Fri, Jun 29th - 12:58PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to broken into. Therefore you also be ready: for in such an hour as you don't think the Son of man comes. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season (24:43-45)?"
Christ is giving out parables to reveal what the attitude of people is to His coming and what will happen when He does return to the earth. Any person is aware of the fact that if they knew when their home was to be burglarized that they would make sure to be there with the police. The burglars know this, and so they come when least expected. People are to be vigilant, be on their guard, and observe what is going on across the world so that they are not caught totally by surprise when Christ returns.
" Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when He comes shall find them so doing. Truly I say to you, That He shall make him ruler over all of His goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delays His coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he doesn't look for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (24:46-51)."
We are alerted to the prevalent attitude of today. People say, "God is not coming today, I'll just keep on living riotously and wickedly." They do not realize that they will be required to give an account of their choices and conduct when Christ does return. They think that they are okay as long as He does not come during their lifetime.
Each person ought to live his/her life in light of the fact that one day each will stand in the presence of God and must then give account of everything that they chose to do and not do. It will not matter how long after we die that Christ comes back to rule on earth; He will still require us to report our ourselves to Him. Saved or lost, you and I will stand before Him. Saved individuals will report what they did in their lives and find out if they will receive any reward. Lost individuals will report what they did in their lives and be judged. Thus everyone ought to live his/her life in light of this fact. The Olivet Discourse here stresses the utter importance of this approach to life. Its words are pointedly for those people who will be living at the time of Christ's return, but it is generally applicable to every generation for none of us know for sure when the Tribulation Period will begin.
As we now move into chapter 25 we see that this Discourse continues on. It continues to expand upon the answer of Christ to the question of "What shall be the sign of Your coming?"
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom (25:1)."
To better understand this custom we can refer to the Pershitta, a Syriac version of the Bible that sheds light upon some of the customs of that particualr time. The custom was for the virgins to go out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. This means that the bridegroom is coming from the marriage to the marriage feast. Although the marriage of Christ and His church takes place in heaven, the marriage feast takes place here on earth. We can peek at a passage over in Luke 12:35-36 and see a bit more spoken about this special time. Quite obviously if a husband is coming from his wedding he has his wife with him. No man went on his honeymoon all by himself, if so it would not qualify as a honeymoon!
So here we have the parable. Christ, pictured as the bridegroom, is bringing His bride with Him, and the believers on earth are His bride. At the conclusion of the seven year interval of the Tribulation Period Christ comes back to earth with His bride, the church.
This parable is not about a partial rapture of the church. The rapture will be complete removal of all believers in Christ. Christ saves us by grace, He keeps us by grace, He will remove us from this world by grace at the appointed time. So the ten virgins refer to Israel and not the church. Christ has been answering His disciples' question and so this portion is all about how ready the Israelites will be to receive Christ and His church when both return at the end of the Tribulation. Here then is the attitude toward His coming of those still living upon the earth:
"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps (25:2-4)."
Oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God. As there were phonies all around at Christ's first coming, so will there be phonies aplenty when He comes the second time. Christ calls them hypocrites for they pretend to be genuine Christians, never having given their hearts completely to Him. The foolish virgins took their lamps, which were already lit, but they did not take any extra oil with them in order to keep their lamps burning brightly. This is like people who claim to believe in Jesus and begin with a flurry of activity working for Christ. But in a short while their efforts begin to wane and soon they are unable to do anything more at all. They have "burnt out" through relying only upon their own abilities and energy; they did not get plugged into the Holy Spirit so that they could rely upon God's power and abilities.
That is all for today my friends. Monday I will continue with this parable and show how it reveals that true followers/disciples of Christ must watch. That is what is vitally important. Grace and peace be yours!
Thu, Jun 28th - 2:43PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no person knows, no, not the angels of heaven, but only My Father (24:35-36)."
Notice that Christ made the distinction that it is not "if" heaven and earth shall pass away, but that it is going to pass away. When the earth and the heavens dissolve, to be replaced with a new earth and heavens, still, God's words will remain. God's words are eternal in nature.
How can God the Father know the exact day and time when this age will end, and yet God the Son does not know? I believe that this has something to do with the divine nature of the Godhead. God is capable of compartmentalizing Himself for the sake of revealing the importance of certain relationships. The parent-child relationship is one where the parent knows things of which the child is ignorant of. The parent retains knowledge of certain things until the time is proper to reveal them to the child. Many parents over the past couple of decades have raised their children believing that they must be forthcoming with their children and share all of their knowledge with them, no matter what their ages may be. Honesty is being confused with divulging the truth. Children are being warped and traumatized by the nature of information being shared with them by their parents. The kids simply are not mature enough to properly deal with all of this extraneous information, much of the time information that they simply do not need.
What we learn in these two verses is that God will not change what He has said previously. He will not suddenly announce to us that we can promptly forget all about the Ten commandments. It is just not going to happen people. God, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in maarriage, until the daay that Noah entered the ark. And they didn't know until the flood came, and took all of them away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(24:37-39)."
The days of Noah were marked by gross immorality (Genesis 6:5). Christ said that His second coming will occur during times that are just like that specific time period. What were those people doing? Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. What is so wrong with those things? Nothing, just so long as we do them in moderation and especially do them all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31). People in Noah's time were living as if God did not exist. They began eating their food without giving thanks to God for having it before them. They behaved just like dogs do: they simply just start right in to consuming it.
Every day people are sitting down and eating three meals without thanking anyone for having it, meanwhile around the world there are millions of people who are starving to death because they have no food. Something is wrong with this attitude of unthankfulness. Christ says that this attitude will continue to prosper right up until Christ returns, people living as though God will never return to earth.
