Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer
Audio Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic BostonChurch. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston ordonate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Welcome to this space. Every once in a while, I'm glad that we worship down here, it's to keep us humble, keep us grounded, and to remind us that the space upstairs really is a blessing. We're continuing our sermon series called Kingdom Come through the Gospel of Mark: The Gospel of Mark and the Secret of God's Kingdom. The title today is Supernatural and Revelation. So Jesus Christ has come as a king, and in chapter one, he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and the King comes preaching that the kingdom is here, the kingdom has been established with the coming of the King. Therefore, what are we to do? We are to repent of sin, believe in him and follow him and live for the King. Jesus Christ did come performing supernatural miracles for the purpose of revelation to reveal that he is the Son of God and he performed what only God can do. Only God can forgive sins, and that's what Jesus does. He cast out demons, he heals the sick, he even resurrects the dead. And what's fascinating is that the contemporaries of Jesus Christ, those who saw his miracles, those who experienced his power, most of them did not believe in Jesus Christ, they did not have their sins forgiven. And it wasn't until the day of Pentecost, St. Peter's filled with the Holy Spirit, he has the indwelling power of the Spirit and he preaches to these same people and he preaches to people who have seen the miracles of Christ, have heard his sermons, seen his crucifixion, heard about his resurrection, but they weren't saved. The miracles did not convert their hearts, they didn't yet have their sins forgiven and their hearts were still hardened by sin, in disbelief. In Acts 2:22, Peter says, "Men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know, this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, losing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it." And it's not until they realize that they have sinned against Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God, that they're cut to the heart. This is Acts 2:37, "Now, when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' And with many other words, he bore witness and continue to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' So those who received the word were baptized and there were added that day about 3000 souls." So the Apostle Peter responsible for much, if not most of the material of the Gospel of Mark, he presents the miracles of Jesus Christ in such a way that they attest to who Jesus is. He is the King and he offers us, every single one of us, the greatest miracle, the miracle of all miracles, salvation by grace through faith, forgiveness of sin and entrance into the Kingdom of God. And in our text today, we see that Jesus heals a leper and he heals a paralytic, but only one of these men walks away with his sins forgiven. And the question posed before us is, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul, forfeit his soul? What's the point of being healed of paralysis if you then use your legs to serve sin and Satan? What does the profit a man to gain pristine skin in this life while being tormented in hell for eternity? So Mark 1:40 through 2:12, would you look at the text with me? "And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling, said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will. Be clean.' And immediately, the leprosy left him and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once and said to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded for proof to them.' But he went out and began to talk freely about it and to spread the news so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places and people were coming to Him from every quarter. And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him. And when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytics, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some of the scribes were sitting there questioning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak like that? He's blaspheming, who can forgive sins but God alone?' And immediately, Jesus perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves said to them, 'Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.'' And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all so that they were all amazed and glorified God saying, 'We never saw anything like this.'" This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, infallible, authoritative word, may he write these eternal truths upon our hearts. Three points to frame up our time. First, the King is used. Second, the King is sought. And third, the King is questioned. First, the King is used. In Mark 1:40, the gentleman is characterized as a leper. He has a scale disease and this term designates a variety of conditions in which the skin becomes scaly, but not what today is called leprosy or Hansen's disease. But in Leviticus 13 and 14, this skin disorder was treated as a grave danger to the purity of the community. So sufferers were regarded, in effect, as corpses, walking dead, and physical contact with them produced the same sort of defilement as touching dead bodies. Leviticus 13:45 say, "The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose. He shall cover his upper lip and cry out, 'Unclean. Unclean.' And he shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp." So the disease was serious and also, it rendered the person socially as an outcast. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, he said that the disease, those with it were treated as, in effect, walking dead. And if anyone is healed, it was as if someone dead was raised to life. If the person so much has stuck their head in someone else's house, the house was rendered unclean. So the person has been suffering, he's been suffering for a long time, both physically and socially, and what happens is he hears that Jesus Christ has come, he has power and he has been healing people. And the man, immediately, boldly comes to Jesus Christ, it says imploring him, pleading with him. And it's followed by kneeling. So he's entreating with the most earnest urgency, he's crying out, "If you will, you can make me clean." And first, this is great. This is a great start. And pain does this often, suffering does this often. God often allows us to go through seasons of suffering. C.S. Lewis says that pain is God's megaphone to wake us up. So he has pain, he goes to the one that can alleviate the pain and he implores him. And with humility, he asks, "If you will, you can heal me," that, "You have the power." So we see even faith here. In verse 41, it says, "Jesus is moved with pity," in the English Standard Version, "he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will, be clean.'" Now, if you are reading along in your Bible, most likely, there's a footnote right there at that word, moved with pity or moved with compassion. So this is a question of which word is original. There is a textual question here. The oldest manuscripts that we have do not say moved with pity, it says moved with anger. And if the word was compassion, most likely, in the parallel, Matthew and Luke and the story, that word would've been used, it is not. And if you study textual criticism, you get to text like this, you got to ask why would a scribe change the word? Most likely an overzealous scribe here, read the word anger, Jesus is angry, and he can't believe in an angry Jesus and so, he changed the word to compassion. But I do see an anger here. I do see the indignation of Christ here, a similar indignation to where Jesus, it says, was indignant in John 11 about the death of Lazarus. He was deeply moved in the spirit and greatly troubled. So perhaps there is anger here, we'll see why. And Jesus does stretch out his hand, certainly compassionately, and he touches this man, the Greek pronoun him is left out. So He just stretched out and touched this person, shocking to anyone seeing this because you weren't supposed to touch a leper. Jesus touches the leper, and instead of the impurity passing from the man to Jesus, Jesus's power overcomes the impurity and disease. In verse 42, "And immediately, the leprosy left him and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once." Sternly charged, it's a word that means growling, it refers to the snorting of a horse. And as applied to human beings, it means to express indignation by explosive expulsion of breath. And I think that's biblical, whenever I'm in traffic, that's how I breathe with this expulsion of breath. My wife rubs my arm and I feel better. And then, he uses the word to send out, ballo. And it's the same word that Jesus used to exercise demons. So it was like casting this man out. He ejects the person from his presence and then he charges him, verse 44, "And said to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded for a proof to them.'" And what he's referring to is Leviticus 14, if you have been healed, you are to bring three lambs or one lamb and four birds depending on a person's wealth. And as proof to them, as proof to the priesthood that Jesus has come with the power of God. What does the gentleman do in verse 45? "But he went out and began to talk freely about it, to spread the news so that Jesus could no longer openly enter town, but was out in desolate places and people were coming to him from every quarter." And what an amazing, wondrous moment this must've been for the gentleman, having lived for so long, ostracized by society, no human contact. He had lived in isolation for years perhaps, and pain without a single touch of a human hand. What does he want to do? He wants to immediately go show his family, show his friends that he has been healed. And you say, "This is great." This is like, "Jesus, you healed the person. He's basically a walking advertisement to your power. Don't you want him to go and preach about you?" And Jesus didn't want him to because Jesus knew that the substance of the man's message is going to be come to Jesus as the miracle worker, come get this blessing, come get healing from Jesus. And Jesus doesn't want just to heal our bodies, he doesn't just want to meet our physical needs. No, Jesus has come to preach the word, to convert our hearts, to regenerate us, and to save our souls. And what we see here is that the word, but to contrast, Jesus said, don't do this, and the word but is saying he went directly against the orders of King Jesus. Jesus' anger may also stem from the fact that the man completely disobeyed Jesus' instructions. The ability of Jesus to heal now becomes the cause of his inability to move about. Jesus came to preach, he came to preach the gospel and now he can't do that. So he ends up in a desolate place, it says. And this is fascinating because that gentleman had to live in a desolate place, he had to live away from people, he gets healed. And then, right after the healing, Jesus is the one in the desolate place. And what's the text showing us? It's showing us that Jesus exchanged places with the leper. Jesus is saying, "Not only am I willing for you to be clean, I'm willing to make myself unclean for you." And this is really at the heart of the gospel. It's the double imputation, Jesus gets our sin, we get Jesus' righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might be become the righteousness of God." Galatians 3:13, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who's hanged on a tree,' so that in Christ Jesus, the blessing of Abraham might come to the gentiles so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." Instead of repenting and believing in the content of Jesus' preaching, the man disobeys Jesus tells everyone that Jesus had healed him, which makes it more difficult for Jesus to preach the gospel. The poor man was so thankful to be healed, but he missed the whole point. What was the point? The point was that he had a deeper uncleanness, he had a deeper leprosy, he had an issue that separated him, not just from the people of God, but from God himself. And he receives the skin healing, but he doesn't receive the heart healing. His faith is only skin deep. He did the right things, he came to Christ, he implored, he kneeled, he begged, he received, and then, he walked away only to disobey the king, revealing that he has not received the cleansing of his soul from sin. God does miracles, God does miracles even today, but the miracles always have a purpose, it's always to attest to the person of God. And unless we repent of sin, those miracles aren't going to do anything for us, not spiritually speaking, not eternally speaking. So when we do experience seasons of pain, when we do go through difficulties, yes, do go to the Lord, yes, beg for the Lord's healing, but stay there, stay with the Lord, stay obeying the Lord. We had a nice lady that came to our community group for quite some time. And she said, "I don't believe. I don't believe. I'm here, just you guys are nice people." And I was like, "Okay, keep coming." And she said, "I don't believe because there's too much suffering in the world. How can a good God allow so much suffering in the world?" And that day at community group, she's like, "For example, there's a hurricane coming directly at Mexico right now and it's going to absolutely decimate Mexico and thousands of people are going to die. Where's your God now?" I was like, "Look, I don't know. Let's pray. Let's pray. Let's pray for a miracle for the hurricane to change directions. Let's pray. The Spirit blows where it wishes, so does the wind." So we pray, we fervently prayed, prayed zealously. And I remember that just like... The next day, what does the hurricane do? The next day the hurricane completely changed its trajectory, completely misses Mexico. And I was like, "Oh yeah, I can't wait for community group. She's going to come in extra saved." And then, she comes to the group, pretends nothing happened. And I was like, "Remember our prayer request?" She's like, "It was a coincidence." I'm like, "No. Oh, my goodness. There's no such thing as a coincidence." Miracles don't save anyone. God does do miracles, but there is a passage where a rich man dies, and a gentleman named Lazarus goes to heaven. And the rich man says, "Lord, please, Father Abraham, resurrect Lazarus, bring him back so my brothers don't end up in this place of torment." And what does the Lord say? The Lord says, "Even if someone comes back from the dead, they're not going to believe." It's not enough. I've seen people experience the power of God in their life and then I've seen them walk away. During COVID, we had a gentleman that came to service. You could tell something was wrong and he's like, "I think I have a demon. Can you please pray for the Lord to cast out the demon from me?" I prayed. His body language completely changed. He received forgiveness from the Lord. And then, I gave him my number. And then, he just disappeared. He received a gift from Lord, disappeared. And then, I found out that he went back to his sinful lifestyle instead of repenting and following the Lord. So don't allow your faith to just stay there at the physical level or at the skin level, no, follow the Lord and ask for the greater healing, which is that of having sins forgiven. Point two is the king is sought, Mark 2:1, "And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home." So Jesus returns to Capernaum, that's his base of operations for the early portion of his ministry. And it says he was at home, whose home is this? And scripture doesn't say that Jesus had a house. Most likely, this is Peter's house because Jesus called Peter in chapter one, "Follow me." And then, Peter says, "Where are we going?" And Jesus ends up at his house. "Follow me to your house because that's now my house." And this is how Jesus operates. When Jesus forgives you of your sins, he is now your king. You and everything you have now belongs to the king, in service to the king. So Peter's house, what is Peter doing? He's hosting the first community group. He's inviting his friends. Jesus is there at the communion group. I don't know if they have some snacks. And they're having a good time. And by the way, this is a great plug for community groups. So if you are not in a community group, it is imperative for you to join a community group. They're awesome. My community group, this week we had 26 people. And you say, "Wow." Well, I always start by counting my family, that's six, six eternal souls. And then, there's another family that has three kids, so that's 11. But we do welcome, we got 25-plus community groups all around the city. We'd love for you to sign up and to join. And just a reminder, it's also a great place to invite those who are not Christians. Sometimes people feel a little self-conscious or insecure about coming to a large group gathering, but in a small setting, especially friends, neighbors, invite them, especially with the Gospel of Mark, this is a tremendous series for you to invite your friends to community groups and to church. So verse two, "And many were gathered together so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them." So the full house. What's he doing? He's preaching the good news, the arrival, and dominion of God is here. And then verse three, "And they came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him. And when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay." Roofs in the dwellings of common people in Israel were made of wooden beams placed across stone or mud brick walls. And the beams were covered with reeds, thorns, several inches of clay. So Jesus is preaching, and all of a sudden, there's dust falling on his head. I wonder what Peter's feeling. Like, "Oh." And by the way, Jesus completely invades his life, that's how Jesus works. When you welcome Jesus into your life, he invades, he dominates. So the roof is falling apart, stuff's falling from the ceiling. And this is just a reminder that it is a sacrifice to welcome people into your house. Hospitality takes work, that's why Peter says, "Be hospitable without grumbling." Why does he say that? If you have been hospitable, you know exactly why he said that. I remember, recently, I repainted my apartment, repainted beautiful. The very first community group, three boys walk in with a basketball like, "Oh no." Scuffed up all my walls, and