Tue, Sep 16th - 10:19PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass, that one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon Him with the elders, And they spoke to Him, saying, Tell us, by what authority do you do these things? or who is he that gave you this authority? And Jesus answered and said to them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer Me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned among themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then didn't you believe him? But if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell from where it was. And Jesus said to them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things (20:1-8).'
We see here that it is unbelief versus Jesus. Jesus is teaching and preaching the gospel to the people inside of the temple. He is sharing the good news of the kingdom of God and the great hope for mankind through repentance. The Word of God was being driven home to the need of the human heart. But we must then note what happened. The religionists stepped forward along with the elders after listening to what Jesus was saying. Their motives differed from those of the rest of the crowd. They had hard, critical, and unbelieving hearts. They had a fear of worldly ridicule, disapproval, and unacceptance. They also had a concern for livelihood, security, profession, status, and position. These men were not interested in discovering the truth about Christ Jesus. They were looking to discredit Him before all of the people. They wanted the peoples' loyalty in total, unwilling to share that with anyone else. The truth was of no importance to these men. Their ears and eyes were deliberately closed to the truth.
Here's another fact about unbelief. It caused people to question the authority of Jesus, just who He really was. This was the basic question to ask, it was what probed into the very nature of Jesus. What was His authority, who sent Him, who empowered Him, who gave Him the right to do what He was doing? Where had He come from? These questions continue to be asked to this very day in our culture. These leaders wanted to know what right Jesus had to interfere with their lives and area of responsibility. They were the authorized guardians and rulers of the temple and of the People of God. "What authority do you do these things by?" referred to Him coming into the temple and casting out the market traders; He had healed the blind, the lame, the unclean, and He had accepted the homage of small kids proclaiming Him to be the Messiah. We ask nothing different of Him today. By what authority does Christ do works of ministry, healing, teaching, raising the dead, resurrection, foretelling the future, calming the storms of nature, dying and fulfilling Scripture, and ascending into heaven to the right hand of God? By what authority could He claim to be the promised Messianic King by entering Jerusalem the way that He had, to be the Head, the God of the temple: "My house.", to be the Light of the world to the blind and the Messianic Healer of the lame, to be the Messianic fulfillment of Scripture by receiving the praise of the children?
These religious rulers knew exactly who Jesus was claiming to be. They simply rejected His claim and refused to believe the evidence laid before their eyes. They chose obstinate unbelief. Now, Jesus could have claimed to be acting by His own authority. This would have made Him an ego-maniac or a great imposter. Of course, this claim would have lead them to discredit Him immediately and arrested Him for causing so much civil unrest. Jesus could have claimed to be acting by the authority of God, to be of and from God. This was the claim that Jesus made time and time again prior to this. But if He made it then and there they would have arrested Him immediately for blasphemy. They would claim that God would never give orders to cause such turmoil in the temple and among His People. These are all questions that each person today must ask and find answers for. Jesus simply forced the religious rulers of the day to decide if John the Baptist was from heaven or of men.
John the Baptist had pointed directly at Jesus and proclaimed to the crowds of people around him, "Behold the Lamb of God!" "I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God." If John was from God, a true messenger of God, then Jesus was the true Messiah, the Son of God. This would also mean that His message of the Kingdom of God, of hope for people through repentance, was true. We must not overlook the fact that they 'reasoned among themselves.' They were not searching their hearts and minds for the purpose of finding the truth of this matter placed squarely before them. No, they had already made up their minds before even approaching Jesus this particular day. Pre-conceived ideas held the day in their minds and in their hearts. They suffered from the problem of obstinate unbelief. They refused to give up this world, unwilling to deny self, one's own desires and pre-conceived ideas. People love money, status, acceptance, and possessions. They love to satisfy their personal lusts.
People must stop and seriously consider the thousands of lives that have been changed through the centuries by Christ. No greater evidence exists for the deity of Christ than that thousands of people would lay down their lives in testimony of His transforming power and grace. A third possibility must also be considered here. It was one of indecision and silence. It is always tragic when a person's choice is to save face and not to discover the truth. To be so concerned with position, esteem, security, and public opinion that one ignores or denies the truth is tragic. These religious rulers chose expediency, to be deliberately ignorant. They did not wish to open themselves up to be shamed, embarrassed, and ridiculed. To confess Jesus would automatically mean that they had been dreadfully wrong all along. It would have meant public disclosure. So they chose denial of Jesus. Confessing John was of God would have forced them to confess and acknowledge Jesus, and that could not happen at any cost.
