Misplaced Fear

July 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1

Popularity can be as dangerous as ostracism. As Christians, we must beware of becoming people-pleasers.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Luke 12:2-4

The likelihood of death is not ususally the motivation for freedom from fear, but Jesus recognized that fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom.

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Luke 12:5

Having dealt with the hypocrites, Jesus warned His disciples not to become hypocrites themselves. Hypocrisy is caused by fear of man.

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of God causes honesty.

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Luke 12:10

The Jewish religious leaders had blasphemed the Father when they rejectd the witness of His prophet, John the Baptist. They had blasphemed the Son (Jesus). After Jesus’s Ascension they would blaspheme the Holy Spirit as they stoned Stephen.

Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Acts 7:52-59

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Luke 12:15

Having warned the disciples about misplaced fear causing hypocrisy, Jesus went on to warn them that such fear also causes covetousness.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

Luke 12:16

When Jesus speaks about a “rich man” we would not be wise to limit our thinking to those who live in mansions and ride in limousines. If we have indoor plumbing and an actual bed, or if we find ourselves having a tough time trusting God when we only have 3G reception, rather that 4G, on our phones, then the description of “rich man” covers you and me.

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

Luke 12:17-18

Have you noticed a proliferation of rented storage units in your neighborhood lately?

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:19

This is a dangersous way of preaching to your own soul: “Soul, you don’t have to be afraid any more. Even if God doesn’t provide, we’ve provided for ourselves.”

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:20-21

Recognizing that people all over the world – and people living right next to us! – need to hear the Gospel, we must remember that there will be a day of accounting (which may arrive much sooner than we think) when we will face God to answer for how we’ve invested the earthly and material blessings and treasures He’s entrusted to our care. Instead of being “rich toward the world,” be “rich toward God.” Be grateful and be anxious to share.

Tattletaling on God

July 26, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Posted in John | 5 Comments
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Imagine coming home from work one day and excitedly telling your spouse, “Honey, guess what! I got a huge raise and a promotion today!” only to have your spouse respond with, “Well, that’s just great, too bad you couldn’t find time to load the dishwasher every now and then while you were busy earning that raise.” What might this response tell us? Well, it might tell us that one spouse wasn’t exactly carrying his/her weight regarding the household chores, but I think it would actually tell us more about the other spouse’s attitude toward life in general. As we look at the aftermath of Jesus’s gracious healing of the man near the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, we can see how the response of the Jewish leaders revealed more about them than about the man who was healed.

He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

John 5:11

At this point they seemed to be only interested in the healed man as a potential Sabbath-violator, and he was pretty much willing to narc Jesus out at that point.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

John 5:12-13

He was willing to be a stool pigeon, but he wasn’t able to drop a dime on Jesus because he hadn’t even bothered to find out his name.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

John 5:15

As soon as he found out who had healed him he couldn’t wait to rat Him out.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 5:16

In case you were wondering just how seriously the Jewish leaders took Sabbath violations, they were not not talking about giving Him a stern warning and a talking-to, nor giving Him a fine or a slap on the wrist. They were just going to kill Him.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

John 5:17

The word translated as “answered” is the word used for a legal defense, and His answer shocked them because He referred to God in a personal way as “My” Father, and He referenced the Sabbath “exception” for God Himself, who even the devoutest Jewish religious teachers had to admit must keep “working” on the Sabbath or else the universe would dissolve. People foolishly claim that Jesus never explicitly claimed to be God, but the reaction of the accusers clearly refutes that here.

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

John 5:18

Once again, though, Jesus had a legal defense or “answer” to this:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, (what does verily, verily mean) I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

John 5:19

Jesus claimed to be God by:

1. Claiming the honor due to God.

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 5:23

2. Claiming to do the works that God can do.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

John 5:21

3. Claiming that right to judge that God has.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:22

Jewish scholars claimed that there were three locks that only God could unlock, or three keys that only God held: The keys to open the womb, the clouds (rain), and the grave.

A Final and Unforgettable Sight

July 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 39 deals with the complete conquest of Judah by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s officers set up military rule in Jerusalem. Surrender was now too late. Everybody who had ignored Jeremiah’s warnings would have to face the consequences.

Of course, Zedekiah tried to flee, but he was easily tracked down and captured.

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

Jeremiah 39:4-5

There had been some conflicting prophecies: one that Zedekiah wold be captured and taken to Babylon, and one that he would not live to see Babylon. Here is the grisly way that the paradox was resolved:

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 39:6-8

What an awful image to have as the last thing you ever see. We do not know how long Zedekiah lived in Babylon, but he never actually saw the place.

