Signs of the End Times?

October 16, 2019 at 10:05 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: It seems like every year somebody comes up with some sign of the end times, whether it’s lunar or solar eclipses, natural disasters, or some political figure who is secretly supposed to be the Antichrist, and there are all these preachers or internet prophets who have supposedly been given visions that the world will end at a certain time. Isn’t it silly to pay attention to these things?

Answer: Well, I would be cautious about mocking people who are interested in these things. Certainly, there are charlatans and frauds who promote end times prophecies in order to make money or get attention, and the majority of them seem to be severely lacking in sound Biblical support. However, as Christians looking forward to the return of Jesus, I can certainly understand the desire to be aware of how current events might or might not be signaling the approach of the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy (II Peter 3:12-13; II Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13).

There are two competing ideas at work here. Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for their insistence on seeing miraculous or prophetic “signs” that would demonstrate the credibility of Jesus’s ministry. He rightfully rebuked them as being part of a wicked, adulterous, and sign-seeking generation (Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:16-29). However, when His Disciples asked Him about the sign of His coming and the end of the world, He gave them a good bit of information (Matthew 24), without chastising them.

The key for us today is to focus more on getting ready for the return of Christ by living holy lives, and staying busy carrying out His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20), than on idly (or obsessively) speculating on dates or trying to match current events to some of the apocalyptic language in Scripture. However, I would certainly not want to make fun of anyone who is earnestly trying to understand Biblical prophecy, or who is seeking to view current events and even astronomical phenomena through a Biblical worldview.

The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep

October 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to this world on a mission, and He has commanded us to be part of this mission, alhtough Jesus is really the one who does the seeking and the saving, and He only seeks and saves that which is “lost.” People need to realize they’re lost in order to realize they need to be found.

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:1-2

“Sinners and publicans” are classified differently from “Pharisees and scribes” not because they are different in substance, but because they are different in attitude. One group recognizes its condition: lost. The other does not think of itself as lost. Those of us who frequently listen to orthodox Christian sermons and Bible lessons are used to hearing that Jesus is willing to save even the most notorious sinners, but sometimes we forget this wonderful truth: Jesus rejoices when He finds and saves what was lost!

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:3-6

As human beings we are more like sheep than we at first might want to admit. We are helpless, lacking wisdom, prone to wander, prone to separate from others, prone to get into trouble. In Bible times a faithful shepherd would leave a flock of sheep to search for one lost sheep because it cost the shepherd to lose one AND because he loved his sheep. Jesus has paid a high price for His sheep, but He loves them also.

I hope you know the joy of what it means to be saved, but have you ever thought about the joy that Jesus experiences when He saves a lost sinner?

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

There may be a party in Heaven when ONE lost sinner is found by his or her Savior.

 

From Dark Death to Living Light

October 10, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus, having learned of a contingent of gentiles who wanted an audience with Him as He made His way to Jerusalem with His followers and those waving palm branches, began to explain that His death would be the necessary fulfillment of all that He came to do.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

John 12:24

A kernel of wheat – a seed – must be buried away, in the dark, alone, in order to fulfill its purpose, and in its “death” it brings forth not only new life, but “much fruit.” This is a key New Testament theme, present in the Old Testament, but now revealed in a greater light. In order to bring forth fruit to the glory of God, followers of Jesus must die to self, both at the moment of salvation, and in ongoing service throughout our lives.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 12:25

It’s not that we hate life itself; it’s that we hate the life that our flesh considers “ours.” We receive a new kind of life – eternal life, “God life” – that is directed unto the service and glorification of God, and the service of others, not self-service. This way, people will recognize God’s greatness and goodness in deeds that He inspires and empowers us to do. This hearkens all the way back to John 3.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:19-21, emphasis added

It also foreshadows Ephesians 2’s great statement spelling out the distinction between working BECAUSE OF salvation, rather than working FOR salvation.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

John 12:27

This sounds similar to the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me, but nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.”

Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

John 12:28 (emphasis added)

“Father, glorify Thy name.” This should be our prayer in even our most extreme trials.

God had already gloried His own name through Christ, primarily through His miracles, and, secondarily, through Christ’s perfect obedience and consistent attribution of His own actions and words as being the same as God’s actions and words. “I will glorify it again” points directly to the Cross.

