Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 31 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is James 1; Song of Solomon 4; Lamentations 5.
Today's scripture focus is  Luke 20:9-18.

Parable of the Vine-growers

9 And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

I always see myself as being at least in danger of being one of the vine-growers in this story.  I know what the Bible says.  I've listened to hundreds of sermons and services, devotionals, etc.  I've listened to and sung thousands of hymns and choruses.  And yet, while I know the message and understand it and even believe it, there are times where I am a petulant 7-year-old who wants to do what I want regardless of what God wants.  Even though I know that what God wants is always better for me than what I want.

The following excerpt from Mark Driscoll's sermon, The Father of a Murdered Son, talks about something I have worked on in the past, continue to work on, and will need to keep trying to remember for the rest of my life, because I know how easy it is to lose sight of and forget.

Anything you want to be or do all starts with Jesus. Don’t let him be the rejected stone. And this is really the problem that some of you, quite frankly, are having practically with your life. You built your life, forgot Jesus and now you’re trying to find a way to slip him in. It doesn’t work like that. 

Some of you need to really honestly consider dismantling much, if not all, of your whole life. Say, “You know what? I’m trying to squeeze Jesus into my time, into my budget, into my life. Rather than squeezing him in, what if he went first? What if my first priority was get to know Jesus? What if my first priority was devotion to Jesus and what if I built my budget off of that? And my schedule off of that? And my career off of that? And my relationships off of that? And my marriage off of that? And children, if God should bless me with them, off of that? And grandkids off of that? And my life off of that? And my ministry off of that? And my death off of that?”

What if we started with Jesus? Some of you really need to consider what does it look like to just disassemble it all and start over with Jesus first. ‘Cause the point is this, it’s just like when you construct a building, a bad foundation means eventually it leans and then it collapses. You get the wrong cornerstone, it can’t hold the weight, the angles get crooked and the architectural metaphor is it’s only a matter of time before it crumbles. And life is like that.

God loves you and God wants your life to be fruitful back to the original analogy. He wants it to grow, and he wants it to be one that works for you to live in to honor him. And you can’t build a life where Jesus is not in your life or just a part of your life. He has to be the cornerstone of your life. And Jesus says, “If you don’t see me as cornerstone and you don’t build your life on me,” he said, “then I become a different kind of rock to you. I become the kind of rock that falls on you and crushes you.”

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 20:19-26.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  James 2; Song of Solomon 5; Ezekiel 1-2.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday, October 30th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Hebrews 13; Song of Solomon 3; Lamentations 3-4
Today's scripture focus is Luke 20:1-8

Luke 20:1-8

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

20 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Rejecting the King's Authority
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Angry Jesus Cleanses the Temple