We find that people were marrying and giving each other away in marriage right up until the flood began. He isn't saying that marriage is wrong. He is saying what was wrong was their blatant ignoring of the warning given out to them by Noah about the coming flood. They continued living their lives as if there was nothing to be concerned about. They chose to believe that God was not going to judge them. Disappointingly, this is also the prevalent attitude that exists today. "God won't judge us, He loves all of us." Thus people choose to remain ignorant of the warning that has already been declared to them.
"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left (24:40-41)."
Someone, somewhere, is probably waving their hand and saying, "Eric, you have painted yourself into a very tight corner that you can't get out of. You said the church and the rapture are not in the Olivet Discourse, but look, here they are!" Appears so at first glance. But Christ is still not speaking about the rapture of His saints. As in the day of Noah, those who are not going to enter the kingdom of heaven are to be removed from those who will. In Noah''s time everyone not on that ark were denied entrance into the kingdom of heaven. In Christ's Second Advent most of the people will not be allowed to enter into heaven. Christ was drawing a parallel between the two events so that we could understand the magnitude of what will happen.
"Watch therefore: for you don't know what hour your Lord does come (24:42)."
The important word in this verse is "watch." Believers watch today for that good hope of Jesus returning to snatch us away to be home with Him. But this watch is one of fear and anxiety. People will be on pins and needles for they will only know that His return is imminent. In the Greek there are many different meanings for this word.
To illustrate, there was a certain man who went out into the woods to hunt for a deer. He sat himself down behind a treefall and watched the game trail out in front of him. He hears a rustle in the brush and he lifts his gun up to his shoulder in anticipation.
Some days later I meet this same man down at the intersection of Centertown in Bedford and can see that he is watching intently up mainstreet. It is obvious that he must be looking for someone. I ask him who he is looking for and he replies, "I''m waiting for my wife; she is now 30 minutes late." See, he is watching for a dear again, but it is a different deer and he is watching in a little different manner.
A couple of months later I happen to be in the local hospital and I pass a room and see this same man and his wife sitting by the bedside of a little girl. The child is afflicted with a raging fever, and the doctor has already informed them that the critical time of crisis will come about midnight. They are watching. This is a completely different kind of watching. This watching is laced with anxiety and fear. It will be this kind of watching that people will be undertaking at the time when Christ returns.
That is all for today my friends. Next time will reveal more somber warnings handed out by our loving God, warnings meant to motivate believers into spreading the Good News about salvation before the time is too late. Grace and peace be with you all!
Wed, Jun 27th - 12:41PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (24:29-30)."
Notice that I have underlined certain words here. When will the sun become darkened and the moon fail to reflect any light? Immediately after the tribulation period. Not before, and not during. When will the sign of Christ appear in the skies? After the previous events have first occured. Not before, and not during. What is this sign to look like? If we go back to the Old Testament we can find more than one sign of God having been given. Israel received the sign of the shekinah glory of God, which filled the Temple for many, many, years. The shekinah glory rested over the Tabernacle and then the Temple after Solomon built it. Because of Israel's ongoing sin the shekinah left the Temple and the nation. When Jesus Christ came the first time He did not manifest glory, it was hidden by the "veil of human flesh." Only on rare occasions did it briefly shine through for John did mention in his account that the disciples beheld His glory. Perhaps at Christ's Second Coming/Advent the shekinah glory of God will hover over the entire earth before Christ breaks through and comes on the clouds in power and glory.
We also are informed that all of the nations upon the earth shall see Christ coming on the clouds from heaven above. No one gets to privately witness His return, no one gets to claim that only he/she has seen Jesus before anyone else. Christ comes this next time, not as a meek Lamb, but as the Lion of Judah. He comes to establish His kingdom here upon the earth so that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It will be an incredible time to be alive, to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Christ is God and that He is Lord of all.
"And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (24:31)."
The elect are still spoken of here, it is either church members or born-again Israelites, or both. I suspect that these elect are the 144,000 individuals selected from among the twelve tribes of Israel. They are revealed to us in the Book of Revelation and we learn what their purpose will be during the tribulation period. After they have been out in the world preaching the kingdom of heaven to everyone they encounter, God's angels shall be sent out to gather them in to be with God. This event is separate from when Christ calls His church to meet Him in the air. At that time Christ shall not be seen by anyone on earth, especially not the unbelievers.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts out leaves, you know that summer is close: So likewise, when you shall see all of these things, you will know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, until all of these things be fulfilled (24:32-34)."
I could say that this fig tree represents Israel here. But I think that might be overthinking the parable as it is given. Christ points out to us that just as we can look at fruit trees and are able to tell how close summer is, so too, we will be able to observe all of these previous signs and wonders in the skies and know that the return of Christ is very close to happening.
But what about that phrase "This generation"? Does that refer to those who were listening to Christ? If so, then this scripture failed to come true. That is a faulty assumption to make here, thinking that Christ was speaking about the current generation of people. Likewise when He earlier said that "when you shall see all these things" it was not those who were listening to His words right then. "This generation" in Greek can mean race and refer to nation Israel. Or it could refer to the generation that will be living at the time these predictions come to pass. A generation normally is considered to be about twenty years, and all of these predicted events most certainly will take place in a much shorter time span than twenty years. We have previously been told that the days were to be shortened so that not everyone would perish, and this is further proof that total extermination of mankind and Israel will not take place. Haman was not able to destroy the Hebrews, Pharaoh was unable to do so, nor could Hitler succeed in his attempts to erradicate them. Neither shall Satan through his unholy trinity succeed in destroying all of Israel or mankind. God has other plans.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will post about "that day" and all that will happen accordingly. May God's grace and peace fill your heart, soul, and mind today!
Tue, Jun 26th - 12:46PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Then if any man shall say to you, Look, here is Christ, or there; do not believe it. For there shall arise flase Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before (24:23-25)."
