promised in Genesis 3:15. Abram waited a long time, but he finally had a son named a Isaac, and here’s what God told Abram/Abraham to do with him:
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s “only son” in the sense that we think of it. God is using that language in a special way to denote that Isaac was Abraham’s special beloved son, and the son who would be the legal “firstborn” designated to carry on Abraham’s lineage.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
This story is true and factual, but, again, it is also given to illustrate a message and to point to Someone else, because thousands of years later, God would send “His only Son, the Son that He loved” to be an offering, and He would not stop Him from being slaughtered. Jesus went to the Cross on what used to be Mount Moriah, and He was the Lamb of God – the Lamb who was not spared – the Lamb who was slain.
Do you remember when all God’s people wound up in bondage in Egypt, and God forced Pharaoh to let them go free? Almost as soon as he did, he changed his mind and came after them. They were trapped between the oncoming Egyptian army and the Red Sea.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, [even] all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
This event really did happen, and God truly did deliver His people out of bondage, but the event was not just about Moses parting the Red Sea. It was also a picture of Jesus coming into this world where we were all in bondage to sin and Satan, and delivering us from that bondage, and leading us out, victorious over our enemies.
There are so many more true Bible stories we could go through. David slew Goliath, which is a picture of Jesus standing up to the mighty powers of this world and defeating them when they all thought He was dead. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and went down into the sea, which is a picture of Jesus going down into the grave and coming back from the dead. Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and all the other prophets are types of our great prophet and priest, Jesus, about Whom they were prophesying. When Samson picked up the city gates, and carried them 30 miles away, the Holy Spirit gave us an image of Jesus picking up the burden of our sins and carrying them as far as the east is from the west.
The whole Bible from cover to cover is really about Jesus. He’s the hero, the main character, the protagonist, the reason for the whole thing. He’s the author and the finisher, and He is on every page and in every word. That’s exciting, but it’s also important to remember. When you read the Bible, look for Jesus. When you teach the Bible, teach it as though it is about Jesus. When you do your devotions, give your devotion to Jesus.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, Biblical comfort, enemies of God, forgiveness, God of all comfort, Jesus Christ, Justification, Psalm 136
Mercy is an attribute of God. From our point of view – when we are thinking correctly – it is one of His most glorious attributes. We love mercy. Throughout the ages, God’s people – when they were thinking correctly – have loved Mercy. It is the withholding of what we deserve when we deserve punishment. It is a concept that is very prevalent in the sections of the Bible that contain poems and Psalms of praise to God. One of my favorite Psalms is built on the theme of God’s mercy: Psalm 136.
However, there is a flip side to mercy that we need to remember.
As Christians, the memory of who we were before Jesus saved us reminds us why mercy is so comforting.
Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis added)
The memory of what I’ve been forgiven is comforting because it reminds me how much God loves me. He who is forgiven much, loves much.
Tags: Cinco de Mayo Bible lessons, Cinco de Mayo devotions, evangelism, Ezekiel 5, Great Commission, Israel, Jerusalem, Matthew 28, surrounded
Jerusalem was in a location chosen by God, yet surrounded by nations of people that did not believe what His people believed.
Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.
This was a dangerous and precarious position, but it was also a great opportunity.
In a world of merchant trading and traveling, Jerusalem could profit from her role as a major trade route, and could benefit commercially. More importantly, however, Jerusalem could share the truth of the One True God with her visitors and surrounding neighbors.
The danger was also twofold. Being landlocked amidst hostile pagans, Jerusalem would have to remain vigilant on all sides. Again, though, more importantly, rather than influencing her neighbors with the truth, there was always the danger of lapsing into the idolatry and sinful culture that beset her on every front. Sadly, this is precisely what happened – to an even greater degree.
And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
Christians today face the same predicament. We are ensconced in a world hostile to our Lord and skeptical of His ways. We are set forth with a mission to evangelize the unbelievers, but we are also a curiosity piece when we consistently practice what we believe. Will we succumb to the influence and wilt under the withering focus of those who think us old-fashioned, foolish, or judgmental? If we do, we are subject to embarrassing rebuke and public humiliation.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.