I was like, "Come on." But I use the best paint, Benjamin Moore, you just wipe it off. But it is a sacrifice, but it's worth it. It's worth it because these gentlemen love their friends so much, their paralytic friend, they know that God can heal him, Jesus can heal him, Jesus has the power to do it. They take Peter's roof apart, unroof the roof, Scripture says, and they lower him down. Verse five, "And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Jesus saw their faith, he doesn't see the paralytics' faith. The emphasis here is he saw their faith, they believed on behalf of their friend. The friend's faith isn't emphasized here, perhaps it's because he has been paralyzed, not just physically, but he is paralyzed spiritually. And that's why Jesus starts the healing process by saying, "Son, your sins are forgiven." It was their faith in Jesus leading to action, initiative to overcome obstacles that changes this man's life. And here, I just want to point out that sharing the good news, sometimes it takes teamwork, four-on-one. If you have an unbelieving friend, get three Christian friends, a four-on-one, it's more effective because they ask questions if you don't know the answer, the other person knows the answer, but then, you have some time to think and you just go back and forth. And that's what they're doing here. And Jesus is impressed by their faith in action, and that's true faith. Truth faith is always an action. And Jesus perceived their improvisation as an expression of faith. Mark loves using the word immediately, he uses it all the time, 41 times in the book, immediately, immediately, immediately. And this one text where it's clearly you just need the word immediately, it's not there. And I've been meditating on the fact, why didn't they wait? Why didn't they wait until Jesus is done preaching? Why didn't they wait until he leaves the house? My working theory is that Jesus sermons just took forever and he just preached and preached and preached. But also, I think they felt an urgency from the Holy Spirit that we have to do it and we have to do this now. And I do, I pray that the Lord impresses that urgency upon us to share the gospel with our friends who don't yet know the Lord. And we are to tell them to strive, this is what these gentlemen are doing. Luke 13, it says, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.'" There is an urgency because we don't know how much time is left, we don't know how much time anyone of us has left, therefore, "Today," Scripture says, "Today is the day of repentance." Today is the day to turn from sins to turn to Christ. Jesus says, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Whatever the expectation of these gentlemen, Jesus is addressing, not this man's felt need, his obvious felt need was healing of his legs, but he has a need that is greater than even that. His deepest need, his most pressing need was that he has transgressed God's law, God's holy law and God is holy. And after all, what's the value of the use of all our limbs if we continue to yield our members as instruments of sin? What good if after having restored his health, the man remains under wrath and the curse of God? And Jesus calls him child, my son. Here he is showing us that this is the relationship that God has for us. He wants to forgive us of our sins and to make us children of the Father. Sin is presented here as the obstacle to healing and sin and sickness are very closely connected in Scripture. 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." In the Old Testament, transgression can lead to illness. Deuteronomy 28 lists out blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Therefore, healing and forgiveness are often closely related to each other. Isaiah 38:16, "Oh Lord, by these things men live and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh, restore to me health and make me live. Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction for you have cast all my sins behind your back." In places, the terms are even interchangeable, we see heal and forgive almost as if you can just replace them. Psalm 41:3, "The Lord sustains him on his sick bed. In his illness, you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, 'Oh Lord, be gracious to me. Heal me for I have sinned against you." And Jesus himself links disease with sin and healing with forgiveness. In John 5, he heals a gentleman there who also could not walk and then, Jesus finds him after, in John 5:14, he says, "Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well, sin no more that nothing worse may happen to you.'" But of course, we have to balance this out with John 9. And John 9, the disciples are walking and they see, it says, "As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It is not that this man's sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" The Bible never says that we suffer in relation to how much we have sinned, and many times God calls the righteous to suffer and allows the wicked to prosper. And this is part of his purpose and remains a mystery to us. But we do know if the Lord allows seasons of suffering for us, it's always with a purpose. In Luke 13:1-5 says, "There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those 18 on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you'll all likewise perish.'" The point is that we do not necessarily suffer or get sick and direct proportion to our sins. We live in a fallen world. We're all born guilty of Adam's sin. We all have a corrupt, sinful nature, and we all commit acts of sin which may or may not bring down God's punishment upon us. Therefore, our sin, in Adam, lies at the root of all our suffering. This is what Jesus' point is that he wants to forgive sins, and that begins the process of our total restoration. Our total restoration begins with forgiveness. Point three is the King is questioned, this is verse six of Mark 2. "Now, some of the scribes were sitting there questioning in their hearts." The scribes were the so-called teachers of the law, they were the specialist in the interpretation of the law, the application of it in particular situations or disputes. And these men, it shows that they continually challenged Jesus' teaching and his authority. They did not approve of his message. They didn't approve of him because he didn't go to them for credentials, he didn't go to them for permission, and he's not part of their established big religion, if you will. And so, the opposition here asserts itself. In chapter one, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days. He won, he overcame. And then, Jesus goes into the synagogue. As soon as he starts preaching, a demon begins to interfere with Jesus' teaching, and Jesus casts out the demon from the gentlemen. And here, we see in chapter two, and this is through chapter three, that these Jewish religious leaders, the scribes, members of the sect of the Pharisees, they come as representatives of Satan, as servants of Satan because they are doing Satan's bidding. In being against Christ, they are actually doing the work of Satan. Though routed for a moment by Jesus' exorcisms and his healings, the demons now counter-attack Jesus through human instruments with special fierceness. Why? Because they know that Jesus has come to destroy the works of the evil one and they know that their time is short. Revelation 12:12 says, "Therefore, rejoice o heavens and you who dwell in them, but woe to you o earth and sea for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows that his time is short." So this counter-attack takes the form of arguments with the scribes and the Pharisees and it always begins with the question why? "Why do you speak like this? Why do you and your disciples don't fast like John and his disciples do? Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" And Jesus responds to each objection in a forceful manner. It's not wrong to ask questions, it's fine. The Lord actually says, come, let us consider, let us think, let us meditate. But here, they're not asking questions, they're questioning. It's a negative word, connotation of calculations only used in the negative sense and they're questioning in their heart. And Jesus sees the heart, he knows exactly what's going on. So in verse seven, they say, "Why does this man speak like that? He's blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Who can forgive sins but God alone? And this is true, only God can forgive sins. Only the one that was sinned against can forgive sins and that's why God is the one that forgives sins, it's his prerogative. Exodus 34:6-9, "The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding and steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation.' And Moses quickly bowed down his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, If now I have found favor in your sight, oh Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us for is a stiff-necked people and pardon our iniquity and our sin and take us for your inheritance.'" Isaiah 43:25, "I am he who bloats out your transgressions for my own sake and I will not remember your sins." So by forgiving the man's sins, what is Jesus doing? He's revealing that he is God. "Your sins are forgiven. Because you're the one who sinned against me, I am the one that can forgive you." He's proving that he is God. By saying, "How can you say this? No one can forgive sins except one, that is God," they're appealing to the Shema, the Great Shema, this is Deuteronomy 6:4-5, "Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Verse eight, "Immediately, Jesus perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves said to them, 'Why do you question these things in your hearts?'" Later, he's going to prove that he has the power for forgive sins by actually healing the gentleman, but here, he proves that he's God by reading their minds. He knows exactly what they're thinking in their hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature because I have rejected him for the Lord sees not as man sees man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." Verse nine, it continues, "Which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven, or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'?" And here, you got to pause and say, which is easier? From the standpoint of systematic theology, it may be simpler to perform a miraculous cure for God than to forgive a person's sins. We'll get to that in a bit. But in terms of external proof to these people who are questioning Jesus, it's easier to say your sins are forgiven because no one knows. Who knows if the person's sins are forgiven? It's a lot harder to do a miracle and outside observers have no immediate way of knowing if the sins are forgiven, whereas you can immediately verify a miraculous cure. So Jesus' ability to heal the gentleman is an argument from greater to lesser. If Jesus can do the greater, which is healing the paralytic, he can do the easier from the human perspective of forgiving his sins and the miracle thus confirms the claim to forgive sins. If the man is healed, there can be only one conclusion, that Jesus is God, that he has authority to forgive sins and both the healing and the forgiveness of sins are sure sign that Jesus is God and Jesus is king. But which is easier from God's perspective? The miracle is easier because God created everything just by speaking, he could speak and the man's legs are immediately healed. But to forgive this man's sins requires so much more than just a mere utterance of the word, it would require the greatest thing that has ever been done by God himself. It will take more to forgive this man's sins than to create the entire universe. All God did to create everything was speak, recreating the man's legs, so easy for God. But to forgive this man's sins required the father sending the Son who took on flesh and took the working of the Holy Spirit, all three to undergo terrible suffering. Yes, Jesus Christ suffered in this life, and yes, he suffered on the cross, but the Father suffered also in allowing all of that to happen, the Father suffered in bringing down his wrath on the Son, the Holy Spirit suffered as well. Forgiveness of our sins requires nothing less than the incarnation, the suffering, the humiliation, and finally, the crucifixion of the Son of God. All of this required to forgive even one man of his sins. God created everything just by speaking, but to recreate us from the inside out, it took the gospel, it took the cross. And this is what Jesus did, and this is what Jesus offers us. Mark 2:10, "But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home." The phrase "that you may know" is a phrase that's repeated often in the Exodus account. When Moses stands in front of Pharaoh, in his confrontation, he says, God's going to send miracles and he's going to send these curses that you may know. This is Exodus 9:13 and 14, "Then the Lord said to Moses, rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, let my people go that they may serve me, for this time, I will send all my plagues on you yourself and on your servants and your people so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.'" And what's fascinating is this divine oracle that you may know, that same phrase that was used against Pharaoh is now his prophetic judgment against Israel's own religious leaders. The Son of Man, it's a divine term for the Messiah from Daniel 7, and he has the authority, he has the power to forgive us. Verse 12, "And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all so that they were all amazed and glorified God saying, 'We never saw anything like this.'" The healing establishes the reality of the forgiveness, and it's the sure sign that Jesus is the king, the king has come and the Messianic age has dawned as promised and prophesied in Isaiah 35:5, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy." The people here of Capernaum were witnessing incredible miracle. It says that they were amazed. They've never seen anything like it. They see the first reverberations of the messianic kingdom of King Jesus. And indeed, throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease. And the miracles that are emphasized are emphasized for a reason. When Jesus heals a leper, this means that Jesus can remove the uncleanness of sin and corruption from us. When Jesus gives sight to the blind, he's showing us that those who believe in him now see things from God's perspective and Jesus gives spiritual eyesight through faith. When Jesus restores hearing to the deaf, he's demonstrating that he is the one who can give people the ability to hear God's word and understand its meaning and know that it's true. And when Jesus enables the lame to walk, he's showing us that we must follow him. When Jesus resurrects Lazarus in verse 25 of John 11, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is coming into the world.'" In other words, the miracles that we see in the Gospels aren't just meant to impress us or impress people, rather they are signs and pictures that those who believe in God's promises, those promises are true and they will come to pass. In this sense, the greatest miracle of Christianity isn't just the fact that Jesus does miracles, the greatest miracle is that we can be saved. But also, miracles don't just increase people's faith, for some people, if they see the miracle and they turn from it, it serves as damnation for them. I wonder how many people from Capernaum actually believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? How many people followed him as a king? And not many. I think it's not many. And we see this in particular in Matthew 11:20-30 where Jesus includes the miracles in Capernaum as actually damnation against them. "Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done because they did not repent. 'Woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You'll be brought down to Hades for if the mighty works done and you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on that day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.' At that time, Jesus declared, 'I thank you, father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. Yes, father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my father. And no one knows the son except the Father. And no one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him. Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I'm gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'" So friends, today, as you hear the word of God, we call you to repentance, call you to faith in Jesus Christ. And because Jesus Christ forgives sin, healing is guaranteed to all Christians. And that sounds shocking, but God has forgiven you through the shed blood and perfect righteousness of Jesus. And God has even healed some of you, perhaps miraculously through natural means or supernatural means. And God has seen you through every trial which has been brought into your life. And God will heal every one of us, if not in this life, then certainly, at the great day of resurrection. Why? Because you are forgiven of sin, you will be healed. So have you been forgiven of your sins by Jesus Christ? If you don't answer with a resounding yes, then today, right now, as we pray and as we worship, pray in your heart. Lord Jesus cleanse me from my sin. Lord Jesus, heal me of my spiritual paralysis. Wherever in your life you can't follow Jesus because you are just chained by sin today, say, "Lord, free me from that paralysis. Draw me to yourself and put me to work in the kingdom of God." Amen. Let us pray. Heavenly father, we thank you for this incredible text and I thank you for revealing your power. And I thank you that you offer us the revelation of your person, that you give us the gift of repentance and you offer us forgiveness of sins. And that's the beginning of our complete and total restoration. And I pray, Lord, fill each one of us with the Spirit. And give us a zeal, a passion for our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones who don't yet know you, are paralyzed by sin. And I pray that you give us the zeal to do everything we can to draw them to you, bring them to you, to answer their questions, to bring them to scriptures so that they also are given the gift of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. And Lord, we pray for your spirit to be poured out on this church and upon this city, and we pray for great revival and I pray that you use us in the process and we pray all this in Christ's name. Amen.
In this continuing study I take a look at the Rapture Doctrine. Is this a Pre-Trib, as taught in most mainstream Churches are do Christians go through the Tribulation Period? I compare Thessalonians to Matthew 24 along with Revelation. In this Part 51 I continue our study in this Matthew 24 verse 37. In today's study we discuss the words of Yahshua Messiah as He warns us of the Days of Noah.So we must ask ourselves what is Yahshua Messiah talking about the Days of Noah?37 As the days of Noe were =In Noah's day there was plenty of warning, but utter unpreparedness. Most people are either indifferent about the second coming or have imaginary schemes or programs about it. Few are really eager and expectant and leave to Yahweh the time and the plans.so shall also the coming of the son of man be = to take vengeance on the Jews or we can say on that 2 part beast system which John writes about in Revelation Chapter 13, that one world government and religious institute which Lucifer has control of.38 Marrying and giving in marriage = What in the world is Yahshua Messiah referring to? Who did the people of Noah's time marry? According to Genesis 6 and the Book of Enoch, they were marrying those fallen angels who left their first estate according to Jude verse 6. (Side note keep in mind that the Book of Jude is technically the first book to be written of our New Testament). Now we have to ask ourselves, why would these fallen angels want to marry with flesh women? To pollute that future bloodline that would bring into the world the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This event goes all the way back to the first prophecy in Scripture, which can be found in Genesis 3:15 (read). Satan had to try to destroy that bloodline so that prophecy would never come to pass. Read Genesis 6, Job 1, 2 and Jude verses 6-7.“giving themselves over to fornication" = does "themselves" refer to the cities Sodom and Gomorrah, or does it refer to the angels? If it goes back to the angels he is linking their sin to a sexual sin, and that is Genesis 6. Grammar tells us that it is the angels, due to gender and number agreement. Pronouns need to agree with gender number and case with their antecedent. The word "them" is from the Greek toutois, which is masculine plural, and "angels" is masculine plural, but "cities" is feminine and does not agree grammatically. So it is saying that these angels indulged in gross immorality.Enoch Chapter 61 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters.2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.'Josephus, Antiq. Book 1 Chapter 3 says; For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.Pseudo-Clementine Literature Chap. XV. - The Giants.“But from their unhallowed intercourse spurious men sprang, ranch greater in stature than ordinary men, whom they afterwards called giants; not those dragon-footed giants who waged war against God, as those blasphemous myths of the Greeks do sing, but wild in manners, and greater than men in size, inasmuch as they were sprung of angels; yet less than angels, as they were born of women. Have any questions? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalms and Wisdom: Psalm 28 Psalm 28 (Listen) The Lord Is My Strength and My Shield Of David. 28 To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.1 3 Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.4 Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.5 Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. 6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 8 The LORD is the strength of his people;2 he is the saving refuge of his anointed.9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. Footnotes  28:2 Hebrew your innermost sanctuary  28:8 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts is their strength (ESV) Pentateuch and History: 1 Samuel 17 1 Samuel 17 (Listen) David and Goliath 17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six1 cubits2 and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels3 of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.4 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. 17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah5 of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.” 19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. 31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” 38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. 41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.” 48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath6 and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. 55 As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” 57 And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” Footnotes  17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four  17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters  17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams  17:12 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew advanced among men  17:17 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters  17:52 Septuagint; Hebrew Gai (ESV) Chronicles and Prophets: Habakkuk 3 Habakkuk 3 (Listen) Habakkuk's Prayer 3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. 2 O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.4 His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.5 Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.16 He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways.7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.8 Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?9 You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows.2 Selah You split the earth with rivers.10 The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high.11 The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear.12 You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger.13 You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck.3 Selah14 You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors, who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.15 You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters. 16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed4 instruments. Footnotes  3:5 Hebrew feet  3:9 The meaning of the Hebrew line is uncertain  3:13 The meaning of the Hebrew line is uncertain  3:19 Hebrew my stringed (ESV) Gospels and Epistles: Luke 1:1–25 Luke 1:1–25 (Listen) Dedication to Theophilus 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Birth of John the Baptist Foretold 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,1 of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Footnotes  1:5 Greek Zacharias (ESV)
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” (Mt. 16). Exodus 1:8-2:10 Psalm 124 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 16:13-20 1. Who is Jesus and what are the keys of the kingdom? Yesterday on Market Street a man wearing worn clothes and just socks on his feet walked along pushing people at random as they waited in a security line to enter Ross' clothing store. Another man crouched in the corner of a bus stop bent over with his head at knee height repeatedly wailing from the heart as a police officer stood five feet away with a loudly barking German shepherd on tight leash. Another man was lying on the ground at Eddy and Mason his hair full of litter. Drugs and mental illness touch nearly every person you encounter just down the hill from here. Most of the stores have left and the world seems like it is ending. This kind of feeling pervades the beginning of J.T. Alexander's book I Am Sophia. His science fiction novel describes a not so distant future as climate change makes the planet uninhabitable. The center of gravity for human culture seems to have shifted into outer space as investors in places like Mars support companies here in the Bay Area doing gene engineering and carbon sequestration. San Francisco has been renamed Sanef and is one of several independent nations formed after the collapse of America. Like narcotics in our time, many people of the future have become addicted to Stims (this acronym which stands for “Sensory-Targetted Immersive Mindtech”). It is a kind of virtual reality that destroys souls. Horrifying and dehumanizing levels of inequality have become commonplace. Poor people are shunned and called lowcontributors. Sometimes they will have their minds effectively erased by the government. Nihilistic terrorists frequently kill ordinary people with bombs. There is almost no religion of any kind. People call it metaphysics (or metafiz) and respond to it with a mixture of disdain, suspicion and fear (as many do around us today). In this anti-religious world of the future there is only one remaining Christian church in the universe. It has ten worshipers and a doubting twenty-nine year old bishop named Peter Halabi. That church is in the ruins of Grace Cathedral. In that future time this very building has holes in the ceiling and the stained glass windows have long been boarded up. But the eleven worship faithfully every Sunday in the Chapel of Nativity. Peter worries that he will have to shepherd the church to extinction. He looks up to that same mural and the image of Mary and says, “I'm not asking… for a big miracle… Just something to let me know [God's] still up there.” [i] Soon a tent appears in front of the Ghiberti Doors. The homeless woman sheltered there enters the church just as Peter is about to read the lesson. She takes the book from him to read and her first words are “I am.” This seems to refer to God's self-description at the burning bush. It is the way the gospels often describe Jesus. It is the meaning of the letters in the corners of icons. This young woman with a scar on her face walks like a dancer. She calls herself Sophia (a biblical word for the divine feminine) and for most of the book we wonder about her. Is she God, the second coming of Jesus Christ? Or is she sick, unstable and deranged. Or is she just a fraud manipulating the gullible Christians for the sake of her own agenda? 2. This feels like the Gospel of Matthew. When Jesus walks on water and then rescues faltering Peter the disciples say, “what sort of man is this” (Mt. 8:27)? The crowds seem to be wondering the same thing when Jesus asks his friends, “Who do people say the Son of Man is” (Mt. 16)? Although we have to answer this question in our lives, as readers of this gospel we stand outside the experience of those depicted in Matthew. We see what they do not. The Gospel begins with these words, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah…” (Mt. 1:1). As we read we wonder when, and which one of them, will realize who Jesus is. This exchange between Jesus and Peter happens in Caesarea Philippi, the capital of the Tetrarchy of Philip son of Herod the Great. Herod dedicated the famous Temple there to Rome and to Emperor Augustus, whose statue stood there. He was the first emperor to add to his title: “Divi Filius” or “Son of the Divine.” Jesus asks his friends who they say he is and Peter says, “You are the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16). Soon we see that Peter does not yet really understand what he is saying. All of us have trouble with this. We think of Jesus as simply a more powerful version of Emperor Augustus when Jesus is really overthrowing that whole way of being. Jesus shows that the way of domination and self-aggrandizement although it seems stable and powerful on the surface is like sand. In contrast we have the path of Peter with his imperfections, his courage and fear, his insight and foolishness, but above all his faith. This improbable foundation is the rock upon which our lives can be founded. This is faith which is a kind of pursuit rather than an accomplishment. Going on Jesus says, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” (Mt. 16). Through history this sentence has been used to justify the church in those moments when we have been more like the Emperor Augustus than like Jesus, as if some institutional authority in Rome or Canterbury could have power over whether a person can be saved. This could not be further from the truth. The Biblical scholar Herman Waetjen points out several other ancient examples that clarify what Matthew means. The power of the keys has to do more with things and policies than people. For instance, the historian Josephus writes about Queen Alexandra who ruled the Hasmonean Kingdom from 78-69 BCE. She deputized Pharisees as the administrators of the state and gave them the power, “to loose and to bind.” For Herman this power is about determining what practices are permitted or forbidden. [ii] We all have a role in this. We all in our way preach the gospel through what we say and how we live. We contribute to the picture of what is acceptable. And we have a responsibility for creating the kind of society which is humane in its care for the people I saw on the streets yesterday. The puritan theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) writes that the reason for this passage about the keys is that over history it has been dangerous to speak Jesus' truth and it is important for us to know both that we are doing God's work and that God stands beside us as we do. [iii] The twentieth century theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) writes that the thought of God will always disturb the world. Our relations with each other, will never be perfectly clear. We will never adequately understand our situation in the world. That is the reason we need to orient ourselves toward the Eternal, to God. Barth says, “For the vast ambiguity of our life is at once its deepest truth… We know that our thinking of the thought of eternity is never a thing completed in time...” [iv] Our attention to Jesus, our prayer, is how we avoid being conformed to the world. It is how, instead, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds in Christ (Rom. 12). About half of I Am Sophia takes place at Grace Cathedral and half on Mars. In the book, Sophia was terribly abused as a child but she found nourishment in the Bible and other Christian books. This made her a kind of theologian. Was Sophia the Christ? I do not want to spoil the book for you. As he finds himself falling in love with her, Sophia has a great deal to teach the young bishop, and perhaps us also. She says, “You are the guardian of a great treasure. It is your tradition, and it has an incredible spiritual value, an almost miraculous capacity to change lives for the better. But you misplaced the keys to the treasure chest… when scripture and religion became primarily about trying to determine who was right and who was wrong.” [v] Later she gives a kind of invocation, “May your soul have deep roots and strong wings.” [vi] This means that followers of Jesus need to have a foundation, a stable identity, but we also need room to evolve. Changes in technology and society leave modern people less rooted and more focused on wings. You see this in their emphasis on individual freedom, innovation and progress. In contrast, many Christians regard the secular world as destructive and offtrack. This leads them to become so backward looking that they are all roots and no wings. The living, loving God of the gospel became to them static and oppressive. What does not evolve dies. This summer's survey and our town hall meeting this morning address consider this issue. The idea lies at the heart of our mission statement to “reimagine church with courage, joy and wisdom.” For generations Grace Cathedral has been known for this. But it is up to us if we will continue to have roots and wings. Near the end of the novel, Sophia says to Peter, “You think strength means being untouched by the suffering we are approaching. You still do not know me…” [vii] Will San Francisco as we know it die as people self-centeredly and obsessively seek to save themselves? Will the future Grace Cathedral lie in ruins? Will the world know who Jesus is? At the center of Grace Cathedral is not a statue of the emperor or a belief in domination and self-assertion. At the heart of our being is a living person, the living child of God. He calls us by name and offers the keys to a deeper, more humane and faithful life. Come let us follow Jesus. [viii] [i] J.F. Alexander, I am Sophia: A Novel (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, Wipf and Stock, 2021) 7. [ii] Herman Waetjen, Matthew's Theology of Fulfillment, Its Universality and Its Ethnicity: God's New Israel as the Pioneer of God's New Humanity (NY: Bloomsbury, 2017) 185-7. [iii] “It was important for the apostles to have constant and perfect assurance in their preaching, which they were not only to carry out in infinite labors, cares, troubles, and dangers, but at last to seal with their own blood. In order that they might know, I say, that this assurance was not vain or empty, but full of power and strength, it was important for them to be convinced that in such anxiety, difficulty and danger they were doing God's work; also for them to recognize that God stood beside them while the whole world opposed and attached them; for them, not having Christ, the Author of their doctrine before their eyes on earth, to know that he, in heaven, confirms the truth of the doctrine which he had delivered to them…” John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion ed. John T. McNeill, Tr. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) 1213 (4.11.1). [iv] “There is – and this is what we mean – a thinking of the thought of grace, of resurrection, of forgiveness, and of eternity. Such thinking is congruous with our affirmation of the full ambiguity of our temporal existence. When once we realize that the final meaning of our temporal existence lies in our questioning as to its meaning, then it is that we think of eternity – in our most utter collapse. For the vast ambiguity of our life is at once its deepest truth. And moreover, when we think this thought, our thinking is renewed; for such rethinking is repentance. We know too that our thinking of the thought of eternity is never a thing completed in time, for it is full of promise. As an act of thinking it dissolves itself; it participates in the pure thought of God, and is there an accepted sacrifice, living, holy, acceptable to God.” Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 6th Edition tr. Edwyn C. Hoskyns (NY: Oxford University Press, 1975) 437. [v] J.F. Alexander, I am Sophia: A Novel (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, Wipf and Stock, 2021) 60. [vi] Ibid., 95. [vii] Ibid., 168. [viii] Matthew Boulton, “Who do you say that I am…”, SALT, 21 August 2023. https://www.saltproject.org/progressive-christian-blog/2020/8/18/who-do-you-say-that-i-am-salts-lectionary-commentary-for-twelfth-week-after-pentecost