The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

John 12:29-30

The people did not have ears to hear God’s voice. It sounded like thunder, reminiscent of God’s revelation at Mt. Sinai:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Exodus 20:18-19

This was also a fulfillment of several prophecies throughout Isaiah about God increasing the inability of people who would reject His servant to hear or understand His Words and His teachings, which prompted the Holy Spirit to cause John to close out Chapter 12 with a theological treatise on the cause of the people’s unbelieving response to three-plus years of Jesus’s hands-on in-person ministry, miracles, and manifestation among them:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

John 12:37, emphasis added

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

John 12:44, emphasis added

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 12:46, emphasis added

The Smell of Death and the Sound of Life

October 8, 2019 at 9:06 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus informed His Disciples that his friend Lazarus had died. Despite the danger that a trip to Bethany would pose for Jesus, Who had been targeted for arrest and execution by the religious leaders, He nevertheless intended to go.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

John 11:14-16

The nickname commonly given to Thomas – “Doubting Thomas” – needs to be tempered with the understanding that he at least showed a courageous resolve in speaking up and calling for active faith as he proposed to follow Jesus into an encounter that could very well result in death.

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

John 11:17

There was a Jewish superstition in those days which held that a deceased person’s soul could linger in the vicinty of the body for a period of up to four days, at which time decompsition made it impractical for the soul to consider re-entering the body, and death became “more final.”

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

John 11:18

“Fifteen furlongs” indicates a distance of around two miles.

And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

John 11:19

It is possible that the large number of comforters were due to the influence and wealth of Martha’s and Mary’s family, but this also highligted the danger to Jesus in making His visit.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

John 11:20

Martha and Mary both acted in accord with their distinctive personalities: Martha rushing out to meet Jesus, and Mary inactively waiting.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

John 11:21-22

We must not conflate Martha’s busyness, however, with a complete lack of faith on her part.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

John 11:23-24

Martha misunderstood Jesus’s meaning concerning the timing of this interim resurrection that was about to happen, but her statement was nevertheless also true.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25 (emphasis added)

This is the fifth of the seven commonly recognized “I AM” statement in the Gospel of John. He is the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the Light of Life. Food, water, and light are all necessary for life, but we need to also remember that Jesus IS the Life. Lately I’ve been seeing people post pictures of themseleves, their friends, their family members, even their pets, with the curious caption, “Living my/his/their best life.” If Jesus is truly eternal, abundant Life personified, then, by necessity, you can’t be living your best life apart from Him. Jesus is the Way of life and He gives life (II Timothy 1:10; I John 1:2): eternal, immortal LIFE.

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 11:26-27 (emphasis added)

Martha’s statement is a great confession and profession, and all true Christians should affirm this truth.

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

John 11:28

Martha called Mary secretly because of the danger in identifying with Jesus. Today we should take advantage of the freedom we have to meet openly with other believers and tell them the same thing.

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

John 11:38-39

My daughter likes a silly joke where she sniffs the air curiously, and says, “Something around here smells like updog.” Gamely playing along, I ask, “What’s ‘updog?'” in response to which she beams brightly, slaps me on the back, and says, “Not much, dawg, what’s up with you?!” Maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments, but I enjoy it. The miracle of Lazarus’s (who after four days in the grave smelled way worse than any updog, or downdog, for that matter!) resurrection went beyond any human or material agency. It was completely supernatural. No physician played a part, no medication was administered, no sleight of hand or optical illusions were employed. However, here is one of the many truths which we may take from this true historical account of Jesus’s miraculous power: God needs no man to accomplish His will, but He does deign to work through human agency.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 11:43

It has been surmised that, perhaps, Jesus specifically used Lazarus’s name to prevent the emptying out of Abraham’s Bosom, or even sheol.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 11:44

Lazarus moved without walking. This is a picture of salvation in which spiritually dead sinners are brought to life without any meritorious cooperation on their own behalf.

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

John 11:45-47

This “council” was the Sanhedrin.

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

John 11:48-51

Caiphas gave a true (albeit unrecognized by him) prophecy.

And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

John 11:52-77

The Pharisees, most likely invigorated by Satan deviously working and influencing behind the scenes, did not want Jesus to make it to the Passover alive.

God vs. Sin (Part One)

October 4, 2019 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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We may define sin as the breaking of God’s law. Sin first showed up in God’s universe when Lucifer, in his pride, rebelled against God, inducing one third of the Heavenly host to join him. Sin appears for the first time in the earth very early in the Bible, as the same Lucifer, now Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, and she in turn brought sin to Adam. He sinned too.

The word “sin” first occurs in Genesis 4:7: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” It plays a key role in the story of the Bible, and because it is our chief identification apart from Christ, and because it is the cause of the curse upon this world, including death, disease, misery, and the exhibition of God’s wrath against His creatures, it is a serious foe, opposing the glory of God, and one with which God must deal.

One little sin caused God to cast His entire “very good” universe into moral darkness and decay. That’s one example of how “bad” sin really is. Another example also comes early on in the Bible:

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Genesis 18:20

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Genesis 19:24-28

Because God is just, He can not simply ignore sin, and, although we know He forgives sins, there must be some basis other than pure mercy for God to deal with sin in mercy while remaining just.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

This is the great dilemma. God could “set aside” sin, in a manner of speaking, for a time, but His just and righteous wrath could not be done away with, only stored up.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

The “winking” described Acts 17:30 is not a cutesy type of approval. It’s not an inside joke whereby God acknowledges that “boys will be boys” or that “sinners will be sinners, so what am I gonna do?” What it describes is a sort of judicial “overlooking” for the time being with the understanding that what is currently being allowed WILL be dealth with at the proper time.

