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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
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    Mon, May 30th - 2:53PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    15: And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, your servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.

    16: And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.

    17: And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.

    18: And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king (15:15-18).

    David fled Jerusalem to avoid open conflict with his son.  Obviously he was unprepared to confront his son militarily and needed some time to figure out how to approach this situation properly.  Also, David desperately wanted to spare the life of his son.  He had already had one daughter raped, the son who perpetrated said rape had been murdered, and now the son who had murdered his own brother usurped the royal throne.  I think David sought a way to avoid anymore bloodshed within his own family.  He was not concerned about his own personal safety, but that of others. 

    19: Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Why are you going with us?  return to your place, and remain with the king:  for you are a stranger, and also an exile.

    20: Whereas you just came yesterday, should I this day make you go all over with us?  seeing I go where I may, return, and take back your brethren:  mercy and truth be with you (15:19-20). 

    Here is a man who is a native of Gath in Philstia, yet he feels such loyalty to David that he and his entire family insist upon going off into exile with him.  David had made many personal mistakes over the years, but he was still a man who instilled intense feelings of loyalty in others. 

    21: And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will your servant be.

    22: And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over.  And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.

    23: And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over:  the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness (15:21-23). 

    Absalom may have been very persuasive in his speech before the people of Israel as they had come to Jerusalem to receive judgment in their civil complaints, but David still held many loyal followers.  Many were willing to lay down their lives for king David, they were willing to leave Israel and go out into the wilderness with him.

    24: And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God:  and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.

    25: And the king said unto Zadok, Carry the ark of God back into the city:  if I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back again, and show me both it, and His habitation (15:24-25).

    All of the Levites clearly understood that the king of Israel ought to be one selected by God and anointed of God.  Absalom had no such claim whereas his father was clearly the anointed of God. They had decided that the ark of God had no place in Absalom's possession.  But David understands that the ark of God must remain in Jerusalem otherwise her enemies would decide that they could attack Israel with impunity for their God had left them.  David also shows his faith in God by pointing out that if he finds favor in the eyes of God then he will be back to reign in Jerusalem and will see both the ark and that place where God dwells.

    That is all for now my friends.  I pray that this holiday has gone well for all of you who have remembered fallen loved ones who have given their lives for our freedom.  May we all remember Christ Jesus who gave His life that we might have freedom from sin and spiritual rebirth through Him. 

    ~Eric



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    Sun, May 29th - 3:59PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    In this chapter king David is to discover that trouble is to come at him thick and furious.  The same way that he had sinned, members of his own family sinned, and David is not done with the consequences.

    In this fifteenth chapter we will find that Absalom leads a rebellion against his own father.  Subtly he works at stealing the hearts of the children of Israel away from David.

     1: And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared himself chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
     
     2: And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate:  and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called to him, and said, Of what city are you?  And he said, Your servant is of one of the tribes of Israel (15:1-2).  

    Absalom took up strategic position at the gate to the city to meet all men who came to receive a judgment from the king.  It was a true politician's move, getting out and letting people get to know who he was wanting them to think that he was.  He showed much sympathy for their lack of access to ready justice.  

     3: And Absalom said to him, See, your matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear you.

     4: Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which has any suit or cause might come to me, and I would do him justice! (15:3-4).

    Absalom was a very bad boy, but he sure was an excellent politician!  He sought to ingratiate himself with those seeking quick justice to their personal complaints.  He implied that the king was not in touch with their needs, that the king was not listening, or caring.  

     5: And it was so, that when any man came close to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.

     6: And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment:  so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel (15:5-6).  

    Isn't this how so many people today get themselves elected to office?  Having no qualifications other than being good at handshaking and backslapping they promise the sun, the moon, and the stars to whoever is willing to listen and believe.  Say things that sound good, say them frequently enough to make them remembered, and people will begin to believe you are being truthful and honest.

    Unfortunately these sorts of things appeal to too many of us.  It is what will lead to our demise when the End Times arrive and the Antichrist shows himself.  He will promise to bring peace to the entire world, end hunger, end strife, end racism and bigotry.  Absalom did the exact same sort of things at the gate to the city of Jerusalem.  He promised people that he could solve their problems if they would just give him the chance.  Only problem was this:  Absalom had a personal, private, agenda.  He was planning rebellion against his own father.  

     7: And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalo said to the king, I pray you, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.

     8: For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD (15:7-8).

    A cunning request made by the rebellious son!  He has been patiently biding his time, laying the groundwork for his rebellion.  Now he makes a seemingly innocent request of his father.  David ought to have stopped to think long and hard about his son's request to suddenly go to Hebron, to serve Jehovah no less.  Hebron is in the opposite direction from where Absalom had been in exile in Syria.  But David paid no mind to this request and allowed him to go.

     9: And the king said to him, Go in peace.  So he arose, and went to Hebron.

    10: But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, Absalom reigns in Hebron (15:9-10).  

    Recall anything in particular about Hebron?  Where did David begin his reign?  Ah yes, it was in Hebron!  He reigned over Judah for seven years from out of Hebron.  Absalom simply figured what was good for his daddy would be good enough for him as well.  

    11: And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they did not know anything.

    12: And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices.  And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom (15:11-12).

    The rebellion began quietly down in Hebron and then it began to snowball in size and strength.  Even king David's own counsellor joins the rebels.  It gains momentum and by the time it truly surfaces and reaches David's attention it is too late for the king to do much of anything.

    13: And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.

    14: And David said to all of his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom:  make speed to depart, otherwise he will overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, an strike the city with the edge of the sword (15:13-14).  

    Why not remain and fight?  Why not remain and defend himself within his own city?  I think it was because David clearly understood that God was continuing to pass judgment upon his prior choices.  Why do I believe this?  Because in a few more verses we shall read of how David feels concerning the ark of the covenant.  

    A little review of the king and his family's history.  In chapter thirteen Amnon raped his own sister Tamar.  David was disgraced by this atrocious deed.  The scandal took place in Jerusalem.  This came after David's own personal sin involving Uriah and his wife Bathsheba some years earlier.  David had refused to leave Jerusalem to be with his army that time, and it cost him dearly.  Now, years and years later he is leaving Jerusalem because he knows that God is chastising him and he does not want the city which he loves to bear the brunt of Absalom's anger.

    That is all for today my friends.  Next time I shall continue with this narrative of what David did in response to Absalom's usurpation of the throne of Israel.  Perhaps it is something which we ought to take to heart in how we deal with the events which take place in our lives today?  May God's grace flow abundantly in your hearts this day!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, May 27th - 1:36PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     3: For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the the Lord, make His paths straight (3:3).  

    This is Isaiah being referred to.  The prophecy is from Isaiah 40:3.  All that John the Baptist claimed to be was the voice crying in the wilderness.  His sole purpose was to prepare the way of the Lord.  He was not attempting to gain notoriety for himself, nor was he directing all eyes to be upon him.  John was directing the attention of the Jews towards the coming of their long anticipated Messiah.

     4: And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey (3:4).  

    Nothing very flashy about John the Baptist.  No three piece suits for him, no silk shirts, no Italian leather shoes, no manicures, no hair stylist, no PR manager either; there was just him and his message.  He followed a strange diet and dressed fairly strange as well.  Today he would be considered to be a vagrant, a vagabond, a homeless person.  His clothing may have been quite functional and sturdy, but it was definitely not stylish or attractive to look at.  He may very well have had very long hair and a long beard since he lived out in the wilderness of Judaea.  But he is a man with a mission.  He also is akin to the type of prophet to be found in the Old Testament, seemingly walking right out of the pages of history.  We could consider him to be the very last of the Old Testament prophets.

     5: Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan.

     6: And were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins (3:5-6).  

    Crowds of people went out from the great city to John.  John did not go into a stadium or auditorium or meeting hall, there was no committee that invited him to speak and there was no application for a license to speak publically to a gathering of people.  John did not go into town at all.  If you wanted to hear him speak you must go out to where he was.  

    What we begin to see happen in verse six is that as people came out to listen to what this man had to preach about they began to realize that they needed to change, on the inside.  They repented of their ways and accepted the offer to be baptized in the Jordan River.  They were beginning to leave their old lives behind and turn towards living new lives serving God.

     7: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

     8: Bring forth therefore fruits acceptable for repentance (3:7-8).  

    John preached repentance to the general populace as it came out to listen to him.  But when some of the religious leaders began to show up John shifted into some very strong language meant strictly for them.  They were very good at making a show of their "faith" in Jehovah during public moments but failed to walk the walk privately.  There was no evidence of a changed life within them.  Baptism did not accomplish anything spiritual.  It still does not accomplish anything special or spiritual today for it is meant to be a public confession of faith.  There must be evidence of a changed heart, deeds must be showing that repentance has been genuine and not faked.

    That is all for today my friends.  Come back tomorrow when I shall continue in this chapter of Matthew and we shall see what the message to institutionalized churches everywhere is, and has been.  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, May 27th - 1:34PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     3: For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the the Lord, make His paths straight (3:3).  

    This is Isaiah being referred to.  The prophecy is from Isaiah 40:3.  All that John the Baptist claimed to be was the voice crying in the wilderness.  His sole purpose was to prepare the way of the Lord.  He was not attempting to gain notoriety for himself, nor was he directing all eyes to be upon him.  John was directing the attention of the Jews towards the coming of their long anticipated Messiah.

     4: And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey (3:4).  

