August - Reading 3

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 3, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening –

    Tonight in Ezra we see the first of the resistance to the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem. This first wave of resistance tried to use the law (of the Persians) to halt the building. Chapter 4 quickly goes through the resistor's campaign through three different Persian kings: verses 1-5 are directed toward Cyrus, 6 toward Xerxes, and 7-23 toward Artaxerxes. One note of interest is that according to my textnotes the Book of Ezra's original manuscripts are written in Aramaic as well as Hebrew. This shows that the author was probably transcribing from the original letters as they were preserved in an archive. Chapter 5 ends with the Jews retaliating these efforts with the same technique of appealing to the king, this time Darius.

    In Luke 13:29 we see that even though Christ's eyes were always on the key city of Jerusalem, that He was already aware that people from all four corners of the world would be saved by His ministry, even the Gentiles. This time when Christ refers to the last being first he is not speaking of Christian humility as he does in Matthew 20:26-27. Rather, this time He is referring to the Jews to which He came to save.

    May God bless you

    - Clint

    [ August 02, 2004, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture 3/7/04 part III

    1Timothy 2

    Pray for All People - 1Timothy 2:1-7


    In order that Timothy may "wage the good warfare," Paul now begins his instructions. This chapter and the next focus primarily on proper worship as Paul will state in 3:15. The primary instruction given is that "supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings" be given for all men. These are not necessarily four distinct types of prayer but are rather closely related concepts. These are the four definitions of terminology by the 1828 Webster's Dictionary:

    The somewhat surprising feature of Paul's first imperative is that we are to offer prayer for not only a select few, but for ALL men. The specific citing of kings and rulers is especially significant when we accept the assumption of the late writing of 1Timothy. The Emperor at the time, Nero, was a particularly brutal man and one of the greatest persecutors of Christianity in history. It would be less than a decade after this writing that Paul would be martyred at his command. Nonetheless, we are to pray for those who are in governmental leadership roles in order that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives.

    This quiet and peaceable life is "good" meaning beautiful or excellent and is "pleasing to God our Savior". That God wants all people to come to a saving knowledge of Him is confirmed by such Scriptures as John 3:16 and 2Peter 3:9, however, we must be careful to temper such statements and not read a message of universalism into them. While it is God's desire that all should come to a saving knowledge of his Son, man's free will and the hardness of his heart prevents all from doing so (Hebrews 10:26). Paul's next statements also qualify this concept.

    He turns again to a quote from an early hymn or instruction and declares "there is one God." While this statement echoes Deuteronomy 6:4 and is a statement against polytheism, in context to Paul's arguments against the Judaizers, he is setting forth the concept that the Jews did not go far enough in their logic. Christianity goes further and asserts that there is "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." The desire for righteous men to have this mediation was voiced in Job 9:33. A mediator is one who acts as a liaison between two parties. As that liaison, Christ bridged the chasm between God and man. As a result we can cross this bridge and come into the presence of the Almighty Himself.

    In order to fulfill this role as mediator, Christ "gave Himself as a ransom for all men." This phrase matches quite closely with Christ's own in Mark 10:45 & Matthew 20:28. The main concept is that Christ gave His life for the life of all men. This is the price of sin and its consequences. The idea of a ransom reflects the price of freedom paid for slaves or prisoners. Therefore, all men belong to Christ. The phrase "at the proper time" is a technical term meaning "at an epoch fixed by God to achieve His promises."

    It is this testimony for which Paul was appointed a preacher, a teacher and an Apostle. While Paul refers to his preaching and teaching in other Epistles, only here and in 2Timothy 1:11 does he refer to himself as a teacher and preacher. It is possible that the term "preacher" is introduced here due to its common usage in Rome during Paul's time. An apostle by definition is one who is deputed to perform a certain task. The term "apostle" is defined by the American Tract Society Dictionary as follows:

    A messenger or envoy. The term is applied to Jesus Christ, who was God's envoy to save the world, Heb 3:1; though, more commonly, the title is given to persons who were envoys commissioned by the Savior himself.

