Tags: 2 Timothy 2, Biblical visions, Cinco de Mayo devotions, commentary on Zechariah, feminism, gender in the Bible, patriarchy, Sunday School lessons on Zechariah, Zechariah 5
God’s angel had just shown Zechariah the vision of the flying roll when he told him to “look up” and see another sight.
Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
This vision was even stranger, and Zechariah needed the angel to explain to him exactly what he was seeing.
And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
An ephah was a standard form of measurement, used to measure wheat or barley. It may have been symbolic of the way that the Jewish merchants had been swindling their customers by using false weights and measurements, a sin which God detests. Inside this ephah, instead of kernels of wheat, was a woman being held down by a lead weight, as though she might escape and cause great mischief.
And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
It is not a mistake that the subject of the vision was a woman, and the word translated as “wickedness” in verse 8 is a feminine noun. The Jewish people in Zechariah’s day had gone far into idolatry, not only worshiping false male gods, but bowing down and sacrificing to false female deities as well.
The vision continued as two more women with large and powerful wings intercepted the ephah and the wicked woman trapped inside, and swooped them away to judgment – probably predicting the manner in which the Roman army would fly down upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and execute God’s judgment upon the nation that had rejected His Son and Messiah.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
We praise the Lord today for Godly women who serve faithfully in His Kingdom. The Bible does warn, though, of a feminine propensity toward gullibility and usurpation (I Timothy 2:12-14). When Christian men are exercising their God-ordained leadership roles, loving sacrificially and serving humbly, then helpful and gifted women will be better able to exercise their callings in Christ liberally and without a weight of worldly oppression constraining them in a container of guarded suspicion.
Tags: Biblical genealogies, commentary on Matthew, Hosea 11, Isaiah 7, Jesus Christ, Matthew 1, Matthew 2, Son of David, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, the Gospel of Matthew
Lord, help us to endure – to be focused and energized, not weary. Help us to be excited about Your will, zealous for Your glory, and ready always to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Please help us even to look for opportunities to give an answer, and teach us how from Your Word. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
The Book of Matthew starts off with a genealogy. All reasonable Jewish people would agree that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. No one in the last 2000 years can prove that He is a descendant of David except for One. The Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D.70 and destroyed all the genealogical records. Only Jesus’s genealogical record survives today and we find it in Matthew. The Holy Spirit has published the proof that Jesus of Nazareth is a son of David.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew was a historian as well as an inspired writer of Scripture. The three major periods of Israel’s history are outlined with sections of 14 generations each because the numerical value of the Hebrew letters for “David” equals 14.
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Genesis 5:1 (emphasis added)
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1 (emphasis added)
There was a “first Adam” and there is a “last Adam.” The first one lost his kingdom through disobedience, and the last One obtained His Kingdom by obedience unto death.
One reason Matthew was written was to show the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
The Hebrew word for Branch in that verse is netser, which is related to “Nazareth,” the hometown of Jesus.
Matthew was written primarily for a Jewish, rather than a gentile, audience. Matthew was a tax collector, also known as a publican, by trade. We might think of him as an ancient IRS agent, and, as such, he would have been highly organized. Matthew is a very organized book that focuses on the “Kingdom” of God. It is the only one of the four Gospels that uses the word “church.” (Matthew 16:18; 18:17) A church is a “called-out assembly.”
Matthew’s original name was “Levi,” which was also the name of the third son of Jacob (by Leah) – a name which meant “joined unto me” or “attached.” The name “Matthew” itself means “the gift of God.” Tax collectors in those days were considered to be thieves and traitors, so we must remember that your old life will not keep Christ from using you in a great way in your new life.
Of course, it is Jesus, not Matthew, however, who is really the subject of his book. The name “Jesus” means Savior. In Hebrew it is “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” There were many people with the name, but only one Jesus was the Christ: the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is “Immanuel:” “God with us.”
Tags: commentary on Psalms, Dallas Cowboys, Egypt, Exodus, imputed righteousness, Jesus Christ, Justification, Psalm 68, sinus headaches, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
There was a time when God’s people were in bondage in Egypt. Like pots that had been thrown away, they were the least of the least of the least. They had been that way for a long time before God called Moses to deliver the news of their deliverance. Why did God allow their bondage to go on so long?