Should we fall all over ourselves to get to witness someone performing outrageous miracles and signs? Not according to these verses we shouldn't. They will not be of God. When Christ returns everyone on the earth will know and see. There are no private showings on God's docket. Visions of Mary, or of Christ, or of Eljah, are not to be trusted nor accepted. Christ ordered believers to walk by faith and not by sight exactly because the days when deception would become rampant were coming. Satan will exert great effort to deceive everyone with miracles and signs that are meant to mimic Christ. Satan desires to lead everyone astray through deceipt. Andwhy shouldn't he, since he is a corrupted angel? Sin corrupts everything that it touches, it is contagious.
Who are the elect? Two groups are pointed out in Scripture: the elect of nation Israel and the elect of the church of God. Now, I oould tell you that Christ speaks only to the elect of Israel. But I do not think that He is limiting his point just to the nation. He is telling His disciples these things, and they are now part of the beginning church of Christ. So, God is informing both groups here to my way of thinking at this time. These, and the ensuing warnings, are directed at both groups of elect individuals. Believers are not to run around after people who claim to be Christ, or whom claim that they have seen Christ in a particular place. This sort of deception will only get more intense as we get closer to the End Times and the Great Tribulation. Eventually Satan will openly resort to performing miracles in order to convince people that the Antichrist is really the Christ. If you are not educated in how to tell the difference, you will be sucked in and destroyed by the deception.
"Therefore if they shall say to you, Behold, hHe is in the desert; do not go there: behold, He is in the secret chanbers; do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from out of the east and shines even to the west; so shall the coming of the Son of man be (24:26-27)."
The second time that Christ Jesus comes to this earth there will not be a John the Baptist leading out in front proclaiming His coming. When Christ comes next time, the entire world will know of it and it will be as public and visible as lightning is. Lightning storms are something that can't be overlooked, nor can they be ignored. They grab hold of your attention and refuse to release it until they have passed by. They can be a frightful experience. The Lord's second coming will be like that. No one will be able to say that they did not know of it happening. Even the dead will know that Christ has returned to earth.
"For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together (24:28)."
Christ turns immediately from talking about His glorious return to the earth to speaking of carrion-eating birds. This very well could refer to what we can read about of in the Book of Revelation chapter 19. There an angel of God calls out to the birds of the air to come and feast upon the dead that are left after the fierce battles of Armaggedon subside. Or else it speaks of how carrion birds always uncannily discover the dead corpse, wherever it may be found. It speaks of spiritual truth as well. I am dead in sin, a walking corpse. Being born again in Christ brings me back to the land of the living. Carrion birds will gather round those who are spiritually dead in sin, until such time that those people choose to become born again in Christ. Carrion birds know when an animal is on death's doorstep and begin to arrive on the scene even before the actual death takes place.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will write about the physical signs that will occur across the earth which will signal the imminent return of God to earth. I hope you will return to discover what these things will be and what they mean. Grace and peace be yours!
Mon, Jun 25th - 1:04PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And woe to them that are with child, and to them that suckle their infants in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (24:19-21)."
Christ reveals God's great care and concern for mothers and their little children. The End Times will not be an occasion to have small children. It is also a general belief that at the beginning of the great tribualtion period there will be a great population explosion. In light of recent population growth rates around the world it would be reasonable to believe that we are ever closer to the end of our age.
In these verses Christ is speaking directly to the Jewish people for He mentions the sabbath day. His audience here remains those Jews who continue to observe sabbath days and in general are Orthodox Jews. If the Great Tribulation comes when they are all observing the sabbath day, then they will refuse to flee to safety for that would violate the prohibition upon any work being done on that day.
In Revelation 7:14 this tribulation period is set apart from all others previously experienced. This period of tribulation will be unique, one of a kind. Nothing that has happened previously will compare to this event. And, it will never happen ever again. As severe as the Great Tribulation Period will be, I still believe that Christians shall be alive upon this earth and living through it all. Will many believers die? Most certainly, at the hands of the Antichrist and his minions. Why do I believe this? Read on...
"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened (24"22)."
Why will the length of the Great Tribulation be shortened? For the sake of the elect! Believers in Jesus Christ as Lord are the elect. In Revelation there are passages that speak about how people are to be treated differently, to be differentiated, by the Antichrist and by God. The locusts that come from out of the bottomless pit are commanded to not torment the believers, but only those who have refused to believe in Christ. The mark of the Beast is to separate out the believers from all of the unbelievers. These verses clearly illustrate that Christians shall be present at various stages of the End Times. God is always with us, no matter where we are, what we are doing, who we are with, and what we are going through. God will carry each of us through to the other side of tribulation and persecution. Our call is to live according to our faith in Christ, keeping our eyes upon Christ and praying for those who choose to persecute us, even unto death. Will it be pleasant? Will it be easy? No it will not be either. Being a Christian will be a very difficult road to walk in coming days. Will you be ready spiritually? Will you be prepared to finish the race before you? Will you be prepared to endure to the very end of this age? I hope so.
That is all for this day my friends. Next up in Matthew are verses given to us by Christ to assure us of His second coming. Be assured that God also warns us of what to expect from unbelievers. We ought not to be taken by surprise when confronted with their sudden words of hostility and deceipt. May our God walk with you and keep you safe from all harm in coming days. May you rest peacefully in His grace and power as He prepares you for the road He desires you to travel the remainder of your days. Grace and peace be yours!
Fri, Jun 22nd - 1:21PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand:) (24:15)."
Jesus gave the sign that will identify this tragic period of time in human history. What is this "abomination of desolation"? Daniel tells us about two of them. One of them was Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian, who came down and destroyed Jerusalem. History bears out what can be read in Daniel 11:31. In 170BC Epiphanes came down from Syria to Jerusalem and over 100,000 Israelites were killed. He took away the daily sacrifice from their temple, offered the blood and broth of a pig upon the altar, and set up an image of Jupiter to be worshipped in the holy place.
