Saturday, July 25, 2009

Written with a Diamond

Jeremiah 17


I. The Problem—Intrinsic Sin

A. Judah’s sin was as hard to hide or ignore as a monument engraving done with professional, diamond tipped instruments; the inner nature had been tattooed with sin. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;” (Jeremiah 17:1)

B. Rather than remembering God and the great stories of redemption, the children remembered the pleasures of sin. “Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.” (Jeremiah 17:2)

C. Though Judah should stand out as a mountain before the world, sin has made it so corrupt that the only solution is to tear it apart until the sin is carted away. “O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.” (Jeremiah 17:3)

D. When the church refuses to serve God, it must serve infidels. “And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.” (Jeremiah 17:4)

II. The Principles at Work—Biblical Presuppositions

A. When people substitute human wisdom for divine, the consequences are devastating. “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 17:5,6)

B. God arranges for the faithful to obtain what they need. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7,8)

C. No one can grasp the full measure of evil in the human heart. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

D. God knows the human heart without limit and fully understands the true intent of every thought; idolatry cannot be hidden or excused. I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

E. No matter how devious and sinful the evil heart may be, it cannot prevail against God in the end. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.” (Jeremiah 17:11)

F. No matter how things seem to be developing, God is king and He is reigning right now. “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.” (Jeremiah 17:12)

G. There is no happy ending for people who abandon God. “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” (Jeremiah 17:13)

III. The Plea for Help—Turn to God

A. The disaster can be set right by God. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” (Jeremiah 17:14)

B. People want an immediate solution. “Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.” (Jeremiah 17:15)

C. Jeremiah wanted to be a pastor rather than a doomsayer, but God’s servant must deliver the message God sends. “As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee. Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil. Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.” (Jeremiah 17:16-18)

IV. The Path Back to God—Observe the Sabbath

A. Start with the message of grace—rest in the Redeemer. “Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.” (Jeremiah 17:19-23)

B. Then move on to follow the other principles of Biblical faithfulness—the culture will begin to renew itself. “And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD. But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 17:24-27)

The Master Needs It

Zechariah 14:1-21; Mark 11:1-11 / Leviticus 23:33-44

I. It Was Time to Ride into Jerusalem

A. As Jesus finished the walk of destiny from Jericho to Jerusalem, He sent two disciples ahead on an errand. “And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage [House of Figs] and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,” (Mark 11:1)

B. The disciples were directed to locate and bring back a colt never before used to carry a man. “And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.” (Mark 11:2)

C. Jesus had Heaven’s business on His mind; that would be enough reason to silence anyone responsible for the animal. “And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.” (Mark 11:3)

D. There are times to hear and obey; Christians obey because God calls them even when they do not have the answers or envision the end result. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:8)

II. Prophecy Unfolded from Mystery

A. The disciples found the animal and began to do as Christ had directed; Jesus was not going to sneak into Jerusalem quietly. “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.” (Mark 11:4)

B. As Jesus had predicted, there was an objection and the disciples had the answer. “And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. (Mark 11:5-6)

C. Messiah the Prince arrived at Jerusalem according to prophecy. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9) “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.” (Mark 11:7)

D. The crowd gave Jesus the appropriate greeting for the king of the Jews, calling to mind the Feast of Tabernacles when people wait for and upon the Redeemer. “And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.” (Mark 11:8)

E. The crowds were singing the messianic psalm written for the day when the Seed of David would enter His city and temple to announce the day of redemption. “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:” (Mark 11:9) “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 118:25-26)

F. The world rarely imagines that God can be serious and that He can accomplish what the prophets say, but here it was occurring at the gates of the Holy City just as God had said it would. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:10) “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. (Ezekiel 34:23-24)

G. The promised revelation of David’s greater son had arrived and the prophecies were being fulfilled. “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. (Jeremiah 33:15-17)

III. The End Began

A God had promised someone would come to the Temple to finally and fully explain the covenant He had made with Abraham and the ancient people of faith; Jesus is that end time messenger. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

B. Jesus entered the Temple and looked at all the corruption He would expose during Holy Week; the place of grace had been transformed into a market for corruption. “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:11)

C. Jesus could have wept for what He would soon suffer, but instead He wept for the sinners who would nail Him to the cross; is today’s church ready for the day of visitation? “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.” (Luke 19:41-45)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pillar and Ground of the Truth

1 Timothy 3:14-16

I. Paul Wrote with Hope

A. Christians act on hope; it is a visible expression of faith. “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:” (1 Timothy 3:14)

