Tags: Christians leadership, commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 13, immutability of God, Jesus Christ, pastors, spiritual leaders, Standing of the Promises, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews
Hebrews Chapter 13 is a very practical chapter of God’s Word. It contains doctrine that can be applied to everyday life. In fact, throughout the whole Bible, duty is never divorced from doctrine.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
This verse is often cited as a proof-text to try to convince people that God always works the same way, and that He does not operate differently in His relationship to creation during different dispensations or historical periods. That is not a correct use of the verse, but it is true that God’s character does not change. His qualities of love, mercy, grace, holiness, righteousness, and power are everlasting. He has been Father, Son, and Holy Ghost forever, and He will be forever. He cannot lie. That’s a comforting thing to know, a nice thing to know, and an important thing to know, but, in addition to providing comfort and assurance about the trustworthiness of God, it also has very practical outworkings in the daily lives of Christians.
Take, for example, the responsibility of the believer toward his or her spiritual leaders.
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Though leaders change from one to another, and though they might change in the sense of moral failure or being undependable, we must remember that our ultimate responsibility is to follow and serve God, and that He is always the same when it comes to trustworthiness and dependability. We chiefly put our faith in God’s Word and His promises.
Standing on the promises I cannot fall;
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call;
Trusting in the Savior as my ALL in ALL;
Standing on the promises of God
Standing on the promises that cannot fail;
When the howling storms of fear and doubt assail;
By the living Word of God I shall prevail;
Standing on the promises of God
R. Kelso Carter
Tags: Biblical repetition, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 38, Exodus 39, Exodus 40, hermeneutics, Moses, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, Tabernacle, true worship
The repetition in Exodus 35-38 is an example of the “command-fulfillment” pattern. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to write, “They did everything the LORD told them to do” or “and so it was done,” but, instead, He restates the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle. This command-fulfillment pattern was also used in the description by God to Moses of what would happen in Egypt with the plagues, and then the recitation of the fulfillment of it exactly as He said.
One reason for the use of the command-fulfillment pattern was to illustrate externally what was happening internally. The commandment against coveting, for example, is difficult to document and verify, but the command to sew a scarlet and blue and gold curtain was not. Therefore, the pattern demonstrates a verification of the people’s obedience.
Another reason was that this would be a teaching tool for the priests to use later in instructing future generations of priests and people in how to worship Yahweh. It is intended for learning by repetition.
A third reason is that it would remind people that worship of God is supposed to be sacrificial, not “easy” – especially with them going into a land where an idol would be hanging from every tree and standing in every field. It would serve as a safeguard against lazy idolatry by reminding the people that the real God deserves attention and sacrifice.
A fourth reason was that preparing to worship is itself worship. This would be a good reminder that everything is an act of worship.
A fifth reason was that God graciously allows willing participation. The structure of the commands told them they needed to “think” and “act” in obedience. This would teach the people to obey God in what He has specifically said, but to also use their brains and their backs to honor Him with the freedom He allows. Free obedience seems contradictory, but it is really a beautiful paradox found only in true worship of the true God.
Sixth, spotting minor changes between the commands and the fulfillment reminds us not to “skim” – not to take for granted any passages of Scripture. Every jot and tittle is important to God. It also teaches us the importance of how, as children of God, we are to exercise precision in how we speak. For example, Christians shouldn’t say that they are “proud” of their kids. They shouldn’t “thank their lucky stars.”
All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
That’s between 2000 and 2200 pounds of gold.
And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
That’s about 7545 pounds of silver.
After they finished all the furnishings and the priests’ garments, they brought everything to Moses to inspect:
Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets,
And he did inspect it thoroughly:
According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
The idea is not that Moses gave a cursory look-see. Remember, he had seen these things in a vision in the glory cloud on Mt. Sinai. He knew how God wanted them to look and function, and he did a very careful and thorough inspection. It is noteworthy that such a project was accomplished, but it is truly remarkable that it was done “as the LORD had commanded.”