Was Jesus speaking about this specific event as signifying the End Times? Doesn't make any sense to say it is. There is another abomination of desolation to which Daniel wrote about in 12:11. It is this second event which it appears will take place during the Tribulation Period at the end of this age. Sometime during the Tribulation Period the temple will be successfully rebuilt in Jerusalem. It must be the temple for God's church has no "holy place." To gain more information about this time period one must go and read the Book of Revelation for contained there are verses speaking about what will transpire during that horrific time.
What is important right now is that the people living at this particular time in history will be looking for a sign, and it will be this. Christians ought not to be looking for the temple to be rebuilt as their sign; they need to be looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
This verse began with a time word, "when." People need to be prepared to understand the significance of this event when it happens. Many will simply respond, "Wow! That was awesome!" "Take that! In your face, Jews!" The verse itself contains some self explanation. It states that this abomination of desolation will stand in the holy place. Obviously in 170 BC the slain pig could not stand there, and it is debateable as to whether we could say that Antiochus qualified as being the abomination of desolation. So a person will stand in the holy place within the Jewish temple after it has been rebuilt and desecrate it thoroughly. Instead of placing a statue of some god in that place, this person shall place a statue of themselves there and declare themselves to be God. It will be a bold, daring, and blasphemous move.
Now Jesus provides us with another time word:
"Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house. Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes (24:16-18)."
I am not expecting to flee into the Judaean mountains since I now live next to the Appalachian Mountains in the Eastern part of America. This passage speaks to those people who will be living in Judea during this time period. Whoever is living around Jerusalem when this happens needs to be able to recognize its significance for they must waste no time in getting out of town. Immediacy is being spoken of here. Any delay in order to carry personal possessions with you will cost you your life.
Housetops in Palestine are similar to front porches in our society. If you find yourself up on your roof socializing with friends, family, neighbors, get off of it quickly and leave everything behind! Those who happen to be out in the fields working are not to return home to get clothing. Some would claim that this implies that this "when" will happen during summertime in the Middle East. Perhaps. It does state plainly that even if you are working out in a field and have taken off your coat and left it at the far end of the row, do not go to get it. Just head for the mountains! Urgency is being communicated here. Trust in the Lord to provide for your needs, you simply need to obey these commands.
Do you get the feeling that this event triggers some extremely "bad stuff"? Does it make you wonder just what in the world the Antichrist will be doing? It is these sorts of thoughts that fuel many people's obsession into figuring out who this Antichrist is and when he will arrive on the world scene.
That is all for today, beloved. Hope you come back on Monday when I will look at the next few verses, verses that end up giving us some clues about why the Tribulation Period will only last a certain amount of time, and how long Christians will be living upon the earth before being snatched away to be with Christ. May Christ bless you today, may you experience His grace and peace.
Wed, Jun 20th - 12:44PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"But he that endure to the end, the same shall be saved (24:13)."
Question: Who endures until the end? Well, I can find in the Book of Revelation that God will seal a number of people before He begins to unleash His judgment upon wickedness and sin in the earth. Those whom God seals at the beginning will be the ones who endure unto the end. The Good Shepherd always brings all of His chosen sheep through all danger and to safety within the sheepfold.
If someone is very active in church activities, sharing their faith with others, but suddenly returns to a sinful lifestyle I do not know if they are saved or not. I can't peer into the depths of their heart to know what state it is in. I must leave that up to God. I would continue to observe their behavior to hopefully discover their true intentions. If given enough time, pigs will eventually end up in the pigpen. The prodigal children will eventually find their way back to the Father's mansion. What is momentarily confusing to all of us is when pigs are found hanging out in the church and prodigals found still wallowing in the pigpen. Perhaps this explains why some people attend church services for a time, say all the right things, do some of the right things, but eventually they become discouraged, offended, and they go back to their old lifestyle. They are "pigs." They never were truly prodigals.
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come (24:14)."
The gospel of the kingdom is what John the Baptist preached to the people of Israel. Jesus Christ began His ministry with that same message (Matthew 4:17). Christ sent His disciples out with the exact same message (Matthew 10). Then in Matthew 11:28 we saw that the message changed just a little bit to "Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Then in Matthew 20:28 He stated that He had come to give His life as a ransom for many. But, during the Tribulation Period the gospel of the kingdom will once again be preached to the entire world. Today believers are to preach the gospel of the grace of God to all who will listen. But the day steadily approaches when it shall be the gospel of the kingdom being preached for the day of the Lord shall be quite close. This is one of the signs that the end is near. Time will be getting very, very, short and opportunities to repent and be saved will become limited.
There are not many ways to become saved. There is, and always has been, only one way to become saved from your sin: accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. A person must come to Christ's cross to rid themselves of the power of sin and then walk on past into the holy life that awaits each of us. Eternal life can't begin until a person comes to the cross and settles the question of sin in their life. The Holy Spirit calls people to come, come and find the Holy Life that is waiting for you.
Looking back to Genesis 4 we observe the offering/sacrifice which Abel brought to God. He brought a little lamb. If we could have been there asked him if he thought that lamb would remove his sin, he would have told us, "Of course not! I bring this lamb because God told me to do so. I bring it because I have faith in God." We could then ask him why God wanted him to bring a lamb. Abel would have told us, "This little lamb is pointing toward the One who is coming later, the seed of the woman, my mother. That One will take away our sin. I bring it so that I never forget that I need that One to come and save me."
John the Baptist not only preached for all to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, but he also proclaimed the arrival of the Lamb of God, which had come to take away the sin of the world. This was the consistent message of the Old Testament and it had now become the primary message of the New Testament as well. John identified Him. Before Christ came, everyone who had come to God on His terms was saved on credit. God never saved anyone based upon the Mosaic Law. All were forced to look forward to when their Savior would come to redeem them. King David stated it plainly. At the heart of the Mosaic system was the sacrificial system with its ordinances. They brought a lamb to God because the Law revealed to them that they were lawbreakers, that they were not obeying God, and that they did need to have a substitute to pay the penalty of their sins. Romans 3:19 states that the Law was given so that every mouth would be silenced and guilt would be known.