    Instructions for Men in Worship - 1Timothy 2:8

    Paul now returns to specific instruction concerning worship. The lifting of hands is mentioned often in the Old Testament as a natural gesture indicating earnestness and desire. Holy in this instance means devout, pious and pleasing to God.

    Instructions for Women in Worship - 1Timothy 2:9-15

    After the brief instructions on the proper conduct of men, Paul now moves to a lengthier explanation of the conduct of women in worship. That this Passage is so much longer may indicate that a problem was occurring in the church of Ephesus concerning this matter just as there had been at Corinth. In the Jewish synagogues, women played no role in worship. Christianity broke these traditions and allowed women to take even leading roles. We have, for example, Priscilla in Acts 18:26; Lydia in Acts 16:14; and Phoebe in Romans 16:1. This new found freedom may have posed problems in the Graeco-Roman cultures, both Jewish and pagan, and the troublemakers within the church may have encouraged poor conduct among the women.

    First, Paul encourages the women to adorn themselves with good deeds rather than flamboyant fashion. One of the basic tenants of the early Christian faith is that we content ourselves with necessary things. Those who could afford higher fashion may have offended those who were very poor. Paul is not condemning good hygiene or grooming but merely the abuse of fashion breeding contempt and covetous. Braided hair, gold, pearls and costly attire were the apparel of pagan women in Ephesus. Christian women should set themselves apart with modest, sensible and seemly apparel as well as good deeds.

    Secondly, Paul in verse 12 states that women are to learn in silence with all submissiveness. We can logically concur from this imperative that the church at Ephesus was experiencing a similar problem to the one in Corinth with worship services becoming too cacophonous (1Corinthians 14:33-35). While this approach fits well into the old Jewish system in which women were not allowed participation in the worship service, Christianity did at least allow the women to learn.

    It should be noted here that submissiveness, as we discussed in our study of Colossians, is not servitude nor is it surrendering one's mind. Rather it is to yield to authority. Paul then adds to this instruction that he forbids women to have authority over men. There are several approaches to this somewhat controversial verse. There is no doubt that Paul is quite emphatic here. Some literalists have taken this verse to the extreme and applied it to not only conduct during worship but secular life as well, believing women, if in the work force at all, should not have authority. Others apply it only to church life and forbid women any role that puts them in authority including Sunday School teachers or choir directors. Still others feel that the pastor (or the congregation) being the ultimate spiritual authority in a church can assign these tasks without violating Paul's command. Then there are those who feel that Paul was speaking to a particular church in a particular culture and that the Apostle was not speaking to the 21st century congregation with nearly a century of women's suffrage and advanced opportunities for women behind us.

    However, Paul undergirds his statement with the account of the creation of man and woman citing that man was created first. It is therefore inherent that wives submit to their husbands. He goes further to point out that it was the woman who was deceived by the serpent and that she, not the serpent, gave the fruit to Adam. For this reason women can not be trusted as teachers.

    Once again, we must temper our views in balance with other Scriptures concerning this subject. Timothy himself was introduced to the Jewish faith and then Christianity by his mother and grandmother. 2Timothy 1:5

    The final verse of chapter 2, that "women will be saved through childbirth," is somewhat obscure and there are three major lines of interpretation to consider.
    1. Christ was born of a woman offering salvation for all. This fits well with the prophecy in Genesis 3:15.
    2. Christian women will be brought safely through childbirth, a major concern of the time.
    3. Paul may have been refuting part of the false teachings and saying that if a woman fulfills her role in God's plan as a wife and mother, she will be safe from the evils of the day and fulfill her part in the local church.