Today the tragedy that confronts Christians is that most people will choose expediency rather principle, to play if safe rather than stand for the truth, to say "I don't know" rather than to speak the truth. We see this glaring error in our politicians, our law enforcement agencies, in our courtrooms, in our school systems, and in our medical communities. It is running rampant in our families and in our local communities. We must be very alert to keep it from contaminating our communities of faith. Who are willing to be the watchmen and women of our families, our congregations, and our communities? Is it you? Is it me?
Grace and peace be with you all.
Mon, Sep 15th - 9:22AM
Study In Luke
This is where all of my future postings will be: Here are the details on groupurlPursuing_God:
Group home page: https://groups.yahoo.com/group/groupurlPursuing_God
Group email address: groupurlPursuing_God@yahoogroups.com
Once this study in Luke is finished, I will be posting on my Groups page at Yahoo Groups. Right now I have begun the study in the Book of John and you are welcome to go there and follow along with that study as well! God bless you all for visiting my blogs here!
Tue, Sep 9th - 9:54AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold things there, and them that bought things there; saying to them, "It is written, My house is the house of prayer: by you have made it a den of thieves." And He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him. And they could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him (19:45-48)."
Jesus became angry at what was happening within the confines of the temple. The temple was being abused, turned into just an extension of the marketplace outside. This is rather important to us today since the church is the temple of God for each saved person is the temple of God. Individual bodies are not to be abused as well as the greater body of believers, the church. Saved people must not allow themselves to simply become an extension of society's marketplace nor is the church to become such as well. The church has always been meant to be radically different from the society in which it is to be found.
No matter what mankind's treatment is like, Jesus has proclaimed the church to be God's, to be His Holy Temple, where He is ever present. The church is the body of believers set apart for prayer, worship, communion with God, and for service to each other and to the surrounding community. So how and why did Jesus Christ cleanse the temple? First of all, He threw out those who profaned and exploited the temple for personal gain. This was taking place in the outer court of the temple, the court of the Gentiles, which was where the Gentiles came to worship God. The religious rulers had decided to turn it into nothing more than a commercial marketplace owned and operated by the priests. They used it for selling and buying sacrificial animals which included oxen, sheep, doves, and pigeons. It was also utilized for the inspection of the animals' purity and for the exchanging of foreign currency. Every Passover season found thousands of pilgrims coming to the temple from all over the known world. It was nearly impossible for a pilgrim to transport his own animal for sacrifice in the temple, but if he did, he had to get it passed by the inspector, which cost some money. Of course, there would of necessity be bickering back and forth over the appropriate amount which created an overall atmosphere of utter chaos. This outer court of the Gentiles probably resembled today's trade-shows: large, crowded, extremely noisy, with the added aroma of the presence of large numbers of animals and the exchange of money from hand to hand.
At the great feasts hundreds of thousands of animals were sold and the High Priest and other priests were not above engaging in the commercialism of their day. This commercialism is what Jesus forced out of the temple courtyard. Another reason for His extreme reaction was the fact that the religious rulers were effectively preventing any Gentiles from coming and worshiping Jehovah. The priests, and the Jewish people, found Gentiles to be "unclean." They did not wish to associate with them at all. Jehovah had specifically designated this outer court as the area where Gentiles could come and worship Him, so obviously He would become quite angry over what was being done in this part of the temple.
For us today we must beware that our attitude towards the "church" does not slide down into the morass of worldliness that was evident in the temple of Jesus' day. The temple or church is where He dwells. The temple was a physical location while today the church is a body of believers found worldwide. Each believer is now "My house." Each believer is where God now dwells and where one can find His presence. Because Christ is omnipresent(everywhere) what could Jesus have meant? Perhaps it is so simple as, the church is something that has been set apart (sanctified) especially for God. It is a very special group of people designated for Him; they are different from all other people, different in that they are set aside for God's very own presence to be known. This was done initially with the Hebrew people, and now it has been done with the body of Christ's believers, the Church. We must also remember that Jesus also said elsewhere that the temple is related so closely to God that it actually reveals and reflects God's nature. This seen in His demand that people not swear by the temple. Why? Because the temple or church is God's, of His plan and purpose; therefore, the church is of Him, of His very nature (Matthew 23:16). "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4)."
The word "My" is possessive: the temple belongs to God. He possesses it and owns it. The people in the temple are only ministers, not owners; therefore, whatever may be done in the temple is to be what God wants done. His house is to be operated as He wills, not as the people will. His servants are to do His bidding, go about His business, not violating, profaning, or exploiting His house for personal gain. Jesus called the temple "the house of prayer." His words are an actual quotation from two Scriptures: "Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7)." "Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?(Jeremiah 7:11)" It is vital to notice that the temple or church is not called a house of sacrifice but a house of prayer. It is also not a house of offerings, teaching, prophecy, or preaching. Everything within the House of God is to lead to prayer, the worship of and communion with the Father. Perhaps this is where you could go and find my other blog in which I have been exploring what is wrong with our Sunday worship each week. Is everything within our worship service leading to prayer? Is it leading inevitably to the worship and communion with the Father? People are to pray everywhere, but they are to go to the temple or church to pray also. The church is the very special people and place set aside for God. It is where all of God's people come together; therefore, it is a very special people and place for prayer to happen. "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker (Psalm 95:6)." "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth (Psalm 96:9)." "And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also (Zechariah 8:21).'