    Nothing very flashy about John the Baptist.  No three piece suits for him, no silk shirts, no Italian leather shoes, no manicures, no hair stylist, no PR manager either; there was just him and his message.  He followed a strange diet and dressed fairly strange as well.  Today he would be considered to be a vagrant, a vagabond, a homeless person.  His clothing may have been quite functional and sturdy, but it was definitely not stylish or attractive to look at.  He may very well have had very long hair and a long beard since he lived out in the wilderness of Judaea.  But he is a man with a mission.  He also is akin to the type of prophet to be found in the Old Testament, seemingly walking right out of the pages of history.  We could consider him to be the very last of the Old Testament prophets.

     5: Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan.

     6: And were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins (3:5-6).  

    Crowds of people went out from the great city to John.  John did not go into a stadium or auditorium or meeting hall, there was no committee that invited him to speak and there was no application for a license to speak publically to a gathering of people.  John did not go into town at all.  If you wanted to hear him speak you must go out to where he was.  

    What we begin to see happen in verse six is that as people came out to listen to what this man had to preach about they began to realize that they needed to change, on the inside.  They repented of their ways and accepted the offer to be baptized in the Jordan River.  They were beginning to leave their old lives behind and turn towards living new lives serving God.

     7: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

     8: Bring forth therefore fruits acceptable for repentance (3:7-8).  

    John preached repentance to the general populace as it came out to listen to him.  But when some of the religious leaders began to show up John shifted into some very strong language meant strictly for them.  They were very good at making a show of their "faith" in Jehovah during public moments but failed to walk the walk privately.  There was no evidence of a changed life within them.  Baptism did not accomplish anything spiritual.  It still does not accomplish anything special or spiritual today for it is meant to be a public confession of faith.  There must be evidence of a changed heart, deeds must be showing that repentance has been genuine and not faked.

    That is all for today my friends.  Come back tomorrow when I shall continue in this chapter of Matthew and we shall see what the message to institutionalized churches everywhere is, and has been.  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Wed, May 25th - 9:44PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    21: And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing:  go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.

    22: And Joab fell to the ground on his face and bowed himself, and thanked the king:  and Joab said, Today your servant knows that I have found grace in your sight, my lord, O king, in that the king has fulfilled the request of his servant.

    23: So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.

    24: And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face.  So Absalom returned to his own house, and did not see the king's face (14:21-24). 

    Too bad king David did not want to see his son.  Perhaps if he had chosen to restore the broken relationship with Absalom it would have averted any further turmoil and destruction.  Let us see how Absalom deals with being invited back to Jerusalem but not allowed to see his father at all.

    25: But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

    26: And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.

    27: And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

    28: So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.

    29: Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.

    30: Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire.

    31: Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom at his house, and said unto him, Why have your servants set my field on fire (14:25-31)?

    We can see Absalom's character in these actions.  He is not a good person but a manipulator.  Joab wouldn't come to him by request so Absalom chooses to manipulate circumstances so that Joab is forced to deal with him in person.  Not nice for lasting relationships.  Joab wants to know why fire was set to his barley.

    32: And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent to you, saying, Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, Why am I come from Geshur?  it had been good for me to have been there still:  now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.

    33: So Joab came to the king, and told him:  and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom (14:32-33). 

    Why set fire to Joab's field's?  To coerce an audience before the king.  Absalom would have preferred to have remained in Geshur, away from the king, and wanted to know exactly why he had been summoned back to Jerusalem.  Joab arranges an audience with the king, Absalom shows up, and his father kissed him as he was bowed down before him.  David's kiss was evidence of complete reconciliation and restoration of his son's position as the king's son.  But it has come too late.  The damage has already been done.  David needed to have forgiven his son as soon as the young man returned from Geshur.  The fact that Absalom was forced to hang around Jerusalem for two years before forgiveness was offered has rankled in this man's heart and soul. 

    God had not forgiven David half-heartedly or belatedly.  God had restored David fully.  There is the difference between God and any man.  When God forgives, He forgives completely.  We all need to practice Ephesians 4:32.  David should have forgiven Absalom just as God had forgiven him earlier.  All that was done was to set the stage for rebellion.

    Beloved, we also need to take to heart Galatians 6:1 after a very careful reading of it.  Too often we are reluctant to forgive, and we can be very mean-spirited at times, very unloving, and critical.  Truth should be spoken, but when forgiveness is asked for, it should be extended immediately from the heart.

    David made a terrible blunder in not forgiving his son as God had forgiven David. I hope that none of us reproduce the exact same blunder in our lives today.

    That ends chapter fourteen of II Samuel and leads us on into the fifteenth chapter in which we shall find the rebellion of Absalom against his father, the king of Israel.  Hope to find you all here in the next day or so as I continue pushing this study to its conclusion.  May grace and peace rest upon your shoulders!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, May 23rd - 7:03AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     1: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

     2: And saying, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (3:1-2).  

    Abruptly we find John the Baptist striding onto the pages of Scripture, from out of nowhere it seems.  Who is this man?  Where did he come from?  What is his purpose here?  If we only had Matthew's account we would know nothing about this man of God.  Matthew did this for a reason.  The Old Testament prophet Malachi had said that the messenger would come ahead to prepare the way for the coming of the King, "Behold, I will send My messenger, and He shall prepare the way before Me...(Malachi 3:1)."  This messenger was none other than John the Baptist.  The background of a messenger is not normally something a person needs to know about in order to accept the message being delivered, it it?  We are not interested in that information.  We are interested in the message and what it may say for that is what is really important.  We listen to the message, or read it, and we then kindly thank the one who has delivered it to us.  

    John the Baptist made it painfully clear that he was only the messenger, he was not the message creator.  So what we must do is examine his message and try to find out what it says to us today.  There are basically three expressions in verse two:  1) "Repent"; 2) "the kingdom of heaven"; and 3) "is at hand."  It is critical that we understand all three of these.

    "Repent" is a term, or expression, that has always been given to God's people as a personal challenge to turn around.  In the original Greek it is the word metanoia, which means "to change your mind."  Mentally you are going in one direction; you must therefore turn around and go in the opposite direction.  

    Repentance speaks to two types of people:  those who are unsaved are called to turn back towards God, accept Christ,  and those who are already saved but have become indifferent to God are called to turn back to Christ.  One group of people need to turn away from what society says is the way to live life and the other group of people need to turn away from misguided ways of living for God.  In the Book of Revelation the message to the seven churches was for the saved to repent, to change.  

    The message of Paul to the jailer at Philippi (Acts 16:31) was of his need to believe on Jesus Christ, to repent and turn back to believing in God.  To turn to Christ means that you must be turning away from something else.  To not turn away from something means you have effectively not repented.  So to become a Christian one must turn away from how you used to think about life, how you used to think about God, how you used to believe things were, and begin to think about how God says things actually are.

    "Kingdom of heaven" means the rule of the heavens over the entire earth.  Jesus Christ is the King.  If there is no King then there can be no kingdom and vice versa.  A King must have a kingdom.  John the Baptist was saying that the kingdom of heaven was present in the Person of the King.

    Is there a present reality of this kingdom of heaven?  Yes, there is.  All who come to Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him are immediately transferred into the kingdom of heaven.  They belong to Christ and now have an intimate relationship with God that goes beyond that of subject and king.  Christ is the Bridegroom, and believers are part of being His Bride!  That is a topic of another discussion.

    Are we then like subjects in a kingdom because we are told to carry out God's commandments?  There is more to it than that.  We are to obey His commandments because we love Him.  It is a love relationship "If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)."  

    The "kingdom of heaven" is the rule of the heavens over the earth.  That is not in actual effect today.  God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven does not exist in our world yet.  Christ Jesus is not physically ruling over earth today.  He is not reigning in any form, shape or fashion except in the hearts of those who have chosen to believe in Him.  However, God is coming one day to establish His kingdom on the earth and on that day all rebellion will be negated.  Christ shall be acknowledged as King, as the Living God, by every mouth.  No one shall be able to say otherwise even if they still refuse to repent of their sin.  

    "Is at hand" refers to the Person of the Messiah.  The people were generally unable to conceive, to recognize, who this was.  The Hebrews were yearning for a Messiah who would conquer the Romans and kick them out of Israel.  They wanted a Messiah who would dethrone the Herodians.  They expected that when their Messiah came He would immediately do these things which they so desired deep down in their hearts.  They simply had misinterpreted their own scriptures, allowed themselves to become led astray in their expectations.  

    Next time we shall see Matthew report fulfillment of prophecy.  Until then, consider whether or not you have "repented" and turned back to God.  Or have you only been playing at being a Christian?  Have you basically changed, become a different person, or have you remained unchanged?  Repentance requires one to fundamentally change, to walk in a new direction, usually opposite of how one walked previously.  I hope that that has happened for you.  Until next time, grace and God's peace be with you as we approach Memorial Day.  Let this year be one in which you remember the willing, loving, sacrifice which Jesus Christ made for you so that you could have the choice to repent and have a new life in Him.

    ~Eric


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    Sat, May 21st - 6:10PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    15: And was there until the death of Herod:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son (2:15).  

    This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1.  We have here a duel fulfillment found here.  Out of Egypt the son was called, which was the nation of Israel; and out of Egypt the Son was called, who was Christ Jesus, the Son of God.  Joseph remained obedient to God and kept his family in Egypt until he heard from God that all was safe.

    16: Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, ans sent out, and slaughtered all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and younger, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men (2:16).  
    When king Herod had had his private session with the wise men from the east, he pressed them to divulge how long they had been observing this unique star in the night time sky.  By this means Herod was able to determine roughly how old Christ must be.  When the wise men failed to return to Jerusalem, Herod became so mad that he ordered blanket killing of all children from two years old and younger just to be sure of getting Jesus in the death net.  He did not care how many innocent children were murdered, he simply desired to eliminate a perceived personal threat to his rule.  