    While being a wife and mother fulfills a woman's role in creation it does not complete her role in the plan of salvation. She must also "continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty." The addition of the word modesty (KJV - sobriety) to the three virtues of faith love and charity underscores the problem that the Ephesian church must have been facing with the issue.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture 1/4/04 - Part III

    Proverbs 3

    Trusting in the Lord (3:1-12)


    This section opens with the typical Instructional Proverb beginning, "my son, do not forget my teachings… " However, in verse 3 the Passage takes an unusual turn. Here the student is told to bind loyalty and faith about his neck. Loyalty is in reference to the unity between members of a covenant. Faithfulness is referring to firmness, reliability or trustworthiness. These two words are often used together in Old Testament writings to describe the relationship between father and son (Genesis 47) God to man (Genesis 24:27) or man to man (Hosea 4:1). These two words used together describe the covenant religion between Israel and God. The last phrase of verse 3 is very similar to the Law contexts of the Covenant found in Exodus 13:9, 16 and Deuteronomy 11:18. The motivation for loyalty and faithfulness is described in verse 4: finding favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

    Verses 5-12 deal with four subjects that reflect the covenant religion of Israel.
    1. Trust in God and not in your own insight.
    2. Humility is the way to good health. The fear of God is the basis of true confidence.
    3. Honor the Lord with your substance. Honor probably refers to bringing offering.
    4. Do not despise the Lord's discipline. Discipline is an expression of love.

    The Security of Wisdom (3:21-26)

    As discussed in verse 2:7, "sound wisdom" carries the idea of practical sense or power of action. Such wisdom as well as discretion requires constant attention. If one is not giving them such, they will "escape," that is to say, slip away or run away. The motivation for such vigilance is given in verse 22, they give life and security.

    Verses 23-26 root security in the confidence that comes from the fear of the Lord. If we guard sound wisdom and discretion, He will protect us from dangerous places. We will not fall into the panic that the wicked do when confronted with trials.

    Being a Good Neighbor (3:27-35)

    Though the author suddenly shifts focus from the protection offered by God to the wise and discreet to treatment of one's neighbor, the advice here is certainly indicative of one who possesses these qualities. Again, we see motivation given for these instructions in verses 33-35. In 27-31 we see four qualities of a good neighbor:
    1. He meets his obligations,
    2. He does not take advantage of the unsuspecting,
    3. He does not stir up trouble,
    4. He does not envy those who get their wants met by using violence.

    We see that the motivation for these qualities is not only self-interest but that it is congruent with the attitude of God. "Perverse" in the context of verse 32 means crooked, devious, or underhanded. The3 term "abomination" is generally used in the Old Testament to denote pagan cult practices. However, in Proverbs, the context is usually in reference to social and ethical flaws in the foolish. Where the perverse are an abomination, the "upright are in His confidence." The word confidence in this context carries the connotation of fellowship, status and unity.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson – 1/28/04 - conclusion

    Luke 13:22-30 Surprises of the Kingdom

    Luke reminds us in verse 22 that all of this occurs as we look towards Jerusalem where Christ's ministry will reach its climax. As He traveled, someone in the crowd following Him asks about the number of those who will be saved. The Jews had become divided over who would be saved and how many. Some felt that all Jews would be saved as they were the children of Abraham. Others felt that only a select few would benefit from the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. There were of course many who felt that they were already on the inside. Jesus' answer undermines their false security as He puts them on the outside.

    He tells his listeners that their concern should be about "entering" the Kingdom and that the door to such was narrow. Though Christ had come to open that door it was difficult to get through it. It requires more than one's heritage or half-hearted efforts. To the contrary, it requires "striving" on the part of the individual. Strive in this Passage is a present tense verb: keep on striving. To enter the narrow door requires the exclusion of all other interest. The door is only open for this time that we have now in life and after that the opportunity will be lost. The One who opened it will shut it. At this point many who did not strive will knock on the door and ask for entry. Alas, for them it will be too late. Though they once spurned it they will now knock at it but the One who has closed it will deny them.

