Pottery and Prayer Time

December 12, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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A potter would not be questioned for casting out marred clay. God should not be questioned for casting out unrepentant, unregenerate sinners, although, by His wonderful, matchless grace, and as a unique, omnipotent “Potter,” He is also free to “re-create” the clay – to make it something new. Either way, He is not unjust. Useless clay doesn’t “deserve” to be made useful.

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

Jeremiah 18:6-7

Jeremiah had repented of questioning God’s goodness, and was now fully back on board with God’s program, as God, through him, reminded the people for the umpteenth time that they had brought this on themselves.

Jeremiah began to pray imprecatory prayers in response to the plots and schemes of the nation’s leaders against him.

Then said they, Come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

Jeremiah 18:18

They twisted his words in similar ways to what the Pharisees would try to do to Jesus centuries later.

Give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.

Jeremiah 18:19-21

This is not a New Testament Christian prayer formula, but it was a God-pleasing prayer for an Old Testament prophet who was putting his own life on the line for people who refused to be helped, who wanted to shoot the messenger, and who hated God. We tend to express (or at least feel) angry and vengeful thoughts about people who get on our nerves, inconvenience us, or hurt us, while giving a pass to so much of the great evil going on in our world. Really, it ought to be the opposite. We ought to be indignant about the attacks on God, and to be longsuffering and forgiving about the personal attacks on us.

Was God Unfair to Moses?

December 9, 2019 at 11:43 am | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. He led them in the wilderness for 40 years. They were almost always whining, complaining, disobeying, griping, grumbling, and disobeying. They were ungrateful to God and Moses, even though they had been delivered, rescued, and given food, water, and safety so many times. Meanwhile, Moses, who they frequently wanted to stab in the back, even when he pleaded with God not to destroy them, made one little mistake, and God punished him by not letting him enter the promised land, and even showed him the promised land from the top of a mountain, so he could see what he missed out on right before he died! I have a hard time understanding the unfairness of this. Was Moses’s relatively small error really bad enough to justify what God did?

Answer: There are several issues to address here. First, let’s look at the incident to which you’re referring.

Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Numbers 20:1-12

On a previous occasion, when the people panicked about not having water, God instructed Moses to strike a rock with his special rod. Moses did so, and water came out. On this occasion, God gave Moses a different instruction: TAKE the rod, but SPEAK to the rock. Moses, no doubt frustrated and angry at the people because of their attitude and their accusations and their lack of trust in God despite all that He had done, and was doing, for them, “smote” (struck or hit) the rock, not once, but twice. Water came out, but God was not pleased. Because of Moses’s lack of belief in the necessity of following God’s orders precisely, and because of his failure to “sanctify” God (proclaim His holiness) in front of all the people, God decreed that Moses would not live to lead the people all the way across the Jordan River and into the promised land of Canaan when it was finally time for them to go.

Many Bible scholars have struggled with this incident, and with the temptation to see an overreaction on the part of God. God’s decision can be explained a number of ways. I’ll set forth just a few of them, without pretending to be an expert on the matter, of course, or even to have any great insight:

1. Moses’s disobedience was done in the presence of all the people, giving them a false idea of God’s holiness and the importance of obeying Him completely.

2. Moses made it seem to the people like he and Aaron were the ones doing the miracle (“must WE fetch you water out of the rock?”), rather than giving the glory to God. God will not share His glory (Isaiah 42:8).

3. The New Testament would later reveal that the rocks that gave water during the wilderness wandering were symbols of Christ, Who would ultimately be and give “the Living Water” (I Corinthians 10:4; John 7:37-38, 4:13-14). Moses had already struck a rock once (Exodus 17:6). Now he struck a rock twice, as though Christ would need to be crucified twice (which is inaccurate and misrepresentative of the Gospel).

4. Moses’s disobedience was blatant and direct. God said to speak, but Moses struck. While we are prone to excuse Moses, and to recognize his anger as something we often see in ourselves when confronted with ingratitude and whining, God, Who saw Moses’s heart and ulterior mindset, saw it as “unbelief” – something perhaps more calculated than provoked.