Modern archaeological digs continue to confirm the destruction of the homes and buildings in Jerusalem after the siege. One deportation of the “best” citizens had occurred before. Now they sent pretty much everybody but the poorest of the poor to Babylon, and distributed lots of land to those left behind so that they could farm it and grow food for the Babylonian soldiers. God saw to it that Nebuchadnezzar was aware of Jeremiah and treated him favorably and turned him over to Gedaliah, the appointed governor. Jeremiah’s prophecies had come true, but God wasn’t finished with him yet. He still had much for him to accomplish.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 2)

July 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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In a previous post I showed that, Biblically:

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity
II. Illumination Initiates Interest
III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Now we will see that:

IV. Illumination Imparts Insight

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:9-10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and He teaches the principles and the precepts of the Bible to whose whom He indwells.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Psalm 119:130

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He leads us out of error. He teaches and reinforces correct doctrine.

V. Illumination Inspires Intimacy

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

We draw close to God and get to know Him better by various means, but the main way we get to know – not just things about Him – but actually intimately know Him – is through the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-13

We experience intimate fellowship, through the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination, not only with God, but with other believers.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:7

Now that I have discussed what Biblical illumination IS, I want to point out:

VI. What Illumination Is Not

A. Illumination is not inspiration.

Illumination does not give us private revelation apart from Scripture – and especially not contrary to Scripture. It is not a synonym for imagination: Beware of these commonly espoused idioms: “God told me;” “God spoke to my heart;” “God wouldn’t let me do what I had been preparing to do.” Let’s be careful about our language. There is a great danger in saying “thus saith the Lord” when He hasn’t really saith anything of the sort.

B. Illumination is not inner enlightenment.

Illumination is not transcendental meditation. It is not the emptying out of your mind. It is not the achievement of knowing the self or emotional peace. It is not mysticism – or chanting or channeling or tantric yoga. It is not “blind” (dark) faith; it cooperates with rational, intelligent, logical learning, application, and wisdom.

C. Illumination is not immense intelligence.

Jesus and the Apostles were accused of ignorance or illiteracy, or lack of education or formal learning.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:26-27

Paul acknowledged the simplicity of human wisdom and how the true wisdom of God was counted as foolishness in the world.

Illumination in not merely academic. It is a supernatural impartation of understanding specifically related to Bible study. Plenty of classically trained and tremendously educated scholars have made a lifelong study of certain Biblical subjects without ever being converted, and therefore without ever having experienced true illumination.

Celebrating at a Funeral?

July 17, 2019 at 10:08 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: Someone in my family died, and this person had a strong salvation testimony and lived for many years the way the Bible says we would expect a Christian to live. The funeral was more like a party than a funeral. Everybody was laughing and joking, and they even played upbeat party music. Is this okay, since everybody agreed that the person had gone to Heaven?

Answer: Well, I don’t want to say it was NOT okay. There is certainly a sense in which it is okay to celebrate when we believe someone we love has gone to Heaven. But I wouldn’t want to tell people they are not supposed to grieve when someone they love has died, either. I Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” Some people take that to mean we shouldn’t sorrow at all when a Christian dies, but I think it means that it is okay to sorrow, just not the same way we would sorrow over someone that died without ever having trusted Christ. After all, Jesus Himself wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), and He knew He would bring him back to life!

There are two considerations that might temper the celebratory atmosphere at the funeral of a Christian. One is compassion for those in attendance who may not feel like celebrating (Romans 12:15). It would be callous to act irreverent in the presence of people who are going to miss the person who has died. Two, the Bible makes it clear that death itself shouldn’t be frivolously talked about as some “natural, circle-of-life, blessing-in-disguise” occurrence. Death is caused by sin (Genesis 2:17, 3:6; Romans 5:12, 6:23). Death is an adversarial invader into God’s originally “very good” (Genesis 1:31) creation. Every time someone dies, we should grieve over the fact that we ourselves engage in behavior that our Creator deems worthy of death, and a funeral is a stark illustrated sermon on the seriousness of sin and its consequences.

Doubling Down on the Hypocrites

July 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | 4 Comments
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No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

Luke 11:33

Jesus is the Light for Christians. He is the only thing that illuminates spiritual darkness. If you are going to have an impact for the Kingdom, you are going to have to bring out Jesus and shine Him into blinded minds.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Luke 11:34

The person with double vision – speaking from experience – does not see twice as much. If your eye be “double” then your “light” becomes darkness. Double-sightedness = spiritual blindness. Double-mindedness = instability.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Double-heartedness = idolatry.