    They will say that they heard the Word. They heard the teachings. Mere hearing, however will not have been enough. Though they once spurned the offer of Grace through Jesus, they will now be spurned despite their lineage. Though they will then call Him Lord, He will deny even knowing them. This will result in their frustration as they see the patriarchs and the prophets, whom they rejected by rejecting Jesus, in the Kingdom while they are shut out.

    The door can only be entered by repentance. (Matthew 21:31) The tax collectors and harlots enter the Kingdom first not because of their sins, but because of their recognition of their sins and the need to turn from them. He who sees himself as righteous is addressed with judgment. He who sees himself as a sinner is addressed with Grace.

    Luke 13:31-35 Jesus' Destiny and Jerusalem

    This account is tied to the preceding Passage with the introductory phrase "at this very hour" or "this same day." We are unsure of what the relationship between these Pharisees and Herod may have been nor can we say with certainty whether they were friendly towards Jesus, as Nicodemus had been, or not. Herod, on the other hand, (Herod Antipas) had displayed his strategy early in the ministry when he imprisoned and eventually beheaded John the Baptist for his denunciation of Herod's morality. It is likely that he wished Christ to depart from the area quietly without arousing the anger of the people who supported Him.

    In response to the warning to depart, Jesus responds to tell Herod that he is impotent to stop the course that God had laid out for Him. Jesus' course had been laid out for Him and there was no power on earth that could stop it. Likewise, He would not be pressured to go any other way. Though interpreters vary, many, if not most, cite the reference to the "third day" as a prophecy of His resurrection at the end of His course.

    Jesus here shows that His entry into Jerusalem and towards His destiny is part of God's plan. A death in some other Judean city would not be as meaningful. The death of a prophet in Jerusalem, however, would be a statement of judgment against the whole nation. The Temple was there, the center of worship. The Sanhedrin was centered there. The Roman garrison operated from the city. Herod was there.

    Jesus' lament over Jerusalem is reminiscent of the prophets century before who lamented the apostate nation. God had tried in the past to bring Jerusalem under his providence and care by sending the prophets. The people had in turn persecuted and stoned them. This pattern would manifest itself one last time in the rejection of Christ. For one final time the Jews would be witness to the presence of God. They would however, once again reject Him and judgment would ensue.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Ezra


    Today’s lesson likely reaches all of us on some personal level and it is one of the reasons this commentator truly loves this section of the Bible. We too often take the view that if something is God’s will it will come easy for us. Nowhere in the Scriptures is such a thing implied. In fact, it is more safe to say that almost all meaningful works take effort.

    Under the direction of Sheshbazaar, the foundation for the Temple had been laid. Now the Jews were ready to begin work in earnest on the structure itself. As the story opens, we find the Jewish community under scrutiny from their neighbors and the local government.

    Ezra 4:1-5 Building of the Temple Interrupted

    The “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin” spoken of in verse 1 are a group that would be later identified as the Samaritans. There is really no reason to think that their offer of help was not sincere. These were the half-breed descendants of the Israelites who had remained in the area after the collapse of the nations and the various groups of immigrants that the Assyrians and Babylonians had brought into the area to populate it. It was indeed the God of Abraham they worshipped and the return of the pure seed of that nation may have been viewed initially as a fortuitous event.

    However, the goal of the returning Jewish leaders had no place for these half-breeds. These people claim to have continued the sacrificial system but for the Jews these sacrifices were blasphemous as there had been no Temple in which to offer them. It is more likely that they used the sites in Northern Israel established at Bethel and Dan established by Jeroboam. Even worse, they may have used the “high places” of the pagan infiltrators from Canaan. Though they worshipped Yahweh, it is also likely that their religion had become adulterated with the practices of foreign and pagan religions from the non-Jewish heritage of their lineages. The Samaritans represented to the Jewish theologians the very essence of why the exile had occurred in the first place. To allow them to touch the stones consecrated for the purpose of building a holy temple was unthinkable. The curt reply by Zerubbabel was the only one he could make.