I first heard a new twist on this passage from a Ray Vanderlaan teaching session.  I can't remember which one it was, but I found an online sermon that referenced the same things.  I found this fascinating. I'm sorry it's a bit long, but it's extremely interesting.  And there's more in the rest of the sermon that is fascinating as well, if you have time to read it.
In Jesus day there were two types of rabbis. The first were called Torah teachers. The word Torah is used to speak of the first five books of the Bible. Torah teachers were people who were considered to be masters of the Torah, which meant they knew the first five books of the Bible by memory. Secondly, they were master teachers, they could use parables and alliteration. They were recognized by the community as teachers of God's Word. A Torah teacher could only teach what the community believed was right. They could not come up with new teachings. A Torah teacher would teach in three parts like this:
1. It is written ­ he would quote the text by memory.
2. And that means ­ he would explain using parables or stories.
3. According to ­ and then he would quote one of their Rabbis as authority to the meaning he had given for the text.
These men were brilliant teachers but were limited by the authority of others. In Jesus world there was also a small group of what are called Rabbis with semikhah. We know of about a dozen of them by name that lived from 30 B.C to A.D. 70. They were not common, and they didn't exist in Judea.
What is a Rabbi with semikhah? They were masters of the Torah and the Haftorah. Haftorah is a Hebrew word that simply means: "the rest." They were masters of the whole Old Testament. The Jews call it the Tanakh, which is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text's three parts: 1.Torah, meaning "Instruction"­ "The five books of Moses," also called the "Pentateuch". 2. Nevi'im, meaning "Prophets." 3. Ketuvim, meaning "Writings" or "Hagiographa".
These Rabbis knew the entire Tanakh by memory. How many verses could you recite right now by memory from the Old Testament? Think of the time commitment to memorize the entire Tanakh.
They were also master teachers who were recognized by the community, and many of them were healers. Most miracles that Jesus did except for raising the dead, these Rabbis with semikhah did. They cast out demons, healed the blind and lepers, fed people, caused storms. So most of the miracles Jesus did were done by the Rabbis of His day who had semikhah. The Mishnah records 150-180 miracles done by other Rabbis with semikhah.
Because of their unique ability to teach Torah and heal, they received what was know as semikhah. Semikhah means: "authority." They had the authority to teach new ideas. They were so close to God that He had given them new insight into His Word. Hillell, Shammai, Gamliel were all Rabbi's that had semikhah. This was their teaching method:
1. It was written
2. You have heard that that means this.
3. But I tell you it means this.
Do you recognize that form of teaching? This is how Jesus taught.
Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB) "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Notice what the people said of Jesus' teaching:
Mark 1:22 (NASB) And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Jesus was one of this select group that were considered teachers with authority to make new teaching.
How do you get semikhah? You had to have the Tanakh memorized, as well as the Mishnah, and be a gifted teacher. You also had to have two other Rabbis with semikhah who publically put their hands on your head and declare from God that you had God's authority. When that happened, you were considered a Rabbi who could make new teachings. Over and over in the New Testament people come to Jesus and ask Him where did You get the authority to say that?
Matthew 21:23 (NASB) And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?"
What they are saying is: Who gave you semikhah? Who were your two Rabbis?
There is a Jewish Rabbinic technic, that is commonly used to this day, where they would begin a debate or dialogue with a question. And the response from the group comes in the form of a question. The question that comes is first of all an answer to the first question, and it also extends it to a deeper level.
Luke 2:46-47 (NASB) And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
Jesus was asking questions, and they were amazed at His questions. We see many times in Jesus' teaching ministry that He will respond to a question with a question. And in His question is the answer.
Luke 20:1-2 (NASB) And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?"
To this Jesus responds in the typical Rabbinic fashion with a question:
Luke 20:3-4 (NASB) And He answered and said to them, "I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me: 4 "Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?"
He is asking, Did John get his authority, his semikhah, from God or man? Now remember His question answers theirs. Their question was where did you get semikhah? And His question to them was, where did John get semikhah? What did He just tell them? I got semikhah from John. When did John declare God's authority being in Jesus?
John 1:29-30 (NASB) The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'
Who is the second one to declare God's authority on Jesus?
Mark 1:10-11 (NASB) And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."
Jesus is the only Rabbi in history who got his semikhah directly from God Himself.
These Rabbis with semikhah had talmid or disciples. Torah teachers did not have disciples, only Rabbis with semikhah had talmidim. Jesus was not the only Rabbi who had talmidim. What made Jesus stand out was His age. He was only in His early thirties. Apart from Jesus, the youngest Rabbi that we know of with semikhah was Akiba and he was sixty. Hillell got his when he was 70, Shammai, when he was 85. How could Jesus have semikhah at 30? That is part of what blew them away. How could Jesus know the Tanakh so well in only 30 years?

MacArthur, on the other hand, says that Jesus didn't have any rabbinical schooling.  I'm not sure that there is proof of that either way, but with or without training, Jesus knew the OT backwards and forwards.  And, as God, obviously has absolute authority.