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Psalm 86:11

Here are some Biblical examples of people with “double vision” who wound up in the dark:

Samson – his name meant “Son of the Sun,” but he liked to look at things he shouldn’t look at and had divided affections between the Lord and his own lusts, and he wound up blind, pushing a mill stone.

Lot – he was double-minded. He believed in God but wanted to live in the world. He ended up in a cave, in the dark, drunk, committing incest with his daughters.

Saul – he had a divided heart. He wanted to be the king but did not want God to be the King over him. He wound up in spiritual darkness, committing suicide on the battlefield.

And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

Luke 11:37

Jesus would spend time with sinners, and and He was often harsh and condemning toward the religious leaders (Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers) because they would criticize Him and say, “Why are you hanging out with sinners? It makes you seem like a sinner, too.” This would be like asking a doctor why he’s always so sick since he’s always hanging out at hospitals, but we need to remember that Jesus loved the Pharisees and the religious hypocrites, too, and He did spend time with them also. He loves sinners, including “religious” sinners, but He does not brook their hypocrisy.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

Luke 11:38

We do not know if this was a conscious action on the part of Jesus, designed to provoke a reaction, but it did cause a reaction for sure. Jesus responded with some very harsh rebukes.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

Luke 11:39-40

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

How could Jesus call someone a fool and not sin, when, for us, such name-calling is tantamount to breaking the Sixth Commandment? The reason is that when when we get mad enough to call somebody a fool, or a jerk, or an idiot, we are committing the sin of unrighteous anger usually, and and hypocrisy always, but when Jesus did so in this instance He was pronouncing prophetic “woes,” or curses, in keeping with His Divine calling. And He was not done with the name-calling either:

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 11:42

They tithed out of even their spice racks, but they didn’t truly love God or His people, and they judged with their own judgments while ignoring God’s judgments.

Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Luke 11:43

They paid for the best seats, and they wanted to be noticed and seen, because they were seeking worship for themselves insted of for God.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

Luke 11:44

The scribes were included in this third woe, which was especially insulting because they would go to great lengths to mark out graves and keep away from the defilement of dead bodies.

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

Luke 11:45

One of the lawyers who heard these woes suddenly became passively-aggressively “offended,” and, in doing so, bit off more than he could chew:

And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Luke 11:46

Jesus accused them of wanting to tell everyone else how to live, but not wanting to make it easier for anyone else to live right.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

Luke 11:47

They were trying to rewrite history so that they could repeat it with impunity.

Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Luke 11:48-52

They were fake teachers, adding to burdens instead of easing burdens. The scribes and Pharisees responded with anger.

And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Luke 11:53-54

They tried to “catch” the Words coming out of His mouth. They went hunting with traps.

 

From Feeding to Fearing to Following to Failing

July 11, 2019 at 10:19 am | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

John 6:13

The miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude with fish and bread was just that: a miracle. It was not the result of some ethical guilt-trip whereby Jesus shamed the crowd with the little boy’s example into graciously sharing their own lunches so that everybody got a little bit to eat, nor was it some type of David Copperfield-style illusion where the Disciples formed a hidden bucket brigade from a nearby cave to Jesus, hands behind His back, while He made the illusion of multiplying loaves and fish. No, this was a true SUPERNATURAL miracle, and was understood as such by all who were present.

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

John 6:14

The reference to “that prophet” was from the Torah – the one who would replace Moses. They believed the teaching of some rabbis who said that this prophet would be known by his ability to duplicate the miracle of the manna (bread) from Heaven.

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

John 6:15

The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, was in a concave place, surrounded by higher ground and “mountains.” The Disciples, leaving Jesus, entered a ship and started across the sea, which, because of the geography, was notorious for sudden and violent storms. Few things were more terrifying to a First Century Jewish person than a raging sea, which to them represented chaos and turmoil and loss of control and judgment. And, sure enough, their fears began to be realized:

And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:18-19

This was a distance a little less than three and a half miles, and they weren’t making good progress because they were rowing against storm. Often overlooked in Bible studies about Jesus and His Disciples is the terror that came upon even the people who knew Jesus best when He let His Deity show. It is tough to convey the real sense of fear you or I would feel upon seeing a human being actually step out onto a lake and walk on top of the water. Jesus encouraged them not to be scared, and they probably changed from fear to welcoming him aboard.