I will admit that, even with all this reasoning factored in, our inner sense of “fairness” may still not be satisfied. However, it helps to remember that Moses was not the only one who did not ultimately make it to the promised land. All of his generation, save Joshua and Caleb, perished in the wilderness, although their descendants finally did cross over into Canaan.

Also, I doubt that God allowing Moses to see the promised land, but not enter it, was intended as a taunt. I imagine that Moses was thankful to even see his goal with his eyes before God called him to an even better home in Heaven. The Bible portrays this as more of a consolation than an additional punishment (Deuteronomy 34). In context, it seems like a blessing that Moses, while still in good health and spirits, got to finally lay down the burden of shepherding such a rebellious people, who, no doubt, would have continued to be more than a handful even in Canaan. And, as a side note, we DO get to see Moses with his feet finally standing in the promised land in the New Testament, on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3).

Finally, while those explanations may not help our finite minds to understand exactly why Moses’s punishment seems so disproportionate to his crime, my brain always sends up a big red flag when I see the term “unfair” connected to God. Every breath that Moses took – and that every one of us takes – is an undeserved gift from God. We owe our very existence to him, and, from the moment of our conception, our whole experience is one of overflowing grace whether we recognize it or appreciate it, or not. Remember, Moses was a human being. A sinful and fallen human being just like me and you. The last thing we want from God is “fairness,” because, as the only image-bearing rebels and traitors in the universe, what we really “deserve” from God is eternal punishment and conscious torment. It is unwise to think our sin is “not as bad” as someone else’s (II Corinthians 10:12-13) or try to evaluate how, or in what measure, God should distribute His glorious grace and mercy (Romans 9:20-23; Job 38; Matthew 20:1-16).

A Good Story about a Bad Man

December 5, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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While Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15, is one of the easier parables to understand in terms of spiritual truth, the parable which begins Luke 16 is one of the more difficult.

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

Luke 16:1-3

The attitude of the dishonest steward is the attitude of a thief: “What’s yours is mine, and I’ll take it.” Compare that attitude with the attitude of a selfish person: “What’s mine is mine, and I’ll keep it.” These both stand in contrast with the attitude of a faithful and wise steward: “What’s mine is God’s, and I’ll share it.”

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

What is our greatest treasure? It’s Christ and His Gospel. Treasure, according to the Bible, is to be protected and invested.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

I Thessalonians 2:4

If we think of life as a sporting contest, Christians are supposed to be the “players,” not the “scorekeepers.”

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

Luke 16:4-7

The point of this parable is not to justify the steward’s actions as righteous or moral or ethical. What he did was clearly dishonest and deceitful, despite the pragmatic result that he probably DID collect more of his boss’s debts with that method. From a worldly, common sense perspective, it was the “smart” thing to do.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Luke 16:8-9

Jesus was not encouraging fraud, dishonesty, or mismanagement. He was making an argument from the lesser to the greater. We can learn from both good AND bad examples. From this story of an unfaithful steward, we can learn to:
1. Take advantage of our opportunities
2. See money or material wealth as a tool
3. Make friends by reaching out to others

At the same time we can learn NOT to:
1. Waste our opportunities
2. Worship money or material wealth (Make money serve you; don’t serve it.)
3. Forget to be faithful to God and the opportunities we already have

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Luke 16:10 is the first verse that my first daughter ever memorized. It is a good principle for children.

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

December 3, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus continued teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

John 7:37

This may have been the eighth day of the feast, but most likely it was the seventh day when the lampstand was lit and the water offering was poured out.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 7:38-39

He continued using water to illustrate the eternal life that He grants, and now He associated the Living Water that only needs to be drunk once and then becomes an everlasting well in the drinker with the Holy Spirit Who would indwell believers after Jesus’s Ascension.

The response to this teaching was great speculation, conjecture, controversy, and confusion about Who exactly this Jesus was. Was He the Prophet from Deuteronomy 18:15, or was He the Messiah, the heir of David?

So there was a division among the people because of him.

John 7:43

This was very common throughout Jesus’s earthly ministry, not only in John’s Gospel, but in the synoptic Gospels, too. Jesus came to divide between the true and the false, the real and the fake, light and darkness, the devil’s kingdom and His Father’s Kingdom. Here, it provoked a decision to arrest Jesus.

Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?

John 7:45

These Levitical police officers were not Roman centurions. They were unaccustomed to using force in public, especially when the alleged perpertator could actually be the Messiah, or at least a bona fide prophet from God.

The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

John 7:46

Of course, Jesus was no “mere man.”

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

John 7:47-49

The common people were looked down upon by the Pharisees for their lack of religious training or knowledge.

Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

John 7:50-51

Nicodemus was at least in favor of searching the Scriptures to gauge the truth of what Jesus was teaching. As Christians today, we have access to a fuller revelation of God in our Scriptures than Nicodemus did in his, and we must be even more scrupulous in applying them.

Blindly Riding the Hobby Horse

November 27, 2019 at 10:48 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | Leave a comment
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They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

John 9:13

The reason that the man’s acquaintances brought him to the Pharisees after they saw that he had been healed of lifelong blindness was probably because such an astounding miracle required, they thought, some type of religious explanation. Of course, the Pharisees had a special hobby horse they liked to ride called “How many ways can people violate the Sabbath?”

And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

John 9:14-15

They were interested in the method of healing used because the Pharisees were experts at finding Sabbath-violations. If Jesus mixed water with dirt to make clay (mud) they could accuse him of “kneading” on the Sabbath, and people weren’t allowed to knead dough for bread on the Sabbath. It was a stretch, but they were already biased against Jesus and looking for a way to say that, even though He had miraculous healing powers, He couldn’t really be sent from God because He was a sinful Sabbath-breaker.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

John 9:16

No Christian has complete and total victory over sin in every single area of his or her life – at least not all the time. What’s more, many of us would admit to struggling with certain sins on a daily basis, and having some particular types of sins which have given us trouble for years. However, I’m guessing that there are at least a few categories of sin where God has given you significant victories, and possibly some where you never faced great temptation to begin with, and that you really can’t understand how some people can sin so egregiously in those areas. Perhaps people who are compulsive liars really get on your nerves (the 9th Commandment). Maybe it’s children who rebel openly against their parents (the 5th Commandment). What about people who steal other people’s property (the 8th Commandment)? Are they the ones who really get your goat (figuratively if not literally!)?

For the Pharisees who opposed Jesus during His earthly ministry, their “pet peeve” seems to have been people who were lax in their observance of the Sabbath day (4th Commandment). They were so keen to prevent the Sabbath commandment from being violated that they fashioned a bunch of additional cautionary rules around it to keep people from even coming close to breaking it. Maybe they originally had good intentions, but the problem was that, over time, they considered these man-made safeguards to be co-equal with the Law of God itself. In other words, they began to worship the Sabbath itself rather than the Lord of the Sabbath.

Let us not fall into this same trap. If you are exceedingly honest, you probably have a bias against liars. If you have worked hard to provide for your family, you probably have a strong dislike for thieves. And if you respect and honor your own parents, you might have little patience for rebellious, sarcastic, and disrespectful children. However, we must remember not to worship honesty, hard work, or filial respect. Instead, we worship the God of truth, provision, and authority, and, if He has communicated those attributes to us, we recognize them as gifts to bring Him glory, not as proud accomplishments with which to demean others.

The Pharisees found themselves in a quandary, though, because, if they claimed that sinners could not do miracles, then the fact of the miracle must mean that Jesus WAS NOT a sinner.

They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

John 9:17

The blind man had not yet come to saving faith in Jesus as the Son of God, but He clearly knew that Jesus was the “real deal” and had at least as much spiritual power as a true prophet from God.

But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

John 9:18

The Jewish religious leaders suspected that maybe the man had been able to see at some point in his life, so the healing was not really miraculous. Only his parents could testify that he had truly been BORN blind.

And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

John 9:19-21

This does not tells us the age of the man who had been healed, but it does tell us he was at least 13, because that was considered to be “of age” back then. A 13 year old boy/man could testify legally in court. His parents didn’t want to get in trouble with the Pharisees, but they did confirm that he was born blind before passing the buck by saying, “He can speak for himself about how it happened and what He thinks of Jesus.”