Getting back to the verse under study here, we must realize that it does not mean that while the church is here in the world the end can't possibly come until the gospel of the grace of God is preached worldwide. While it is good to spread the gospel as much as possible, it is not good to suggest/teach that the kingdom of heaven can't come to earth until worldwide coverage has happened. Christ is answering a specific question here: "What is the sign of the end of the age?" The sign will be the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the entire world.
That is all for today, beloved. When studying the End Times, from whatever perspective, we must always keep firmly in mind the context of the specific verses which we are considering. Next time I shall begin exploring Christ's answer to the question of what will be the sign of His return from heaven. May grace and peace of our God be with you this day!
Mon, Jun 18th - 1:09PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you (24:4)."
This phrase is characteristic of this entire age in which we find ourselves living. These words of caution are given to believers because there will be much deception, especially during the Tribulation Period when the Antichrist steps out onto the world's centerstage. Peter warns us in II Peter 2:1, "But there werer false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall privately bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." Today we do not need worry about false prophets, because there are not supposed to be any of those around in this age. However, we must be vigilant for discovering false teachers for there are a great many of these in existence today. We must test every teacher of the Word by that same Word. If believers continue to refuse to learn God's Word they shall remain defenseless against those who desire to discredit God's work here on earth. How can I answer a critic of Scripture if I have not already studied it and reached an understanding of what it means, and does not mean? So all Christians must be reading and studying God's Word in its entirety. To not do this means to be very susceptible to being fooled by others.
"For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many (24:5)."
What is the response to the critic who claims that believers in Christ Jesus are gullible and are fools for following someone who claims to actually be Jesus? I must reply that those people followed because they failed to study God's Word in which it is commanded to not walk by sight but to walk through this world by faith in God. Christ has already clearly stated how He shall return. Believe no other story from any other person. Near the end of this age people will claim to be Christ, more so than ever before. One man established a "holy city" in Northern California years ago and expected to be summoned to Washington DC to solve the problems of the country and of the world! Deceived. There are to be no other "holy cities" on this planet other than Jerusalem. Jesus one day will come from heaven and will indeed solve all of the problems of our world. As there are many antichrists moving about our world, it must be kept in mind that as the end of this age approaches there will be one Antichrist who shall set himself in direct opposition to Christ Jesus and will try to establish himself as the sole authority on earth.
In the next few verses we must remain careful in our assumptions and interpretations. We must not jump the gun, so to speak, and assume that everything being said here is about the Tribulation Period. Watch,
"And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you do not become troubled: for all of these must come to pass, but the end is not yet (24:6)."
War and rumor of war is not the sign that we are at the end of this age. It is merely a sign that we are moving directly towards the end of the age. There are innumerable wars and conflicts raging across our planet as I post these words. This chall continue unabated. There have been many major wars in the past few thousand years of human history. We have had two labeled as World Wars just in the last 100 years. We have come a long way since the end of WWII and yet we are not at the end of the age. We can't become all upset over news of wars and rumors of wars. We keep our eyes upon Jesus Christ, we remember His words spoken to us through His Holy Word. Mankind can't solve the problem of war, we are all too corrupted by our sinful natures. The United Nations is incapable of solving armed conflicts just as its predecessor, the League of Nations, couldn't solve them. No peace will exist over the entire earth until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, returns to sit on His throne in Jerusalem.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I shall pick up with verses 7-8 which we all shall find are characteristics of this current age and do not speak about the end. It is more like, the beginning of the end. May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all!
Fri, Jun 15th - 12:51PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"For I say to you, You shall not see Me henceforth, until you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord (23:39)."
Christ shocked not only the religious rulers but His own disciples as well. Here they expected Him to establish the kingdom of heaven immediately with Jerusalem as its capital but now He was saying that their city would be left desolated. And they would not see Him again until they said "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." They were not picking up on the fact that even though Jesus was walking towards His crucifixion upon a Roman cross, He was informing them all that He was going to be returning one day.
Obviously the kingdom of heaven is to be delayed. Many today, and over the past centuries, have objected to that concept. But to choose that belief they are forced to also object to the language used by Lord Jesus Christ. Christ tells His disciples that He will not establish His kingdom here on earth at this time but that He will come again in the future in order to establish it. The disciples are surprised and disappointed at the idea that the kingdom is to be delayed/postponed. So they come to Christ with their questions burning in their mouths. Just as we do today.
We now move on into Matthew 24 in which begins what is commonly known as the Olivet Discourse. It is the last of three major discourses found in this particular gospel account. It is called major due to its extent, content, and intent.
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple (24:1)."
The disciples' actions highlight the fact that they simply did not understand God's intent. They did not catch on to the fact that their people, the Israelites, had had the opportunity to be the first to accept God in the flesh and to achieve salvation from their sins. They forgot that God already knew all about the buildings of the temple. They acted like God simply had overlooked something vital here.
This was the temple that Herod was having built, and the construction was still in progress at this point in time. It was made of white marble, it was very large and very beautiful to look at. It was the center of Hebrew life, period. It was inconceivable to them that there would be a time when it would not exist.
"And Jesus said to them, Do you see all of these things? truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon the other, that all shall be thrown down (24:2)."
We all must keep firmly in mind that each of us defaults in our thinking to the physical. The disciples thought that they "saw it", and they ask Him to take a look Himself. In our modern society, this is a very good question for us to consider. Do we really see the world around us?
People travel to popular cultural centers to see what is there. It can be very impressive to see. But beloved, all of these skyscrapers, aquariums, amusement parks, museums, zoos, and great cities which we see are going to pass away someday. It does not seem possible, but it remains true. The Romans probably felt that none of their great buildings and cities would ever pass into nothingness, and it remains the same with all of us today.