I liked Driscoll's point here - do you believe Jesus has absolute authority?  Do you LIVE as though Jesus has absolute authority?  You see, you may say you believe He has absolute authority, but if your life doesn't reflect it, than you really don't.  Instead, you've placed someone else (your worldview, your political cause, your philosophical assumptions, your sexual desires, basically yourself) above that authority.  If Jesus has absolute authority, and He does, then we better obey Him.

And if someone disagrees with Jesus (or the Word), well then, they're wrong.  Not Jesus.

As Christians who acknowledge Jesus' supreme authority, we need to be passionate about determining what Jesus has commanded of us, and then, by the grace of God, seek to obey it.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 20:9-18
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: James 1, Song of Solomon 4, Lamentations 5

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday, October 29 ~ tammi

Today's Bible In a Year reading: Hebrews 12; Song of Solomon 2; Lamentations 1-2
Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 19:45-48 -
Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers' den.

And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.
Something weird happened here on the blog when I was working on my post yesterday morning and the entire thing was over-written by the standard stuff that appears when you begin a new post.  My stuff was just... *poof* ...gone.  But thankfully for you guys, that means this post will probably be quite a bit shorter now than the original!!

We have Jesus wreaking havoc in the temple again today. He begins His ministry with a temple-cleansing and He ends it the same way.

What intrigues about this passage is if you look up the size of the Court of the Gentiles (the outermost courtyard in the temple where these merchants and money-changers would have been set up) and if you read about the number of sacrifices made at the temple for the Passover, chasing all these people out was likely no small task!!  It will have taken some time.  The account of this event in Mark's Gospel includes the tidbit that no one fled with any of their merchandise or money either, so thorough was Jesus in ridding His Father's House of these people.  That no one ventured to band together to stop Him from ruining everyone's day speaks volumes of the authority He commanded.  Several times, the Gospels mention that people marveled at Jesus' authority when He spoke.  I think they "marveled" at it here, too, but in a very different way!

It's interesting that while people were expecting the Messiah to come and overthrow the Roman government, He cleanses the temple instead.  His concern was not who happened to be in control politically, but who the spiritual leaders were and what they were teaching.  It's popular to "live like Jesus" and want to initiate, promote, and institute all sorts of social reform, but Jesus never did that.  He cleansed the temple.  It's popular to criticize our governments because they aren't doing enough to please and/or protect their citizens, but Jesus wasn't concerned with that.  He cleansed the temple.

I tend to think that's where the judgment will begin when He returns, too.  This passage and line of thinking brings to mind the horrific vision of Ezekiel where angels cleanse first the temple, then the city, killing anyone who doesn't bear the mark of one who grieves and laments the sorry state of God's people.  They are specifically instructed to start in the temple.

The beginning of all reform and revival must take place in the Church.  In MY heart and in yours.  In the hearts of our church leaders.  That's where the cleansing needs to begin.  That's where God is most concerned about it.  May we humble ourselves before the Lord voluntarily and ask for His cleansing now.


Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: Hebrews 13; Song of Solomon 3; Lamentations 3-4
Monday's scripture focus passage: Luke 20:1-8

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday - October 28 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 51-52, Song of Songs 1, Hebrews 11
Today's scripture focus is Luke 19:41-44

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

This passage is a prophecy of Jesus as he came to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.
I had a little understanding of this passage.  Knowing the Bible, knowing the history of Jerusalem, I could piece together pretty well what was going on here.

I skim read MacArthur's sermon, because I knew the break down had to be deeper than I was going!