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:22

This lets us know that the Pharisees were not only actively plotting the death of Jesus, but had instituted serious persecution against those who would worship and follow Him. Truly following Jesus has always been costly.

Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

John 9:23-25

The Pharisees then turned on the healed man again, trying to get him to denounce Jesus, but you can see he was starting to suspect their ulterior motives.

Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

John 9:26-27

This was a very sarcastic response because obviously the Pharisees did not want to be Jesus’s disciples, but it was like saying, “Why are you so interested in Him? Is it because deep down you know He might be the Messiah?” This made them very angry.

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

John 9:28-30

It sounds like the healed man was really having fun with them now. They were claiming to be the representatives of Moses, but they didn’t even recognize that Moses testified about a greater Prophet who would be sent from God.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

John 9:31-34

This sums up the Pharisees’ biggest problem: the prideful denial that they were born in sins. All of us were born in sin, and Jesus will forgive us, but the condition is that we have to recognize that we are sinners and always have been, and therefore we NEED to be forgiven and saved. The Pharisees could not or would not do this, so they could not “see’ who Jesus really was.

Rising Early

November 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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In Chapter 24 God had Jeremeiah prophesy about a time when His people would turn back to Him with their WHOLE hearts: their affections, their thoughts, their wills would be toward God. He demands nothing less and He deserves nothing less. Does he have your WHOLE HEART?

Jeremiah Chpater 25 is sort of an epilogue to the previous 24 chapters, or, possibly, a prologue to the next section of the book. Jeremiah used a play on words to emphasize both his and God’s faithfulness in warning the people and calling them to repentance (to no avail).

From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

Jeremiah 25:3 (emphasis added)

Jeremiah had been at this now for 23 years. “Rising early” did not refer to the time of day, but to the origin and steadfastness of his ministry: 23 years of faithfulness in the face of opposition, rejection, danger, and frustration – but also hearing personally from God during that time.

And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

Jeremiah 25:4 (emphasis added)

Jeremiah was an early-riser, prophetically speaking, but God Himself had been “rising early” for centuries.

Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

Jeremiah 25:9

It might seem odd to see Nebuchadrezzar described as God’s “servant,” but not all of God’s servants know they are serving Him. God is well within His prerogative to “use” His creatures.

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Jeremiah 25:12

Here is the first mention of the 70 years, which is how long the captivity would last.

For thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

Jeremiah 25:15
The cup of God’s wrath is what all unbelievers will have to drink, and they will drink it to their doom. It was referenced by Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Enemy nations and enemy kings were used by God to chasten and even punish His people, but those nations and kings were not guiltless. God did not create their evil or sin. He used it for His glory and the ultimate good of His people.

Corporal Punishment?

November 20, 2019 at 10:37 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: I’m confused about corporal punishment or corporal discipline. We’re running a family, not a corporation. And I thought corporal punishment was like the death penalty, or is that capital punishment?

Answer: “Corporal” discipline refers to discipline that inflicts pain on the body. Corpus is Latin for “body.” Generally speaking, corporal punishment (more properly: corporal discipline) in the context of parenting refers to parents spanking their children as a means of teaching them right from wrong, and the principle of consequences for disobedience and sinful choices. See Proverbs 13:24 and 23:13-14 for example.

It is true that “corporal punishment” is sometimes used to describe the death penalty, in the context of the government punishing criminals, but, obviously, that is not talking about parental discipline. The death penalty is also called “capital punishment” because the Latin word for “head” was capitalis and beheading has historically been one of the most common forms of administering the death penalty to convicted criminals.

Prayerless Practical Pouting Prefers Possessive Purpose

November 18, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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The Pharisees, who were the intended primary audience as Jesus taught the parable of the prodigal son, would have had a huge problem with His depictions of the father. They would not have wanted to think of the God the Father, who was clearly being symbolized by this earthly father, subjecting Himself to the ignominy of running, much less rewarding a disobedient son. This was where the older son entered the picture.

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

Luke 15:25

We may surmise that ever since his younger brother had left home, the older son had been doing twice the work, which may explain why Jesus included the detail that he was “in the field,” and, to his credit, he was in this sense a “good son.” He worked hard and obeyed his father with an outward obedience.