    The hostilities that had worried the Jews in chapter 1 and had prompted the building of the altar even on a holy day intensified after this encounter. We are not told specifically what efforts were made against the Jews but a campaign of harassment and intimidation began that thwarted the efforts of the recently refounded nation.

    Ezra 4:6-24 Continuing Conflicts

    Once again the student is reminded that the chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah is unquestionably skewed and we are left with having to make certain assumptions regarding the order of events as relayed to us. There were three kings of Persia who went by the name Artaxerxes but the one in question here is almost undoubtedly Artexerxes the First.

    The authors of the letter to that king was composed by a man with a Persian name, Mithredath, and another with an Aramaic name, Tabeel. Many scholars surmise that the former was a Persian representative and the latter a local chieftain of some sort. The letter they composed was in Aramaic the official language for correspondences between nations. It was translated, according to the chronicler, into either Hebrew for the benefit of the Jews or Persian for the benefit of the king.

    The contents of the letter are hard to dispute. The Jews did have a history of rebelling against those to whom they were paying tribute. In verse 14 the idiom of “eating salt” means that they were loyal to and in service of the Persian monarchy. Once again, there is little reason to doubt the honesty of their claims. The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem which would occur later would make a defendable military bastion of the city that stood between Persia and the furthest reaches of its western conquests.

    Artaxerxes replies that his research confirmed the claims of the letter and it appears that mention is made of the golden age of Jerusalem when David expanded the empire and Solomon made it an ancient superpower. He orders that work cease immediately and with the backing of the king, the adversaries force the Jews to stop. The implication is that this was done by force and this incidence may reflect the message that was given to Nehemiah in verse 1:3 of the Book that bears his name: The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.

    Ezra 5:1-2 The Work Resumes

    It is easy to see the human element of the story at this point when two leaders of the people step forward to get things back on track. Artexerxes had given a stop work order but Cyrus had made a decree. Just because some politicians with ruffled feathers had made some trouble, there was no reason to stop the work that had been willed by God and decreed by a king. It had been 16 years and no efforts had been made to begin anew the rebuilding of God’s house. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah made it clear that it had been long enough. The Jews once again began placing stone upon stone.

    Ezra 5:3-6:13 The Tattenai Episode

    The resumption of the work raised the curiosity and suspicion of new governor of the region and he went to investigate. It is likely that he was urged to do so by the locals as the Persian policy of religious tolerance is well documented. The previously discussed letters between Artaxerxes and the former leaders was likely reported to him. He questions the work and asks for names of those in charge. The text indicates that the Jews were not intimidated this time and they continued their work. God had fortified the resolve of the elders and they told the governor about Cyrus’ decree so many years before.

    Tattenai decides to pursue the matter through official channels and writes another letter to Persia to the new king, Darius, to inquire about the validity of the Jewish elders’ claim. He recounts the incident and the recollection of the Jew’s history and waits for the king’s reply.

    Darius obviously took the matter quite seriously as the decree of Cyrus was not found in Babylon the current capitol, but rather in the archives in Ecbatana, the former Persian capitol. The written decree recorded on the scroll recounted the instructions of Cyrus in regards to the emancipation of the Jews from Babylon.

    Darius honors the decree made by Cyrus and orders his governor to let the Jews continue their work. Anyone who tried to interfere is threatened with execution by impaling upon a beam from their own home, the eviction of their family and that the structure be turned into a public latrine.

    Aside from this, monetary provisions were to be given from the treasury to supply the work and animals necessary for the completion of the task. The Biblical motivation for Darius was so that the priest in Jerusalem could pray for the king and his sons. We must also consider that Darius may have been motivated by political reasons. Jerusalem would be an important ally in his campaigns against Egypt as the city stood so near the border of that nation. Darius indicates that he fully expects God to intervene as well should anyone have the nerve to ignore his decree.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

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