MacArthur says this....(for a quicker read through, I've made bold the points that stood out to me)
(Jesus is)  Not talking about peace with Rome, not talking about political peace, not talking about internal social peace, He’s talking about peace with God.  “If you had only known, if you had only known the things that make for peace.” What makes for peace?  Repentance, faith in Christ, believing the message of the Kingdom.  He had preached it from the very beginning, He preached repentance and the Kingdom.  How to come into the Kingdom through faith in Him, repentance from sin.  He had preached it all along.  I’m not going to take you back through the gospel of Luke, but you can go all the way back to chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, all the way through and see Jesus offering them again and again and again and again, the good news of peace with God.
If you had known...if you had understood...if you had embraced and believed this day...what day is He talking about?  He’s not talking about Monday, that day...this day, the time of My presence in your nation, if you had only understood and believed in this incredible hour in which I have moved among you, if you had only believed the things that make for peace, the salvation message...that’s salvation language, peace with God, reconciliation, the gospel.  But unbelief had blinded them all the way along.  They chose to be unbelieving, hard-hearted, self-righteous rejecters of Christ.  He gave invitation after invitation after invitation, they rejected them all and therefore they rejected peace...peace with God.
He had already pronounced doom on them at the end of chapter 13.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets, stones those sent to her, how often I wanted to gather your children together just as a hen gathers her brood under her wouldn’t have it.  Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”  Then He added, “You’ll not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” You’re never going to see Me until you finally turn and believe.  That hasn’t happened yet.  The judgment pronounced here is still in place.  Israel today currently is under divine judgment.  Are they God’s chosen people for a future salvation?  Yes.  Will He preserve them as a people unto that salvation?  Yes.  But currently they are under the same judgment that launched against them by God in the pronunciation of Jesus here and began in its powerful expression in 70 A.D., forty years later with the destruction of Jerusalem.  Since that time, Jerusalem has been trodden underfoot to one degree or another by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles ends.  And we’ll learn about that in Luke chapter 21.
They made their choice.  The celebration was superficial and He knew it.  In fact, He even says, “But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” Whatever this celebration means, whatever is going on here, however you may be emotionally caught up in this thing, the truth is, you have rejected Me, you continue to reject Me, and it is hidden from your eyes, the truth is hidden from your eyes.  The gospel of peace, the only way of reconciliation with God.  This is not just a statement of divine judgment, though it is an affirmation, it is a statement of their own self-imposed blindness.  In fact, now they have been hidden from your eyes.  Right now here and now, you’re in the dark.  In the future, they will not believe.  For what was a chosen blindness becomes a judicial blindness.  They never believe.  Read the record of Acts 2 through 7, Jerusalem never believers.  They don’t believe now, they never have.  They will not until the end time when they look on Him whom they pierced, as Zechariah said, mourn for Him as an only Son, a fountain of cleansing is open, then they receive their Kingdom...that’s in the future. 
And Jesus then describes the judgment that is coming, verse 43, “For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, surround you, hem you in on every side, level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another.”  
We all know what happens to Jerusalem.  In 70 AD the Romans lay siege to the city and it is destroyed.  It is never fully rebuilt.  The Israelites have yet to regain a homeland, have yet to rebuild Jerusalem.
MacArthur brings it home with this statement:
But it’s not just Israel’s history.  Can I make it very practical for you?  Rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord is catastrophic for you, too.  It’s no less catastrophic for you than it was for them.  What about your day of opportunity?  What about the time when you’ve heard the gospel, when the gospel’s been presented to you?  The time when you’ve been told how you can be reconciled to God?  What have you done with your visitation?  Have you recognized the time of your spiritual opportunity or is the end going to be as catastrophic for you as it was for them?  What are you doing about God’s gracious visitation in your life with the truth of the gospel? 

That’s the question you have to answer.  It’s history but it’s a monumental lesson to the catastrophe of rejecting Christ.  Don’t follow that path.  Become one of Him, embrace Him as your Savior.

 Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 19:45-48
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Lamentations 1-2, Song of Songs 2, Hebrews 12

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday, October 25

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  Hebrews 10; Ecclesiastes 12; Jeremiah 45-46
Today's scripture focus is Luke 19:28-40

Luke 19:28-40

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Triumphal Entry

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage andBethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Jesus' Humble Coronation Part 1
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus Christ is Lord, King, and Savior
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon:  Good Servants, Wicked Servants, and the Enemies of God

One thing I've always loved about this passage is how Jesus totally predicts the future, and it unfolds exactly as He said it would.  Humanly impossible.  Yet one more proof of His divinity - omniscience.