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

Luke 15:26-27

There was no sign of relief on the part of the older son that his little brother was alive and safe, much less any joy.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

Luke 15:28

He was angry and pouting, and thereby serves as a reminder to us to beware of being angry about someone else’s undeserved blessings.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

The older son was a faker, a hypocrite. He acted like a good son, but was really serving his father for what was in it for himself.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10

The older son didn’t prefer his younger brother over himself. He demanded recognition for being “good” in comparison.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Being industrious and passionate are both good things, but only when employed in service to the Lord.

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Romans 12:12

It seems very unikely that the older son had been praying for his brother, because he wasn’t at all happy to have him back.

Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Romans 12:13

The father was given to hospitality, but the older son was not.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 12:14-15

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

Luke 15:29

Vain religion or legalism often masquerades as practicality and puts a damp cloth on rejoicing.

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

Luke 15:30

The older brother referred to his younger brother as “thy son,” rather than “my brother,” when speaking to the father. He was jealous of his father’s favoritism and material possessions, but not over his father’s affections. When you truly love another person, you are happy about events or things that make him happy.

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Luke 15:31

Jesus did a masterful job of exposing the ulterior motives of each character in the story. The father’s purpose was to care for his sons. The younger son’s purpose had been to get away from his father. The older son’s purpose was to use his father for selfish reasons.

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

That’s where our knowledge of the story ends. We are not told what happened next. Did the older son come into the party? Did the younger son wander again after he got full? Did either of them learn his lesson? The father wasn’t interested in that. He wanted to have a party – to rejoice. He wanted his youngest son to feel welcome and he wanted his oldest son to be gracious.

Based on the Pharisees’ behavior after this, they either didn’t get it, or it just made them madder. How will you and I act, knowing that we were destitute in the far country – drinking down iniquity like water and eating garbage like a pig – but our Heavenly Father loved us enough to run to us, cover us with love, and give us authority?

Here’s Mud in Your Eye

November 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John 8:28

Historically, there have been great blessings attached to being Jewish, tempered by great persecution. (Haman and Hitler are two obvious examples.) The Abrahamic Covenant or blessing has been their great claim to God’s favor. Christian children today are taught to sing, “Father Abraham has many sons,” and challenged with the question, “Are you one of them?” The Jewish religious leaders who confronted Jesus would have enthusiastically answered, “Yes, we are!” but were they really?

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

John 8:36-45

One of the things I often hear is that, “We are all God’s children,” or some similar sentiment. This is true only in the limited sense that all people are created by God and bear His image. Jesus, who often gets a bad rap these days as sort of a touchy-feely, mealy-mouthed, self-help guru, was, in reality, not averse to sharing some blunt truth when called for, and that’s what He did in John 8:44, telling the people who opposed His ministry that they were children of the devil!

Your conduct determines your spiritual paternity. Your freedom (from sin) determines your spiritual paternity. Whose Word you believe and obey determines your spiritual paternity.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:58-69

There is no doubt Jesus claimed to be God, and His enemies knew it.

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:1-2

What is the relationship of sin to physical illness or lifelong infirmities?

1. They are not always related specifically in each individual case. A person’s illness or infirmity may not be caused by his specific sin.

2. Sometimes, though, they are directly related.
a. They may be related as a “natural” cause and effect. For example, fornication may result in syphilis or some other sexually transmitted disease, or chronic drunkenness may result in cirrhosis of the liver.
b. In other cases, someone’s illness or infirmity may be allowed or inflicted upon him supernaturally by God as a an act of chastening or punishment. As finite human beings, not privy to the secret will of God, we can not know when this is the case, so we do not diagnose a person’s illness or infirmity as God’s punishment or chastisement, even though we remain aware that it is a possibility.