With family: 1 Samuel 17; Romans 15 1 Samuel 17 (Listen) David and Goliath 17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six1 cubits2 and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels3 of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.4 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. 17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah5 of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.” 19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. 31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” 38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. 41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.” 48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath6 and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. 55 As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” 57 And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” Footnotes  17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four  17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters  17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams  17:12 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew advanced among men  17:17 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters  17:52 Septuagint; Hebrew Gai (ESV) Romans 15 (Listen) The Example of Christ 15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Paul the Minister to the Gentiles 14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,1 that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, 21 but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” Paul's Plan to Visit Rome 22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected,2 I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing3 of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Footnotes  15:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 30  15:28 Greek sealed to them this fruit  15:29 Some manuscripts insert of the gospel (ESV) In private: Psalm 33; Lamentations 2 Psalm 33 (Listen) The Steadfast Love of the Lord 33 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 4 For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. 6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! 13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (ESV) Lamentations 2 (Listen) The Lord Has Destroyed Without Pity 2 How the Lord in his anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud! He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. 2 The Lord has swallowed up without mercy all the habitations of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers. 3 He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn from them his right hand in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around. 4 He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes in the tent of the daughter of Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire. 5 The Lord has become like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel; he has swallowed up all its palaces; he has laid in ruins its strongholds, and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. 6 He has laid waste his booth like a garden, laid in ruins his meeting place; the LORD has made Zion forget festival and Sabbath, and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest. 7 The Lord has scorned his altar, disowned his sanctuary; he has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they raised a clamor in the house of the LORD as on the day of festival. 8 The LORD determined to lay in ruins the wall of the daughter of Zion; he stretched out the measuring line; he did not restrain his hand from destroying; he caused rampart and wall to lament; they languished together. 9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; he has ruined and broken her bars; her king and princes are among the nations; the law is no more, and her prophets find no vision from the LORD. 10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have thrown dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the young women of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground. 11 My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city. 12 They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like a wounded man in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers' bosom. 13 What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea; who can heal you? 14 Your prophets have seen for you&l
THE BELIEF that the Philistines were giants (or had giants among them) with six fingers and toes on their hands and feet comes from 2 Samuel 21. That's not necessarily what those verses mean. As we discussed in our study of 1 Samuel 17, the oldest Hebrew sources, the Dead Sea scrolls and the first-century historian Josephus, record that Goliath of Gath was four cubits (not six) and a span, or about 6'9”. That's still big, but not as big as he's usually depicted. In 2 Samuel 21, the Hebrew phrase translated “descendants of the giant(s),” yelide ha-rapha, doesn't mean that the Philistines defeated by David and his men were literal genetic descendants of the Rephaim/Nephilim. According to scholar Conrad L'Heureux, the word yelide more accurately means “one who is born into the group by adoption, initiation, or consecration;” in other words, a member of an elite warrior cult whose patron was “the rapha”—a word that is the singular form of Rephaim. Who was “the rapha”? We can't say for sure. The Canaanites venerated a deity called Rapiu, the “king of eternity,” who ruled at Ashtaroth and Edrei, the royal cities of King Og of Bashan, a land that was believed to be the entrance to the netherworld. While Rapiu is the singular form of rapiuma (the Canaanite form of Rephaim), we don't have an explicit link between Rapiu and “the rapha.” All that said, it is possible that this warrior cult engaged in rituals that enhanced its members epigenetically. After all, they were able to wield 12-pound spears with shafts “like a weaver's beam.” One of the clues is in the name of the Philistine warrior Ishbi-benob. That name should be rendered Ishbi ben ob, or “Ishbi, son of the medium.” The Hebrew word ôb, usually translated “medium,” means “owner of a necromantic ritual pit,” and it's related to the Sumerian abzu, from which we get the word “abyss.” In short, the Philistine “giants” were demon-worshipping, and possibly demon-possessed, warriors, similar to Viking berserkers. We also note that the verse mentioning the six-fingered Philistine, 2 Sam. 21:20, doesn't necessarily mean that this was a trait of the Nephilim. This (and its parallel, 1 Chr. 20:6) is the only verse that mentions polydactyly in the Bible. Since the giants of Noah's day were destroyed in the Flood, this may not be a genetic trait of the Nephilim at all. To be clear, we're open to the idea of a post-Flood incursion of giant divine-human hybrids. But such an incursion is not explicit in the Bible and it can't be proved archaeologically—at least, not yet.——————Our Build Barn Better project is making progress! Our 1,200 square pole barn has a new floor and new wiring. Insulation, lights, and HVAC will follow. After that, we'll move our studios, book/DVD warehouse, and shipping office out of our home. If you are so led, you can help out by clicking here. Get our free app! It connects you to these studies plus our weekly video programs Unraveling Revelation and A View from the Bunker, and the podcast that started this journey in 2005, P.I.D. Radio. Best of all, it bypasses the gatekeepers of Big Tech! The app is available for iOS, Android, Roku, and Apple TV. Links to the app stores are at www.gilberthouse.org/app/. Video on demand of our best teachings! Stream presentations and teachings based on our research at our new video on demand site! Check out our online store! www.GilbertHouse.org/store is a virtual book table with books and DVDs related to our weekly Bible study. Take advantage of our monthly specials!——————Join us in Israel! Our 2024 tour of Israel features special guest Timothy Alberino! We will tour the Holy Land March 31–April 9, 2024, with an optional three-day extension in Jordan. For more information, log on to www.GilbertsInIsrael.com.——————Subscribe to our new YouTube channels!Unraveling Revelation: www.YouTube.com/UnravelingRevelationThese weekly studies and Derek's podcast: www.YouTube.com/GilbertHouse—————— Our favorite Bible study tools! Check the links in the right-hand column at www.GilbertHouse.org. For the complete Gilbert House Fellowship archive, go to www.spreaker.com/show/gilbert-house-fellowship.
THE BELIEF that the Philistines were giants (or had giants among them) with six fingers and toes on their hands and feet comes from 2 Samuel 21. That's not necessarily what those verses mean. As we discussed in our study of 1 Samuel 17, the oldest Hebrew sources, the Dead Sea scrolls and the first-century historian Josephus, record that Goliath of Gath was four cubits (not six) and a span, or about 6'9”. That's still big, but not as big as he's usually depicted. In 2 Samuel 21, the Hebrew phrase translated “descendants of the giant(s),” yelide ha-rapha, doesn't mean that the Philistines defeated by David and his men were literal genetic descendants of the Rephaim/Nephilim. According to scholar Conrad L'Heureux, the word yelide more accurately means “one who is born into the group by adoption, initiation, or consecration;” in other words, a member of an elite warrior cult whose patron was “the rapha”—a word that is the singular form of Rephaim. Who was “the rapha”? We can't say for sure. The Canaanites venerated a deity called Rapiu, the “king of eternity,” who ruled at Ashtaroth and Edrei, the royal cities of King Og of Bashan, a land that was believed to be the entrance to the netherworld. While Rapiu is the singular form of rapiuma (the Canaanite form of Rephaim), we don't have an explicit link between Rapiu and “the rapha.” All that said, it is possible that this warrior cult engaged in rituals that enhanced its members epigenetically. After all, they were able to wield 12-pound spears with shafts “like a weaver's beam.” One of the clues is in the name of the Philistine warrior Ishbi-benob. That name should be rendered Ishbi ben ob, or “Ishbi, son of the medium.” The Hebrew word ôb, usually translated “medium,” means “owner of a necromantic ritual pit,” and it's related to the Sumerian abzu, from which we get the word “abyss.” In short, the Philistine “giants” were demon-worshipping, and possibly demon-possessed, warriors, similar to Viking berserkers. We also note that the verse mentioning the six-fingered Philistine, 2 Sam. 21:20, doesn't necessarily mean that this was a trait of the Nephilim. This (and its parallel, 1 Chr. 20:6) is the only verse that mentions polydactyly in the Bible. Since the giants of Noah's day were destroyed in the Flood, this may not be a genetic trait of the Nephilim at all. To be clear, we're open to the idea of a post-Flood incursion of giant divine-human hybrids. But such an incursion is not explicit in the Bible and it can't be proved archaeologically—at least, not yet.
Welcome to Day 2176 of Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me. This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom The Gospel of John – 36 – Jesus Prayed for You – Daily Wisdom Putnam Church Message – 10/23/2022 The Gospel of John – Part 4 Confirmation Of The Word – Jesus Prayed For You Today we continue our series on the Good News according to John the Apostle. Last week, Jesus prayed that His final act as the Word made Human would bring glory to God as He completed His mission. He then prayed for His disciples that they would be set apart, or sanctified as they continued the mission that He began, which was to build God's kingdom until He returned to restore the Global Eden. In John 17:17-19, Jesus said, 17 Sanctify them by the truth;/ your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (set apart) Our scripture for today is John 17:20-26, starting on page 1680 in the Pew Bible. Today we continue the Lord's Prayer as Jesus prays for all believers in a message titled Jesus Prayed For You. Follow along as I read. Jesus Prays for All Believers 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father,/ just as you are in me/ and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Let me start today with a story. Josephus, the 1st and 2nd-century Jewish historian, records a marvelous story that may or may not be accurate. In his great campaign for world domination in the 330s BC, Alexander the Great moved from the Hellespont to Egypt, laying siege to walled cities and conquering land in between. His path to Egypt took him down the narrow land bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Desert, a land ruled by Jerusalem. Israel was a choice piece of land for anyone wanting to control trade with Egypt. No one knew that better than the citizens of Jerusalem, who...
Introduction • A few months ago I got an interesting text from Steve Walker. He said, “Hey, we're going to be going through Ephesians, and we want to know if you'll be up to preach.” • So I was like, “Yeah!” Texted him back. Absolutely. o I love Ephesians. I've been to Ephesus a couple times, maybe I'll be able to talk about some of the harbor there and the multinational city and the impact that had on the believers there. o Riot in the theater in Acts 19 and tie that into the book. The goddess Artemis. o Or maybe I'll get to say something about Apollos. I did a really cool study once on Apollos and Alexandria. Favorite. Acts 18 mentions that he was a Jew who grew up in Egypt and went to Ephesus to preach the gospel. It's really cool since that's where the Jewish philosopher Philo grew up. He was into rhetoric and there were a number of erudite schools in Alexandria. Apollos may have learned some of his rhetoric from Philo and taken it to Ephesus. Maybe I'll get to talk about that a bit! o Or maybe I can talk about Jews and Gentiles. Ephesians is all about unity between the two. My wife is Jewish, I'm not. I lived and taught in Israel for years…maybe I'll get to talk about that. • I got all excited, went home, turned to my passage in Eph 5:22 to see what I get to preach on. And these are the words I read: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” o OK, there goes Apollos, the theater, Jews/Gentile…“Wait that's the passage you give me?” o It's not exactly my first choice.
