September - Reading 22

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Sep 22, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Aaron

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    Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

    The verse from Hebrews must be one of the most familiar of the Scriptures probably because of the need to be reminded.

    God does discipline His children.

    I heard one elderly individual say, "I don't think I have ever been chastised by the Lord." What a frightening thought, and so close to death's door! One of the distinguishing characteristics of those who oppress is that they are not faced with hardships, Psalm 55:19b. What reason have they to fear God?

    Yet many are the afflictions of the righteous, Psalm 34:18.

    Hardships keep us humble. They keep our hearts contrite and broken. They turn our eyes upward to call upon the LORD to deliver us from our troubles.
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening -

    There are a few points I would like to emphasize from Isaiah tonight. The first 2/3 of chapter 56 are subtitled "Salvation for Others." In 56:4 we see the eunuch believers addressed. In Deuteronomy 23:1 we read that anyone who was "emasculated by cutting or crushing" was not allowed into the asembly. At the time of Isaiah's writing, this Law was still in effect. However, when Christ came, salvation was extended far beyond the reaches of the healthy Jews and this New Covenant reached eunuchs as well. Therefore, it is no surprise that when Philip meets the Ethiopian in Acts 8:27-28 that he is reading from the Scroll of Isaiah. The eunuch who was a believer in the God of Abraham was now brought into the assembly. Therefore, he went away rejoicing!
    Isaih 58 gives us very detailed reasons for fasting. So many people were using this practice as a show of piety. Christ was also specific that the fast should be secret in Matthew 6:16-18. He also uses the unacceptable practice of fasting for recognition in his parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:12.

    The first of the Ressurection stories begins with Christ appearing to a pair of believers on the road to Emmaus. By the end of our reading in Luke today, He has not revealed Himself to these men but has spent time reconfirming what we as Christians accept today: that Christ fulfilled all of the Old Testament Laws and Prophecies.

    I will add to Aaron's comments about Hebrews that the author, after recounting all of the great figures of faith in chapter 11, alludes to the fact that they are our examples. The Old Testament is a great treasury of stories, written to inspire and guide our actions and to reveal to us the nature of God. This great "cloud of witnesses" isnot a silent audience. They still speak to us through our reading and exploring these ancient text.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Proverbs 29:3

    This verse can easily be associated with the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Once again we see Jesus take the lesson of Proverbs the extra step and teach us about the rejoicing we should have for repentant sinners. In Luke 15:30 we learn that the younger, wasteful son spent time with harlots. Sexual promiscuity certainly saddens a parent as such behavior is destructive and dangerous.

    While such behavior is one of the strongest temptations faced by humans, the only true inoculation against it is wisdom.

    Proverbs 29:13

    Again it is easy to associate this verse with the teachings of Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 we see the same concept echoed in Matthew 5:45. As children of God it is necessary that we emulate this characteristic of God. It is by our likeness of Him that we are recognized as His heirs.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 2/27/05 - continued

    Luke 24:13-27 Conversation on the Way to Emmaus

    Mark makes mention of Jesus appearing to an unspecified two walking in unspecified country in 16:12 but, for the most part, this particular account is uniquely Lukan. These two in these verses are of those that had heard the women’s account but they are not of the Eleven. This event occurs, however, on that same Sunday that the tomb had been found empty. We are uncertain as to the location of Emmaus but some modern scholars speculate that it is the modern village of Kolonieh, 6-7 miles west of Jerusalem. We can not say so with any surety with the data we presently possess.

    When Jesus joins these two men they do not recognize Him. Luke stresses that there was a continuity between the crucified and the risen Jesus but he also indicates that there was something different. That “their eyes were kept from recognizing Him” indicates that this was part of the divine plan. Their inability to recognize Him presents an opportunity for Him to expound upon the experience about which they had just been talking.

    The two men are amazed that they have to explain the subject of their conversation. Cleopas, one of the two, asks their unidentified companion if He is a stranger in Jerusalem. His seeming ignorance of events can only mean that He has just arrived since the events that disturbed the city – the execution of an innocent man who had laid claim to being the Messiah.

    Their response to the request for information reveals much about the attitude held by the followers of Christ following the crucifixion. They had all had such high hopes inspired by the signs and teachings of Jesus mingled with their own preconceptions of what the messiah would be. They still acknowledged Him as a prophet – this conviction remained unaltered. In fact, He was a Prophet before men and God in both word and deed. God’s power as it streamed through Jesus was a Divine approval of His ministry. The death of this prophet is once again laid here on the shoulders of the Jewish leaders.