One reason may have been because freedom is more greatly appreciated when the pain of bondage is known. I seldom walk around during the day thinking about how “good” my head feels. However, after enduring a long sinus headache, when the relief finally comes, I really appreciate the feeling that comes with having a non-aching head! I thank the Lord for it, I smile, I tell my wife and children how wonderful it feels just to feel “normal.” Freedom is something we are prone to take for granted until God allows us to experience the reality, or at least the threat, of losing it.
Another reason is that we tend to appreciate gifts more when they are novel – when they are things to which we are unaccustomed. I’m thankful to receive a tie for Father’s Day, but – because I have a rack full of them already – I would be hard pressed to describe myself as “delighted” over another one. However, when I received four free tickets and a parking pass to Cowboys Stadium, it was a whole different story! I was thrilled because this would be a whole new experience. The Lord has a way of surprising us with His graciousness so that we remember that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
Note that Psalm 68:13 describes a covering of gold and silver over things that had been cast aside as broken and useless. These precious metals were not intrinsic to the doves’ wings themselves. They came from another source, and were applied with skill and care. This is an illustration of the “alien” righteousness that Christians receive from Christ at the moment of salvation. It benefits us, but it comes solely from Him. It is our only basis for claiming usefulness and worth.
We don’t like it when this world’s system treats us the way that Egypt treated the Israelites, but we will find ourselves more anxious to leave the bondage of it behind when we recognize its cruelty. We may be thankful to God, in a sense, even for God’s allowance of our sins – for they pursued us to the Savior.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 1, Biblical comfort, comfort, comfort in Jesus Christ, God of all comfort, Jesus Christ, the Comforter
In this series of lessons, I have been trying to do three things:
1. Recognize our need for comfort
2. Recognize that our comfort comes from God – Who is the God of all comfort
3. Correct the misunderstanding that God’s comforts are one-sided
In other words, God does not comfort us merely because He has a vague and passing interest in not allowing us to suffer too much. So we need to revise our view of some of the specific comforts that God gives to us, turning them over and looking at their other sides. I hope that this will give us a broader view of what it means to be comforted by the God of all comfort – a more comprehensive view that looks beyond the obvious, and looks with eyes of faith, to see at least two sides to every comfort.
There is a difference between being comfortable and being comforted, but the Holy Spirit has a way of comforting the uncomfortable, and making uncomfortable those who are merely complacent. The Christian life is not designed for self-comfort. It’s designed by God to challenge us to walk by faith through the zones of discomfort and find true comfort in God alone. Will you start exploring what He directs you to do, even if it makes you uncomfortable? If so, you will know the sweetness of His unique comfort.
Tags: Biblical comfort, Biblical teaching, comfort, Comforter, Holy Spirit, Job 36, John 14, Paraclete, temptation
In the first lesson in this series I explained the original meaning of the word comfort: “with strength.” Strength is imparted to us by God, but it pleases Him to use circumstances to do it. He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us through these circumstances.
But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 14:26 (emphasis added)
The Greek word translated as Comforter is parakletos, and it means someone who comes alongside (para) and helps (kletos). One way to describe it is that a parakletos is like a soldier who helps his wounded comrade in battle – except instead of carrying him back to camp, he strengthens him to keep going forward – and he teaches him as he strengthens. The Holy Spirit teaches us the right way to think about our circumstances and the right things to say about our circumstances.
What a comforting thought to know that God has not left us alone to navigate our own sanctification! We could never do it on our own. But remember the comfort that comes from knowing that we have God’s Own Spirit as our teacher has a flip side. The other side of teaching is:
God does not teach the way we teach.
Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
Job was told to be on the lookout for the temptation of iniquity. The “quick-fix” lie of Satan is that we can escape affliction by sinning.
Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
God has a very hands-on, trial-by-fire teaching method.
Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?
God is never the author of sin.
Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold [it] afar off.
God allows temptation, but He also makes the way to escape, and when we emerge victorious over temptation, God gets the glory – and we learn a lesson.
Do you see the connection? We will be tempted, but we will not face it alone, and we will not be left without a comforter. When we fall, He will come along and help us up, and teach us – and we will get comfort.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The peace that Christ gives is not like the counterfeit peace that the world offers, but it is true peace. It is the blessing and comfort of learning and knowing that God is orchestrating our lives.