#219.** With Tisha B'Av approaching, check out Aleph Beta's collection of inspiring Tisha B'Av videos. Rabbi David Fohrman, founder of Aleph Beta, explores some of the most beloved Tisha B'Av texts to discover the deeper meaning and relevance of the day. And for a limited time only, our listeners get $18 off an annual Aleph Beta membership, which will give you access to all the Tisha b'av videos plus hundreds more on parsha and the other holidays. Go to Aleph Beta and enter coupon code SEFORIM23 for $18 off an annual premium membership.****To support the podcast or to sponsor an episode: https://seforimchatter.com/support-seforimchatter/ or email email@example.com (Zelle/QP this email address)*With Prof. Jodi Magness discussing the history of MasadaWe discussed the history of Masada and Herod, story as told by Josephus, the siege of 72-73, how the siege took place and the tactics used by the Romans, the early explorers and excavations of Masada, the archeological findings in Masada, the mass suicide story as told by Josephus, and moreTo purchase, "Masada: From Jewish Revolt toModern Myth": https://amzn.to/3YaaoYQ
The backdrop of the death of Yeshua is covered, as well as some eschatological points from the Olivet Discourse. What does it mean to “call on the name of Yahweh”? The curses of Deuteronomy 28 are also covered, and a shocking realization from Josephus' recorded history is read.
The Sixth Sunday after Trinity: More Righteous than the Pharisees Romans 6:3-11 & St. Matthew 5:20-26 by William Klock What does it mean to follow Jesus? To believe the gospel? To repent and to believe? What does it mean for us? Who does it make us? What's our mission? What do we do and where are we headed? What does Jesus expect of us? Last Sunday we read Jesus' calling of Peter, James, and John. “Follow me and from now on you'll be catching people,” he told them. But how? From what? And why? Do you ever feel like that? I know I do. Jesus and the Spirit have incorporated us into this community of people called the Church, a people chosen and called to be salt and light, to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus, to announce to the world that he is Lord. He is in the process of setting this broken, sad, and messed up world to rights and one day he will wipe away every last bit of sin and even death itself in a great act of redeeming judgement. He will make all things new in the same way he was made new in his resurrection and in some way for which our new birth in the power of God's own Spirit is a foretaste. We're called to prepare the world for that great day. But how? What do we say? What do we do? And when do we say it and when do we do it? How do we do it? Some days it's overwhelming. Some days you just want to retreat into your private devotional life or into the church and just be a good person, read your Bible and say your prayers and wait for Jesus to come back and sort it all out. And that's what a lot of people do. But think of Peter, James, and John and think of the rest of the disciples, not just the twelve, but the seventy and all those others who were there on Pentecost and the thousands—tens of thousands—more who lived through those days of trial and tribulation in Jerusalem and Antioch and Ephesus and Rome—many of whom were martyred for their witness to Jesus his kingdom. What does it mean, what does it look like to be this new Israel, this new people of God centred in Jesus the Messiah? Peter, James, John and the rest of them wanted to know, so it makes perfect sense that as St. Matthew tells us Jesus' story, the very next episode after Jesus calls his disciples is Jesus taking them up a mountain to teach them. They've believed his message that the kingdom is soon to come. They've believed that it will come with this great act of the Lord's judgement on his faithless people even if they don't quite understand what that's going to look like. But what do they do in the meantime? And so Jesus sits them down and teaches them all those things that have almost sort of become Christian cliches. Jesus begins with those announcements of blessing on the humble and the mourners and the seekers after righteousness, because they will be the ones who will inherit this new thing that the Lord, through Jesus, is inaugurating, they will be the ones to inherit that new state of affairs that would be on the other side of the judgement coming at the end of their generation. And Jesus wraps up this long teaching with a series of warnings. Many within Israel are following an easy and broad road to destruction. They are like a fruitless tree that the Lord will cut down and cast into the fire. Israel—or many of its people at any rate—have built their house on sand and when the stormwaters rage, it will all come crashing down around them. And in the aftermath of that judgement on faithless Israel, Jesus will be vindicated as Messiah before the eyes of the watching world—and so will his people, this new Israel transformed and empowered by the very Spirit of God. And finally, through this people and their Messiah, the gentiles, the nations will see the God of Israel and come to give him glory—finally! But in the meantime, in the middle of all that, as they proclaim the kingdom, what does life following Jesus look like? This is where our Gospel lesson today picks up. Look at Matthew 5:20. Jesus said to his disciples: Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. I wonder how this fell on the ears of Peter and the others. Was it exciting or discouraging or overwhelming? Maybe all those things. Because the Pharisees were the most righteous people around. If you want to understand the Pharisees, understand that they purposed to live their lives—from the little things to the big things—everything, as if they were living in the temple itself, that place where heaven and earth intersected, that place where God dwelt in their midst—or at least where his presence had dwelt at one time in the past. That was the problem. Since the exile, the Lord's presence had been gone from the temple. But if everyone in Israel would do the same as the Pharisees, they thought, then the Lord would bless his people. He would hear their cries, he would return to the temple, he would judge their enemies, and he would set everything to rights. And now what Jesus is saying is that the Pharisees were on the right track. If Israel wants the Lord's blessing and the Lord's deliverance, and all of that, then righteousness—living in the presence of God—that's the key. That's what Israel had always been called to do, ever since the Lord had called Abraham and especially since he'd delivered them from Egypt and given them his law. They were to be a people who truly lived that way, a people would truly honour God. And a people like that would bring the nations to give him glory. But instead, Israel had been unfaithful and the nations mocked her and mocked her God. Even the Pharisees weren't righteous enough. And so Jesus goes on in verse 21: You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!' will be liable to the fire of Gehenna. The righteousness of the Pharisees, Jesus has warned, is not enough. When judgement fell on Israel, it would fall on the Pharisees along with all the rest of the faithless. And that's because the letter of the law simply isn't enough. Do you remember the summary of the law? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbour as yourself. That's the heart of the law. If you love your neighbour, you certainly won't murder him, but neither will you nurse hatred for him in your heart. Jesus sets a higher standard. The Pharisees were right in thinking that Israel needed to live mindful of being in the Lord's presence. But they were hypocritical—thinking they could fulfil the law by keeping the externals while ignoring the internals, by honouring the lord in their actions, even if they didn't in their hearts. Jesus raises the bar. But he's really just reminding them of where the bar always was for the people of God. The Pharisees will be swept up in the judgement to come, in the war with Rome, along with all the rest of the unfaithful in Israel. That's what Jesus is getting at when he talks about the “fire of Gehenna”—or as the ESV puts it the “hell of fire”. I wish our modern translations would just use the word Jesus' uses—Gehenna—instead of translating it as hell, because the translation masks over the way that Jesus is pointing the disciples back to the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah used the image of the Valley of Hinnom, a place where human sacrifice to the god Molech had once taken place. Jeremiah warned that when the Babylonians defeated Jerusalem there would be so many dead that the bodies would be heaped up in that valley. Jesus' point is that it's going to happen all over again, this time with defeat at the hands of Rome. Josephus describes the city so filled with the dead that the bodies were dumped into that same valley by the thousands. If you draw line from Jeremiah to Josephus is runs straight through Jesus' warning here. The Sadducees, the Zealots, and even the Pharisees will find themselves under the Lord's judgement on that awful day—and Jesus' point to his disciples is that so will they, so will everyone, who continues to live out the law by the low standard that had become the norm in Israel. So will everyone who fails to truly live as the people with the Lord in their midst. Why? Because the Lord had called and chosen this people to be his witnesses to the world, to be salt, to be light, to show the world what it looked like to be the people who lived in the presence of God—so that the nations would see and be drawn to his goodness and give him glory. Instead, again, the nations mocked the God of Israel because of the unfaithfulness of his people. And God will deal with them soon. His faithfulness and his glory will be manifest one way or the other: if not in blessing, then in his discipline. So Jesus gives his disciples the alternative. If you love your brother, go and reconcile with him. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:23-26) What's the point here? Brothers and Sisters, always remember the story and remember why the Lord called and chose a people to represent him in the world. He called Abraham and his family in order to make himself know through them to a world that had forgotten him. Through his people, the Lord was working to reconcile this lost and sinful world to himself. And so Israel was called to live out in her daily life the reconciling love of God for the sake of the world. For the most part Israel failed. And so the Lord came himself in Jesus to show his people what that reconciling love looks like in real life—even to the point of giving his own life for their sake—and Jesus called a new people from within Israel to live that reconciling love themselves. And even though this new people of God, just like Jesus, would be mocked and hated and even martyred, in the end the Lord would vindicate them just as he vindicated his Son. And in that, the world would finally stand up and take note of the living God and return to him. This is what it looks like to be God's people. This is what it meant for Peter and John and James to follow Jesus and to fish for men and women and to prepare Israel for that coming day of judgment. But how could they do it? I expect the disciples were sitting there listening to Jesus and thinking that this is all well and good, but if the Pharisees can't meet the bar—and if Israel had been failing to meet it all along—how are we going to meet it? For that we turn to St. Paul and to our Epistle from Romans 6. Somehow Israel—and then the rest of the human race—needed a change of heart, a transformation from within. Hearts set on sin and on self had to be turned to back to the Lord and filled with love. This is what Paul gets at in our Epistle. Because of Jesus, we are not the same people we once were. Look at Romans 6:3-4. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Baptism changes everything. Again, just as we need to imagine ourselves as First Century Galileans when we hear Jesus preaching we need to remember that Paul, too, was writing to mostly Jewish Christians only a few decades later. When we do that what we realise is that in Romans Paul is retelling Israel's story and in Romans 6, as he writes about Baptism and what it means and does, he's simultaneously telling the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt. Israel cried out to the Lord from the misery of her slavery and oppression. The Lord heard and he sent Moses. Moses led the people out of their bondage and into the Promised Land and that journey began at the Red Sea. They entered the sea as slaves and the came out the other side a free people, their captors crushed and drowned under the waves. And yet they had to pass through the wilderness. It took longer than the people expected. They grumbled a lot and even got angry with the Lord and with Moses and talked about going back to Egypt. But the Lord led his people—a cloud by day and fire by night—and eventually they entered the Promised Land. Again, the Israelites entered the Sea slaves and they came out the other side a free people. And Paul uses this to illustrate what happens in baptism. We go into the water dead and we come out alive. We go into the water slaves to sin and death and we come out free people. And that's what makes Jesus' impossible calling possible. It's what makes possible a righteousness greater even than the righteousness of the Pharisees. Paul says that in our baptism we are united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. God called Israel to be salt and light, he gave her his law, but it wasn't written on her heart. Israel had the same wicked, self-centred heart that all humanity shares. But Jesus came as the true Israelite. His life and ministry embodied Israel's calling. He even followed Israel's pattern symbolically in his own baptism and his own forty days in the wilderness. And then he took on himself the crucifixion that Israel deserved. His enemies killed him, but instead of returning judgement and violence on them, instead of cursing them, he responded by praying to his Father: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Sin and death, anger and hate did their worst to Jesus at the cross and Jesus overcame them with love and with sacrifice. Impossible? For human beings who have only their own sinful wills to rely on, yes. But not for Jesus and not for those who have been baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are not who we once were. Earlier in Romans Paul describes what we used to be as being “in Adam”. By birth we are part of the old humanity, fallen and enslaved to sin. By virtue of our baptism we are born again. We are now “in Christ”—in Jesus the Messiah. This is what Paul means when he writes in verses 6 and 7: We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Sometimes sin comes knocking at the door and it seems impossible to say no. Sometimes that certain person who irritates us comes around and we know we should forgive and love them but it seems impossible. It feels like we're still slaves to sin. All sin has to do is show up and we cave in to it. But Paul says, No! That old self is dead. It was crucified with Jesus. We are no longer slaves. We have been set free from bondage to sin. Like Israel wanting to go back to Egypt, it's easy to be tempted to go back to that bondage. The wilderness isn't an easy place to be, but the Lord is with us anyway. And Paul stresses that we need to remember that sin no longer has any hold on us. We're new and free people in the Messiah. Paul goes on: Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8-11) Jesus burst alive from the tomb that first Easter. Other people, like Lazarus, had come back from the dead too, but Jesus' resurrection is different. Lazarus had to die again, but Jesus has gone through death and come out the other side into a kind of life that death can never touch and, Paul says, if we are in Jesus the Messiah then we have a share in this new life. We're not there yet. We too still have to face death, but we live in hope knowing that like Jesus we will come out the other side of death alive in a way we never have been before—alive in the way that God truly intended us to be when he created us. But what about today? Sin and death can't touch our future, but what about our present? Jesus' calling still seems impossible so much of the time. And this is why Paul makes this point. Our baptism pulls our future hope into the present. It takes the life of Jesus and his victory over sin and death and applies it to us today. There's a change whether we feel it or not. The Israelites didn't necessarily feel any different on one side of the Red Sea than they had on the other, but everything was still different for them. They had been slaves; now they were free. And just so for us. We are no longer in Adam; we are in Jesus. And