    17: Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 

    18: In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not (2:17-18).

    We know that Herod did not limit the slaughter of children just to Bethlehem, but to "all the coasts thereof."  Ramah is far to the north of Jerusalem just as Bethlehem is to the south of the city.  It had to have been a heartbreaking time for mothers and fathers for a radius of some ten or twelve miles around Jerusalem.  There had to have a great deal of mourning, weeping, and lamentation all across this region due to Herod's desperate attempt to keep possession of the throne.  

    19: But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the LORD appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.

    20: Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel:  for they are dead which sought the young child's life (2:19-20).  

    I will point out that in Genesis 32 we see that the angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob at Peniel.  Here it is an angel of the Lord that appeared to Joseph.  The angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ but now the incarnate Christ is down in Egypt.

    21: And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

    22: But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there:  notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee (2:21-22).  

    Firstly, Joseph needed to get Jesus out of the land of Egypt and back into Israel.  Why?  Jesus was born under the Law and He is to live under the Mosaic Law.  He is the only one to ever keep the entire Law perfectly.  He could not have done this if He remained in Egypt.  

    Secondly, Joseph became very concerned upon hearing that the son of Herod was now king and reigning in Jerusalem.  So he listened to God and detoured into Galilee to remain safe.  Why be so afraid of Archelaus?  He was another Herod and was very brutal.

    23: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene (2:23).  

    The Hebrew word for Nazareth was Netzer, meaning a branch or shoot.  Nazareth was insignificant to the rest of Israel, and the world.  The prophecies of Isaiah 11:1; 53:2-3; and Psalm 22:6 involve the term Nazarene.  Jesus Christ was called by this term for being a stem of Jesse and for growing up in Nazareth.  

    So we see how all four of these prophecies deal with Christ.  He touched base in all of these places and fulfilled them in a fairly logical manner.  

    That is all for today, my friends.  Next time we shall open with chapter three which jumps us ahead a few years to when John the Baptist was ministering to the people of Israel out in Judaea.  May Christ give you grace and peace in your heart.  

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sat, May 21st - 6:08PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    15: And was there until the death of Herod:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son (2:15).  

    This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1.  We have here a duel fulfillment found here.  Out of Egypt the son was called, which was the nation of Israel; and out of Egypt the Son was called, who was Christ Jesus, the Son of God.  Joseph remained obedient to God and kept his family in Egypt until he heard from God that all was safe.

    16: Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, ans sent out, and slaughtered all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and younger, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men (2:16).  
    When king Herod had had his private session with the wise men from the east, he pressed them to divulge how long they had been observing this unique star in the night time sky.  By this means Herod was able to determine roughly how old Christ must be.  When the wise men failed to return to Jerusalem, Herod became so mad that he ordered blanket killing of all children from two years old and younger just to be sure of getting Jesus in the death net.  He did not care how many innocent children were murdered, he simply desired to eliminate a perceived personal threat to his rule.  

    17: Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 

    18: In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not (2:17-18).

    We know that Herod did not limit the slaughter of children just to Bethlehem, but to "all the coasts thereof."  Ramah is far to the north of Jerusalem just as Bethlehem is to the south of the city.  It had to have been a heartbreaking time for mothers and fathers for a radius of some ten or twelve miles around Jerusalem.  There had to have a great deal of mourning, weeping, and lamentation all across this region due to Herod's desperate attempt to keep possession of the throne.  

    19: But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the LORD appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.

    20: Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel:  for they are dead which sought the young child's life (2:19-20).  

    I will point out that in Genesis 32 we see that the angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob at Peniel.  Here it is an angel of the Lord that appeared to Joseph.  The angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ but now the incarnate Christ is down in Egypt.

    21: And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

    22: But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there:  notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee (2:21-22).  

    Firstly, Joseph needed to get Jesus out of the land of Egypt and back into Israel.  Why?  Jesus was born under the Law and He is to live under the Mosaic Law.  He is the only one to ever keep the entire Law perfectly.  He could not have done this if He remained in Egypt.  

    Secondly, Joseph became very concerned upon hearing that the son of Herod was now king and reigning in Jerusalem.  So he listened to God and detoured into Galilee to remain safe.  Why be so afraid of Archelaus?  He was another Herod and was very brutal.

    23: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene (2:23).  

    The Hebrew word for Nazareth was Netzer, meaning a branch or shoot.  Nazareth was insignificant to the rest of Israel, and the world.  The prophecies of Isaiah 11:1; 53:2-3; and Psalm 22:6 involve the term Nazarene.  Jesus Christ was called by this term for being a stem of Jesse and for growing up in Nazareth.  

    So we see how all four of these prophecies deal with Christ.  He touched base in all of these places and fulfilled them in a fairly logical manner.  

    That is all for today, my friends.  Next time we shall open with chapter three which jumps us ahead a few years to when John the Baptist was ministering to the people of Israel out in Judaea.  May Christ give you grace and peace in your heart.  

    ~Eric


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    Fri, May 20th - 9:58PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     5: And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judaea:  for thus it is written by the prophet,
     6: And you Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, are not the least among the princes of Juda:  for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule My people Israel (2:5-6).

    The scribes knew exactly where the prophecy was, Micah 5:2.  They could quote it to him for they had it memorized.  The coming Messiah was continually upon the minds of the people of Israel.  The problem however was that their knowledge was academic rather than vital.  It was not personally meaningful to them.  They knew their own history, but it was disconnected from their personal experiences.  If Micah 5:2 meant anything to the scribes don't you think that they would have gone to the wise men and said, "Hey, how about letting us tag along with you on down to Bethlehem?  We have been waiting for our Messiah for a long time now, and we would like to be among the first to see Him!"  But they didn't do that, did they?

    How many people today are genuinely looking for Jesus Christ?  How many proclaimed Christians are genuinely looking for the return of Christ to this world?  We talk about it, we study about it, but are we actually yearning for the day when Jesus stands upon this earth once again?  Do we comprehend why we ought to be yearning for that day to come?  

     7: Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared (2:7).  

    Now here we must understand the proper timing of things.  Herod needs to know when the star first appeared in the sky to these wise men.  They had been traveling towards it for quite some time, camels do not go very fast.  How can Herod know how old the child ought to be unless he knows how long the star has been shining?  This can help him narrow down which group of children this "king" belongs to.  So Herod sends the wise men off to Bethlehem.

     8: And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, God and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship him also (2:8).

    Ahh, what a piece of work Herod is!  Let the wise men do all of the footwork for him in locating this threat to his throne and then he can swoop in and assassinate the child.  Herod knew that if he were to proclaim that he wanted this child killed that he would never find him, he would be hidden from him and his soldiers by the residents.  So Herod cleverly thinks that he has persuaded the wise men to become his agents in discovering the whereabouts of this threat to him.

     9: When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.
    10: When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
    11: And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshiped Him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (2:9-11).  

    The star reappears in the sky and is their guide to where Jesus Christ is.  We can try to find astronomical explanations as to how this could have taken place, but that is unnecessary.  God used a star to mark the location of where His only begotten Son would be born.  

    These wise men eventually found the exact house at which Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying.  Bethlehem was no longer filled to overflowing with people, tax time had now passed.  Enrollment was finished.  But Joseph and Mary weren't about to try moving cross country with a newborn baby.  Forget about the Christmas carols and the cards which always show the wise men entering into the manger.  That is not how it happened.  

    Notice their reaction upon seeing this child.  They fell down and worshiped Him.  If Mary was so special, why didn't they worship her at this time?  Very telling moment in history here.  They worshiped Jesus and not Mary.  They presented their gifts to Him and not to Mary.

    Consider what is said about His second coming from in Isaiah 60:6: "The multitude of camels shall cover you, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah, all they from Sheba shall come:  they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show outwardly the praises of the LORD."

    What gift is missing here?  Myrrh.  No myrrh is brought for it speaks of His death.  When Jesus comes the second time there will be nothing about His death.  Gold speaks of His birth.  He is born a King.  Frankincense speaks of the fragrance of His life.  Myrrh speaks of His death on the cross.  That is why there were three gifts offered to Him after His birth.  But when He returns the only death to consider will be that of those who have rejected Him.  He will not be coming to die upon any cross this next time.  He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords.

    12: And being warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way (2:12).  

    The wise men obviously had thought that king Herod was being sincere when saying that he wished to come and worship Jesus too.  But God warned all of them to go home a different route than how they had arrived.  

    13: And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek to kill the young child.
    14: When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt (2:13-14).  

    God sent an angel to speak to Joseph in his dreams, to warn him to avoid king Herod by taking himself and his family into Egypt.  Notice Joseph's reaction.  Did he sit around pondering what he had dreamed?  Did he go and seek advice from the religious leaders?  Did he ask his father and mother what he ought to do?  No, he did not.  He simply obeyed God, and did so immediately.  He did not remain asleep until dawn either.  He woke up, got his family up, and took them out of Bethlehem under cover of darkness.  No one knew they had gone, no one knew where they had gone.  

    Next time we shall see why it was prudent that Joseph heeded God's warning and stole out of Bethlehem that very night.  Hope you come back tomorrow to find out more.  Grace and peace as we now enter into the final month of spring.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, May 18th - 7:06PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     1: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem (2:1).

    All of this is a historical account of what took place, but behind all of it there is a stupendous truth being presented to us, and we most surely do not want to miss it.  Matthew was written to the nation of Israel, for religious people.  Four prophecies which were fulfilled are recorded here in this chapter.  Here they are:  1) He was born in Bethlehem (check out Micah 5:2); 2) He was to be called out of Egypt (check out Hosea 11:1); 3) There was to be weeping in Ramah (check Jeremiah 31:15); and 4) He was a root from the stem of Jesse and therefore to be called a Nazarene (see Isaiah 11:1).