The temple or church is not to be used as a commercial place to do business. It is not to be used for buying or selling, marketing and retailing, stealing and cheating. No profanity is to be found there. It is to be a place of sanctity, refined and purified by the presence of God Himself. It is to be a place of quietness and meditation, a place set aside for worship, not for the attainment of more personal wealth. Christ Jesus used the temple as a place for teaching. He taught daily in the temple. It was the place where people had gathered for the express purpose of hearing the Word of God, so He went and met their need and fulfilled that purpose. Cleansing the temple was not enough, He was compelled to be about God's business, that of proclaiming God's Word in God's House. What about each of us today? Are feeling compelled to be about God's business/ Are we proclaiming His Word to the world around us/ Jesus was about God's business while others were still misusing the temple and plotting against Him. He was busy carrying out the purpose of the temple while others continued to profane and abuse it. He used the temple for teaching, teaching which led people into prayer and worship and communion with God, not into worship and communion with other people.
What were the results of Jesus' cleansing of the temple? Well, the religious leaders were extremely angry and sought to kill Him. They were the chief priests and Scribes, those who were professional religionists. They were also people who were from the ruling class of their society. These leaders weren't merely looking to scare Jesus into shutting up, no, they meant to utterly destroy Him (apolesai). Have we ever seen such actions within the church over the centuries being employed against believers who are speaking out against the religious rulers? Why do religious rulers become so disturbed? It is because they begin to lose control of the "temple" and they begin to lose control of the people. i can understand why unbelievers point fingers at the organized church denominations and accuse us of simply wanting to control people and to gain power. It has already happened in history. Jesus invaded the temple, their temple, cleansed it; and He was teaching the true gospel of the Kingdom of God and righteousness to the people. The religionists were losing money and their own personal ideas and control were being replaced. They were unwilling to accept the truth and to surrender their lives to their Messiah. They committed the exact same two mistakes that all people of all generations make: They let their greed keep them from accepting Christ and their self-confidence and self-righteousness from allowing them from accepting Christ. Most people believe that they are too good to be kept out of heaven by God.
But the people were attentive to Jesus' words. They were struck by His words. This did not mean that they were accepting what He was saying as being the Truth from God. It was His popularity among the people that kept the religious rulers from simply arresting Him out in a public place. They were forced to figure out the proper place and time to carry out their terrible deed. So, how many people give rapt attention to Jesus' words today? How many of those people truly are accepting what they are hearing? If the majority of them accepted Christ as God made manifest in human flesh, would we experience so much opposition to the gospel today? Would our society be different? Would there be far less evil and wickedness being perpetrated in our world? This is all food for thought and pondering.
Grace and peace this day for all of you!
Sat, Sep 6th - 7:02AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it. Saying, "If you had known, even you, at least in this day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall cast a trench around you, and keep you in on every side. And shall level you to the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another; because you did not know the time of your visitation from God. (19:41-44)"
Christ wept over the plight of Jerusalem and her people. He had revealed Himself to the people, provided them with miraculous proof to support His claims, and the religious rulers still rejected Him. We can know that Jesus had great love for Jerusalem by reading Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 13:34-35. The Greek word eklausen means to burst into tears, to weep out loud, to sob, to wail, to mourn. Jesus was literally heartbroken over the state of affairs within this city and nation. As He "beheld the city" He was gazing upon it with deep intensity. He was considering, regarding the city in its tragic moral state. Notice that as Jesus stood weeping for the city that it was engaged in the excitement of feasting and fellowshipping in a jovial, party-like atmosphere. It was like that of a present day convention or even big sporting event at a stadium. Thousands upon thousands of people getting all worked up for partying and tailgating, eagerly looking forward to the upcoming entertainment upon the field below them.
Why was Jesus so upset over the city and its inhabitants? It was stated by Himself: the city and its people had rejected the Way of peace, the Messiah Himself had been refused acknowledgment and acceptance. Jesus did not cry because He was about to suffer and die within the city. He did not cry over His own demise upon the cross. Jesus wept because the people simply did not know what they were doing, that they were rejecting the call to walk the path of peace. The things that make for peace had been revealed to the people of Jerusalem previously, but now those things would be hidden from them. The people had refused to see the truth and so they would now be unable to see at all. God had counted Jerusalem as having lost its opportunity for redemption as a whole. Generation after generation had God shown patience with them all, now the time of judgment had come. God was to turn them over to their blindness and allow their enemies to destroy them.