When my oldest daughter was still learning to walk, my wife and I took her grocery shopping with us, and, one time, she wandered down the wine aisle without us noticing it while we were having a discussion. Before we knew it, she had hooked her finger into the glass ring on the neck of a huge jug of wine, lifted it from a bottom shelf, and begun precariously toddling toward us. Sure enough, before we could reach her, the jug slipped from her finger and smashed on the floor, sending dark red wine and shards of glass flowing in a rapidly expanding ring. Panicked over the thought that I had let my one-year-old break a bottle of wine, compounded by the embarassment that someone might think my wife and I were near the wine aisle because we were there to purchase wine (we weren’t!), my temptation was to “wink at” this accident – to overlook it and leave quietly, trusting some store employee to discover it and clean it up on his/her own. Thankfully, even back in those days, I had enough integrity to report the spill to the store manager and offer to pay for the damage. This is perhaps not that great of an analogy for what the Bible describes when it talks about God allowing the sins of his Old Testament people to be “passed over” until the day of Christ’s atonement, but it does give some idea of the meaning behind the idea of God “winking at the time of ignorance,” before we move on to some of the specific ways that God does deal with sin, which we will look at in Part Two.

A Pre-Church Sermon

October 2, 2019 at 6:40 am | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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The events of Jeremiah Chapter 7 probably took place after the death of Josiah, and shortly into the reign of Jehoiakin. This was a new sermon – known as the Temple Sermon – where God sent Jeremiah to preach in what should have been the most unlikely place – the place where preaching should not have been needed – but really where it was the most needed.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.

Jeremiah 7:1-2

Jeremiah stood at the entrance of the Temple, rather than inside. Imagine a preacher standing at the main entrance of your church on Sunday morning and preaching to the people coming in without the consent or authorization of your pastor before they even get to the auditorium where he is planning to preach.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

Jeremiah 7:3

“Ways and doings” refers to the way they were living throughout the week – unlike the show they were about to put on inside the Temple.

Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.

Jeremiah 7:4

They superstitiously repeated the mantra, “the temple of the LORD,” but the part that was a lie was that they emphasized the place over the Person. They thought a temple was worth visiting, but did not care if the Lord was worth obeying.

Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 7:12

Jeremiah wasn’t authorized to drive them out of the Temple. He was limited to preaching, but he saw people bringing animals and grain and things to sacrifice, and he reminded them of what God thought about their so-called “sacrifices” and their so-called “offerings.”

For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Jeremiah 7:22-23 (emphasis added)

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

I Samuel 15:22

But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Jeremiah 7:24 (emphasis added)

They weren’t listening to the Word of God. They were listening to their own hearts, which is an extremely bad idea, because because hearts not transformed by God are evil hearts. They like the false better than the true. They like fake gods better than the real God. They like fake prophecies better than hearing about the “old paths.” They like to “imagine” better than “obey.” They like to get “counsel” from the flesh or the world better than the Counselor who demands submission. I hope that you don’t want to go to a fake church. We all need to belong to a church where our fakery is called out and replaced by truth. We don’t want to get so deceived that we think we’re going forward with God when we’re really racing backward with the devil.

For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.

Jeremiah 7:30

During Manasseh’s reign the idolatry had become so public and open that idols were actually set up in the Temple, and, even after Josiah’s “reforms,” people continued to worship idols in their homes, and perhaps secretly brought them into the Temple when they attended worship.

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

Jeremiah 7:16

The people were so far gone – reprobate – that God did not even want Jeremiah to pray for them.

Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

Jeremiah 7:17

Jeremiah had seen how wickedly they behaved in their public dealings, but God revealed what they were doing in private also.

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jeremiah 7:18

The “queen of heaven” was Asherah (also known as Ishtar, from which the name Easter is partly derived), who was thought to be the queen of the “heavenly” area we call “outer space,” and, even though she was primarily a female cult deity, the fathers and the children were also involved in making little cakes shaped like a woman and ritually pouring out drink offerings to worship her.

Tyler Never Actually Learned How to S.W.I.M.

September 30, 2019 at 11:46 am | Posted in Quotes, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | Leave a comment
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Did God Have to Go Down and See?

September 27, 2019 at 10:24 am | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: My question is about Genesis 18:20-21: “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” If God knows everything, and if He is omnipresent, why did He have to “go down and see” Sodom and Gomorrah?

Answer: First of all, we need to determine if these verses are setting forth a clear precept about the nature of God. Since Genesis 18 is a section of the Bible that is written in the genre of historical narrative, rather than a sermon on the attributes of God, we must balance it against other Bible verses, especially those that speak directly about the question of what God knows in a general way.