Now it needed to be set up.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
Tags: 2 Timothy 2, Bible teachers, Biblical teaching, James 3, quotes about swimming, Rosaria Butterfield, swimming lessons, swimming quotes
Some people probably learn how to swim by falling off a boat and almost drowning. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they would make great swim coaches.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
II Timothy 2:2
Tags: Biblical freedom, fear of God, fear of the Lord, freedom, Matthew 6, Proverbs 15, riches, true freedom, wealth
There is a sense in which great wealth is thought to bring a certain amount of worldly freedom. The rich man, not saddled down with the need to work, can travel. If he finds himself inconvenienced, he can purchase some modern contraption to make things easier. He may not feel the stress of wondering whether he will be able to eat or whether he will have a place to live. Or so goes the “common sense” wisdom of our age.
The Bible has a different view:
Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
“Better” can be a subjective description, but, when we see it in the Bible, we understand that what is being revealed is an objective, absolute, literal “better.” A person who has a righteous and blessed fear of the Lord will find His contentment, peace, and fulfillment in the Lord Himself, and not in earthly treasure, which, although it promises freedom, can in reality only provide a “limited freedom” (an oxymoron). Since the Lord Himself is of unlimited value and worth, we might say that “a little of the Lord” is far better than the “great” trouble that can accompany great treasure.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Tags: commentary on Matthew, hypocrisy, Matthew 21, Matthew 22, Matthew 23, Pharisees, preschoolers, Psalm 110, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
Even though He was truly a King, there were times in His earthly ministry when Jesus submitted Himself to examination by inferior and unsuitable examiners. They questioned Him about taxes:
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
They questioned Him about relationships:
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
This is similar to today. People have access to the revealed will of God, and access to the friendship of His Son, but they would rather know about health, wealth, and relationships. People cultivate relationships with people that they can use – use to get things – because things are what they really love. God made things for using and people for loving, and when we get those reversed we are guilty of idolatry.
Now the King had a question for them:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Psalm 110:1 would have answered this question for them about how Jesus could be the Son of David and the Lord of David:
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
In Matthew 23 we see the King’s last public proclamation before the Cross. It is considered unloving these days to criticize unbiblical ministries, but Jesus was not hesitant about exposing false teachers, nor about denouncing them.
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The Pharisees based their their religion on self-righteousness, but they were not righteous themselves.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
They had a strange idea of “ministry:” adding burdens instead of helping bear burdens.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
The Pharisees thought that they were “great men of God,” but they did not want to serve.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
They kept others who were trying to “press in” from entering the Kingdom.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
They had a deceitful and dangerous idea of “religion.” They had just enough religion to be dangerous – to use the right words and look the right way without any real conversion. They were like a preschooler who doesn’t really know the answer, but ecstatically waves his hand to be called on anyway: a big commotion with nothing of any value to say.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
The Pharisees lived for outward appearances, while the inside was vile and dead.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Jesus referred to their “generation” not as an earthly, genealogical generation, but as the generation of Satan’s “children.”
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
He called it “your house” instead of God’s house because it had been abandoned and left empty.
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Tags: chastening, chastisement, commentary on Hebrews, common expressions in the Bible, corporal punishment, discipline, Ephesians 4, Hebrews 12, punishment, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews
Chastening is sometimes referred to as punishment, but since it really has a goal of correction, rehabilitation, and restoration, it would probably be better thought of as discipline rather than punishment. Strictly speaking, a criminal sentenced to prison has not been chastened; he has been punished to pay a price for doing wrong regardless of whether he mends his ways. However, punishment may turn out to be chastening, depending on the response of the person being punished. Punishment has to do with the goal of the punisher, although it may be transformed into chastisement in the mind of the one being punished. Chastisement has to do with the goal of the chastiser and the response of the one being chastised. It is very important to understand this distinction. When I chastise my children, they can respond in one of two ways: (1) with bitterness and a determination not to be broken; or (2) with a contrite heart and willing obedience. Can there be joy in chastening? Not during – it’s grievous for both parties while it’s going on.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
The oft-parodied parental expression from the parent about to administer a spanking to his child is, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” and, although the child would beg to differ, it is is true that it does hurt a loving parent to chastise his child with corporal discipline. But think how much more it must hurt our loving God!