Jesus has poured the God's Spirit into us and the Spirit is at work to renew our minds and regenerate our hearts as we live in this in-between time. In verse 11 Paul says that we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus the Messiah. That word “consider” is the same one we saw in the Epistle from Romans 8 two weeks ago. It's an accounting term that Paul uses. And here's his point. When you send your books to your accountant he adds everything up and gives you the bottom line. His reckoning doesn't change your financial situation. Nothing about your situation has actually changed by the fact that your accountant has added up your profit and loss columns. But that bottom line he reckons for you shows you in fact where you stand. It might mean you've got money you need to invest or creditors you need to pay or it might mean you need to economise and tighten your belt. Adding up your profits and losses doesn't itself have an impact on the health of your business, but it does make you aware of it and it tells you what you need to do. And so Paul looks at the cross and he looks at the empty tomb and he looks at the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost and everything else and he says: I've done the math. You are in the Messiah. You are dead to sin and alive to God. Now start living that way! Is it a challenge? Of course. Jesus was baptised, the heavens opened up, the Spirit descended on him and the Father spoke, “This is my Son. With him I am pleased”. And then Jesus went straight into the wilderness to battle the devil. The Lord led Israel out of Egypt through the miraculous parting of the sea, he was present with her, giving the law and leading as cloud and as fire and yet he led her straight into the wilderness. And we too. We're baptised and the Lord sends us straight from the Font into the world. If there's anything Jesus (and John and Paul and Peter) are clear about in the scriptures, it's that his people will face opposition and trials and tribulation at the hands of a wicked and doubting world. And there's a reason why, in our baptism, we're called on to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil. All three will come after us. They'll tell us that nothing has changed. They'll tell us that following after Jesus is impossible. They'll tempt us to give up or at least to compromise. When others sin against us, when they hurt us, when they wrong us the temptation comes saying: “It's okay, be angry or be bitter. Get that person out of your life—you don't need them. Hey, look how well you're doing! You didn't kill them!” Brothers and Sisters, that's sin calling. Jesus calls us to seek to reconcile. Jesus calls us to embrace the wrongs that others do to us and to return those wrong with grace. Jesus calls us to break the cycle of anger and hate and violence. And when it seems impossible, remember your baptism. We are a new creation. You have died and risen again with Jesus and he has poured his Spirit into you—into us. Brothers and Sisters, in that the Lord had made us witnesses of the transformation from the old creation, full of death and decay and sin and sadness, into the new world in which he is reconciling everything and everyone to himself, in which his law of love reigns, and in which he will wipe away every tear. Live as the men and women that God has made you through Jesus and the Spirit and not only will you see the kingdom of God, but all the people around you will have a glimpse of it to. Make them constructively curious by your life and you'll have the opportunity to explain the good news of Jesus, crucified and risen, that they too might know God's new creation. Let us pray: Gracious Father, you have poured your love into us poor sinners by giving your own Son as a sacrifice. Teach us to pour that love back out to the world. When it seems impossible to break the cycle of sin and anger and hate, remind us of our baptism and that, through Jesus, you have brought us into your new creation. Remind us that we have died with him and risen with him and that sin and death no longer hold us captive. Teach us to live for righteousness that the world might see Jesus and his kingdom through us. Amen.
Proper 9 First Psalm: Psalm 18:1–20 Psalm 18:1–20 (Listen) The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: 18 I love you, O LORD, my strength.2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;15 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. 7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,2 and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.10 He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.12 Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. 13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.15 Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. 16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.17 He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. 20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. Footnotes  18:4 Or terrified me  18:8 Or in his wrath (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalm 18:21–50 Psalm 18:21–50 (Listen) 21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.22 For all his rules1 were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt.24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;26 with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.28 For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.29 For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.30 This God—his way is perfect;2 the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. 31 For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—32 the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.34 He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed.38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet.39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,3 and those who hated me I destroyed.41 They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. 43 You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me.44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.45 Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. 46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—47 the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me,48 who rescued me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from the man of violence. 49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.50 Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. Footnotes  18:22 Or just decrees  18:30 Or blameless  18:40 Or You gave me my enemies' necks (ESV) Old Testament: 1 Samuel 16:14–17:11 1 Samuel 16:14–17:11 (Listen) David in Saul's Service 14 Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. 15 And Saul's servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. David and Goliath 17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six1 cubits2 and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels3 of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Footnotes  17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four  17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters  17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams (ESV) New Testament: Acts 10:17–33 Acts 10:17–33 (Listen) 17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,1 for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” 30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,2 and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.' 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” Footnotes  10:20 Or accompany them, making no distinction  10:30 That is, 3 p.m. (ESV) Gospel: Luke 24:36–53 Luke 24:36–53 (Listen) Jesus Appears to His Disciples 36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,1 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for2 the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The Ascension 50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. Footnotes  24:42 Some manuscripts add and some honeycomb  24:47 Some manuscripts and (ESV)
Wednesday, 12 July 2023 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. Acts 18:18 The words are more closely translated as, “Now Paul, having remained many days more, having taken leave of the brothers, sailed away to Syria – and with him Priscilla and Aquila – having shaved the head in Cenchrea, for he had a vow” (CG). In the last verse, Sosthenes had taken a pounding from the Greeks, right in front of Gallio. With that remembered, it next says, “Now Paul, having remained many days more.” The exact timeframe is left unstated, but one can get the sense of several months at least. With the matter concerning the accusation of the Jews resolved, along with the pounding Sosthenes received, the times were again favorable for Paul to work unhindered among the Greeks. However, eventually, the time came for him to leave, go to Israel, and then finally come to the church in Syrian Antioch. That departure from Corinth is seen in the continued words, “having taken leave of the brothers.” Paul eventually had to extend his farewells to the brethren in Corinth. It must have been a difficult thing for him to do, having been there for such a long time, but he would also be pleased that he could leave them to run things on their own. Unfortunately, the context of 1 Corinthians is an epistle being sent to a highly dysfunctional church. However, at this time and under his watchful care, he was able to leave them and journey forth. In having taken his leave of them, it next says he “sailed away to Syria.” As noted above, this was not a straight sail to Syria, but the final leg of this particular journey. With that, it notes, “and with him Priscilla and Aquila.” Priscilla is noted first. Four times they are seen together, including this verse, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19. She is mentioned first three times. There is speculation as to why this is, but no definitive answer is available. Despite this curiosity, it next says, “having saved the head in Cenchrea.” The question that is raised among scholars is, “Who shaved his head?” The Greek is ambiguous enough to mean either Paul or Aquila. Aquila is the nearest antecedent and it would explain why he was mentioned after Priscilla. However, the context of the overall thought is focused on Paul. Because of this, the words are often taken as parenthetical. Despite this, some translations, such as the Latin Vulgate, say it is Aquila. The Syriac identifies it as Paul. Either way, the shaving of the head was in Cenchrea. This was the port of Corinth. In other words, the shaving of the head is at the place of departure. Strong's notes that the name Cenchrea is probably from kegchros, meaning millet. As for the act of shaving, it next says, “for he had a vow.” This is surely not a Nazirite vow as found in Numbers 6, but rather something like what is mentioned by Josephus as ‘is customary for persons in any affliction, viz. to make a vow that, for thirty days previous to that on which they intend to offer sacrifice, they will abstain from wine and will shave off their hair' (Pulpit Commentary). What seems to be suggested is that the hair was cut as the result of having been safely delivered from the afflictions faced in Corinth. In other words, this is the fulfillment of a vow, not an act to initiate a vow. As Cenchrea was the town at the entrance to the haven belonging to Corinth, Paul (or possibly, but less likely, Aquila) was acknowledging the safe deliverance promised by the Lord. This is why “Cenchrea” and “vow” are specifically mentioned in the same thought. Though not a Nazirite vow, the same process is seen. After the completion of the vow, the hair is cut off. If this was a Nazirite vow, the hair would have been cut off at the temple in Jerusalem and a set ritual would take place. Nothing of that is noted here or later concerning this vow. In other words, this cutting of the hair was an act of gratefulness to the Lord for something that had been vowed before, similar to what Jacob had said to the Lord in Genesis 28:20-22 – “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.'” As such, this is a vow of conscience, not a matter of law. The vow was uttered, and in thankfulness for the petition having been granted, the hair is cut. Life application: The Old Testament has places where vows are spoken of and the necessity to fulfill them. For example – “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23 The Psalms refer to vows being fulfilled by the one who made them. A valid question is, “Are Christians allowed to make vows?” Another question is, “Are Christians required to fulfill vows?” The answer to the first is, “Yes.” A person can make a vow between himself and God, himself and a friend, etc. But it must be considered that a vow is something that binds a person to what he has promised. Borrowing money for a loan is a type of vow. “I am promising to pay back this money.” This vow is usually put into writing as a means of holding the person responsible. As for fulfilling vows. This becomes a lengthy subject depending on the context. If a person makes a vow prior to being saved that is contrary to Christian life, he obviously cannot perform that vow. “I vow to support the edicts and commands of the gang I have joined, up to and including killing our rival gang members.” In Christ, a new direction must take place. However, if vows are made after becoming a Christian, and remembering that the idea of a “vow” extends to all aspects of our lives, such as marriage, borrowing money, being an employee, and so on, then we need to be responsible and fulfill our obligations in the capacity that we have promised. This is more certain because Jesus, Paul, and James each refer to a Yes being a Yes and a No being a No. Paul's is less specific, speaking of personal words and actions, but it is a precept that was understood concerning reliability. In other words, we are to be so trustworthy as followers of Christ that when we say Yes, it is a vow in and of itself. Honesty and integrity are to be the guides of our actions before God and men. Lord God, may we be responsible followers of Jesus, fulfilling the words that come forth from our lips. We know that when we fail, we are forgiven, but help us to not fail in doing what we have promised. Help us in our daily walk to do so. Be glorified in our conduct, O God. Amen.
The Lost Tribes were never lost. Those who left Gozan and those who settled in the mountains of the Medes left a trail of breadcrumbs that we can trace on a timeline through history by using the Bible, the Apocrypha, other auxiliary sources such as Josephus' Antiquity of the Jews, and even archaeology. This whole picture shows us that God is in control, and He cares about the details of our lives. VF-2068 Scripture: 2Kings 17:1-6 Watch, Listen and Learn 24x7 at PastorMelissaScott.com Pastor Melissa Scott teaches from Faith Center in Glendale. Call 1-800-338-3030 24x7 to leave a message for Pastor Scott. You may make reservations to attend a live service, leave a prayer request or make a commitment. Pastor Scott appreciates messages and reads them often during live broadcasts. Follow @Pastor_Scott on Twitter and visit her official Facebook page @Pastor.M.Scott. Download Pastor Scott's "Understand the Bible" app for iPhone, iPad and iPod at the Apple App Store and for Android devices in the Google Store. Pastor Scott can also be seen 24x7 on Roku and Amazon Fire on the "Understand the Bible?" channel. ©2023 Pastor Melissa Scott, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved
You will often hear people talk about the ‘Jewish roots of Christianity' but is that really an accurate statement? If you look at it from 2023 backwards it certainly would appear to be that way, but what happens if you look at it from the first century forward? Well, as you might expect, it's a completely different picture, and one that I believe to be the right one. On this episode of Rightly Dividing, is it possible to wipe away the grime and grit of 22+ centuries of religion to get an accurate look at where what we call Christianity came from? If only we had a Book that had the words of God in it, purified, preserved and protected that would allow us to get at the truth of where Christians came from. Oh. for such a Book! Fortunately, we have that Book, it's called the King James Bible, and it will serve tonight as our time machine to go back to where it all started and see where Christianity, and Christians really came from. Warning, we will not be using creeds, confessions or any religious contraband from your church or anyone else's to make our case. We will get ourselves a ‘Year One' update that supersedes all the realms of Protestantism, Catholicism and any other ‘ism' you might possibly be able to conjure up. The book of Josephus makes for interesting reading, but it won't help you here. Join us as we go looking for the gospel truth about the Jews, Israel and the start of biblical Christianity! (We find it, too!)