If Christ's first statement about the temple had shocked the disciples, this second statement must have traumatized them to the depths of their souls. It completely altered their concept of daily Jewish life. There would no longer be a place to go to worship Jehovah. There would no longer be a place to go and offer sacrifice for atonement of sin. What would the people do? Where could they go? This was like the Titanic sinking and everyone forced to scramble to get into limited numbers of lifeboats. So the disciples voiced their concerns to Christ and asked Him three questions.
"And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, asking, Tell us, when shall these things happen? and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world (24:3)."
(1) When shall these things happen? (2) What shall be the sign of Your coming? (3) What shall be the sign of the end of the world? The answers to the third question is to be found in verses 9-22. The answer to their first question is not to be found in this Book of the Bible, we must look in the Gospel of Luke with segments of it also found in Mark. Why can't we logically find it here in Matthew? Simply because this Book is the gospel of the kingdom; it presents the King. The destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70 has nothing to do with the return of the King in the future. Thus Matthew was not directed by God's Spirit to include this answer in this part of the Olivet Discourse.
So, let's look at Christ's response to their first question by reading it in Luke 21:20-24. "And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then know that the desolation of it is near. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter into it. For these be the the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to them that are with child, and them that breast-feed, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Without a doubt there were many present in AD 70 Jerusalem who had heard these words being spoken by Christ. The Roman armies surrounded the city of David, laid siege to it, cut it off from the rest of the civilized world, then finally breached the wall and destroyed the city and everything within it. The destruction was worse than that done by Nebuchadnezzar over six centures earlier. The Romans fulfilled the first part of the Olivet Discourse.
The other two questions were answered by Christ in their chronological and logical order. The first thing that God responds to is the sign of the end of the world, or more accurately, the end of the current age. Our world will never actually end. This old world will one day pass away but a new world will immediately take its place. The world does not end, but the age does. It is like trading in an old car in order to purchase a brand new car.
In this discourse Christ speaks of His coming and is referring to His return to the earth to establish His kingdom. He is speaking about the Great Tribulation Period, and even labels it as such here. The church is not to be seen in this response of Christ's.
That is all for today my friends. Next time I shall write about Jesus tracing the characteristics of this current age in which we all live today. It is fascinating to read and ponder over. I hope you all come back to follow along in this study! Grace and peace be yours!
Tue, Jun 12th - 1:16PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Becuase you build the tombs of theprophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have joined them in the blood of the prophets. But you are witnesses to yourselves, that you are the children of them that killed the prophets. You then fill up the measure of your fathers (23:29-32)."
In ancient times all of the prophets came to the Israelite people with the words given to them by the Living God. They boldly spoke them to both the priesthood and the general population. The priests and scribes proceeded to persecute them and eventually they killed the prophets by various methods. Today, we witness the exact same sort of treatment of great men/women of God, preachers, evangelists, and missionaries. These people have all been denounced and ridiculed by their generations, but then become honored by future generations. God definitely knows human nature, and it has not changed one iota.
These religious rulers in Matthew's Book, who were so public in their honoring of the prophets of their past, would very soon force Rome to crucify the Son of God who was speaking God's very Word to them. They did not desire to hear from any prophet in their own time.
"You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell (23:33)?"
These religious rulers are being identified as the offspring of snakes! This is a devastating attack against the current doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man and the universal Fatherhood of God. God does not claim you as His own if you have rejected Jesus Christ. The only way to become a child of God is to receive Christ into your heart. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12)." Christ spoke in harsh terms here. He served up a cup of drink that was icy to its core, a frigid message to the liberal-minded people of that time. It is a message that liberal-minded people today do not desire to read and accept. Jesus Christ is no love child. He came to earth to die for your sins, for my sins, because He loved you, but if you and I reject Him, He becomes our Judge and we shall face all of His wrath. So, obviously we must choose wisely.
"But, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all of the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar (23:34-35)."
Quite obviously the killing of Zacharias was a fairly recent event. Christ starts with the very first murder and ends with the most recent murder. He makes it very clear that God will judge Israel for killing the righteous. Christ plainly contradicts the current mindset of very many alleged Christians. There is absolutely no way that every person on earth will ultimately be saved. Christ says that there will be those who do not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
"Truly I say to you, all of these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that killed the prophets, and stoned them which are sent to you, how often would I have gatherd your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate (23:36-38)."
Here is the prediction of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Is God without emotions? No! Christ immediately begins to weep over the plight of Jerusalem, the City of David. The people who had been provided the Word of God had refused to accept Him into their hearts. And so judgment is pronounced in all of its finality. Since Jerusalem had rejected Him, God now rejects the city. Yes, God has denounced them, yes He has judged them, but God continues to love them all. Knowing what the coming judgment will accomplish in this city makes God weep for them.
Christ pronounced these coming woes with a heart heavy with both disappointment and grief. Because of this weeping, many thought that Christ was actually Jeremiah reincarnated because that prophet had also wept over Jerusalem. No one today ought to be denouncing anything or anyone unless they are personally moved by them.
I will finish this chapter next time, beloved. Be courageous, be strong, be bold, and stand firm in your faith. Believe on the name of Jesus Christ and you will enter into the kingdom of heaven and meet God face to face. Grace and peace be with you.
Tue, Jun 5th - 12:09PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also(23:25-26)."
Once more Christ directs attention to the fact that the legalists and the Pharisees emphasized external appearance over heart motivation. It pictures as well today's church that is so busy making the outside look beautiful and impressive that they ignore the sin eating away at its insides. In most cases, congregations do not even like to use the word sin. But all of the external rituals in the entire world can't clean up internal corruption. The Pharisees substituted ritual/tradition for reality, formality for faith, and liturgy for God. Can you see the similarities to denominations within the Christian community today?