Tags: Assyria, Christian leadership, Cinco de Mayo devotions, commentary on Micah, local church ministry, Messiah, Micah 5, pastors, spiritual warfare, Sunday School lessons on Micah
The rulers of God’s people had behaved sinfully and shamefully. Now they themselves would be shamed openly, as their enemies, the Assyrians, would conquer their land and humiliate them with smacks to the face.
Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
They would also stomp through their palaces, terrorizing the people with the threat of captivity and destruction. However, the people could still choose to believe God’s promise that one day a Messiah would come. He would bring peace between God’s people and the God they had offended with their sin. And while He himself would be powerful enough to throw off the yoke of bondage on His Own, He would also graciously raise up Godly leaders and empower them to stand against God’s enemies.
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
Micah 5:5 (emphasis added)
If you have been born again by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are victorious in Him and do not need to fear the principalities and powers and dark rulers who tread through the palaces of this world. You may instead trust and believe that God is still ordaining seven (a metaphor for the the perfect number) and eight (meaning abundantly and plentifully) shepherds and principal men in Bible-believing local churches today to lead the flocks of the Lord Jesus in the ministries of peace and reconciliation.
Tags: Beverly Hillbillies, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 18, Exodus 19, Jesus Christ, Jethro, John 1, Moses, Mount Sinai, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
Exodus Chapter 18 gives us a little snapshot of daily life in the camp of Israel around Mount Sinai. It is mainly about the solution to the problem of how the people would be governed now that they were free from Egypt and were a separate “nation.” They go through a period where there is really no testing, no battles, no life or death struggle. This is where they will be for approximately 11 months, and it is far better than their former life in Egypt.
It is not that there was no hard work during this period, nor just that there was freedom from conflict. It was that their work and the problems they encountered were now oriented toward a better purpose. They belonged to Yahweh, and they were serving Him. They could see true meaning in their lives. The cliché is that we praise God in good times and doubt Him in bad times, but, the fact is, we often forget to praise Him even in good times.
Also in Chapter 18 Jethro arrives (with Granny Clampett and Uncle Jed and Ellie Mae, and he goes for a dip in the cement pond.) Sorry, not really, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.
And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them.
Jethro is now a convert to the worship of the One True God (if he already hadn’t been).
And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.
Jethro saw a problem.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
Jethro suggested that Moses delegate his responsibilities.
And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
We need to follow the principles of Exodus 18:21 in selecting leaders in church ministry: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them…” “Willingness to be given authority” is not the chief requirement to look for in a leader. Ability and character are both important, but character is the more important of these two.
From the beginning of Exodus Chapter 19, through Leviticus, and on through Numbers 10:10, the setting is the 11 months encamped at Mount Sinai. There, a promise was fulfilled:
And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
During this time the Law was given, the Tabernacle and furnishings were built, the priesthood was established and instructed, and the people were organized by tribes. God made a covenant with them, and the people agreed heartily.
And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
A common theme throughout the Old Testament is the distance between the holy God and sinful human beings.
And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.
God allowed Moses – as He would later through Aaron and the Levitical priesthood – to serve as an example and a type of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who would one day come and completely span the distance between wretched sinners and holy God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Tags: Biblical evangelism, confrontational evangelism, evangelism, friendship evangelism, Matthew 28, Proverbs 27, Romans 10, soulwinning, witnessing
In response to my post called “Faithful Wounds,” which you can read by clicking here, I received the following comments on another forum, and gave the following responses:
Commenter: If the ignorant boy knows the man, and has an ongoing trusting relationship, it’s more likely that he will heed the warning without much incident. What I think you have argued is the fallacy of incongruent analogy.
And, would not God be the one doing the chasing, or “tackling”, anyway? If the Spirit is not working in the heart of that person, it matters not what variety of message we use. It will be to no avail. So, why not build a bridge?
Me: The boy in the analogy wasn’t just ignorant – he was dangerously ignorant. And, being completely oblivious to the danger and running out of space before he met an ugly end, there wasn’t time to build a bridge of relationship. We could argue, I suppose, that the man should have built a relationship with the boy a long time ago, but the (made-up-for analogy) “fact” that he didn’t build one before, doesn’t make the analogy incongruent.
