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Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2017' started by Aaron, Sep 10, 2002.
As Clint is in the habit of saying, May God bless the reading of his word.
I thought the reading in Isaiah this morning very timely. The verses in 28:14-22 seem written just for our time:
Indeed. 9/11 should be a token of national mourning. Not only for those who died, but for the moral state of the nation. It is God that keeps a nation, but we trust in our strength and our alliances, and stand in defiance "even when the most destroying judgments were abroad."
To read all his comments on these verses, Click Here, then scroll halfway down the page to verses 14-22.
In Hebrews we have the surest promise that can ever be made. God swore by Himself.
Good morning -
Like Aaron, my thoughts were on the possible implications of these passages to modern America. It is good to keep in mind hat the base theology behind the Book of Isaiah is that of judgment and salvation. God judges the actions and attitudes of whole peoples and is just in His actions. The individual believer is promised life through salvation but necessarily personal safety. On the subject of judgment, Isaiah uses the image of threshing often in his writings to represent judgment. We must have run across this word scores of times in our reading and I had always taken it for granted. Here is what Merriam-Webster has to say:
In Luke today we read of the earnest prayer on the Mount of Olives. Matthew specifically refers to the site as Gathsemane and John merely says "an olive grove." Luke gives the modern researcher the closest proximity in his text. Also, I was drawn by one of my footnotes concerning the "drops of blood" in verse 44. This was possibility hematidrosis, a condition that occurs when a person is under exreme anguish. Here is a study from the Mayo clinic on this condition as it relates to this story: http://www.frugalsites.net/jesus/gethsemane.htm
The end of chapter 6 of Hebrews is really an introduction to chapter 7 which will be the primary message of Hebrews. Just as a ship is anchored to the bottom of a body of water, so is the Christian believer anchored to the promises of God. He has given us His oath and His Promise is our foundation.
May God bless you
While this section deals with the subject of conduct at a table, it also concentrates on the conduct of the inner man. It is easy to be seduced by the delacacies of the wealthy man's dinner table but we as believers must bear in mind that the acquisition of wealth must come after or as a part of our seeking the Kingdom and only if it is a part of God's Will. Christ gave us the same lesson in Matthew 6:19-21.
In Biblical times, much of a man's wealth was in raiment, metal objects, oils, and other perishable items. While our wealth in the modern day is usually in less tangible items, the principal remains the same. Our chief anxiety must not be on our wealth here on earth. These are fleeting and do not last. The treasures we have in Heaven are beyond this kind of corruption. The earthly man's wealth will be very temporary. If he has neglected to make his store in Heaven he will be impoverished in the next world.
Verse 6 of Proverbs 23 speaks of the eye that is evil in malicious men who do not discern the proper values of things of this life. In the same way, Christ in the Passage from Matthew focuses on the eye of a man. That eye should remain fixed above. The pursuit of wealth is not what will bring us true happiness. Such peace of mind comes only from God. Matthew 6:22-24
Sunday School lesson 2/13/05
These Passages take us from Jesus’ final instructions to His Disciples to what we commonly know as the Passion, the suffering and crucifixion of Christ. They mark a clear transition in the Gospels from the ministry to the task for which Jesus was ultimately sent to us. In the text at hand, Luke seems to follow his Markan source for the basic framework but condenses some of that material and telescopes others. For a true study of the events between the Last Super and the Ascension, all four Gospels should be drawn upon.
Luke 22:39-46 On the Mount of Olives
Upon departing the upper room, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives “as was His custom (KJV - as He was wont).” The wording here implies that His movements were not secretive or guarded. Rather, He is following a course of activity that was normal for Him. Luke omits the name of the “place” as Gathsemane in keeping with his practice of omitting Semitic names. He also omits that Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus past the point where the other Disciples stopped. He also condenses the episode in the garden into one payer vigil and one return as opposed to the three separate prayers and returns accounted in Mark.
Now that the evil forces against Him had arrayed themselves, the Disciples are instructed to pray that they not enter temptation. Hostility anguish and pressure will soon assail these men. In Mark, Jesus notes the reason for the need of prayer in this instance (Mark 14:38). The Disciples are simply not ready for the crisis that is about to erupt. Their best recourse is to pray that they not find themselves in a situation that causes them to sin.