    What does weeping in Ramah have to do with Bethlehem?  Each is on opposite sides of Jerusalem, far from each other.  How can he be born in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt, yet be called a Nazarene?  Questions, questions, questions!  We shall see all of this fit together perfectly.

    Please notice that there is no specific number given to how many wise men came from out of the east.  There were probably quite a few wise men in this group since they were coming to verify the portents they observed in the heavens, and had followed all the way from the east.  Three men would not have caused King Herod much distress, but a large group of these men arriving and asking pointed questions about a king other than himself most certainly would have gotten his complete attention.
     
    They came searching for the "King of the Jews."  How did they know this?  It is easy to understand them tracking a new star seen in the heavens as they normally observed the stars.  This star was not an "eastern star," but it was in the western sky for these wise men traveled from the east.  So, the big question then becomes, "How did they associate a star with a king of the Jews?  There was a prophecy given by Balaam long ago, recorded in Numbers 24:17, “I shall see him, but not now:  I shall behold him, but not nigh:  there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”  

    This is the one place in the Old Testament where the Star and Scepter are put together in the same prophecy.  These wise men had obviously been able to read about this prophecy given by Balaam.  We also must remember that the Israelites had been taken away into captivity by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians.  Both empires were basically to the east of Jerusalem and so it is quite conceivable that especially during the Babylonian exile that the wise men of that empire had learned much of the prophecies spoken of by Daniel and his peers.  

    King Herod must have been rather agitated upon having all of these foreign men coming and wishing to worship a king of the Jews who was not himself!  And this is exactly what we find as we continue on in this historical account.

     2: Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (2:2)
     3: When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
     4: And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born (2:3-4).  

    Everyone in the city of David became troubled by the impact of this large group of wise men who sought out the Christ.  Herod was a superstitious man, a member of a cunning family.  This family was similar to the Mafia today.  Herod was an Idumean who had purchased his position from the Roman government; he was not Israeli at all.  So he was anxious to find this Person who appeared to be a new rival for his seat on the throne.

    Notice that he did not ask or request anything, he demanded that they tell him where to find this Christ.  What is amazing is the fact that they were able to tell him where He was to be born.

    That is all for today my friends.  Hope that you have had a wonderful day!  I pray that Christ has become extremely real for you over the past few weeks of these studies.  May you experience His grace and peace in your heart!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, May 18th - 12:07PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "One enemy can do more hurt than ten friends can do good."

                                      ~Jonathan Swift

    "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

                                      ~Oscar Wilde

     1: Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.

     2: And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched there a wise woman, and said to her, I pray you, pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:

     3: And come to the king, and speak on this manner to him.  So Joab put the words in her mouth which she was to speak (14:1-3).

    Joab had grown up around Tekoah and may very well have known this woman previously.  But he sent for her and approached her with a business proposition.  Joab was attempting to bring David and Absalom back together, to hopefully reconcile their differences. 

     4: And when the woman of Tekoah spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.

     5: And the king said to her, What ails you?  And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and my husband is dead.

     6: And your handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one struck the other, and slew him.

     7: And, behold, the whole family is risen against your handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that struck down his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also:  and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth (14:4-7).

    Joab had given this woman a sob story to go and present before king David at court.  Joab wished to play upon David's feelings.  As David had been deceptive, now he was likewise being deceived.

       8: And the king said unto the woman, Go to your house, and I will give charge concerning you.
       9: And the woman of Tekoa said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house; and the king and his throne be guiltless.
      10: And the king said, Whosoever says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall not touch you any more.
      11: Then said she, I pray, let the king remember Jehovah your God, that the avenger of blood destroy not any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As Jehovah lives, there shall not one hair of your son fall to the earth.
      12: Then the woman said, Let your handmaid, I pray, speak a word to my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
      13: And the woman said, Why then have you devised such a thing against the people of God? for in speaking this word the king is as one that is guilty, in that the king does not fetch home again his banished one (14:8-13).

    So David hears out this woman's story and grants her imaginary son a full pardon.  This woman then immediately makes application of this pardon to David and his son Absalom.  She pointed out to the king that he was acting like the imaginary prosecutors in her story.  The people of Israel were represented by the widowed mother.  She claims to be speaking for all of Israel.  Perhaps she was, for Absalom was very popular with the people and they may have felt that Amnon got what he deserved for raping Tamar.

       14: For we must needs die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither does God respect any person: yet does He devise means, that he that is banished be not an outcast from Him.
       15: Now therefore seeing that I am come to speak this word unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and your handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant.
       16: For the king will hear, to deliver his servant out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
       17: Then your handmaid said, Let, I pray you, the word of my lord the king be comfortable; for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: and Jehovah your God be with you.
       18: Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray, anything that I shall ask you. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
       19: And the king said, Is the hand of Joab with you in all this? And the woman answered and said, As your soul lives, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken; for your servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of your handmaid;
       20: to change the face of the matter has your servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth (14:14-20).

    David was able to sense the hand of Joab in all of this tale.  At least this woman was an honest person in general and did not lie to the king when asked pointblank if Joab had been involved in this entire scenario.  Will the king choose to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem to be with him?  And if he chooses to do so, what will the ramifications of that action be?  What consequences to that choice will result?  That is for next time.

    Grace and peace be yours this day.  May Christ answer the deepest needs of your heart this day.  Pray for all of the saints of Christ all over the world.  Be ready at all times to give a good response when asked why you have hope in going to heaven when you die.  Tell them about Christ Jesus.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, May 15th - 11:47AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    21: And she shall give birth to a son, and you shall His name JESUS:  for He shall save His people from their sins (1:21).  

    Mary and Joseph were not going to be the ones picking out this child's name, God already had a name selected, Jesus.  This name means "Savior," and His mission, His purpose, was to save His people from their sins.  If sins do not exist then His purpose ceases to exist and thus we see the reasoning behind denial of sin.  No sin, no need for a Savior, and Christ Jesus never existed; or else Jesus did not die for our sins, He simply died for being a political threat to the Herodians and Rome.  However, history dictates that we believe that Jesus came to save all of us from our sins, if we but believe in Him.

    22: Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
    23: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall give birth to a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (1:22-23).  

    These things came to pass in order that all that God had spoken of in times past would come into being.  Matthew penned the words so that nation Israel would comprehend that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything in the Old Testament prophecy.

    It is reputed that there are over three hundred prophecies concerning the first advent of Christ that have been literally fulfilled.  Matthew quoted more of them than any other gospel account.  Matthew seemingly was tasked with showing that Christ was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.

    Verse 23 is a repetition of the prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14.  Progressive and liberal theologians deny the fact of His virgin birth and that the Bible teaches any such thing.  But the only way to maintain that doctrine is to alter the translation language to eliminate "virgin."  

    The prophecy given in Isaiah 7:14 was a sign.  Checking in with the Hebrew language, we find that the common translation for the term almah, is "virgin."  Those who desire to deny the miraculous went to Gesenius, an outstanding scholar who had an exhaustive Hebrew lexicon.  But Gesenius used "young woman" in translation of this term since he also did not believe in the miraculous.  He denied the common usage in order to reflect his personal belief.  

    Going back to Isaiah 7, looking closer we find that Isaiah was sent by God to give wicked king Ahaz a sign.  Ahaz refused the offer, but God gave the sign anyways for He wished the entire house of David to know what was to come in the future.  If only a young woman was intended to give birth to a son there would have not been anything of particular note in such a thing.  But to have a virgin give birth to a son, now that is miraculous since she had not slept with any man.  

    Should there be any question as to whether or not almah means "virgin?"  During the intertestamental period, 72 Hebrew scholars, six from each of the twelve tribes, worked in Alexandria, Egypt on translating the Septuagint.  All of them agreed that this term means a virgin and not a young woman.  They translated it into the Greek word parthenos.  It means "virgin."  Athena was supposed to be the virgin goddess of Athens and her temple was called what?  The Parthenon.  So we can be quite sure that almah means "virgin."  Jesus was born from a virgin mother in order to fulfill this sign given by God to the house of David hundreds of years earlier.

    Now, we ought to notice what the child's name was to be called.  Emmanuel, "God with us."  His called name of Jesus was used all of the time and we do not read about Him being called by the name of Emmanuel.  An error, or contradiction?  No.  He is all of this and more besides.  Jesus couldn't be Emmanuel unless He was virgin born.  Unless He is Emmanuel He can't be Jesus, Savior of all.  He is Jesus Christ because He is Emmanuel, He is God with us.  Emmanuel had to be the sacrifice which was acceptable for all of our sins.  You and I can't die for a redemptive death for our sins.  But God could, and He did!  Without the virgin birth of Jesus Christ there could be no salvation from sin. 

    A person can not be a Christian and deny the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.  I may very well sound extremely dogmatic in this, but it is because it is that important.  I need a Savior who is fully able to reach down into this world and save me.  Another man is unable to save himself, let alone me.  I must have Emmanuel, God with us, to be my personal Savior.  Jesus took upon Himself our humanity in this fashion so that He might experience death for us, that He might die a redemptive death on the cross for us.  Because of this choice we are then able to be reconciled to God and reach a place of peaceful accord with God.  

    24: Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
    25: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name JESUS (1:24-25).  

    Joseph believed.  He did not doubt.  He trusted his dream to be true, to be straight from Jehovah.  This is exactly what we need to do in our daily lives, believe and trust God.  

    That ends the opening chapter of Matthew.  I will begin the second chapter tomorrow and we shall find the events following the birth of Christ up until He was a young child.  May Christ richly bless you during this upcoming week!  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, May 13th - 1:12PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



       23: And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheep-shearers in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.
       24: And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, your servant has sheep-shearers; let the king, I pray you, and his servants go with your servant.
       25: And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome unto you. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.
       26: Then said Absalom, If not, I pray, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with you?
       27: But Absalom pressed him, and he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.
       28: And Absalom commanded his servants, saying, Mark you now, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine; and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon, then kill him; fear not; have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.
       29: And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man got himself up upon his mule, and fled.
       30: And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that the tidings came to David, saying, Absalom has slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.
       31: Then the king arose, and rent his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.
       32: And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead; for by the appointment of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.
       33: Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead; for Amnon only is dead (13:23-33).

    Absalom never forgave Amnon for raping Tamar.  All Absalom did was to wait until Amnon obviously forgot about any sort of grudge maybe being held against him.  One king's son has another king's son murdered in revenge. 

    David first is told that all of his sons have been killed by Absalom.  He is grief-stricken over the news.  But then good old Jonadab, the one who gave Amnon the idea of how to get Tamar alone with him in the first place, reports that Absalom only killed Amnon and had been planning it ever since the day of the rape of his sister.  Jonadab just does not strike me as having been a very nice person.  He goes so far as to advise his uncle to not take this murder too hard, it was afterall just one of his many sons who died.  That is a harsh, cold, statement to make to a grieving father. 

    34: But Absalom fled.  And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and, behold, there came many people by the way of the hill side behind him.

    35: And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come:  as your servant said, so it is.

    36: And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept:  and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.

    37: But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Amminhud, king of Geshur.  And David mourned for his son every day (13:34-37). 

    Jonadab did not lie, the remaining surviving sons of king David returned to the palace in a panic.  But we see that Absalom fled from his father.  He chose to go and hide out in Geshur.  Absalom's mother was a daughter of the king of Geshur, and this is one reason why he fled to this place.  David married this foreign woman and it was a mistake that would force him to pay a heavy price.  David had married this woman during that period of time when he and his men had withdrawn from Israel and gone to live with the Philistines.  This woman birthed two very attractive children, Absalom and Tamar.  David evidently did not discipline his wild son, born of pagans and Bedouins.  David also failed to reprove Amnon for raping Tamar.  All are signs of dysfunctional households.  In a way Absalom did what his father could not bring himself to do:  pass judgment upon Amnon and execute said judgment. 

    38: So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.

    39: And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom:  for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead (13:38-39). 

    David failed to act once more.  Perhaps if he had gone and forgiven Absalom for killing Amnon none of this other stuff would have transpired.  But David did not go to Geshur to speak with his estranged son.  I think that Absalom was a lot like his father the king.  Maybe David had intended Absalom to succeed him as the king of Israel, we will never know now.  We do know that kingly ambition certainly rumbled around in Absalom's mind.

    That is all for today, beloved.  May Christ richly bless you and keep you this day.

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Thu, May 12th - 1:14PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



       16: And she said unto him, Not so, because this great wrong in putting me out is worse than the other that you did unto me. But he would not listen unto her.
       17: Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.
       18: And she had a garment of diverse colors upon her; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.
       19: And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of diverse colors that was on her; and she laid her hand on her head, and went her way, crying aloud as she went.
       20: And Absalom her brother said unto her, Has Amnon your brother been with you? but now hold your peace, my sister: he is your brother; take not this thing to heart. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.
       21: But when king David heard of all these things, he was very angry.
       22: And Absalom spoke unto Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar (13:16-22).

    King David is very angry over what has been done to his daughter Tamar, but he doesn't take any action.  He was an indulgent father who raised a bunch of kids who were bad.  Not the first time that this has happened either.  Eli raised immoral and godless sons.  Then Samuel's sons turned out to be corrupt and dishonest as well.  Just being a man after God's own heart does not make your children automatically turn out as being after God's heart as well.  You must do something with your children so that they get the vision of serving God with their hearts as well.  David had known Samuel and what had happened with his sons, did it ring a warning bell in his mind?  We would think David would have chosen to be more strict with his children, but he was not.  By his own actions David has taught his own children what sort of morality exists.  Sleep with whomever you become attracted to, pay no mind to the consequences. 

    Think that I am being extremely parochial in my views?  That I am too old-fashioned about these sorts of things?  The main problem with Christian homes today is the lack of example and discipline on the part of the parents.  They do not want to anger their children, they do not want to ruin the self esteem of their children, and they want to be their children's best friends.  Don't spend time lecturing young children, discipline them after you have warned them of the consequences of their actions.  Do it while they are still little, waiting until they are adolescents will be too late.

    Another issue with David was the fact that he had multiple wives and many children.  As a parent, how can you possibly find the time to be with everyone?  It is impossible.  Add to this the duties and responsibilities of being a king and you have created an impossible home life for raising character filled children.    Neglect your family sir, and you will pay a heavy price later on in life.  You can't ignore your family for the sake of God's work placed before you.  I have a feeling that David ignored his children quite a bit.

    Parents must spend time training their children up in the way that they ought to go.  We are not necessarily training an angel here.  They are not all fragile flowers to be pampered otherwise they will die.  In many cases the "board of education" must be firmly applied to the "seat of knowledge" in order for the child to learn the error of his/her ways.  Proverbs 23:13 states, "Do not withhold correction from the child:  for if you beat him with the rod, he shall not die."  Scripture does not condone abusive treatment of children, nor of anyone else.  This is judicious use of the rod to their buttocks in order for them to comprehend the reality of the consequences of their choices in life.  This teaches them that in life the consequences to their choices may very well be painful and hurt them physically. 

    It is unfortunate that David did not do this with at least his sons.  Lack of correction created lasting pain, suffering, and turmoil amongst his children and his household.

    Well, next time I shall write concerning this problem that Absalom harbored against his brother Amnon.  Verse 22 tells us that it was not consensual sex between Amnon and Tamar.  He forced her.  So now we have Amnon who hates Tamar for not returning his love, Tamar who is embarassed/humiliated for she no longer is a virgin and has to deal with having been raped, and Absalom who hates Amnon for what he did to Tamar.  This was stuff which we would expect to view upon one of today's soap operas on daytime television.  Incredible. 

    Well come back tomorrow when I hope to continue this study and we can find out what happened next.  Grace and peace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, May 11th - 9:38PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



      7: And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
      8: And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
      9: And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
    10: And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
    11: And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
    12: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
    13: And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
    14: And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
    15: And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
    16: And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ (1:7-16).  

    In verse eleven we find that Matthew skipped Jehoiakim but included Jechonias.  Why?  Probably because God said that none of his seed would sit on the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:24,30).  Because of his wickedness as king of Israel no one in his lineage could ever sit on the throne of David.  You see, Joseph is in this line, but Joseph is not the natural, biological father of Jesus Christ.  So there is no violation of what God had decreed earlier.  Joseph gave the title to Jesus, the legal title, to the throne of David since he was the husband of Mary who was the one who bore Jesus.  Jesus Christ is not the seed of Joseph, nor is he the seed of Jeconiah.  But both Joseph and Mary had to be from the lineage of David, and they were.  Joseph's royal lineage comes through that of Solomon.  Both being of the seed of David is why they had to go to Bethlehem to be enrolled for taxation.  

    Then we arrive at verse sixteen and find that the "begats" suddenly end.  It says "Mary, of whom was born Jesus."  Joseph did not begat Jesus and so this progeny is different than all of the others.  Matthew makes it crystal clear that Jesus Christ's father is not Joseph.  Matthew will explain who is the father of Christ, he simply will take the rest of this opening chapter to do so.  

    17: So all generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations (1:17).  

    Matthew is directed by the Holy Spirit to divide the genealogy up into groupings.  It helps to give us an overall view of the Old Testament history.  The significance of the number fourteen being repeated?  Perhaps it indicates that after fourteen generations from Christ's resurrection have passed that He shall return and the End Times are to begin?  Hard to say.  But now we are to begin to receive Matthew's explanation about Jesus birth.

    18: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:  When His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost (1:18).  

    Before Mary and Joseph consummated their marriage she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit, this was the immaculate conception, the virgin birth.  This is why Joseph questioned the rightness of moving ahead with the marriage preparations, was she still a virgin?  

    19: Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately(1:19).  

    The Mosaic Law was very specific at this point.  A woman guilty of being unfaithful should be stoned to death.  Mary was a remarkable young woman.  But Joseph was a remarkable young man as well.  God picked Mary to carry Jesus to term, but He also chose Joseph to help raise Jesus to manhood.  If Joseph were a hotheaded man he would have immediately had Mary carried out and stoned to death, or had her made a public spectacle.  But he was not that kind of man.  He loved her, and he did not want to ever hurt her in any fashion.  But he initially had some doubts as to how she could possibly be with child, since the two of them had not had sexual relations yet.  

    20: But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto you Mary your wife:  for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (1:20).  

    God sent an angel to speak to Joseph in his dreams, to reassure him that Mary was, indeed, still a virgin in every sense of the term.  The child which she carried in her womb was of the Holy Spirit, of God Himself.  That had to have been earth shattering news to this man.  He must have woken up from sleeping and been full of wonderment at the audacity of God.  How bold God was!  How gracious!  How much of a promise-keeper He was!  The Messiah was to come, and was to be raised by Joseph and his wife, Mary!  Hallelujah!  