3. In a larger sense, all illnesses and injuries and infirmities are “caused” by sin as a result of the Fall and Curse which God pronounced upon mankind after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

John 9:6-7

Jesus made a mud pack from the dust of the earth (possibly reminiscent of the way God had used dirt to make Adam). Sometimes the mind makes strange connections. Years ago a singer named April March wrote an English translation of an old French song called “Laisse Tomber les Filles,” which means “Leave the Girls Alone.” It’s a song about a womanizer finally getting his comeuppance at the hands of the ladies he had used or mistreated. The English version has a line that goes, “You’re gonna see the reason why, When they’re spittin’ in your eye.” There is also a common expression heard in old movies from the 30s and 40s, in which characters about to throw back a shot of alcohol often propose an odd toast: “Here’s mud in your eye!” For some reason these weird references are what popped into my head when I was studying John 9:6.

Jesus, who had the power to heal with a mere word or touch, chose on at least three occasions in the Bible (including Mark 7:33 and 8:23) to heal people using His own saliva. In John 9:6 he combined it with dirt to make a mud mask. Why do you think that He did this, and what can we learn from it? We can ask the Holy Spirit to “illuminate” (open our eyes to) the Word and help us.

Here are some possible reasons why He may have used spit:

1. To demonstrate His reversal of “curses.” Spitting on someone has always been seen as an extreme insult or way of cursing someone. Jesus is the One Whose blessing “reverses the curses.”
2. To show the Jewish religious leaders that His true purity did not care about their ceremonial taboos against bodily excretions.

After applying the mud to the man’s eyes, Jesus “sent” – as Jesus has been explaining that He was “sent” from the Father – him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which is connected with the Old Testament prophecy of Christ as “Shiloh.”

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Genesis 49:10

Idolatrous Wife, Unhappy Life

November 4, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:

Jeremiah 43:2

So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.

Jeremiah 43:7

Jeremiah went to Egypt with the disobedient people who had rejected his true prophecies, and there the Lord had him act out his final “action sermon,” demonstrating that Egypt would not be a safe haven. It too would be conquered by the Babylonians, and the Lord would not spare the Jews, the way He would have if they had stayed in Judah.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.

Jeremiah 43:8-11

Jeremiah must have been frustrated to see the people keep turning to idols and practicing idolatry after all that had already happened to them becuase of it.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.

Jeremiah 44:2-3

Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?

Jeremiah 44:7-8

We might look at this from a purely pragmatic standpoint and question their sanity. Why would they keep turning to false gods time and time again and expecting different results? Why were they so enamored with any god except the real One? It is in the nature of human beings to worship, but the carnal, unregenerate heart is at enmity with the True God, and despises Him. It will accept nearly anything OTHER than Him, no matter how foolish, how useless, how degrading.

It is often sad, and sometimes shameful, when husbands and wives are not on the same page, spiritually speaking. When the Jewish people who were left behind in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile sought refuge in Egypt, many of the wives resumed the same type of idol-worship that had brought the judgment of God down upon them in the first place. This placed their husbands in the precarious position of having to choose between loyalty to their wives and loyalty to the Word of God. We see similar situations today in Christian households where one spouse seeks to grow spiritually, but the other spouse is not on board, or where one spouse actually discourages the other from active participation and ministry in Sunday School and church. If you are married, you must strive to be a help, not a hindrance – a blessing, not a burden – to the spiritual welfare of your family.

Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,

Jeremiah 44:15

The men knew what their wives were getting involved in, but they looked the other way, or perhaps indulged them. Now they were having to give an account for what was going on the households over which the Lord had appointed them masters. Husbands, do not be afraid to correct your wife when it comes to the Word of God. Having a happy wife might make a happy life, but having an idolatrous, unrepentantly sinful wife will make a VERY UNHAPPY life. In fact, it may very well make a wreck of your life.

Wives, be careful of the influence you yield in your household. Your husband should be taking the spiritual leadership, but if he is not, do not tempt him to go astray, and do not put him in a compromising position – having to stand up for you against what is actually right.

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

Jeremiah 44:16-17

Perhaps the female deity Astarte, the “Queen of Heaven,” appealed especially to the women, but, whatever the case, both the men and the women had gotten to the point where they outright rejected the Word of God. Beware: a subtle compromise against God’s Word is not as far away from outright rebellion and rejection as you might think.

Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day. Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.

Jeremiah 44:23-27

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