Having given the disciples the instruction to pray, Jesus removes Himself from them “about a stone’s throw,” that is, close enough that the disciples would witness His anguish. Even when He is now facing the lonely and terrifying path to the cross, He still affirms His close relationship to God by addressing Him as “Father.” The “cup” signifies the suffering and death before Him. It should be noted that though Jesus was a willing victim in the crucifixion, He was no masochist. He felt the anguish of the impending torture and execution. Further, we can surmise that part of the present anguish came from His knowledge that He was being rejected by His own people whom He had tried to bring the Kingdom of God to. Nonetheless, He would not be deterred from His commitment nor from its consequences.
All Jesus had to do at this point to escape the upcoming events was to leave Gathsemane. Had He done so, there would be no New Testament, no church, no Gospel. Gathsemane is the place where man’s will to serve God with self-giving comes in conflict with his will to save himself. Most of us in most situations tend to opt for saving ourselves. Jesus, however, chose to lose Himself to save us. His prayer ends as all prayers should end: not my will, but thine, be done.
Jesus is attended by angels at the conclusion of His prayer just as He was at the conclusion of the fast and the temptation. So great was His agony that His sweat “became like great drops of blood.” Scholars are divided on the meaning of this phrase. Some suppose that it indicates that the droplets became so profuse as to become large like droplets of blood. Others feel that He experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis in which blood vessels hemorrhage into the sweat glands due to intense emotional distress. Only Luke the physician notes this aspect of the Gathsemane experience.
While Jesus was in this titanic struggle, the disciples a mere stone’s throw from Him are asleep! Luke adds that they were doing so “for sorrow” as an explanation. The Passage ends with a repetition of the injunction of verse 40 to pray.
Sunday School lesson 4/2/06
Isaiah 28:14-18; 30:8-18
Chapters 28-32 are comprised primarily of messages delivered by Isaiah to Israel and Judah during the Assyrian crisis and are thus often referred to as the “Assyrian cycle of prophecies.” The collection is arranged in a series of complexes and each begins with the word “woe,” hence giving rise to the name “the Book of woes.” As is characteristic of the prophet, the messages usually contain a balance of judgment and redemption, threat and consolation.
Isaiah 28:14-22 True and False Security
The Assyrian king, Sargon II died in 705 BC and was succeeded by his son, Sennacherib, who ruled from 705 to 681 BC. This transfer of power led many of the conquered and vassal states under Assyrian dominion to seek a coup and once again take command of their own governments. As discussed last week, the Egyptians were at the forefront of this movement. Jerusalem had many supporters for this notion and many of them felt that Egypt would be their saving grace. Hezekiah was among these leaders and 2Kings 18:2 describes his attempt to throw off the yoke of Assyrian domination.
Isaiah sharply criticized this movement and in no uncertain terms condemned their actions. It was more than mere political factioning, however, that motivated the prophet. The alliance with Egypt demonstrated that the leaders of Judah trusted the power of men over the power of God. In short, it was a blasphemous alliance. In addition, the effort was futile. Judah and Egypt were completely unable to defend themselves, much less each other.
The alliance with Egypt is called an alliance with death and Sheol. The Assyrian invasion is termed “the overwhelming scourge.” Their false optimism would prove to be a mistake for Judah.
On the other hand, in verses 16-17, Isaiah points to the source of true security. These verses are filled with metaphors taken from the building trade. Isaiah speaks of the foundation, the cornerstone, the line and the plummet. God announces through the prophet that He is laying in Zion “a for a foundation a stone” that is tested and precious. The word for “tested” or “tried” in verse 16 is unique to this verse in the Old Testament. It is taken from the Egyptian for a stone of fine grain used for carving statues and inscriptions.
Isaiah’s primary point in this Passage is that there can be no lasting covenant without faith in God. The need for faith, however, does not negate the requirements for the covenant on the part of man. The foundation is laid in faith, yes, but the walls are built with justice and righteousness. Just as a builder tests his work with a line and a plum bob, so to does God test His people with the line of justice and the plum of righteousness. As As James exhorts us in 1:22 of the Book that bears his name, we are to be not just hearers but doers as well.
Verses 17-22 describe the destitute nature of Judah’s foreign policy. Judgment would come in the form of the Assyrian army, the overwhelming scourge, and would overtake her as a flood sweeping away the lies and demolishing her false security. The covenant made with death and Sheol would not save her when the Assyrians began their harassment of the land.
In verse 20 the prophet makes use of a proverb saying the “bed is too short” and the coverings too narrow. The Palestinian nights were cold and damp and too be inadequately covered at night would prevent one from getting any comfort. In short, the prophet is saying that Judah had made her bed, now she must lie in it.