    There was yet another element to the story. The slain Prophet’s body was missing from the tomb. The women had discovered this and reported an encounter with angels who told that Jesus was alive. Some of the Disciples had confirmed the fact that the tomb was empty, but again, an empty tomb is not proof of a resurrection.

    Jesus then accuses the two men of failure to believe “all that the prophets have spoken.” Because of this failure they had missed two important elements of the messiah as prophesied: (1) that the Christ would suffer, and (2) He would enter into His Glory. Jesus now teaches them what the Scriptures said and expounds to them the necessity of suffering being a prelude to Glory.

    “Moses” was the contemporary designation of the Torah and the “prophets” are the designation for the second major section of the Hebrew Scriptures. In every section of the Scriptures there are things concerning Jesus and the recent events could be interpreted in light of them.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Isaiah

    Sunday School 5/21/06

    We have now moved into the final section of Isaiah and the topic centers upon true and false religion. The main topic is upon fasting. Fasting is a practice whose origin has been lost in antiquity but the practice is only called for once in the Torah, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29 “afflict your souls”). However, the prophets added four additional days of fast to the calendar during the exile to commemorate the fall of Jerusalem (Zechariah 7:3, 5; 8:19). That the prophet here speaks of fasting but does not mention the Temple or animal sacrifices leads most scholars to date the writing between the time of the return to Jerusalem in 538 BC and the reestablishment of the Temple in 520 BC.

    Isaiah 58:1-12 True and False Fasting

    The chapter begins with the prophet being charged to lift up his voice like a trumpet in order that the people of Israel would be made aware of their transgressions. The proclamation would likely have been made on one of the days of fasting. The people of Israel outwardly appear very religious as they seek the Lord daily and perform their religious rites with enthusiasm. However, the oracle this day states that all is not well.

    They have fallen into the all too common trap of legalism. They think that by fasting or performing some form of religious practice that they are putting God in their debt. When He does not respond they feel that He is somehow defaulting on His payments to them.

    Fasting, by definition, is abstaining from food and drink. It is a form of self-humiliation whose original purpose was to reinforce prayer offered in times of distress (1Samuel 7:6; Joel 1:14). Zechariah 7 and 8 show that the practice of fasting was a great conundrum for the people of post-exilic Israel and the practice tended to lend itself to Pharisaical attitudes like we see displayed here in Isaiah. Despite the trumpet like voice of the prophet in Isaiah, the practice continued to be misused even up to Jesus’ day (Matthew 6:16-18).

    The prophet does not reject the practice of fasting at all but rather redirects it as an act not towards God but towards one’s fellow man. Christ stated the two most important Commandments were to love the Lord with all of one’s heart and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. These two commandments are not separate and are not exclusive. To the contrary, they are aimed towards the same goal: the pleasure of the Lord. Likewise, the Apostles recognized the importance of one’s duty to one’s neighbor (Galatians 5:14). The prophet in Isaiah points out the error of the religious observance of fasting in his day. Employers of the time took much pleasure in their fasting but disregarded the needs of their employees. This attitude while fasting will not bring the Lord pleasure and will not make Him more attentive to prayer.

    For the prophet, the definition of fasting is radically different than the Israelites’ perception. For him fasting is sharing one’s substance with the hungry, the homeless, the poor, and the naked. In this way, the self-humiliation and the self-denial of fasting is directed towards doing without not for oneself but for the sake of others. Acts of self-denial only have religious value when they serve to elevate the needs of others.

    Verses 8-12 state the benefits of such fasting as prescribed by the prophet. It will result in light, healing, divine guidance, answered prayers, strong bones and a continued ministry of restoration. The prophet challenges us to remove the yoke of the oppressed, refrain from pointing in scorn, avoid wicked speech and pour out ourselves for the hungry and afflicted. If we examine the underlying motives of our religious practices and set these things as our priority, all the blessings will be ours. Our motivation should always point towards social justice.

    Isaiah 58:13-14 Sabbath Keeping

    With the loss of the Temple and consequently sacrifice, maintaining the practice of Sabbath keeping was essential to Jewish distinction. Therefore, in addition to proper fasting, the returned exiles are exhorted to continue observing the seventh day as holy. Sabbath keeping and circumcision were the acts that continued to distinguish them from their Gentile neighbors and mark them as the people of God.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Hebrews

    With the sermon of Hebrews nearly complete, the preacher now gives words of encouragement and discipline. For the preacher, the fulfillment of the promise given the heroes in chapter 11 was just on the horizon. This fulfillment was the “things unseen” by faith. Like a runner in a stadium or a soldier on the battlefield, the secret to success in reaching one’s goal was perseverance.