It’s hard to miss the symbolism here:

Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

John 6:21

When we recognize our sin against God, we might be afraid – certainly afraid to face Him – but then He makes it so that we “willingly” receive Him, and “immediately” we are home (in the sense of our status of becoming part of His family, though not actually in Heaven yet). This is the “already/not yet” nature of salvation – the Ebenezer/Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord has brought us this far, so He will always provide.”

The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

John 6:22-24

The people were exerting a great deal of effort to seek Jesus, but they were seeking Him at the lower level of “rabbi,” rather than the true level of “Lord.”

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

John 6:25-26

Those who are truly seeking a destination are not satisfied with a sign that points to the destination.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:27-28

Just as Jesus had told the Samaritan woman at the well about living water/eternal life, now He mentioned meat which would provide everlasting life. God had “sealed” Jesus – had placed upon Him an indelible and ineradicable anointing and ordination as the only One who could dispense eternal life. The people listening to Jesus wanted to know, “What shall we DO?” There has always been resistance to the idea that salvation is all of God and is found in what Christ has DONE, not what human beings can or should “do.”

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:29-32

They had faith in Moses, but they missed the “sign”ificance of Moses, and settled for life-sustaining bread, rather than eternal-life-giving Bread.

Stuck in the Mud

July 8, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Jeremiah 38 gives us insight into the mental condition and some of the actions of King Zedekiah during the last days before the big deportation of the people out of Jerusalem and into Babylon.

Thus saith the Lord, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.

Jeremiah 38:3

Jeremiah never ceased, despite great personal danger, to faithfully proclaim the Word of the Lord. Have you ever been tempted, due to peer pressure or safety or fear of embarrassment or loss of income, to keep silent about God’s Word? Have you ever diluted it in order to try to make it more palatable, less offensive?

Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.

Jeremiah 38:4

Of course, what the princes were saying about Jeremiah was not true. Nobody cared more about the welfare of the people than Jeremiah did. He was not gung-ho patriotic in supporting military resistance in Babylon because neither was God. In fact, fighting against Nebuchadnezzar would have amounted to fighting against God.

Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.

Jeremiah 38:5

Zedekiah acknowledged his own cowardice and weakness. Leadership can carry great benefits and prestige, but it can also be a great temptation: “I have been given authority over others. Will I serve them? Protect them? Seek their good? Or will I use, or even sacrifice, them for my own gain or safety or comfort?” Zedekiah clearly chose the latter. He is often called by Bible commentators “weak and vacillating.”

Having been given the okay to execute Jeremiah, the government officials chose not to do it directly.

Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.

Jeremiah 38:6

This “dungeon” amounted to a semi-dry cistern. There was no water to drink (nor food to eat), but there was mud in which to sink, which would have resulted in Jeremiah getting stuck and starving to death or possibly suffocating. The officials could say that they didn’t technically shed his blood, but what an excruciating way to die!

However, God had promised to protect Jeremiah, and He did so through an Old Testament version of the Good Samaritan.

Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;

Jeremiah 38:7

A non-Jewish servant was concerned enough to intervene for Jeremiah and rescue him. He probably knew that Zedekiah was often persuaded by the most recent person to try to influence him.

Ebedmelech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.

Jeremiah 38:8-9

Zedekiah authorized Ebedmelech to take some men and rescue Jeremiah. They took some ropes and cloths to pull him out, and to protect his arms while so doing. Don’t ignore opportunities to help those who have been cast out and rejected by society, nor those who are in danger or in trouble. God rewarded Ebedmelech for his actions.

Once Jeremiah was set free, Zedekiah wanted to meet wtih him privately.

Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the Lord: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

Jeremiah 38:14-15

Jeremiah only had the same message for the king: Repent or perish. Of course, Zedekiah was worried about himself rather than his people.

And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.

Jeremiah 38:19

He did not want to be humiliated.

But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.

Jeremiah 38:20

His only choices were humiliation or death, and, even in his death, he would still be mocked.

But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the Lord hath shewed me: And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.

Jeremiah 38:21-22

Jeremiah spoke from experience (very recent experience!) about “feet [that] are sunk in the mire.” As Christians, we have to be careful about getting stuck in a rut – getting set in our ways. The Lord can deliver you from anything in which you are sinking, whether it is a bad habit, an addiction, a financial hole, a spiraling depression, bitterness, lack of spiritual energy, but we need to be patient and not try to wriggle and free ourselves with our own schemes, mind-altering drugs, credit card advances, get-rich-quick gimmicks, or replacing one bad habit with another.