The other is how this fulfills prophesy.

The timing of this is utter perfection.  Passover is coming up, and Jesus enters Jerusalem on Lamb Selection Day - the day the people had to choose the lamb that they would sacrifice on Passover, the upcoming Friday.  Jesus was presented as the lamb, and the people chose Him.

This is also the first time Jesus allows a crowd to get this riled up and to proclaim Him Messiah.  Previously, He would not allow it, because He knew full well that it would push the Pharisees into arranging for His execution - and it was not yet God's time.  But now, it is. And Jesus knows it.

 And it pressed all the buttons necessary to activate His enemies to get it done fast.  And what they did out of hatred was what God determined what would be done out of love.  And Jerusalem had to be the place because Jerusalem was where all sacrifices were made.  That's where the altar was, that's where the temple was, that was God's city.  That was the holy city, the temple city, the place where God met His people, the place where God was worshiped and the only place where sacrifices were made.  He had to be there in God's city where God met His people and where sacrifice was offered.  So Jerusalem is the place and the time is now, and it has to be this Passover in the year A.D. 30.  Why?  Because this is exactly 483 years after Daniel's prophecy.  Back in Daniel chapter 9, the prophecy of Daniel coming from God was that in 69 times 7 weeks, seven weeks of years, 69 times 7 weeks the Messiah would be cut off, He would be killed, 483 years from the decree of Artaxerxes.  Artaxerxes made his decree in 444 B.C.  The decree is made, 483 years later the prophet says the Messiah will be cut off, it is this year, A.D. 30.  The Messiah comes, it must happen in this city, in this year, it must happen on the Friday when Passover lambs are executed.
And so, Jesus knows exactly what He's doing.  He knows what time it is on God's calendar and God's clock.
Riding on a colt was somewhat of a Davidic tradition - King Solomon rode a mule for his coronation (1 Kings 1:32-40), and David, on occasion, rode a mule.  But this wasn't just about Davidic tradition, this was also about fulfilling prophecy.
Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout in triumph, O daughters..a daughter of Jerusalem, behold your king is coming to you.  He is righteous and endowed with salvation.  He's coming as a Savior, humble, mounted on a donkey, not just a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Some more interesting facts from Ray Vanderlaan.....
The people were shouting "Hosannah" (seen in other gospels) which means "save us", or "deliver me", or "give me my freedom".  The people were clearly expecting a conquering Messiah, not a suffering one.

And the palm branches...
The palm branches were the symbol of the Maccabees. They were nationalistic symbols, claiming the independence they’d enjoyed before the Roman conquest.

When Jesus says "the very stones would cry out", He was quoting scripture, but He was also teaching in the form of a remez - which means the scripture that was actually even more important were the verses immediately before or after.

Psalms 96, 98, and 148, and Isaiah 55:12 all refer to creation praising the Lord, some with specific Messianic emphasis.  And consider Habakkuk 2:9-11 and imagine what the Pharisees thought (who were very familiar with both the OT, and the remez method of teaching)
"Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.

MacArthur speaks to this as well.....
If these become silent, and they will....when these become silent...since these will become silent, the stones will cry out.  It needs to be noted that the silence of Israel has not yet been broken.  The Tuesday of that week when the crowd fell silent, launched millennia of a refusal on the part of Israel to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah.  How fickle they were.  A few days later they’re saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.  Give us a criminal.  Give us a murderer.  We don’t want Jesus.”  They’re still saying it these two thousand years later.  When that crowd fell silent, that nation fell silent...and they’re still silent.