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall continue with the verses which inform everyone what this child's name is to be.  The parents do not get to pick a name, God already has one reserved for Him.  For prophecy from over the previous centuries must be fulfilled to the letter, without any deviation.  Until then, grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Wed, May 11th - 2:33PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     8: So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.
       9: And she took the pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.
       10: And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.
       11: And when she had brought them near unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come, lie with me, my sister.
       12: And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not do this folly.
       13: And I, where shall I carry my shame? and as for you, you will be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray you, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from you.
       14: Howbeit he would not listen unto her voice; but being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her.
       15: Then Amnon hated her with exceeding great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love which he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone (13:8-15). 

    Amnon refused to take his case before the king.  He refused to turn away from his lust for his sister.  He refused to consider the consequences of his actions, to become a fool in all of Israel; to violate his sister's virginity.  How many sins did he wrap up in one single action?  All that Amnon needed to do whas think, Tamar as much as admitted that their father would have given her to Amnon if he just went and asked first.  Lust won out, not love.  And so Amnon raped his sister and then hated her as much as he had loved her previously.  She had not willingly slept with him.  I imagine she just lay there like a stone, not responding to Amnon's ministrations.  Amnon used her to satisfy his urges and then kicked her to the curb. 

    This is not much different than how people use one another in our world today, it it?  Oh, how much we have changed and improved ourselves, many an enlightened individual will claim.  But how much have we actually changed at all?  We treat our children like they are one of our possessions, one of our employees.  Send them off to boarding school so that they will not inconvenience us, or aggravate us with their incessant questions and requests for our time and energy.  We may not treat our sisters like Amnon treated Tamar, but we surely do treat unrelated women in this fashion.  And women do the same with young men whom they are not related.  Sex still remains a commodity, something that the masses feel is unrelated to loving someone, it is just a physical act.  God says otherwise in His Word.  Experience says otherwise. 

    Well, next time we shall continue to explore this scandal which exploded across king David's royal household in Jerusalem.  If they had had newspapers in that day there would have been headlines screaming, "Royal family shattered by incest!  King fit to be tied!  Royal sons embroiled in turmoil of sexual immorality!"  So come on back tomorrow and we shall find out how this todo concludes.  Grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Wed, May 11th - 6:53AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



     2: Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
     3: And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
     4: And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
     5: And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
     6: And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (1:2-6).  

    Most people become bored with this genealogy of Jesus.  What they miss is the significance of four names of women being included here.  Not only that, but they are Gentile women included in a Hebrew genealogy.  Normally names of women were not included in Hebrew genealogies.   But then women's names disappear in marriages in today's culture as well since they take the last name of their husband's.  

    These are not only four women with Gentile names, but they are four women who married into the Hebrew culture.  Recall if you will, the Law of Moses stated that the People of God were not to marry with tribes that were heathen or pagan.  They were to remain pure by marrying only their own kind.  As a side note, I will only point out that much of today's racism derives from an improper interpretation of that commandment from God to the Hebrew people.  This stipulation from God to remain pure is reflected in Abraham's sending of his servant back to his people to get a bride for his son Isaac.  The same happened with Jacob by his father Isaac.  So here we have four women in the genealogy, two were Canaanites, one was a Moabite, and one was a Hittite.

    Thamar is the first woman to be mentioned, and her story can be found in Genesis 38 where her name is Tamar.  She got into the genealogy due to being a sinner.  Rachab's story can be found in Joshua 2 where her name is Rahab.  She was a harlot who became a believer in Jehovah and helped the spies escape.  She believed, had faith in God.  Ruth is next and her story is found in the Book of Ruth.  She was a Moabite and the Law (Deuteronomy 23:3) stated that Moabites and Ammonites shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.  A man by the name of Boaz fell in love with this beautiful young woman and through marriage brought her into the congregaion of God.  She came into God's family through grace, saved from having to remain outside.  Bathsheba is not mentioned by name, but she is the only one that it could be.  She got into this genealogy because God does not automatically throw overboard one of His children who sins.  God brought David back into the "fold" just as He will any one of us today.  This genealogy thus is a reflection of the process of salvation.  Sinners can become believers through faith in God, through becoming a bride of Christ Jesus they can enter into the congregation of God's people, and although they may sin God seeks them out to bring them back into fellowship with Him.

    One other thing to keep in mind here is that this is not a complete genealogy.  It only reflects a certain lineage.  There were other lineages which simply were not included in the Bible.  What is given to us in the Bible is a specific line of descendants to highlight the coming of Christ in the flesh.  
    That is all for today my friends.  We shall next take a look at why Joseph could not be the natural biological father of Jesus Christ.  Until then, grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Tue, May 10th - 3:03PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    24: And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her; and lay with her:  and she bare him a son, and he called his name Solomon:  and the LORD loved him.

    25: And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD (12:24-25). 

    Jedidiah was the name God gave to Solomon.  It means "beloved of the LORD." 

    26: And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.

    27: And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.

    28: Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it:   otherwise I will take the city, and it will be called after my name.

    29: And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it (12:26-29). 

    David's captain of the army realizes that his king must be present at the taking of such an important city.  He almost forces David to come out of Jerusalem.  A sad thing. 

    Now we come to a chapter which contains some scandalous material.  If it were to happen today it would be splashed all over CNN, Nancy Grace would be commenting upon the lawyers for each side in the court case, and we would hear nothing else but this 24/7 until it was resolved and someone wound up in prison.  We can only imagine what sort of gossip was rampant back in this other time period, but I am willing to bet that many a tongue wagged fast and furious after this atrocity took place.

     1: And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her (13:1). 

    If you are to indulge in sin, you will have to pay the the consequences.  Galatians 6:7 reminds us of this fact of life.  Galatians 6:8 goes on to say that if you sow to the spirit you will reap from the spirit.  The flip side of that record is that to sow to the flesh means that you shall surely reap from the flesh.  Daivd had catered to his flesh.  The blood of Christ may cover it but the consequences still must be suffered through.  Let us see how many "chickens have come home to roost" shall we?

     2: And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.

     3: But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother; and Jonadab was a very subtle man.

     4: And he said to him, Why are you, being the king's son, lean from day to day?  will you not tell me?  And Amnon said to him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister (13:2-4).

    Amnon was obsessed with his feelings towards Tamar.  He couldn't eat, he couldn't work, he couldn't do much of anything at all.  Ah, but he had a friend, his cousin Jonadab, who was a crafty sort of fellow.  Jonadab could see that Amnon was afraid of his brother Absalom and that that prevented him from doing anything about his feelings for Tamar.  Seeking counsel is a good thing, but we must be discerning of their advice to be sure that it really is meant for our welfare.

     5: And Jonadab said to him, Lay down on your bed, and make yourself sick:  and when your father comes to see you, say to him, I pray, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

     6: So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick:  and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said to the king, I pray, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.

     7: Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to your brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat (13:5-7). 

    What a slick plan Jonadab came up with!  All Amnon need do is trump up a feined illness in order to lure Tamar into his home.  Isn't this what happens all of the time in our world today?  People fake things so that the object of their desires will be concerned about them and come to help them, naively unaware of the imminent danger that surrounds them the moment that they enter into the dwelling place of the stalker.  It is predatory in nature.    Next time we shall discover what the outcome of this meeting was.  Until then, grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Mon, May 9th - 10:36PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    Beloved, let us study the opening book of the New Testament and proceed through all four gospel accounts of Jesus Christ' ministry here on earth.  

    There are a few things which we ought to review prior to beginning this study in order to have a proper perspective on the times in which these things did occur.  First, radical changes had taken place in the internal life of the nation of Judea because of their experiences during the intertestamental period.  After the Babylonian captivity, they turned from idolatry to a frantic striving for legal holiness.  The Law became their idol.  The classic Hebrew gave way to the Aramaic in their everyday speech, although the Hebrew was retained for their synagogues.  The synagogue appears to have come into existence after the captivity.  It became the center of their life in Judea and everywhere else they went in the greater world.  There also arose a group of parties which are mentioned frequently in the New Testament and are never heard of in the entire Old Testament:

    PHARISEES - This was the dominant party.  They rose up to defend the Jewish way of life against all foreign influences.  They were very strict legalists who believed in the Old Testament.  They were nationalists in politics and wanted to restore the kingdom to the line of David.  In other words, they were a religio-political party.  Today we would call them fundamental theologically and tothe far right politically.

    SADDUCEES - This was a party made up of the wealthy and socially-minded who wanted to be rid of tradition.  They were liberal in theology and they rejected the supernatural.  They were opposed to the Pharisees.  They were also fairly similar to the Greek Epicureans whose philosophy was "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."  They were trying to obtain the "good life."  They believed that they could overcome their bodily appetites by satisfying them, that by giving them unrestricted reign, they would no longer need to be bothered with.  Today we have a great many people who live their lives believing this philosophy.  If it did not work in the distant past, what makes anyone believe it will work today?  

    SCRIBES - These people were a group of professional expounders of the Law, going back to the days of Ezra.  They had become the "hair-splitters' of the day, being more concerned with the letter of the Law than with the spirit of the Law.  When Herod asked the scribes as to where this Jesus was supposed to be born, they knew exactly where He was to be born.  Did any of them actually go down to Bethlehem to see Christ?  Of course not, they were only interested in the letter of the Law and not anything else.  They were dead spiritually.  

    Friends, the danger lies in just wanting to know the information, facts, and knowledge from the Bible but failing to connect the spiritual dots and make it an integral part of our lives.  We can study the Bible and learn all sorts of basic facts and theological truth, but never allow the Word of God to take possession of our hearts.  We must know the Word, for the Word will set us free.  But we must open up our hearts to the truth of Christ Jesus who is revealed to us through the Word.