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Grief is worse than sadness or mourning. Grief is a painful regret mixed with indignation and sorrow. It’s an amazing thing that I can grieve the Holy Spirit – I ought to strive not to do it – but, when I’m chastened, I must respond to it the right way, and grow and profit from it. If I don’t, I will be guilty of spurning the Word of God and making the chastening a root of bitterness. It’s bad enough to have a root of bitterness springing up between believers, but the devil wants a root of bitterness to spring up between me and God. When I am tending the garden of my heart, it’s not enough to love flowers – to love the spiritual fruit I should be bearing. I must also hate weeds, and be constantly digging up the roots of bitterness.
The Bible calls the tool that you use to discipline your children “the rod of correction.” We sometimes call it a “paddle,” and there is another spiritual (albeit embarrassing) lesson in the Bible about the “paddle.”
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
Most translations say “equipment” or “spade” or “implement,” but the King James Version calls it a “paddle.” The paddle in this verse is for burying – outside the camp – that which would defile and make unclean a camp of God’s people. That’s what we need to do with bitterness – deal with it – go outside the camp and bury it – not bring it in among the family of God.
In the Christian race, we are to look diligently.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
We are to look diligently for a root of bitterness, because such a root will hinder our relationship with God, and because, by it, many will be defiled. If we don’t look where we’re running, we might step in something and track it into the house of another believer, or worse, into the house of the Lord – the local church – and cause a big stink.
Tags: Bezalel, Biblical construction, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 35, Exodus 36, Exodus 37, Exodus 38, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle
And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
After the people had given abundantly towards the materials to be used in constructing the Tabernacle, the Lord “super-charged” Bezalel’s already-existing (and already God-given) talents. There are some things at which you are naturally very skilled, but the Lord can make you even better at them once they are consecrated to His service.
And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.
Moses gave a commandment saying don’t bring any more stuff, rather than telling the people to just keep building or making it more elaborate, because what had been given was to be used for a specific work which the Lord had commanded to be done in a very specific way (“up to spec” or “to certain specifications,” we might say).
And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.
God wouldn’t be impressed with their ideas. He would be pleased with obedience.
And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
The command to build the Ark had come earlier in the description of what to build (Exodus 25:10-15), but the actual building of it came much later in the order of construction. This was so that the Ark – the holiest of all the Tabernacle furnishings – wouldn’t be left lying out in the open for everyone to gaze upon. The curtains of the inner sanctum – the Holy of Holies – and even the curtains in which it was to be wrapped for traveling – needed to be manufactured first to protect and shield it.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
The laver was for purifying and washing. It was to be made of brass (most likely an alloy of tin and copper in those days, probably the purest brass they had). This brass would have come from their mirrors. As a father of four daughters, this is one of the ways I know that that the Israelite people were really excited and willing about obeying and giving: The women gave up their mirrors! Seriously, though, it does make a good object lesson. They got their eyes off themselves and onto God. There’s a reason why they call a mirror you can sit down in front of a “vanity.”
Tags: commentary on Psalms, humility, J. Stuart Holden, needs, poor and needy, Psalm 35, self-esteem, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, the poor, the Titanic
It goes against our human instincts to admit that we are needy. We don’t like to confess that there are things we cannot obtain on our own, or that we have gotten ourselves into trouble without the ability to get ourselves out. Asking for help is inherently humbling, and we want to see ourselves as self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-made, self-taught, and fortified with heavy doses of self-esteem. In actuality, though, “self-deluded” might be a more accurate description when we are thinking this way. J. Stuart Holden (who narrowly missed going down with the Titanic due to his wife’s voyage-cancelling illness) once preached, “Our needs are the greatest things we have – far greater than our possessions or accomplishments or desires.”