The opposition to Jesus was so strong that even after the resurrection from the dead, the praise of Jesus was never raised in the city of Jerusalem, or in the land of Israel, except among the few thousand who were saved.  When Jerusalem grew silent, Jesus said, “The stones will cry out.”  Cry out, krazo, scream..future tense...when in the future these people become silent, in the future the stones will scream.  Screaming stones?  What is that?  What is that?  It’s more than just the expression of praise from some inanimate object, as if God is to be praised by His creation...far more than that.  In fact, in the little prophecy of Habakkuk, chapter 2, we have a very good parallel.  In the prophecy of Habakkuk we have a statement of judgment on the Chaldeans...the Chaldeans, the wicked, pagan Chaldeans.  And the Chaldeans had basically prospered as a society, but they had prospered at the expense of other nations, they had prospered by extortion, they had prospered by usury, charging exorbitant interest rate, they had prospered by murder and bloodshed.  They had literally built their towns and cities by the sacrifice and the slaughter and the abuse of other people.  So Habakkuk, the prophet, is given a message from God of judgment against them.  I just want to pick out one verse, that is in verse 11.  “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall and the rafter will answer it from the framework.” Then verse 12, “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence.”  The stones in the houses and the buildings that they built were symbols of their wickedness.  The walls of their houses and the timbers of their roofs plundered from others gained by bloodshed and usury, scream of their wickedness, scream of their guilt.  And Jesus is saying the same thing here.
There are going to be some stones who will cry out against you as the stones in the past cried out of the guilt of the Chaldeans.  All you had to do was look at their houses and when you saw them, all their prosperity, all their edifices were testimonies to their corruption and bloodshed.  The stones cried out of their guilt and the judgment of God upon them, and some stones are going to do the same in your case. 
Amazing how much is packed into these verses!

Monday's scripture focus: Luke 19:41-44
Saturday's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Hebrews 11; Song of Solomon 1; Jeremiah 47-48
Sunday's passage: Hebrews 12; Song of Solomon 2; Daniel 1-2
Monday's passage: Hebrews 13; Song of Solomon 3; Daniel 3-4

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday, October 24 ~ tammi

Today's Bible In a Year reading:  Hebrews 9; Ecclesiastes 11; Jeremiah 43-44
Today's scripture focus passage:  Luke 19:11-27 ~ The Parable of Money Usage

Luke 19:11-27

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

So today we have Jesus telling a rather strange parable.  At least, it seems a little strange at first glance.  To me it always does, anyway.  But man, there are SO MANY AMAZING THINGS crammed into these verses!!  Short of copying and pasting MacArthur's entire sermon, I'm not sure it will be possible to touch on each bit of significance without making this post far too long.

What is compelling about this story, reminds MacArthur, is that we're in it.  Every single one of us.  "There are only three possibilities. You are either a true servant of the nobleman. You are a false servant of the nobleman. Or you are his enemy. There are no other categories. It is again one of those amazing illustrations that Jesus invents that is comprehensive and embraces all of humanity."

Basically, Jesus begins with the story of Archelaus, who was the current ruler of Judea at that time, but carries it into analogy after a point.  Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, in keeping with Roman custom, had to travel to Rome to be officially named king of a region or territory, even if it was inherited from a relative, as was the case here. But when he went, a delegation of Jews also went and protested his coronation because he was a horrible, hated ruler.  They were ineffective in their petition, and he became their Caesar-sanctioned king anyway, but it fortuitously serves Jesus' purpose in His illustration.

Jesus is, of course, referring to Himself as the nobleman here.  And there are those who are His enemies, who don't want Him to rule.  He rules anyway, as we know.  God is sovereign over non-believers just as He is over believers.  All humanity is under His rule whether we like it, know it, acknowledge it, or not.  By creation, God OWNS us.  But as we know, there are many who hate Him and deny His right to rule. This is precisely why so many are desperately attempting to prove creation is merely mythology.
I just have to insert an interesting aside here. (at least, I found it really interesting!!)  In talking about these citizens who hated the ruler, MacArthur makes this observation:

And by the way, nothing in the [parable] indicates that they had any reason to hate the nobleman. This is where the story departs from [Jewish] history. So they hated the nobleman in the story for no reason.  This is reminiscent of John 15:25, "They hated Me without a cause," Jesus said. They hated Me for no reason. Their attitude toward Archelaus was reasonable. Their attitude toward Jesus was blasphemous... 