Independent scholar and autodidact Joseph Atwill joins us for a compelling and shocking discussion of his research findings into KEY ideas, characters, and events in the Bible. Once a Christian believer himself, a young Atwill became a voracious reader and began a detailed inquiry into a realm of Biblical scholarship that featured a glaring - and almost unforgivable - blind spot. It seems that Atwill was the first person to actually notice it, and even today most scholars refuse to acknowledge it and grapple with the earth-shattering ramifications. He dubs it, "The most catastrophic failure of human intellect in history." In discussing his groundbreaking book “Caesar's Messiah,” Atwill outlines a revolutionary discovery connecting: the events in Jesus' ministry as depicted in the Gospels and events recorded by the historian Josephus. From this revelation, Atwill unravels one of the best kept secrets of the past 2,000 years regarding the true origins and original intentions of Christianity. Strap in! Special Guest: Joseph Atwill.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.I. THESISJesus was a zealot, advocating violence to overthrow the occupying Romans as well as the corrupt priesthood.For Jesus, the Kingdom of God is very much of this world . John 18:36 has been totally misunderstood . The kingdom is political.Jesus intended that the twelve tribes be reconstituted for a single purpose: war .Jesus was a violent man. The God of violence is “the only God that Jesus knew and the sole God he worshipped” . However, later Aslan seems to backtrack: “Nor can Jesus be labeled a violent revolutionary bent on armed rebellion…” .Yet Jesus failed to reestablish nation of Israel .The church changed the true Jesus into a more heavenly figure with merely otherworldly interests. They “transformed Jesus from a revolutionary zealot to a Romanized demigod, from a man who tried and failed to free the Jews from Roman oppression to a celestial being wholly uninterested in anyearthly matter” . The apostle Paul was the leader of this reinterpretation. “[Paul's] conception of Jesus as Christ would have been shocking and plainly heretical, which is why, around 57 C.E., James and the apostles demand that Paul come to Jerusalem to answer for his deviant teachings” . The early church followed suit, and replaced the zealot Jesus with a heavenly figure , putting Paul's letters into the N.T. Today we have the wrong N.T., thanks to Paul's influence .Yet the Messiah was to be the Prince of Peace. "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" (Isa 2:4). (Joel 3:10 – preparation for war.) "He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" (Mic 4:3).How would the church have survived through 60 years of disillusionment, given they knew Jesus' mission was a failure?In short, Jesus was a revolutionary zealot. Not just a radical man with an amazingly spiritual message, but a violent encourager of murder, rioting, and violent takeover.II. STRENGTHS & INSIGHTSStyleHis no-nonsense approach (despite the many erroneous claims) leaves no doubt as to where the author stands. I find this preferable to the ambling, highly qualified language of many religious writers.Aslan uses highly florid language, which makes reading him rather enjoyable -- provided the reader recognizes the many rare words he uses.Historical backgroundGood job describing various sects of the Jews and zealots and pseudo-messiahs.Great analysis of the working relationship between Pilate and Caiaphas.Nice explanation of the origins and thinking of the Samaritans.Historical insightPoor farmers of Galilee subjected to indignity of turning over earnings to rapacious priests! Demolishes the Roman Catholic notions of the virginity of Mary and the papacy of Peter .Helpful reminder that the Temple served as a bank .Unlike other itinerant wonder-workers in the ancient world, Jesus healed gratis .The Romans' victory over Israel in the First Jewish War (66-70 AD) wasn't merely over the Jews, but over their god.John the Baptist's popularity perhaps increased through his not relying on his priestly privileges . (John was a Levite, born to Levite parents -- see Luke 1.)Aslan admits that it is more likely the Gnostics borrowed from Christianity when they constructed their esoteric doctrine and myths, rather than the other way around .The belief in a dying and rising messiah did not exist in Judaism . (Right--but that doesn't mean the Messiah couldn't die or rise! What about Isa 53?)Things you may want to knowInteresting parallels between Jesus' Transfiguration and Moses' ascent on the mountain with his three companions .Cicero: “barbarian superstitions” of monotheism. Tacitus: “while they permit all that we abhor.”Josephus notes 24 sects in and around Jerusalem. And he calls Annas (Ananus) “the great hoarder of money” [198-199].Bible difficultiesCritics keep us on our toes!Two examples: Philip's wife is Salome, not Herodias. A solution? Also, the well-known difficulties surrounding Luke's census of Quirinius .III. APPROACHArguments from silenceJohn the Baptist doesn't realize who Jesus is in Mark 1. This means that the story has been jazzed up in the other gospel accounts .There is no cliff in Nazareth over which to push Jesus. Aslan is saying that since he does not think there is such a cliff in Nazareth, it didn't exist. But topography can change. Besides, I have seen such a precipice in Nazareth.The nighttime trial of the Sanhedrin was illegal -- therefore it didn't take place. . Yet the Sanhedrin felt urgency in dealing with this situation before Passover.Barabbas couldn't have been released because the custom is “nonsensical” . Yet Pilate negotiates with the crowd over Jesus' possible release. Why would such a custom contradict what we know of Pilate?Speculation“So when Stephen saw the gaggle of hirsute men and ragged women huddled beneath a portico in the Temple's outer court—simple provincials who had sold their possessions and given the proceeds to the poor….—he probably did not pay much attention at first” .Paul wasn't asked by the high priest to hunt down Christians…  Yet by Paul's own admission (Acts 22:4-5), “I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”Fondness for quoting liberals at far end of theological spectrum.Calling into question uncontroversial points, e.g. that Acts is part 2 of Luke .Leading statements: Jesus' brothers named after great heroes of Judaism (implying a radical revolutionary tendency ran in the family) .Shock statements that aren't quite true… but are later clarified, once the shock has been felt -- usually a few paragraphs later.E.g. the Romans walking up cliff side of Masada, “shields up, swords drawn” – as Aslan makes clear, he well knows it took many weeks for the Romans to advance up that side of the mountain .Or that the meeting between Pilate and Jesus is ludicrous…. A reasonable argument can be made for it having happened. Aslan claims the “trial” before Pilate “beggars the imagination” and is “pure legend” . There was no “trial” before Pilate . Yet the gospels never say there was a trial. Further, while at first Aslan mocks the idea, later on he states that for a potential political prisoner, Pilate might well have made time to see him -- and John Meier makes a compelling case for the position !Assertions without proofJesus ChristJesus could not have understood the "Son of Man" as a divine figure (as in 4 Ezra) . But what about Daniel 7?Mark 9 tells us that Jesus' transfiguration affected only his clothes  (which it doesn't) -- therefore his body (unlike Moses' -- Exod 34) wasn't glowing.There are no OT messianic prophecies that say the Messiah will do miracles . Really?! How about Isaiah 42, 60, etc?More than a few biblical scholars have openly labeled Jesus a magician [108-109]. I know of only one (Morton Smith).All the miracle stories of Jesus have been embellished .Daniel's Anointed One isn't killed (Dan 9:26), but only cut off . Yet it's not clear whether "cut off" implies death, so there's no room for dogmatism here.Jesus didn't stay in the desert for a time of testing, but in order to spend time learning from John the Baptist .Apostles and other leadersMatthew isn't Levi . Yet two names were common (e.g. Simon Peter, John Mark).Jesus recruited from among “the fishing village's disaffected youth” . But why can't Simon and Andrew be the same age as Jesus? (Rob Bell wants them to be teenagers, but he goes too far.)Few if any of the apostles agreed that Paul was a disciple [184-185].Paul never recounts his Damascus Road experience, which is a fabrication of Luke . Yet see Acts 22. The fact that the three accounts (Acts 9, 22, 26) have minor differences suggests Luke wasn't making up the story, nor was he concerned to rewrite it to make it less problematic.None of the apostles spoke Greek . Jesus and his disciples were illiterate peasants [203, 226]. Aslan should read Alan Millard's Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus.The Jerusalem Christians didn't evangelize – they just blended in . Yet Acts 4, 5, 12!James took no baths .The church in Rome fell under authority of the Jerusalem church .Some assertions have weak proof, e.g. that Stephen led the independent Hellenistic community , and that the Hellenists held that Jesus came not to fulfill the law, but to abolish it (!). Or that the Church of Jerusalem was demolished in 70 AD [150, 212]. James and the Jerusalem Christians stayed in Jerusalem, awaiting coming of the Lord, and so were killed by Titus' army. But that would mean that they ignored Jesus' prophecy [Luke 21:20].IV. TONEMocking, SarcasticStephen's “long and rambling diatribe” .Luke is Paul's sycophant [184-185].On 500 soldiers accompanying the prisoner Paul: “This is absurd and can be flatly ignored” . But there's a plot afoot involving 40 men determined to kill Paul. The conspirators are armed, armed disturbances were somewhat common in Palestine, and the Romans know it. What number of soldiers does Aslan think the officer should have dispatched: 40? 100? 150? Might not the number of conspirators have been snowballing? Is this not a case of better safe than sorry?Reactionary comments -- which are frequently overstatements“With the help of his disciples he blocks the entrance to the courtyard, forbidding anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple. Then, as the crowd of vendors, worshippers, priests, and curious onlookers scramble over the scattered detritus, as a stampede of frightened animals, chased by their panicked owners, rushes headlong out of the Temple gates and into the choked streets of Jerusalem, as a corps of Roman guards and heavily armed Temple police blitz through the courtyard looking to arrest whoever is responsible for this mayhem, there stands Jesus, according to the gospels, aloof, seemingly unperturbed, crying out over the din: ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of thieves.”'” [74-75]Cleansing of temple caused a “riot” in the Court of the Gentiles .Jesus' apostolic band was “armed with swords” . But there were only 2, and Jesus discouraged their use – hence the unanimous pacifism of the early church.The “brief but bloody tussle” although two swords weren't enough .“Thus, on a bald hill covered in crosses, beset by moans of agony from hundreds of dying criminals, as a murder of crows circled eagerly over his head waiting for him to breathe his last…” Disunity and strife suppressedThe early Christians were fearful of John the Baptist's continuing influence: “frantic attempt to reduce John's significance” – and the truth that “Jesus very likely began his ministry as just another of his disciples” .In Acts Luke “paints a picture of perfect harmony between Paul and the council's members…” Gal 2:11 = “fierce public feud” – yet no evidence Peter lashed out in return, or rejected Paul's correction.Superior attitudeEven in the vocabulary: 98 lucubration; 108 Lugdunum (ancient Lyon)As though this were his own insight: “To the Jews, a crucified Messiah was nothing less than a contradiction in terms. The very fact of his crucifixion annulled his messianic claims” . Credit belongs to Paul more than to Aslan. Or the observation that wisdom is personified in Wisdom of Solomon as a woman (Sophia), in order to better connect with those with a Greek philosophical background . But this is in Proverbs, and is well known to those who read the Bible.“Two decades of scholarly research” [xx] – perhaps absorbed from the ultraliberal institutions where he did his study? (Harvard University, U Cal Santa Barbara, Santa Clara University -- Jesuit)Negative feelingPalpable hostility towards biblical Christians. Aslan admits his anger – “I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery….” [xix].Paul's anger at James and the original apostles “seeps like poison through the pages of his later epistles” .One wonders if Aslan has projected his own negative emotions onto Paul!V. ERRORSWell over 100, not even counting all the mistakes highlighted in other sections of this podcast!Life of JesusPhil 2:7 doesn't support the incarnation – because Jesus is one of God's first creations, the "firstborn" . But what about Ps 89:27? "And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth."The incarnation is rejected , as well as the divinity of Christ. But what about Mal 3, Ezek 34, Ps 110, and many other passages?Jesus was a tekton (builder, carpenter, mason...) only in Mark 6:3 . Aslan has forgotten Matt 13:55.