For example, Job 37:16 says, “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” Not only is the Book of Job considered wisdom literature, but here God Himself is addressing the question of His own knowledge directly. To be perfect in knowledge is to be complete – to lack no knowledge whatsoever.

Another example is Psalm 139:1-4: “O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139 is specifically about how God knows all our thoughts, “ways,” behavior, actions, and even our words before we say them.

So, if we apply this to Sodom, God knew more than the general condition of Sodom. He knew everything that each individual was doing and thinking and saying – and why they were doing it! Psalm 147 is perhaps the most explicit precept concerning God’s omniscience: “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:5). This means that God possessed all knowledge about Sodom from all eternity, but it also begs the question: Why is He making it sound in Genesis 18 like He’s not omniscient?

The answer is that God often uses anthropomorphism to describe His actions: anthropos = man; morph = form. Anthropomorphism means “man-form.” It is when the Bible describes God as a character in the narrative using human terms that help us understand His point of view. In Genesis 18 it helps us to understand how seriously God took the sin of Sodom, and how much He immanently (not just transcendently) cares about the events of this world. It also records God’s way of letting Abraham understand His thinking, since these statements are part of an actual dialogue between the Lord and Abraham.

Another reason for the statement that God would “go down to see” Sodom and Gomorrah is to let us know that this was a type of Theophany (or perhaps even Christophany): an instance where God appeared to humans in bodily form. God wanted to have a personal visit with Abraham, who was called “the friend of God.” This establishes the trust the God had placed in Abraham’s faithfulness, which will be a key later in the Genesis narrative to understanding the Lord’s testing of him with Isaac.

The Sabbath, Sickness, and Self-Serving Status

September 25, 2019 at 10:18 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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On several occassions Jesus performed some good deed on the Sabbath in a way that offended the Pharisees:
1. He cast out a demon and healed someone from a fever.
2. He plucked wheat and healed a man with a paralyzed hand.
3. He cast a demon out of a crippled woman.
4. He healed a lame man.
5. He healed a man who had been blind from birth.

Jesus was not, on these occasions, engaged in commerce. He was not making a profit, nor skipping church to play softball. He was healing sick people. Even the Pharisees would rescue their farm animals on the Sabbath. We have to be careful not to treat our pets better than people.

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

Luke 14:7-8

Following Jesus is not about getting recognition or status, and seeking status or recognition under the false pretense of serving Jesus is likely to end in humiliation.

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

Luke 14:9-10

Following Jesus is about serving others, and, even though it can result in recognition and even honor, self-seeking is antithetcal to worship.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 14:11

The Door and the Good Shepherd

September 23, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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John 10 focuses on the imagery of shepherding – literal shepherding, involving shepherds, sheep, and sheepfolds.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

John 10:1

Back then sheep were brought into an enclosed area at the end of each day. They could be inspected for injuries or illness or parasites. They could be counted. This area kept them safe at night, from wolves and from thieves.

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

John 10:2-3

The porter would only allow true shepherds into the sheepfold, but, even once inside, the shepherd would call his own sheep out from the other shepherds’ sheep, and his own sheep would recognize his voice. They would not follow another shepherd.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:4-5

This was a parable that Jesus taught, keeping in mind that He had just healed a man who was subsequently kicked out of the Temple by his former religious “shepherds.”

This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 10:6-9

This is the third of seven widely recognized “I AM” statement in John. Previously He had said, “I AM the Bread of Life” and “I AM the Light of the World.” Now He told them “I AM the Door.” He is the way by which His true sheep leave whatever worldly shepherd or system has been pretending to care for them and come to Him as their true Shepherd. He then leads them into a new “sheepfold,” His Church, and continues to lead them “in and out,” as He leads them into church to be nourished and equipped to serve, and to be cared for when they are sick or hurt, then leads them back out to serve Him in the world. They learn to recognize His voice and follow Him wherever He leads. He is the only “door” by which His sheep can get into Heaven.

The fourth “I AM” statement follows right after the third:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:11

Jesus is the ultimate paragon for what it means to truly be a shepherd. Unlike an earthly shepherd, He not only cared for, protected, nourished, cleaned, and faced danger for, His sheep, but He lay down His life for His sheep. He is a Shepherd that can not be truly emulated, but, just as the Old Testament prophecies foretold the necessity of the water-spirit birth, and the meeting of God and man in a greater Tabernacle/Temple, and the need for bread that did not merely sustain, but gave eternal life, and the need for living water that did not merely quench thirst, but became a well springing up into eternal life, so the evil shepherds of God’s people are contrasted with a “good” and great Shepherd who is WORTHY to be emulated by all who would care for God’s people spiritually.

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Ezekiel 34:1-16

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