The Jews of an earlier generation did not want Archelaus to reign over them, he slaughtered them, three thousand of them [in an initial, inaugural display of power]. The Jews of Jesus' generation didn't want him to reign over them, though on the first day of the church when He sent His Holy Spirit He gave three thousand of them eternal life. They hated Him without a cause. They hated Him without a reason."

What a stark contrast between Jesus and Archelaus!  Didja catch the numbers?  I found that kind of cool.
Anyway, movin' right along here...  Next we are introduced to the faithful servants, the ones who loved their master, the ones who cared about the responsibilities he'd given them.  Devotion motivated these servants.  And they were quite lavishly rewarded for their efforts. 

Then we see those who claim to serve Him, but don't honour Him with their lives or what He's entrusted them with.  Even the most foolish of Jesus' listeners would have known that if the third servant had cared at all about at least protecting the money he was given, he would have buried it to keep it safe.  This guy in the parable didn't even do that.  He wrapped it in a handkerchief and left it in a corner somewhere.  It could easily have been stolen.  Pure indifference is what motivated this servant.  He couldn't have cared less about his responsibility while his master was gone.  And he was justly stripped of any fellowship with his master.  He becomes an eternal waste, worthless in the kingdom.

When the master in the story gives the unfaithful servant's gift to the first servant, the onlookers ~ possibly the other servants who aren't really talked about other than in the beginning of the story when the master is equally dividing up his money ~ kind of protest and say, "He already has ten!"  MacArthur points out this is a picture of what our response often is to grace. Isn't it so characteristic of human nature to protest when someone else gets more than we think is necessary or deserved?  We so often forget that we didn't deserve the initial "mina" we all got in the beginning of the story either.  But that's exactly how grace works.

Lastly, the dissenting citizens from earlier in the story re-enter.  Not much is said.  Not much really needs to be said.  The master has them brought into his presence and executed.  Where Archelaus was hated because he unjustly, randomly slaughtered thousands of Jews, the returning King of Kings, Jesus Christ, will dispose of those who blasphemed against Him, hating Him simply because He claimed a right to their love, worship, and service, as His creation.

So there you have it ~ a story illustrating the three categories in which all of humanity fits:  the faithful, the false, and the foes.  And a sovereign God who owns them all and who is returning one day to sort them all out.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading:  Hebrews 10; Ecclesiastes 12; Jeremiah 45-46
Tomorrow's scripture focus passage:  Luke 19:28-40

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23rd

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Hebrews 8; Ecclesiastes 10; Jeremiah 41-42.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 19:1-10.

Luke 19:1-10

English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus and Zacchaeus

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: A Sinner Meets a Seeking Saviour Part 1 and Part 2
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus and Zacchaeus

What stands out to me in this story is the immediate fruit of Zacchaeus' salvation.

The passage doesn't tell us what Jesus said to Zacchaeus as far as gospel presentation goes.  It doesn't need to.  We know what Jesus would have preached.  What we don't know, is whether or not the gospel would take root in the life of Zacchaeus.  And so the text tells us.  It took root all right!

Zacchaeus went from someone who made a living as as traitorous thief to a generous benefactor determined to make restitution - times 4! - for his wrongs.  That does not happen without a transformed heart.  That does not happen without the transforming power of Jesus on his life.

The impossible happened.  A rich man entered the kingdom of heaven (love how this story follows after Luke 18!).  With God, nothing is impossible.  

Salvation requires repentance.  Repentance from our unrighteousness?  Absolutely.  Repentance from our righteous acts?  Yes!  As it says in Isaiah - even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags to our holy God.