Or will we shine brightly with the light of the Savior even as the darkness encroaches ever more tightly upon us? We will speak boldly and live with integrity so that we become a refuge for the heathens when they see the futility of fighting against the real God? If so, we will know the blessing of the presence of the Lord in our lives.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Tags: circumcision, commentary on Galatians, freedom from sin, Galatians 5, Grace vs. Law, guilt, Judaizers, Law of God, liberty, Sunday School lessons on Galatians
I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
This is extreme language (about as extreme as it gets, at least in the New Testament). It shows how serious the Lord is about this circumcision issue. It’s as if the Apostle Paul told the Judaizers, “If you are so fixated on circumcision – if you enjoy circumcision so much – you should just go all the way. Stop “cutting around,” and, well, just “cut off.” The King James translation preserves the pun – the play on words. Paul is indicating that if the Judaizers would just go ahead and completely mutilate themselves, they wouldn’t be in any condition to bother him and preachers of the true Gospel any more.
There is a deeper issue here, though. People who are so zealous for rule-keeping are often trying to divert attention from their own fixation. They are not only teaching falsely – that keeping rules means greater spirituality – but they know their own lack of spirituality and their own perversion, and they believe that, by pointing at everyone else, the guilt and suspicion they feel will be deflected away from them. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the hypocritical accuse others even when no one suspects them.
Now, we go into a section of Galatians where it’s as if Paul knows that the Judaizers are going to argue (and surely they had been already) that, if people walk in liberty, if they are set free from God’s law, then what’s going to stop them from sinning freely?
In a sense, it’s the same old argument: “Grace? Grace? What’s going to keep us in line after we’ve been forgiven for all our sins?” The proponents of this argument act as though they have forgotten that we are called by God unto salvation. They sound like they think that God was just annoyed that there were some people who had to be judged, so He waved His hand, and said, “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook. I’ll stop being God for a minute. There, you’re free. Now go do whatever you want and leave Me alone.” Such a doctrine would be heresy.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Liberty frees us from the bondage of the flesh – not the existence of the flesh. The “calling” of salvation is a calling to liberty. It’s a “setting-free” from the unconquerable power that sin has over an unbeliever. Christians are set free from the position of sinners: those that must answer for their own guilt.
Christians are also set free from the eternal pain of sin, as well as the judicial guilt of sin. They are set free from the penalty of sin, which is the punishment for sin: the specific retribution of God against sinners for sinning against Him!
Here is freedom: Jesus came and fulfilled (not destroyed in the natural sense) the Law for us. Now He, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in us, and He causes, us, too, to obey the Law. This is not the bondage of the Law, not the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law – the Truth of the Law.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Tags: anthropomorphism, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 15, John 14, literary genres, poetry in the Bible, Psalm 136, Red Sea, songs in the Bible, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
Exodus 15 features a song about what God did in the great miracle of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptian army, and this is not the only song in the Bible that mentions this event. Psalm 136 tells us how the Israelites in later years felt about it, and how we’re supposed to think about it.
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
This may be the first part of the Book of Exodus to have actually been written down, since it was probably written contemporaneously with the event itself. It is one thing to sing songs about the Lord. It is another thing for Him to be your song. “Your song” is what excites your imagination. It’s what you can’t help exalting. Your life will change when your “song” is not the new Playstation 3 or the new season of “The Bachelor” or whatever your hobby is or politics or the stock market or even your kids or your spouse. When the Lord becomes the thing you can’t help singing about, and you realize that you are not really singing “about” Him, but that He is your song – your joy.
The Book of Exodus is written in the genre of historical narrative. It is factual and summarizing, going into detail only when it furthers the theme. It is dramatic, but the drama is not embellished or fictionalized. However, here in Chapter 15 the genre shifts to “poetic” and much of the language is anthropomorphic. Anthro (from which we get the word “anthropology”) means “man” or “human beings.” Morphic means “form.” In anthropomorphism the subject is portrayed in “human form” even though it’s not really a human being.
Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The Holy Spirit is not telling us here that the Lord literally used His right hand as opposed to His left hand, or that He even used a physical hand to dash the Egyptians to pieces. Nor is He telling us that God held up the separated walls of water during the Red Sea crossing with a holy sneeze. This is poetic language used for worship, beauty, metaphor, memorization, and lyrical brilliance.
Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
This is an Old Testament type and shadow of what Christ would do in a greater reality. God sees His people in bondage (Egypt), delivers them (Exodus), separates them (Red Sea) from the power of their enemy (Pharaoh), binds them to Himself with a covenant (Mt. Sinai), and then leads them and actually brings them to Canaan and ultimately Jerusalem, His earthly holy habitation.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Jesus see His people (as yet still lost sinners) in bondage (to the power of sin and Satan), and delivers them (by the Cross and – experientially for us – by faith when we are saved). He separates us from the power of our enemies (Satan and sin no longer are our masters). He binds us to Himself with a covenant (the New Covenant of everlasting life) and He brings us and goes with us and guides us (by the Holy Spirit) to His holy habitation (Heaven).