We can't afford to misunderstand Christ in verse 26. He definitely is not saying that it's okay for the outside of the "cup" to remain filthy. What is hypocritical is when someone cleans up their appearance yet retains all of the sinfulness in their heart. They live a double life. They present themselves as being a shining pillar of the community and in the secret rooms of their home they allow the wickedness within them to ooze on out and play. This is why none of us can afford to assume anyone is okay based upon only a few meetings. Especially if the meetings are dictated by that person. They are arranging for us to know them in a certain fashion, they are wearing a mask to hide behind. Beware of people who are manipulators and who are compelled to control situations and events all of the time.
We must become aware of the fact that all transformation must begin on the inside, the filthiness of our heart must become cleaned up before our external appearance will make a bit of difference in who we actually are.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like the whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but within they are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness (23:27)."
The previous illustration of the cup and platter pictured for us the condition of the church today. Now, we are given what is a picture of the average church-goer. They are so beautiful on the outside in their fine clothing, beautiful hairdos, and cosmetics applied ever so carefully to hide blemishes. They may have a form of godliness, but they remain dead in tresspasses on the inside. They deny the power of godliness is able to make them new creations in Christ Jesus. However, until that does happen to you your church membership is worthless. Stop and consider this. If half of all Americans believe in God and attend a church regularly, why is it so easy to see people drinking alcohol to excess, doing drugs, speaking profanely, engaging in illicit sex, promiscuous sex, cheating, lieing, and breaking laws each and every day? It is because we have a lot of nice-looking tombs walking around, spiritual zombies as Dr. J. Vernon McGee would say, people dead in trespasses and sin. People do not realize that they are living on death row and are dead men walking. Simply waiting out their life spans until the death sentence is carried out.
"Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but internally you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (23:28)."
Religious leaders of all centuries are being denounced here. Christ is laying it all out into the open, for all to see who have eyes to see. Beloved, if you have a Bible-teaching church in your vicinity and has a pastor who believes the Bible and tries to teach it, for the sake of God please stand by their side and support them! Be sure to double check what they claim the Bible says against what the Bible actually does say. That pastor needs you as much as you need him/her! People who believe in the entire Bible and live it are critically needed in this day and age.
That is all for this week in this study beloved. I will be on vacation with family until Monday of next week. I hope and pray that the grace and peace of Christ infills your heart and soul over coming days. Praise the name of Jesus! Praise the King of Israel!
Mon, Jun 4th - 1:49PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
In our day there is a prevalent misunderstanding of who the Lord Jesus Christ really is. Liberalism gives the impression that all He ever talked about was tolerance and love. Activists and the younger generations do not trust the mainstream churches anymore, but claim to want Jesus nonetheless. They are correct that in general the church has been giving the wrong impression of who Jesus is and what He wants us to be doing. But these younger people have still misunderstood who Jesus actually is. He is not the "lovechild" that the liberals think He is. Yes, He most certainly loves sinners and died for all sinners, but He also is going to judge sinners. So we must have a correct perspective of the Christ.
Sadly, the average conception of Jesus Christ is not even biblical anymore. Many preachers, if asked, believe that Jesus was not virgin born. They do not believe that He died upon a wooden cross for the sins of the world. They do not believe that He rose bodily from the grave to newness of glorifed life. Then what exactly do they believe in? And where is the documentation to support their current beliefs? The only documents that we have from the first century reveal to us of a Jesus who was born of a virgin woman, allowed Himself to be nailed up on a wooden cross to die for the world's sin, and then rose from the grave to obtain a glorified body. This same Jesus will one day return from heaven to judge the entire world.
Beloved, this Jesus is not generally known, or understood, today but He is the only Messiah who has ever lived. Let us listen carefully to Him now as he pronounces woes upon the scribes and Pharisees.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow then that entering to go in. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twice as much the child of hell than yourselves (23:13-15)."
Christ Jesus uses the term "woe" eight times in this section of scripture and calls scribes and Pharisees hypocrites seven times. Think that God wanted them to get the message? He accuses them of blocking the entrance way into the kingdom of heaven by their false leadership.
These two groups of men made long prayers but they were not heartfelt prayers. These men were also quite crooked in all of their business dealings. They always were looking to make a buck off of the people. These men were fantastic at going out and witnessing, but they were not bringing anyone to God. None of their converts were legitimately born again believers. Sound familiar to any of you today? Is what gets preached from the pulpit directing people to Christ and heaven, or is it throwing up roadblocks and stopping people from pursuing Christ and heaven?
"Woe to you, you blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosiever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. You fools and blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctified the gift? Who ever therefore shall swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things upon it. And, who ever shall swear by the temple, swears by it, and by Him that dwells in it. And he that shall swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by Him that sits on it (23:16-22)."
Scathing comments spill from the mouth of Christ as He rips into these scribes and Pharisees. He declares them to be blind men attempting to lead others to the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees taught that if you swore by the temple or the altar, you were not bound to keep your oath. But if you swore by the gold of the temple or by the gift on the altar, the oath was binding. See how they were enslaved to material things rather than serving the spiritual things? They believed that the material possessions were of more binding importance than the actual purposes of God in His own Word. They had forgotten what the furniture within the temple represented. Which was greater: the gift or the altar upon which it was presented to God? Was the temple more important than He who had given to Moses the exact blueprint for the temple? And is heaven more important than He who sits upon His throne in heaven? These people had completely lost sight of the fact that Jehovah was greater than anything that they could lay hands upon or anything that they could possibly see.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these you ought to have done, and not leave the other undone. You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel (23:23-24)."
The lawyers and Pharisees were very meticulous in tithing their little plants which produce condiments like anise, mint, and cummin. Imagine these religious rulers going out and measuring off a small patch of mint and taking a tenth of it to give to God at the temple. But they had totally overlooked the much larger matters of the Mosaic Law. They were not into giving out fair judgment, mercy, and faith to the Israelites. If they had been concerned with these matters then they would have willingly come to Christ and sat at His feet, as did many.
Verse 24 evokes a very humorous vision, does it not? I have to laugh when reading it. How many people in the listening crowd that surrounded Jesus and these religious rulers probably broke out in laughter? I think quite a few must have bust a gut. A lot of people today make much ado about the little things and yet totally ignore the immensely impoftant things. They will get all upset over the type of clothing worn to a worship service and yet not regret how sharp and vindictive a tongue they may have. They will not think twice about informing certain people that they are not welcome in their sanctuary, that they are not the "right kind" of person to come and be part of the congregation. Hypocrites! Neither were they the "right" kind of person to be found there, until Jesus Christ came into their heart! Perhaps the truth is that Jesus Christ can't be found in their heart? That they are not really believers in Christ? I think so. People straining at the gnats and in the meantime swallowing a camel.
That is all for today beloved. Next time I plan on writing about the next several verses in which Christ continues His condemnation of these religous rulers. It directly applies to all of us today as well. We are not exempt from this condemnation. Christian leaders have been preaching God's Word faithfully and had to bear up to persecution and ridicule while doing it. Later on these same preachers are praised for their faith and obedience to their consciences. History simply keeps on repeating itself over and over and over again. Mankind does not learn from its mistakes. Mankind does not "evolve." We have the means to begin creating a fruitful world, technology that could feed everyone, technology to provide everyone with clean water, shelter over their head, but instead we utilize it to coerce, oppress, control, and erradicate those of us who have something which we desire to have as our own. We are the children of Satan on the spiritual level, no doubt about it.
May God's grace and peace permeate your heart and soul this day! May you draw ever closer to Christ, walk ever closer with Christ, and look at the world around you more like Christ does.
Fri, Jun 1st - 12:54PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
This chapter 23 concludes the conflict between Christ Jesus and the religious rulers of that time period. Christ issues public warnings about choosing to heed the words of these rulers. He then denounces the rulers in unmistakable terms. It could be considered to be a merciless condemnation of their basic unbelief in God.
"Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All therefore that they bid you to observe, that observe and do; but do not copy their works: for they do not do what they say to do (23:1-3)."
Jesus says to do what religious rulers say to do, but do not copy their personal habits and conduct. We are to copy the conduct expressed within God's Word. The Pharisees sat in the place of authority and controlled the Old Testament scriptures. They went further by usurping the power and authority that was not theirs to have. They occupied pretty much the same position that many church leaders occupy today. People looked to them for the interpretation of Biblical truth, and for guidance in how to lead their daily lives.
The common people were told by Christ to do as the Scriptures teach but do not follow the conduct of the lawyers and the Pharisees. They were not following the Word of God but were following the traditions of men. How were these rulers accomplishing such heresy?
"For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move those burdens with one of their fingers. But all their works they do in order to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (23:4-7)."
The lawyers and Pharisees liked having titles. They liked being recognized out in public. They liked wearing their special religious garments and engaging in habits that set them apart from everyone else plus drew attention to their exalted positions. God condemns all of this.
"But you are not to be called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all of you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither call yourselves masters: for one is your Master, even Christ (23:8-10)."
I do not desire to bash Catholicism, but these verses point directly at that denomination and its practices. Priests should not be called "Father" or "Master." It sounds like a simple term of respect, however, God has made it very clear that He does not wish us to usurp for ourselves such titles when there is only one Master and Father of all. Rabbi means to be a teacher, but all of us have only one Teacher: the Holy Spirit of God. Pastors/ministers are due our respect and honor as directed in Scripture. But they are no different from anyone else: they are just one of our brothers/sisters.
A "father" is a life-giver, so to call any man a "father" in spiritual concerns is to put him in the place of God. To do so is blasphemous and a violation of God's Word. A "master" is one in a position of authority. Christ Jesus is the only One in the position of authority as He is the head of the Church.
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (23:11-12)."
"Abase" means to lower in rank, office, prestige, or esteem; to lower physically. Thus if I wish to be exalted in my position within the church body, then I must first lower myself by becoming a servant to all within the congregation. "Humble" means to destroy the power, independence, or prestige of oneself. Jesus humbled Himself by coming down from heaven and manifesting Himself in human flesh because He set aside His power, independence, and prestige. Jesus could have incinerated every single sinner who rejected Him, but He didn't. He didn't because He came to abase Himself and become humble in order to reveal to all of us the nature of God. He also did that in order to provide us with a bridge so that we could cross over from death into eternal life. In effect we all are dead men walking, each person having a death sentence issued against him/her. We are living on death row, waiting until death finishes stalking us and takes us into its clutches. But upon accepting Christ's gift of salvation we become like the lepers. We are allowed to rejoin the world of the living, allowed to once again experience the intimacy of touching another person. In our case we are allowed to touch God again, intimately, spiritually. We are no longer forced to remain living outside of the body of believers, we have been invited back in for we have become clean from all disease.
We must remember at this point what Jesus chose to demonstrate to the disciples at the Last Supper. He went down upon His knees before each of them and washed their feet. He abased Himself, He humbled Himself, to become their servant so that they could learn how they were to treat one another. If God in the flesh was willing to humble Himself to this extent, then they must also do likewise. This is something that the majority of believers around the world have overlooked in the Scriptures. Jesus said directly that we are to do this just as He has done it. It is important for us to not cast this aside, to not relegate it to being some minor cultural custom that does not apply to us in our "modern" world. Here, in such a simple action, is where we are to be reminded that we are to serve one another and not try to lord it over one another. My pastor washes my feet, I wash his. My grandson washes my feet, and I wash his. The District Executive washes the feet of a child, and so forth and so on. We are all simply sinners saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, no more and no less. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
That is all for today my friends. I pray that you enjoy the eternal life that you have obtained through belief in Christ, each and every day! Do not wait for later. Enjoy it now! Grace and peace be with you all!
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