“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” suggests arson .Aslan assumes "the Kingdom of God is at hand" means that the end of world is near  –a common mistake among those unfamiliar with the already/not yet of Christian theology.The Parable of the Sower is mainly anticlerical . Yet the parable is about loving one's neighbor.The Temple in Jesus' time was 500m x 300m – this was the complex, not the temple proper. (To be fair, in John's gospel, however, sometimes the entire Temple Mount complex is referred to as the temple.)Jesus was joking when he told the leper to go show himself to the priest, since the leprosy was gone. Aslan seems to have misunderstood Lev 14 .There would have been no need for a large band of soldiers to snatch Jesus -- yet later Aslan admits a sizeable crowd went to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus ! He seems to be changing his mind, or rethinking, even as he is writing his book.After confessing he's the Messiah, Jesus then muddies everything by identifying himself with the Son of Man in Daniel (Mark 14:62) . Aslan seems unable to grasp the two sides of the Messiah, Lion and Lamb (Rev 5) -- the same mistake so many of Jesus' Jewish contemporaries made.When the crowd (manipulated by Annas and Caiaphas) is manipulating Pilate – “We have no king but Caesar!” -- Aslan claims they couldn't have said that .Pilate is portrayed as a righteous but weak-willed man in the gospels ! He is increasingly exonerated in the gospels . He tries to save Jesus because he thinks he may be the Son of God (!) The crucifixion required three iron spikes . Actually, the skeletal evidence of crucified persons indicates the Romans used four nails.Crucified people would hang on the cross for hours . Actually, days were a more common.Mark wasn't interested in Jesus' resurrection . Really? What about Jesus' predictions of his resurrection, several of which Mark records?Our author claims the series: Last Supper—Betrayal—Arrest—Sanhedrin—Herod & Pilate—Cross—Burial—Resurrection is what it is for liturgical reasons [153-154]. But what else could it be if Jesus was betrayed?Re: Luke 24:44-46 – there isn't a single line of scripture on the suffering, death, and resurrection on the third day of the Messiah . But the resurrection is prefigured in Dan 6; Gen 22; Ps 16; Ezek 37 and more clearly identified in Dan 12 and the DSS 4Q521.The apostlesPaul was uninterested in the words of Jesus . Common claim. What about Acts 20:35? 1 Cor 11? Quite a few allusions to Jesus' words?James forces Paul to (hypocritically) back down from his anti-Torah position, taking an oath and joining others in this vow (Acts 21:23)….[195-197, 208-209]. But what about 1 Cor 9:20? "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law." Besides, Paul has a positive view of the law (read Romans). He argues that the gospel is for the Jew first, then the Gentile (Rom 1:16) – and this is in one of the letters Aslan agrees Paul actually wrote. Further, Paul's custom was to share the gospel with the Jews, through speaking invitations at synagogues… When he wore out his welcome, then he turned to the Gentiles. If he were as anti-Torah as Aslan insinuates, it is doubtful he would ever be invited back for a second lesson!Paul disagrees with James over salvation . They use the same passages to prove opposite things (James 2; Romans 4). But works and faith are two sides of a coin. Aslan's position is based on an old and tired argument. Paul required nothing for salvation but faith in Christ . Aslan claims Rom 10:13 contradicts Matt 7:21 .Aslan misses Paul's point in 2 Cor – which he calls "Corinthians" (proofreader lapse?) – when he makes Paul call the Jerusalem apostles "servants of Satan…" . But Paul's opponents valued prestige, comfort, honor; they did not suffer. The "super-apostles" Paul excoriates cannot be the Jerusalem apostles, who it seems were nearly as poor as Paul!Re: Paul's arrest in Jerusalem: He is mistaken for the Egyptian – and this is the only reason he was taken into custody by the Romans [194-195]. But Paul denied being this person, and the text makes it clear that once corrected the commander still decides to refer the case up the ladder of command (Acts 21:39).After his meeting with the Jewish leaders in Acts 28, "Paul vowed from that moment on to preach to none but the gentiles, ‘for they will listen' (Acts 28:26-29)” . Yet the text indicates a mixed reaction -- some Jews were persuaded by Paul. True, in Acts 28:28 Paul says he will focus on the Gentiles, but not only the Gentiles. In fact, this isn't a change of missionary strategy for Paul, since that has been his method all along: first the Jew, then the Gentile...James (presumably unlike Paul, who cared little about earthly matters) truly cares for the poor . What? Gal 2:10! 2 Cor 8-9!Simon Peter “swore he witnessed the resurrection with his own eyes, as did many others among them…" . This is false. There were no eyewitnesses of the resurrection, unless the Roman soldiers were able to see what was happening (which seems unlikely). Many witnessed Jesus after the resurrection, however.Later ChristianityAslan confuses the Circumcision Party (as in Titus 1 and Acts 15) and Jewish Christianity .James loses credibility to Paul because of the nascent doctrine of the virginity of Mary (James being Jesus' brother) . An interesting possibility, and there may be some truth in it, but biblical Christians accord equal respect -- and obedience -- to the teaching of both James and Paul.The Ebionite movement continuing to teach the theology of James . Yet biblical scholars note that this movement wasn't really a Christian movement, since they rejected Christ's divinity. In Zealot Aslan seems to believe that James believed in the Second Coming of his brother -- in contradiction to the Ebionites.Judaean Christians shared with none but their fellow Jews. Love thy neighbor means one's fellow Jew . But what about Luke 23:34, Luke 10:25-37? Matthew 5:38-48?Ancient languagesGreek errors: Matt 11:12 – the kingdom “operates by force” . In Acts 15, Aslan has krino mean “I decree” rather than "It is my judgment" . Overstated! He spells basileus (king) as "Baselius" .Hebrew: He denies that in Isa 7:14 'almah is virgin. Yet the point is that that was how the ancient Jews understood it, as evidenced in the LXX, where 'almah is rendered parthenos. Aslan writes Xristos and Yesus ha Xristos – confusing the two languages!Latin: dinarii should be denarii. Aslan claims Pilatus means “skilled with the javelin”  -- yet at most this means "armed with a javelin."Other: the kingdom of Medea  should be Media.Dating & ChronologyPaul's conversion 37 AD  (more like 32 or 33 – which Aslan admits, citing Martin Hengel).Phil about 49 AD [170 AD]. But Paul hadn't even visited Corinth that early. Philippi wasn't a city visited on the First Missionary Journey!1 Cor written 50 AD . This is too early -- See the Gallio Inscription.Peter and Paul were executed 66 AD . He should have given a range of acceptable dates, since the persecution began in 64, and Nero died in 68.All four the gospels were written after 70 AD . But most scholars put Mark c.65 AD. (E.g., the fire and other details of 70 AD are missing in the prophecy of Mark 13.)Paul wrote only 7 letters….. Aslan makes it sounds like Nero sends Vespasian after Masada. (I had to read this section three times to figure out what was going on!) Simple proof-reading would have caught that [60-61].Gospel of Thomas in late 1st or early 2nd century. More likely dates to the late 2nd C.Eusebius' church history Aslan puts in the 3rd C – yet it was probably written in the 320s. All scholars consider his Historia Ecclesiae a 4th-century work.The Sepphoris synagogue(s) date to the 5th and 6th century. Yet Aslan implies that the Byzantine period synagogue was there in the 1st century . Aslan fails to mention that, as he paints a picture of cosmopolitan and wordly Jews.Jesus had a two-year ministry. John's gospel suggests a ministry of 3 or 3.5 years.Old Testament / Judaism errorsAslan mocks the notion that the law was given through angels, as Stephen claims in Acts 7  Later, however, he but admits the idea does come into Judaism (as we see in Gal 3:19).Passover celebration is mainly a political act . While there are political nuances, it was far more than a mere political statement.Aslan uncritically accepts the tradition that when serving in the Holy of Holies the high priest was tied to a rope, in case he died while on duty  , without letting the reader know that this is in doubt. The tradition might be true, but it is a mistake to present a possibility as a fact.His view of the Conquest is extreme (utter annihilation) . The O.T. depicts a replacement of the Canaanite population through war, flight, conversion, and intermarriage.David spoke about himself in Ps 16, not the Messiah [166-167]. Yet that doesn't mean the application is wrong. In general, the early Christians used texts to prove Jesus was the Christ that were widely accepted in Judaism.VI. [OUTLANDISH] QUOTESPaul insists he is far superior to all the other apostles . “Simply put, Paul does not consider himself the thirteenth apostle. He thinks he is the first" .About the Gospels: “Factual accuracy was irrelevant. What mattered was Christology, not history” . Yet Christianity is a historical religion—a faith anchored in history. If God did not visit our world, if Jesus did not take our sins on the Cross and rise from the dead, then our faith is vain.“Simon Peter was “displaying the reckless confidence of one uninitiated in the scriptures” . Yet I'm not so sure those lacking training would have been as confident as Simon Peter. After all, he was learned in that he had received three years of training from the best teacher on earth -- far better than the typical course of being a disciple to a rabbi.“Paul had no idea who the living Jesus was, nor did he care" .“Paul's breezy dismissal of the very foundations of Judaism was as shocking to the leaders of the Jesus movement in Jerusalem as it would have been to Jesus himself” .“The story of the zealous Galilean peasant and Jewish nationalist who donned the mantle of messiah and launched a foolhardy rebellion against the corrupt Temple priesthood and the vicious Roman occupation comes to an abrupt end, not with his death on the cross, nor with the empty tomb, but at the first moment one of his followers [like Paul] dares suggest he is God” . But Paul was thoroughly Jewish. The idea of Christ's divinity was not easily digestible -- especially to a Jew.VII. CONCLUSIONThe thesis – that Jesus was a failed revolutionary – is a failed thesis. It is deeply flawed.Aslan makes the same mistake made by those who rejected Jesus as true Messiah in his own day!Aslan admits that once he rejected Christianity he was “confused and spiritually unmoored” [xix]. This shows in his book.One appropriate adjective for the thesis / book: tendentious.Zealot received many accolades—I notice that none are from biblical scholars.Should people read this book?Although I cannot recommend the book as a source for solid information, there are some interesting parts.Further, so much is skewed that many Christians will be put off by Zealot. They will feel belittled.However, teachers, preachers, and other church leaders should know their Bibles well enough to be able to refute these claims, to give truth and confidence to those who may be rattled by teachers like Aslan. That means someone needs to wade in and devote some time to untangling the critics' arguments.
This week Angie and Stevens finish “The Resurrection of Jesus, Myth?” with the 3rd and final part of the series where they conclude, providing the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus from non-Christian, haters of Christianity, and the source list below so that anyone else can verify the information for themselves. Please call/text for any questions, suggestions or prayer requests at 407-796-2881 or find us at www.linktr.ee/ChristAlone References: 1. Habermas, Gary. The Risen Jesus and Future Hope. (September 8, 2003) 2. J, Warner Wallace. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. (January 1, 2003) 3. Dunn, James DG., ed. The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2003) 4. F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974) 5. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, AD 93, chapter 3 6. A. J. Levine, D. C. Allison & J. D. Crossan, The historical Jesus in context, Volume 12, Princeton University Press, 2006. p 405 7. British Museum, Syriac Manuscript, Additional 14,658 8. Tacitus, Annals, AD 116, book 15, chapter 44 9. Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13. 10. Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter 21, 19 11. Origen, Against Celsus, Book 2.33 12. Celsus, Contra Celsum 6.34 13. The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, 281 14. Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. College Press Publishing Company, Inc.; 2011th edition (3 June 1996) 15. Bart Ehrman, The Historical Jesus: Lecture Transcript and Course Guidebook, Part 2 of 2 (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company. 2000), pg. 162. 16. F, Morrison. Who Moved the Stone?: A Skeptic Looks at the Death and Resurrection of Christ. (27 July, 1987) 17. Catherine M. Murphy, The Historical Jesus For Dummies, For Dummies Pub., 2007. p 14 18. Josephus, Antiquities, 4.8.15 52. Wright, NT. The New Unimproved Jesus, Christianity Today (September 13, 1993), p.26 19. National Health Service of the United Kingdom, Hallucinations and Hearing Voices. NHS UK, accessed (1 October 2019) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hallucinations. 20. Charles Mackey. Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (London, Office of the National Illustrated Library, 1852). 21. Lee Strobel. The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), p. 238. 22. Ludemann, Gurd, What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, 1995, pg. 80 23. Kastensmidt, S. Truth Unearthed: Archaeology & the Bible. Examining the evidence: part 5. Reliability of the New Testament Scriptures. Rio Vista Community Church, 2016 24. Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture. Kregel Publications (May 9, 2006) 25. Bart. D. Ehrman. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. 2006 pg. 55 26. Bart. D. Ehrman. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. 2006 Appendix pg. 252–253 27. Craig, W. Reasonable Faith. (June 9, 2008) 28. Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture. Kregel Publications (May 9, 2006) 29. Habermas, G. R. (1996). The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (pp. 142-170). Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company 30. James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, p. 55, 855 31. Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, Easter - Myth, Hallucination or History? Christianity Today (March 15; 1974; and March 24, 1974) 32. Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michael Kregel, forthcoming) --- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/christalone/message Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/christalone/support