I agree that God’s Spirit does the chasing and the tackling in one sense, but I also believe He uses loving Christians as His instruments many times. God is powerful enough to supernaturally implant the Gospel message into a person’s brain, and He is powerful enough drop a blockade from the sky that would keep everyone from racing into traffic, but the fact is, for some reason, it pleases Him to use redeemed sinners to declare His Gospel, and to form relationships, and even to, once in while, roughly shake someone we love into his senses before he hurts himself.
Commenter: You are saying that God’s Kingdom is built by hateful and rash behavior.
Me: That’s not what I said. I said the man who tackled the boy “appeared” hateful and rash, but that he actually acted out of true active love. I do not believe the Bible condones rash hatred, and did not mean to imply it.
Commenter: You are crazy. Someone needs to tackle you, mate.
Me: I’m sorry you think I’m “crazy.” Hopefully you are just joking and not being mean-spirited. Name calling is purportedly not helpful to building a bridge of relationship.
If you truly do think I’m crazy though, I guess I’ll have to live with the label. They said the same thing about Jesus (Mark 3:21) and the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:24). Anyway, “crazy” can be pretty subjective. Older Christian men will tell you that, several decades ago, it was pretty common for people to tell people right to their face that they God loved them, and that they could be saved from the consequences of their sin by trusting Jesus. They say that these people weren’t considered “crazy” at all. However, I admit that the standard has changed. These days, forcefully confronting someone with the Gospel when they don’t want to hear it is often described as “crazy,” while it is considered not only sane, but worthy of adoration, to wear a “meat dress” or to dance around in underwear on a stage while people scream out that they would die for you. “Crazy” can be sort of a relative term.
As far as someone tackling me, you’re a little too late – it’s already happened both in the literal (when I tried to stop a bigger person from beating up a smaller person, and his friends didn’t like it!) and in the figurative sense – many years ago – when a stranger who loved me enough to tell me the truth told me that, according to the Bible, I had sinned against God and needed His loving Son to save me. The Holy Spirit also “tackled” me at that point, opened my willfully blind and oblivious eyes, and showed me it was true. That Truth is something wonderful that I want everyone to know – even the ones who think they don’t want to hear it. That might appear hateful and rash, but it is not being hateful or rash.
Commenter: The primary flaw with your analogy is that anyone can by force save the boy from his path of destruction – in fact against his own will. Your analogy seems very similar to the comedian-magician Penn Gillette’s words, that “If you see someone about to get hit by a truck, there comes a point when you tackle them.” But what we are dealing with here is a soul’s choice to accept or reject the Gospel. It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy. The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.
Me: You might believe that the analogy makes a point that you do not happen to like, believe, or agree with, but I respectfully submit that, in the scenario of the analogy itself, the point was not that anyone could stop the boy by force – the point was that only one person was willing to stop the boy by force. Someone had already tried more polite methods and they didn’t appear to be working.
I don’t know much about Penn Gillette, and I can’t really tell if you are agreeing with his statement or not, but on the surface (without knowing the context and without agreeing with him on other things) it appears to make sense. If I’m about to get hit by a truck, I would like someone (even someone who doesn’t particularly like me) to tackle me. As stated above, someone did that to me, spiritually speaking, several years ago, and I love him for it. Even more, I love the God Who I believe authorized and empowered him to do it. I have done it to others, and they have testified that they are grateful for it, too. I would argue that there is evidence in the Bible of evangelistic “tackling in love” and that it is portrayed in Scripture as the God-ordained thing to do in certain circumstances.
You state, “It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy.” Well, you are free to make up your own analogy I suppose, but to say that mine is less “accurate” kind of misses the point. The boy and his tackler landed just shy of the path of a speeding truck! Are you suggesting that the haranguing and yelling would have been worth the risk considering the magnitude of the harm averted? Everyone is free to dislike the analogy, but I would hope it wouldn’t be judged internally inconsistent, just like I would hope the tackler’s motives wouldn’t be mischaracterized as hateful and rash, when they are clearly stated to be otherwise.
You state: “The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.” I want to give you credit (and I’m not being sarcastic) for the boldness of your convictions on this point. I would agree that each soul’s decision plays a part, but I would also argue (I think I can support it from Scripture) that other people who encounter a person also play a part in determining that person’s path, and that certainly God Himself plays a part in determining our path. To say that the person himself is the “ultimate” determiner, instead of God, is where we disagree.