B. Confidence in God makes people act on what they cannot yet see and do so when the entire world functions in its own imaginary reality. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:1-3)

C. Eventually, hope in God pays dividends the world cannot grasp in its faithlessness; when Christ returns it will be too late to change sides. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:7)

D. Time is not always ours to command and it is unwise to count on imponderables. “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:18)

E. God plants His people where hope will nourish them. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

F. The heart not firmly fixed on hope in God will be miserable and will cause misery. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

II. The Church Is the Foundation of Truth

A. God’s own church does not need to be shown the truth by the world or to vote on it in Assemblies; as the church lives before God, its existence supports the truth everywhere. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

B. The Christian community finds its meaning, purpose, and direction in the service of Jesus Christ; other purposes are flaws. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

C. The church is the great end time temple designed to do all which Solomon’s Temple did but on a far grander scale; nothing human corresponds to the church. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)

III. The Truth Is a Marvelous Mystery

A. The core of the story is the truth entrusted to Christians. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

B. God was manifest in the flesh. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

C. Justified in the Spirit “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)

D. Seen of angels “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6) “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matthew 4:11)

E. Preached unto the Gentiles / Believed on in the world “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” (Romans 10:11-20)

F. Received up into glory “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

Friday, July 17, 2009

He Followed Jesus

Genesis 32:22-32; Mark 10:46-52 / Jeremiah 23:1-8

I. Bartimaeus Needed Help

A. On the Jericho road Jesus encountered a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus. “And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.” (Mark 10:46)

1. People went up to Jerusalem for Passover; Jesus had been promising to do this. These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” (Leviticus 23:4-8)

2. Jericho was the first part of the holy land liberated for the people of God and was an excellent place to start the final week of liberating the church; Christ’s victory over sin and death began in this place with a strange man, just as the earlier liberation began in this place with a strange woman. “And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.” (Joshua 2:2-5)

3. Giving sight to the blind would be one of the identifying markers of the Messiah. “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isaiah 29:18)

B. Bartimaeus knew about Jesus and was confident enough in Him to call for help. “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:47)

C. Bartimaeus was acknowledging the messianic hope of God’s people. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

D. All of history came to bear on the unfolding events leading to Passover in Jerusalem. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)

II. Jesus Helped

A. People kept trying to keep Bartimaeus from making a nuisance of himself, but the blind man persisted and increased his efforts. “And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:48)

B. When the man called out to Him, Jesus sent people to get Bartimaeus. “And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.” (Mark 10:49)

C. The blind man obeyed immediately; that is what Jesus expects of His people. “And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:50) “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20)

D. Jesus told the man to be specific, not for His own benefit but for the petitioner’s benefit; God knows the answer before the question is asked. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.” (Mark 10:51) “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)

III. Bartimaeus Followed Jesus

A. Jesus healed the man, and the man followed Jesus.“And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” (Mark 10:52)

B. When it pleases God, matters are already settled. “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9)

C. People who give up the disaster of their lives and follow Jesus will find new meaning and purpose in life. “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

D. The blind man gave up begging and became part of the King’s own family. “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The People of Life

Ephesians 5:28, 29

I. Preservation of Life Begins with Attitude

A. God’s call to promote life begins in the home; love like the love of Christ for His church first displays itself in the home. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” (Ephesians 5:28-29)

B. Human love of life derives from that love which enlivened the Garden of Eden at the Creation. “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

C. Believers must appreciate the influence of the mind. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

D. Death begins with a bad attitude. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

II. Civil Society Must Follow the Same Law

A. Just as people seek to preserve and promote their own lives, people should preserve others in danger even when that danger appears under the color of civil law. “For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)” (1 Kings 18:4)

B. The temptation to solve social problems through judicial murder is an old and insidious one; people wanted to silence the word of God by killing the messenger of God in the day of Jeremiah. “But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 26:15-16)

C. The Roman sense of law and justice saved Paul’s life and his ministry when former co-religionists sought to silence the Apostle permanently. “And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.” (Acts 23:12) “And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.” (Acts 23:16-17) “But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.” (Acts 23:21) This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.” (Acts 23:27)

III. Avoid Things Which Kill

A. Protect people against accidents; Biblical case law called for railings to keep people from falling off housetops. “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” (Deuteronomy 22:8)

B. Avoid temptation; it is always the wrong time to be in the wrong place. “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:” (Proverbs 1:10-11) “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. (Proverbs 1:15-16)

C. Come to the aid of the defenseless. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:4)

D. Neglecting to do what is right is a decision to do what is wrong; abortion and elder abuse are not matters of private judgment. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Blog Archive