What does peace mean in the Bible? The Greek word eriene means to bind together, to join and weave together. It means that one is bound, woven, joined together with oneself, with God, and with others. The Hebrew word is shalom. It means freedom from trouble and much, much more. It means experiencing the highest good, enjoying the very best, possessing all the inner good possible. One can find two types of peace spoken of in the Scriptures: the peace of the world. This is a peace of escapism, of avoiding trouble, of refusing to face things, of unreality. Then there is the peace of Christ/God. This a bosom peace, a peace deep within. It is tranquility of mind, a composure, a peace that settles and strengthens the believer even through the most horrible circumstances and situations. It is so much more than simple feelings. This bosom peace of God's is the peace of conquest. It is independent of conditions and environments. It is something that sorrow, danger, suffering, or experience can't take away. It is the peace of perfect assurance. It brings unquestionable confidence that one's life is in the hands of God and that all things will work out for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. God's bosom peace is also the peace of intimacy with God. It is the peace of the highest good. It is the peace that settles the mind, strengthens the will, and establishes the heart.
There is also the "source of peace." Peace always originates out of reconciliation. Peace is found only in the reconciliation created by Jesus the Christ. Peace always has to do with personal relationships: a person's relationship with themselves, with God, and with other people. Here are some of the means for us to secure peace:
1. By justification (Romans 5:1)
2. By loving God's Word (Psalm 119:165, John 16:33).
3. By praying about everything (Philippians 4:7).
4. By being spiritually minded (Romans 8:6).
5. By keeping one's mind upon God (Isaiah 26:3, Philippians 4:8).
6. By keeping God's commandments (Isaiah 48:18, Philippians 4:9).
It can be readily seen that peace is divided up into (1) Peace with God (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:14-17), (2) the Peace of God (Luke 7:50, Philippians 4:6-7) and (3) Peace from God (Romans 1:7, I Corinthians 1:3).
Finally, I discover the fate of Jerusalem and of the Nation of Israel. This city was to have a trench dug all around it, providing protection to the Roman army that would besiege it. Sharpened stakes were rammed into the dirt of the embankment created by this trench, facing towards the city as protection against any counter attack the Roman army. This city was to be utterly destroyed, completely demolished and razed to the ground. Can you picture the effort required to do such a thing to an entire city? Then, the people of the city were to be personally judged. This is emphasized by the word "you" being used ten times in two verses (42-43). Cities and nations are judged by God, but it is the people who are at fault and who shall be personally judged by their behavior.
Christ's prophetic words were literally fulfilled by the attack of Titus in 70 A.D. In 66 A.D. the Jews revolted and the Roman army was swift to retaliate, but the city was difficult to take. Primarily due to having been built upon a high hill and enclosed by a stout wall. The Roman army besieged the city, preventing anyone from entering or leaving as well as fresh supplies of food from entering. The people trapped inside faced famine, pestilence, false deliverers (messiahs), betrayal, murder, revolt, rebellion, and hatred. The ancient writer Josephus says over 1,000,000 people died and 97,000 were taken captive. The horrors of this siege are described by him in Josephus Complete Works. Jerusalem is given to us as a prime example of the fate of any nation that rejects God. It is simply doomed to fall. In the case of the Jewish people they rejected the day of the Messiah, the day of their salvation. For their rejection of Christ Jesus their day of visitation came. God had always visited Israel, they had the revelation of God Himself down through the centuries, of God's Word, the Scriptures of the Old Testament, of God's messengers and prophets, and of God's active presence in the lives of believers. They also had had the very presence of God's Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of God Himself, and they had rejected Him.
As it turned out, they did not know Him, and there was no excuse for them. Based upon their history they ought to have recognized that God was at work once again among His Chosen People. It had been three to four hundred years since the end of the Old Testamental era and the last prophet had appeared. The evidence was clear and strong that the day of prophecy had been opened once more when John the Baptist came from out of the desert. The promised Messiah, the day of israel's salvation had come, but the people rejected the evidence before their eyes. Therefore they were doomed by their choices, and Jesus wept because they refused to see the day of their salvation. Oh, how many people today still refuse to see the day of their salvation, that reject the evidence that is right before their eyes. Oh, how many more people must physically die and end up eternally separated from the Living God? How many are to be taken off into captivity? How many must be forced to witness the utter destruction of their communities, their nations, of their world? Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, but for the doom of our world we simply need open up the Book of Revelation to discover how many billions of lost souls will be sent off into eternity, an eternity bereft of the Living God who has offered His hand in love to each and every one of them.
Grace and peace be yours.
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