Jesus sought out Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was repentant.  And it was evidenced in a transformed life.  Immediately.

Is there evidence of our salvation?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 19:11-27
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Hebrews 9, Ecclesiastes 11, Jeremiah 43-44

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday, October 21 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Hebrews 7; Ecclesiastes 9; Jeremiah 39-40.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 18:35-43.

35 As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36 Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41 “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”43 Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.

I kind of wondered about the fact that this blind beggar on the side of the road calls Jesus "Son of David".  Obviously, Jesus was a celebrity (or notorious, depending on how you look at it) at the time, so it stands to reason that this beggar would have heard of him and knew something about who he was, but the reference to David still made me curious.  Here is what Mark Driscoll has to say in Jesus Gives Sight to the Blind:

This was a strategic place for those who begged for their survival to position themselves. A bunch of spiritual people going to meet with God, this is probably the best place and time to ask them for money. So he’s not the only beggar. There are beggars lined up along the roadway. There are beggars everywhere. And this particular beggar cries out, saying something that no one else in Luke’s Gospel says. So it’s very significant. He says, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and he speaks of Jesus, “the Son of David.” And he says it again, “Son of David.” So he says it twice. “Jesus is the Son of David.” So he cries out as Jesus passes by, “Jesus, Son of David.” They said, "Be quiet. “Jesus is busy. He’s very important. We’re going up to Jerusalem. You beggars just keep asking. Enough already.” And so what he does, he yells louder. “Jesus, Son of David!”

What does that mean? Here’s a blind man who sees Jesus by faith. We can easily pass over this title, but it is very important. Jesus, Son of David. They would have heard that as a very significant, theological statement. This is a declaration that Jesus Christ is the King of kings.

This blind beggar is making this declaration while God’s people are under Roman rule. This was a low point in the history of God’s people. They were not free, they were back under foreign oppression. It wasn’t the Egyptians, now, it was the Romans. But the laws were written against them. They were mistreated and abused. Furthermore, there was significant taxation levied against them that funded the government that oppressed them. And so they wanted liberation and deliverance and freedom. They wanted their Exodus and they wanted a different king. They didn’t want to say, “Caesar is lord.” They wanted their King to be their Lord and God to be their Lord. And so he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David.” That was a very dangerous thing to say because it was a critique of the Roman government. It was saying, “There’s someone above Caesar, and here he is, the Son of David.” Because David was a what? A king.

Now they had had in their history good and bad kings, but the best king they ever had was David. He brought peace, protection, and prosperity. And in his reign was the presence of God. Peace, protection, prosperity, and the presence of God. However David was not a perfect king. He was man after God’s own heart. He also was a sinner and a murderer. So he was imperfect, though a great king, an imperfect sinner like the rest of us. And ultimately, he died. His reign, his rule came to an end. And after that, the nation had some very grievous and godless kings and fell into disrepair. And God came to David and said, "There will be a day when I raise up from your family line. He’s going to be one of your relatives, another King. Not a little-k king like you, but a big-K King of kings. He’s going to bring peace, prosperity. He is going to bring the presence and protection of God. In fact, it’ll be God himself. "

God is going to rule one day as King. How do we know it’s God? Because his kingdom will endure how long? Forever and ever. That’s the kingdom of God. And this promise was given to David and as you continue to read in 2 Samuel 7, he was overwhelmed with his promise from God. And from that point forward, God’s people were aching and yearning and waiting, “Where is this King? The one who brings peace, protection, prosperity, and the presence of God? Where is he?” And the blind beggar said, “He’s right there. Jesus, Son of David.”

The miracle is of course amazing as well, as it's not every day someone who was blind and reduced to begging on the side of the road receives their sight, but I didn't want to focus on that today, I wanted to know what it meant that this man called Jesus the Son of David.  So now we all know.  :)  Happy Tuesday.  Have a great week.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 19:1-10.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Hebrews 8; Ecclesiastes 10; Jeremiah 41-42.