    Hebrews 12:1-2 Call to Complete the Course

    This beautifully constructed sentence acts as the transition from chapter 11 to chapter 12. The “therefore” in this instance should be read as “for that very reason, let us also.”

    The cloud of witnesses reminds us that there are no lone Christians. One who is alone soon loses courage and zest. Those spoken of in chapter 11 bear witness to the fact that the spiritually grounded life brings fulfillment. We look to them as examples of the patient faith we must have and they, as well as the present brethren we have, make a cloud of witnesses, both to observe and to testify for us, as we continue in that same tradition. The preacher calls upon his audience to look at themselves as runners in a race while the Old Testament saints cheer them on towards their goal.

    Linguist have determined that this Passage is the first instance in which the Greek word for witness, martur, is used as meaning one who has died for faith. In other words, the preacher refers to those who have died “witnessing” events in the present. This should not be construed to be in reference to those who have passed away looking down from Heaven, but it is a metaphorical image of what they stood for bearing witness on our continuation of their beliefs and lifestyles. These ancient heroes saw through the eyes of faith the things unseen. A part of what they saw was the running of the race by the church. God has spoken for the last time in Jesus Christ. We are in the final laps.

    The runner does not weigh himself down with extra weight. He unburdens himself of any encumbrances, no matter how bad the self-denial. He is single minded towards completing the course. The “sin which clings so closely (closely besetting sin - KJV)” may refer to the robe a runner wore that was removed before the race started. Sin slows us in the moral race and prevents us from winning. The preacher is not specific about what obstacles there are. Instead he implies that each runner will learn for himself what his own handicap is in the course that is set before him.

    Every runner has a mark that he aims for and for the spiritual pilgrim that marks is Jesus. He was the pioneer, the One who ran it first. He perfected our faith by doing and fulfilling the will of God. His offering of Himself on the cross was not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. It was a sacrifice for the object of His love. The joy set before Him is his belief in that which was unseen: the kingdom He would make possible for those He loved. This was the Kingdom He would rule, seated at the right hand of God.

    Hebrews 12:3-17 Need for Discipline

    We must never forget the potential costs of being a disciple. We have been adequately warned. The preacher takes a different view of the persecution to which many Christians are subjected. To him, persecution is a form of discipline.

    The discipline of which he speaks is the same as that mentioned in Proverbs 3:12. It is the discipline a father gives a son. It is a discipline that is rooted in love. Without discipline there is no development of character, no strengthening of resolve. If God truly loves us like a father loves a son, we must recognize that even the bad times are for our good. Further, if we as mortal and fallible creatures administer imperfect discipline upon our children because of our rage, how much more necessary is God’s discipline because of his love?

    With the knowledge that discipline is a display of God’s love, the persecuted Christian is encouraged in verse 12 to “lift his drooping hands and strengthen his weak knees.” This picturesque phrase is the same as what described Israel when they tired of the wilderness. Nothing can be accomplished by drooping hands. Weak knees show fatigue but if the runner stays weak too long the weak knees become an infirmity.

    We are instructed in verse 15 to see to it that all receive the grace of god. This should always be the first priority of the church. The “root of bitterness” in that same verse is a phrase shared by Acts 8:23 when Simon Magus attempted to buy the Holy Spirit from Peter. In this instance, the bitter root is one in the congregation who professes to be one of the covenant people but continues to have a stubborn heart. The preacher then once again draws on the Old Testament to show us one who is a root of bitterness with his exposition of the story of Esau.

    Esau was considered a wicked person who grew up among good people. His wickedness was displayed in the fact that he sold his birthright for a single meal. Esau gave in to his hunger, his own desires and viewed them as more important than his inheritance. That type of live only for the moment attitude was the danger facing the Hebrew audience. They had not yet been called to martyrdom, but the possibility loomed. By denying Christ they would be giving up their birthright assured by the promise of faith for mere mortal existence.

    Verse 17 once again challenges us to consider the absolute of Eternal Security. The preacher tells us that Esau was unable to repent, even though he desperately wanted to. The way the text reads, even with tears he could not receive repentance. Jesus Christ stands as our Mediator, but it is still a just God we must face.
     
  8. Clint Kritzer

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