    HERODIANS - This was a party in the days of Jesus Christ who were strictly political opportunists.  They desired to keep the Herods on the throne at any cost.  Fluid alliances were the game.

    The intertestamental period was a time when the Old Testament was translated into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt roughly between 285-247 B.C.  Six members from each of the twelve tribes translated it; thus it was called the Septuagint which means "seventy."  This was the translation used by Paul and Christ Jesus apparently quoted from it as well.

    In the Book of Matthew we are confronted with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  Genealogy was extremely important to the Hebrew.  Through genealogies it could be established whether any person had a legitimate claim to a particular tribe.  This was important when it came to serving as a priest in the Temple for that right was reserved for members of the tribe of Levi.  In Ezra 2:62 we find the instance where certain individuals ended up being kicked out of the priesthood for their names were not found within the register of the tribe of Levi.  

    Since Israel was a theocracy, it would make sense for these registers to be kept in the Temple itself so that they would be available to the public.  These records were available to Jesus' critics during His earthly ministry and they never once attacked His lineage.  Obviously they had checked His claims of genealogy and found that He was telling the truth.  

    This is important for Jesus pointed out that the shepherd of the sheep enters in by the door but the thief and the robber climb up another way to get into the sheepfold (John 10:1-2).  That "fold" is the nation Israel.  Jesus didn't climb over the fence, He did not dig a tunnel under the boundary, and He did not come in a back door.  He came in through the gate.  He was born in the lineage of David and in the lineage of Abraham.  He was a member of the tribe of Judah.  He is the fulfillment of everything mentioned in the Old Testament.  Christ's enemies couldn't attack Him on these grounds, they were forced to find some other way to challenge Him, and naturally they did.

    Please be aware that there are two different genealogies in the gospels, one here in Matthew on Joseph's side and then in Luke on Mary's side.  Let us begin studying the "Book of Generation of Jesus Christ."

     1: The book of generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (1:1).  

    That opening phrase is peculiar to Matthew.  We do not find it anywhere else in the New Testament, it is unique.  We can find it way back in the fifth chapter of Genesis, "This is the book of the generations of Adam...(5:1)"  Two books of generations.  How did I get into the book of Adam?  By physical birth.  But in Adam we all die (Romans 5:12), Adam's book is a book of death.

    How do I get into the book of Christ?  Again by birth, but it is a new spiritual birth.  We must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).  That puts us in the Lamb's Book of Life, and we get there by trusting in Jesus Christ and none other.  Everyone appears in the first book.  Not everyone appears in the second book however.  We all are born physically, but not all of us are reborn spiritually.  

    Matthew wasted little time in establishing that Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy.  The son of David, the son of Abraham.  This put the covenants of these two men front and center in the person of Jesus.  All Hebrews understood the significance of this claim, all had been taught Hebrew history while growing up.  Jesus is the "Seed" in whom all nations of the earth shall be blessed, Jesus is the Son who shall establish the kingdom of heaven here on earth and rule from the throne of David.  

    And that starts us off on a race through the pages of these four gospels.  I hope that you will follow along with me as we explore the spiritual depths of these accounts given to us by God's Holy Spirit.  May Christ's grace and peace be the guiding force in your life today, and for ever more.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, May 9th - 12:59PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    13: And David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.  And Nathan said to David, The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

    14: However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blashpheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die (12:13-14). 

    David ought to have physically died for his crime.  God spared David's life but He took the life of the child that resulted from his union with Bathsheba.  God reinforces the principle that there are consequences for committing sin, there will be a great cost.

    How great an opportunity did David create for rebellious people to utter slander against God?  People continue today to point out this incident and ask, "How could God choose such a man as this?"  They grin as they await our response.  The enemy continues to utilize David's indiscretions centuries after their conclusion.  We must always seriously consider the consequences of all of our actions before we choose to do them.  Whatever we plant we inevitably must reap later on. 

    15: And Nathan departed to his house.  And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare to David, and it was very sick.

    16: David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

    17: And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth:  but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them (12:15-17). 

    NOW David goes before God humbly with fasting and supplication.  Too bad he did not do this before calling for Bathsheba to come to his palace.  He pleads for God to spare his infant son's life.  But God has already carried out judgment.  Now, do not think that God is dealing unfairly with this child.  It is very easy to think that this innocent child has not done anything wrong to warrent being snuffed out.  True.  But consider what sort of life he would be faced with in this royal household with a mother who harbors ill feelings towards the child's father.  A father who will look at his son and be perpetually reminded of the sinful acts he did commit in conceiving the child.  Love will be almost impossible to show to each other in this dynamic.  God elects to rebuke David and correct his sins by bringing this infant son back to heaven.  It is an act of mercy and grace concerning this child.  Instead of having to deal with a mother and father who do not love each other and the strife that that relationship would inundate him with, God chooses to take him back to heaven.

       18: And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he would not listen to our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
       19: But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
       20: Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat (12:18-20).

    The king's servants are flabbergasted at his response to the news that his infant son has indeed died.  Before the child's death David had been beside himself with grief refusing to even eat.  Now, David has resigned himself to reality:  the consequences of his sins have matured and born their just fruit.  The time for mourning was over.  The time for asking God to spare the child's life was long past.  The time to resume life had come.  David got up, washed himself, changed his dirty clothes, and sat down to eat some food.  Why?

       21: Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that you have done? you did fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, you did rise and eat bread.
       22:
    And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who knows whether Jehovah will not be gracious to me, that the child may live?
       23: But now he is dead, why should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me (12:21-23).

    Now, read this passage very carefully.  David knew that his infant son was in heaven with God.  The child was saved.  We know this for David states plainly that the child will not come back to earth to be with its father but that David one day will be reunited with his son with God.  Why continue mourning when the child is in glory and no longer suffers from anything?  David had a very clear idea of the destination of souls who believe in God, who trust in God.  David understood that when death came to him, he would be reunited in heaven with his son.

    Matthew 18:10 tells us that each child has an angel which resides in the presence of God in heaven.  When a baby dies that baby goes immediately to be with God.  Each child that dies before they become able to discern right from wrong goes directly to heaven to be with God. 

    With David, we can rejoice when any of our children meet with death, for we can know that they are with God and that they suffer no longer.  But once they reach an age when they understand right and wrong they must choose God or Satan. 

    Next time we will see the birth of Solomon and the war against the Ammonites who had previously hired the Syrians to fight with them against Israel.  May the Son shine brightly through your life, His love flowing out through all of your relationships.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, May 6th - 7:03PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    20: Now the God of peace, that brought our Lord Jesus back from the dead, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
    21: Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (13:20-21). 

    We find at the outset of these two verses the title of "God of peace."  Jesus Christ was found to be the way to reconciliation and peace between God and mankind and between man and man.  God desires peace to exist everywhere, and at the appointed time in our future He shall execute a decision which shall institute peace and reconciliation across the earth.

    We then find reference made to God's having resurrected Christ from the dead, Christ being our Great Shepherd through the blood of the new, eternal covenant executed by Christ on the cross.  In John 10:11 Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd.  He calls Himself this due to the fact that He was sent to give His life for the "sheep."  We also see this in Psalm 23 where He leads us beside still waters and leads us to the place where green grass grows and is tender.  This means the Word of God.  Then in Psalm 24 He is presented to us as the Chief Shepherd.  "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that does not fade away" (I Peter 5:4).  So, He died in the past as the Good Shepherd; He is the Great Shepherd today; and He is coming back for His sheep as the Chief Shepherd one day. 

    "Make you perfect" is what the purpose of this entire epistle has been.  We have been told, "Let us go on to perfection."  Christ Jesus fully intends for us to go on to maturation, to becoming full-grown children of God.  We can't remain babes in Christ, we must grow up into spiritual adults. 

    We find that we are to be working to do His will in our lives.  We are to allow Him to make us perfect in every good work for He is working in us that which is well-pleasing to Him.  We can't be trying to exert our will, supplanting God's will for us.  We are to surrender ourselves to God and trust Him to work those things in our lives which shall be everlasting.

    22: And I beseech you, brothers, suffer the word of exhortation:  for I have written a letter unto you in few words (13:22). 

    To Paul this letter felt like it was written in very few words.  He must have felt that there was so much more which he could have written down for them.   But he achieved God's purpose here:  exhortation of the Hebrew believers everywhere. 

    23: Know you that your brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you (13:23). 

    Apparently Timothy had been in prison for a time.  But he had recently been set free from his chains and would be joining Paul when he was also set free.  Both men then planned on visiting these Hebrew believers.

    24: Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.  They of Italy salute you.
    25: Grace be with you all. Amen (13:24-25). 

    This letter may very well have been written in Italy, or had very recently been in Italy.  If it was Paul who wrote these words then we know that it was written in Italy while he was still in prison.  Paul closed this letter with a benediction which we all ought to memorize and use on a very regular basis:  Grace be with you all.  Amen.

    This finishes the Book of Hebrews study beloved.  May grace and peace be yours this upcoming weekend.  What shall we study next?  We shall find out in a day or two!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, May 5th - 9:33PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    14: For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
    15: By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name (13:14-15).  

    We are informed of the reality of our situation:  there is no city here on earth that is enduring for all eternity in which we may live.  We must seek out New Jerusalem which is still to come in the future.  We, as children of God, are priests and can bring sacrifices to God.  There are four sacrifices which we can bring as a believer: 1) We can sacrifice our person (Romans 12:1).  2) We can sacrifice our purse (II Corinthians 8:1-5).  What we spend our money upon highlights what is important to us.  3)  We can offer the sacrifice of praise as mentioned here in Hebrews 13.  4) We can also offer the sacrifice of performance or doing good, and this can be found in the very next verse here in Hebrews 13.

    16: But to do good and to communicate forget not:  for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (13:16). 

    When you take a plate of food to that family whose mother is laid up in bed you are a priest of Christ offering up a sacrifice to God.  It is well pleasing to God and He delights in your doing that act of kindness and thoughtfulness.  Christ Jesus wants believers to walk to where the needy live, to bring them kindness and love in His name.  He wants to walk there in your shoes.

    17: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:  for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:  for that is unprofitable for you (13:17).  

    Verse seven had this same thought, didn't it?  If your pastor is a man/woman of God who is preaching the Word of God then you are to obey the Word of God as he has given it to you.  It is better to not hear the Word of God than to hear it and not obey it.  Pastors, deacons, elders, and teachers of the Word are there to watch over our souls, looking out for our welfare and our best interests.  By accepting those leadership roles they must give an account before the Living God one day for their actions/choices.  

    18: Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly (13:18).  

    The writer of this epistle knows that he and his associates were living honestly, having clear consciences before God.  He requested that these Hebrew believers pray for them, that they might continue to lead properly and continue to please Christ Jesus.  

    19: But I beseech you rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner (13:19).  

    Paul wished to return to them as soon as was possible, but it would require these believers to indulge in concerted prayer.  Historically Paul was in prison at this time of writing this letter to the Hebrew believers and could not simply up and travel to be with them.  He required prayer to set him free from his physical prison.

    That is all for tonight beloved.  Next time I shall cover the final verses of this chapter and complete study of the Book of Hebrews.  Hope to find you here!  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric 


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    Wed, May 4th - 1:20PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     7: And Nathan said to David, You are the man.  Thus says the LORD God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul;

     8: And I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given to you such and such things (12:7-8). 

     It takes a brave man to confront a king with his sins.  Nathan is such a man.  What will be David's response?  Mary, Queen of Scots, would declare that she was above the law; Charles I would have thrown Bathsheba to the wolves; James II would have hired witnesses to swear away Bathsheba's character; Mohammed would have produced a revelation authorizing both crimes; Charles II would have publicly abolished the seventh commandment; Queen Elizabeth would have suspended Nathan.  One Duke of Windsor would probably have given up his throne for Bathsheba.  There have been some American Presidents who would have repealed the Ten Commandments and then appointed Nathan to the Supreme Court.  But David did none of these things.

    David had forgotten, had lost sight of, the fact that God would have given David anything his heart wanted, but instead, David longed for something which was not, and could not be his.  Our "new morality" today would say that this was not a sin.  God still says that this is a sin, and the man/woman of God can't get away with it.

     9: Why therefore have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight?  you have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon (12:9). 

    Nathan spits it out quite frankly to the king.  He specifically identifies Uriah and Bathsheba, and how Uriah died.  Do you think that the court became so silent that a pin could have been heard if it were to be dropped?  Think those people present were shocked?  Nathan comes into court and flatly accuses the king of one of the most brutal crimes written in the books of their day.  Their king has done the things that their God has said "You shall not do!"

    10: Now therefore the sword will never leave from your house; because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

    11: Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house, and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give then to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun (12:10-11).   

    So is it possible for a believer to sin?  Yes!  But when we sin we despise God.  Doing this brings judgment from God down upon us, corrective action from heaven will come, make no mistake about that.  God is not being vindictive here, He is not striking out in uncontrollable anger.  God is executing justice perfectly, wisely, and perhaps even mercifully.  God informs David that evil will arise from out of his own home.  Shortly we are to discover what the form of this evil was, but the one thing which we fail to see is David crying out to God as to why this evil has befallen him.  David knows why he is experiencing evil from within his family, it is because he did that which was wrong, he sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, and God.  And in this next verse God proclaims His verdict against David: 

    12: For you did it secretly:  but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun (12:12). 

    God does not intend for David's sin to remain behind closed doors.  God wants everyone to know what has happened, and what the consequences will be.  Next time we will find out what immediately shall happen as part of David's consequences to his previous sinful choices.  I pray that Christ is real to you and that you know and trust that your salvation through Him is real.  Grace and peace be yours today!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, May 3rd - 12:52PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but its unwillingness to share."

                          ~Roy L. Smith

    "What on earth will today's younger generation be able to tell their children they had to do without?"

                          ~Chicago Daily News

     1: And the LORD sent Nathan to David.  And he came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

     2: The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

     3: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up:  and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter (12:1-3). 

    Verse one introduces us to Nathan, who is a very brave man of God.  He could easily have been executed for his audacity to speak this way to the king of Israel.  But this did not force Nathan to hesitate in performing his mission, as set before him by God.

    God gave Nathan a story which he was to relate to king David.  The intention was to reveal to the king his own reflection.  We need to remember that the Word of God is a mirror which reveals to us the reality of who we actually are.  It clears away the fog, the haze, the misconceptions.  So Nathan has been sent by God to hold up to David's face a good old fashioned mirror in order for the king to get a solid look at himself. 

    This story highlights the huge gap between the rich and the poor.  The rich have much and the poor little.  This lamb was all that the poor man and his family had while the rich man had very many lambs, probably more than he could count.  Here we have placed before our eyes the historical problem of mankind:  the conflict between the wealthy and the poor.  Those who have being unwilling to share with those who lack.  Different terminology can be inserted but it remains the same conflict. 

     4: And there came a traveller to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come to him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him(12:4). 

    A familiar story, is it not?  The rich man had plenty, but still took what the poor man had instead.  The rich often are skinflints, they refuse to part with what is theirs.  For example, how many in the American Congress are champions to the poor?  They talk the talk but they do not walk the walk.  No politician is likely to become a champion of the poor for it is not a choice which will bring power to the person who does.  No Congressman or woman is willing to forego their paycheck until the poor people of this nation are given decent jobs and benefits.  They are unwilling to redo healthcare, to redo tax policy, and to redo spending because they say that it will hurt the poor.  What they have been doing has hurt no one but the middleclass and the poor!  Time has come to get off the commode and flush all of the wasteful spending down the drain and begin reallocating funds in new directions in order to correct the course of this nation.  Does Congress really care how much higher fuel costs are destroying jobs and families?  The rich seldom care about such things.  Fuel costs affect retail prices of products in our marketplace and will become so much higher that no one will want to purchase anything except the necessities of life.  Where will tourism be?  Where will the poor be?  Anyone in Washingtom really care?  I can't hear anything coming out of our nation's capital to indicate that they do care. 

    So political leaders institute poverty programs and continue to tax the poor.  The programs are not well designed, they do not enable the poor to become wealthier nor do they aid the poor in becoming independent financially.  They force the poor to become dependent upon the government in order to survive.  That is unChristian in philosophy.

     5: And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD lives, the man that has done this thing shall surely die.

     6: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity (12:5-6). 

    Nathan's story has enraged David and the king offers up his solution to this problem.  Restitution must be done to the aggrieved!  It is as if the king is thinking that Nathan has come to present a public case before him, seeking his counsel upon it.    David has a sense of justice, he can clearly see the sin in this "other man's" life even if he has remained blind to the sin in his own.  He even sounds a bit like a preacher here.  David is willing to preach to someone else, but not to himself.  How many of us are just, like, him? 

    Next time I will finish this accounting and we will see how specific Nathan becomes in spelling out what king David has done wrong.  May our God bring you grace and peace this day.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, May 2nd - 12:48PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    26: And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

    27: And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.  But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD (11:26-27).

    Many unbelievers focus upon David's sin and completely ignore the fact that God did not condone David's actions concerning Bathsheba and Uriah.  David did not "get away" with his sins.  Up to now he has had many victories, but from now on, until his dying day, he will have trouble.  His sins are coming home to roost, and he must face up to the consequences of his choices in the past.  It is the same with each of us today.

    We can sin.  I could get drunk.  I could get stoned out of my mind.  But I could not get away without paying the consequences of my actions.  The man/woman of the world can get away with it many times; God does not whip Satan's children.  But He sure does correct His children when they sin.  He takes us out to the old woodshed for some one on one.  Take it from someone who has already been taken out to the woodshed by God.  God does not allow believers to "get away" with sin, He corrects us every time.  David did not get away with anything, God was displeased with him and He was going to do something about it.

    David probably thought that everything had finally blown over after Uriah's death and the subsequent marriage of David to Bathsheba.  But he is not the only one who knows what has taken place.  Joab, his captain, knows exactly what David had done to Uriah.  A number of messengers/advisors who had gone to Bathsheba initially to invite her to the king's palace knew what had gone on between the king and Bathsheba.  Beyond those few people no one else knows what David had done.  Would any of them gossip?  Would any of them innocently let it slip out during conversation?  David had to have been somewhat nervous whenever he took court and there were some 200 people before him.  How many of these people know about Uriah and Bathsheba?  But after awhile I imagine he began to relax and thought, "I have gotten away with it!" 

    Beloved, it mattered not a wit if anyone within Jerusalem knew about what David had done.  His secret sin, and ours today, are wide open to God.  It has been put this way, "Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven."  God knows everything, even if no one on earth knows anything.

    Now if we were to stop reading at this point we would conclude that David has sinned, and that he has gotten away with it unscathed.  But we do need to keep on reading.  God chooses to not speak directly to David but to go through His prophet, Nathan.  Nathan goes and confronts the King.  David must be reminded that what a man sows so he reaps.

    That is all for today my friends.  Next time we shall find out exactly what transpires between Nathan and the king.  May you have grace and peace in your heart this day.  May you faithfully pray to God, and to do so fervently, for Him to increase your belief. 

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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