The “needy” in Scripture are often lumped together with the “poor,” and these two conditions are the source of great injury to human pride, because the Lord speaks of the poor and needy as objects of divine pity, while men see them as objects of derision or scorn. However, this may be a blessing in disguise. For, it is when we are completely helpless before our enemies or circumstances – when our needs by far outweigh our resources – that we get desperate enough to call upon our great Help and Deliverer.
All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
Who is the one Being in all of existence Who has never had, and never will have, a single need? The Holy Lord of Hosts is the single indisputable answer to this question, and when we recognize this fact – combined with the fact that He loves us enough to hear our cries for help and pleas of weakness, and to come to our aid – then we are perhaps closer to a right understanding and knowledge of His glory, character, and attributes than at any other time.
Much harm has been done by the modern professing church in attempting to exalt the “felt needs” of sinners over the unvarnished proclamation of the truth about God, but we must never lose sight of the fact that, although we love and serve a great God, the only thing “great” about ourselves is our massive needs.
Tags: Acts 7, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, commentary on Matthew, Matthew 20, Matthew 21, Matthew 22, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, the fig tree, the parable of the wedding banquet, Zechariah 9
Lord, please help me to be humble. Help me to recognize my lack of knowledge concerning Your Word. Please grant me wisdom and a clear mind ready to be renewed in Your Word. Help us to see Your glory in the Bible’s portrait of Your Son. In His name I pray. Amen.
Jesus is not an accessory or an adornment. If you have Him, you have everything that matters. If you do not have Him, you have nothing.
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
I John 5:12
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
The Kingdom of King Jesus is not like the kingdoms of this world. There are no worldly leaders in His Kingdom – just servants – servant movers – because the servant’s job in Christ’s Kingdom is to get people moving. Serving in this Kingdom is a commitment which produces character which produces conduct.
In Matthew Chapter 21 another phase of the King’s plan goes into motion. He starts a triumphal parade that would ultimately lead to His Crucifixion. This parade, this “triumph,” would have seemed like a joke to the Romans. An observing Roman centurion would have seen garments on the ground, a donkey, palm branches, and thought, “What victory could they possibly be celebrating? Give me a break! The Roman standard still stands! Pathetic!”
This was the first time Jesus had allowed a public demonstration like this in His honor.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna meant “save now.” The people were rejoicing because they believed the promised Son of David had finally come to bring a military victory, and to throw off the yoke of Roman bondage. This parade would have been a big disappointment to even Jesus’s Jewish followers if they had understood what Jesus’s entry into the city really meant. But it pleased the Father, and it fulfilled prophecy, so it was done according to Christ’s will.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
The King declared peace, but Jerusalem declared war.
When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Not only did the Jewish rulers reject their King, but the citizens did, too.
Jesus came into the city and judged the Temple. The Temple was thought to be glorious, but there was no real glory in the Temple until the King entered it.
First He judged the Temple, then He judged the nation.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
This tree had leaves – a superficial show of health – but it had no fruit. It was a picture of the nation of Israel.
Matthew 22 starts off with the parable of the king’s son’s wedding banquet.
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
This was a prophetic parable. It refers to a time after the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The same leaders that allowed John the Baptist to be killed asked for Jesus to be killed, and killed Stephen themselves. The King whose invitation had been rejected sent armies to destroy those who rejected His Kingship, and to destroy their city. Then he invited others (Gentiles) to come to His feast.
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
The father/king gave the guests wedding garments – one for each individual – because eternal salvation is personal for each believer. In the Kingdom of Christ there are no “poor” and “rich,” because our standing is not in what we bring, but in Him Whom we have trusted.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the Cross I cling
Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages”
One of the ones invited to the feast didn’t want to wear the garment given by the king. We see this illustrated today in those who are welcome at church, but don’t want to be saved. We sometimes have trouble distinguishing between true converts and false professors, and only the King can recognize the ones who aren’t wearing a garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness. The king in the parable used His servants to “bind” the one without a garment – to discipline and remove him. The servants aren’t the ones who made the decision to throw him into torment. It was the king’s decree. The servants merely “bound” what had already been bound by the King’s sovereign will.