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Psalm 40:1-2

Trust and prayer are our means of exercising patience. The Lord will set you on the solid rock that is Christ Jesus. He will “establish” you – strenghten you and make solid your goings.

We can’t judge the “mire” by society’s standards. What looked like wallowing in the muck and slop 20 years ago is perfectly acceptable today. What kind of environment makes you feel comfortable? Do people talking about Jesus and the Bible and sin and righteousness make you uncomfortable, while people talking about movies and partying and off-color jokes tend to relax you and help you feel not so uptight and judged? Remember your new nature. If you really have a new nature caused by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, you should have new affections.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

II Peter 2:20-22

Zedekiah didn’t want to be made fun of for rolling in the mud like a pig, but even the women and children of his enemies could see what he couldn’t.

So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.

Jeremiah 38:23

The phrase “sunk in the mire” is used two times in Jeremiah Chapter 38. For Jeremiah himself, the danger of sinking in the mire was very literal. He had been thrown into a muddy hole in the ground with no water, only mud, and left there to starve or suffocate. For King Zedekiah the threat of getting stuck in the mud was figurative, but no less dangerous. Jeremiah was mired down because of his faithfulness to God and his Word. Zedekiah was mired down in his pride and fear of mockery.

What worldy concerns, cares, problems, self-conciousness, or apathy have wrapped themselves around your life, drawing you down into discouragement, discontent, or even depression? The Son of God, the Savior of the world, came down from the lofty heights of Heaven and descended into the filthy muddy miry sin and sickness and sadness of this world to pull you up out of your helpless condition, and to set your feet on solid and trustworthy ground. Don’t get bogged down in your walk with Christ. Live your life in a way that shows you really believe that He rescued you, and that you love Him for it,

Parables

July 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Posted in parables | 2 Comments
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Most of the parables in the Bible were taught by Jesus during His earthly ministry, and can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but there are parables throughout the Bible. They are very instructive vehicles for conveying spiritual truth, and, while they are sometimes the subject of too much creative scrutiny, “over-spiritualizing,” and biased interpretation on the part of Bible teachers who have a pet doctrine or eschatological view they want to read into all sorts of passages of Scripture, parables will repay a faithful and obedient Christian’s close attention with memorable warnings, admonitions, encouragement, insight, and spiritual nourishment. Here are links to lessons on some of the Biblical parables:

1. Trusted with the Treasure (Luke 19:11-27)
2. Why Parables? (Matthew 13:10)
3. The King Who Will Return (Luke 19:11-17)
4. Wake Up to the Word (Matthew 13:11-16)
5. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4) (Luke 8:13)*
6. Salt or Scum? (Ezekiel 23-24)
7. The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner (Luke 20:9-16)
8. Our Own Worst Enemy (Luke 18:9-14)
9. What Exactly Did Jesus Say about Being Judgmental? (Matthew 7:24-27)
10. Hearing What the King Says  (Matthew 13:13-16)
11. The Intercession of the King
(Matthew 13:45)
12. Hearts of Stone (Matthew 13:5-21)
13. The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest (Matthew 22:1-14)
14. Serving without Fear (Mark 4:2-8)
15. Winsome Weeding  (Matthew 13:7, 24-30)
16. Wary Watching 
(Luke 12:35-40)
17. A Second Pair of Paradoxes
 (Mark 10:17-31)
18. The Servant Prophet 
(Mark 12:1-9)
19. Conformers, Reformers, or Transformers (Luke 5:36-39)
20. Obstacles, Others, and Ourselves (Luke 6:39-40)
21. What Kind of Dirt Are You? (Luke 8:5-15)
22. The Dirty Girdle (Jeremiah 13:1-11)
23. The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, a Samaritan, and a Savior
 (Luke 10:25-37)
24. A Recipe for Importunate Prayer (Luke 11:2-10)
25. The Vowels of Hell (Luke 11:21-22)
26. When Kingdoms Collide (Luke 13)
27. The Door and the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-11)
28. The Sabbath, Sickness, and Self-Serving Status (Luke 14:7-11)
29. The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)
30. A (Perhaps) Parabolic Prodigal’s Preferential Proximate Predicament Produces Patient Prosperous Passionate Persistent Protective Paternal Pardon (Luke 15:8-24)
31. Prayerless Practical Pouting Prefers Possessive Purpose (Luke 15:25-32)
32. A Good Story about a Bad Man (Luke 16:1-10)

*most-viewed post in category


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