Verse 21 is an allusion to David’s defeat of the Philistines at Mount Perazium and again at Gibeon (2Samuel 5:17-25). In those days, God fought on the side of His people. Now He was forced to fight against them. So against His nature is this that the prophet calls it “His strange work” in verse 22.
The Passage closes with a warning to the scoffers in his audience that unless they cease their present course, their bonds will become even stronger. Isaiah’s warning is based upon the decree of destruction heard in the Heavenly council against the land by the Lord Himself.
For six chapters the preacher in Hebrews has been convincing us of the superiority of Christ on several different levels. Jesus was God’s final word. He superseded the angels, the prophets, Moses, and the Levitical Priesthood. Since the author does not speak of the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, we are forced to conclude that this writing was from before that time as that event would have been very pertinent to his debate. If the temple was standing, priest were still offering sacrifices within it. Some of these may have been the same priests who had urged the people to call for the death of Jesus.
As stated when we began this study, interpretations of the Book of Hebrews vary greatly because of the many ambiguities that surround it. We do not know the author, the recipients, the location of the audience or what exactly the “falling away” that threatened the life of the church may have been. We now begin entering the heart of the sermon and conjecture increases, particularly in the modern day.
When the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947, a new wealth of data became available to archaeologists and Biblical scholars. Since their discovery, over 900 scrolls have been brought to light revealing the culture and belief system of an exclusionary sect of Jews known as the Essenes. Most interesting to the Biblical community is the great attention paid to a very obscure and only twice mentioned character in the Old Testament known as Melchizedek. The Essene view of Melchizedek is not greatly removed from the arguments we see presented in Chapter 7 of the Book of Hebrews.
Nothing is conclusive in the parallels of the two sources but modern conjecture has placed a discerning on the Passages we study today. It is possible that the preacher was attempting to reach those in his audience who were converted Essene Jews who were thinking about rejoining their sect. Or perhaps the entire congregation was considering escaping the onslaught of the Roman Emperors against the Christian community by merging with the more accepted and established Essene community. The theory is as plausible as any history has had to offer.
Hebrews 6:13-20 Reassurance
When the modern ear hears the word “hope,” the image is drawn of a pathetic waiting for the improbable. For the New Testament writers, hope was surety and as Christians that is what we have in our Great High Priest. The preacher places before us four great symbols of that assurance in this Passage. They are the promise, the anchor of hope, the forerunner and the Great High Priest.
The oath is the most solemn promise that can be given. It is completely incontrovertible. This is why we are warned by Jesus in Matthew 5:34-37 and James in 5:12 against making oaths. The oath is only as good as the character that backs it and as fallible humans we run the risk of breaking our promises.
God, on the other hand, is of perfect character. One may ask why His word is not good enough. Why must God also make an oath? It is the same reason that He made a rainbow as a sign He would not destroy the earth by flood a second time. It stands to remind us of the surety of His promise. God giving an oath instills confidence in us. In this case, the oath is that the security of believers would be amply supplied in the form of the promise offered in Psalm 110:4.
The word “anchor” is referenced only four times in the Bible. The other three are all in Luke’s account of the storm at sea in chapter 27 of his Gospel. Yet despite its rarity, the anchor emerged as an early Christian symbol. The analogy is obvious. Despite the tumult a boat may face on a stormy sea, the reliable anchor, unseen in the depths of the water, holds the craft in place, safe from drifting into hazard or loss. Our hope, that is, our surety, is held by Jesus Christ who has carried it into the inner shrine of Heaven. He is now “behind the veil,” an analogy to the veil that separated the Holy of holies from the Rest of the temple. This was the room that only the priest could enter and only on the Day of Atonement.
Jesus is the forerunner of us as someday we will enter into the presence of God. He is the Pathfinder, the Trailblazer for our immortal souls. He has carried the anchor of hope into the very essence of God’s Heavenly Court in order that we may find our way and He has done this on our behalf. He is there already at our final home.
The fourth symbol of hope lies in the fact that Jesus is the qualified and living High Priest on our behalf. While central to the argument of Hebrews, many of the Jews in his audience may have been questioning all along how Jesus could be a priest when He was not of the tribe of Levi. The preacher has hinted towards Melchizedek at a few points prior to this, but now he presents his proof in full force.
Our Scriptures for September 11 are: