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A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus praised God for revealing His will to little children instead of the wise and understanding. Following this, He gave one of the most quoted and beautiful invitations in the scriptures. Jesus appeals to those who are “weary and heavy laden.” Living a life serving self (and therefore, serving Satan) is one of hard bondage. Satan promises us that if we live our lives to the fullest by seeking all the pleasures of the world, we will obtain complete fulfillment. But the truth is that this world’s pleasures provide only a temporary happiness that results in a life of weariness and labor as the consequences of sin and seeking that which has no substance eventually takes its toll. Jesus has the answer. Coming to Him will give a person rest from the constant demands of lust and the promise that just a little more and you will reach your goal of complete contentment.

When Jesus says, “Take My Yoke,” He implies that the world has been pulling a difficult and heavy load. A yoke is intended to make the task easier. Jesus has formed His yoke to perfectly fit our needs. “His yoke” also implies that we are entering into a partnership with Him in His labor. We are working jointly with the Lord to expand the borders of His kingdom. The choice is clear. It is either serve the passions of our flesh, which results in a life of hard and difficult labor and ends in a waste, or we serve the Lord who has an easy yoke and a light burden and through it gives us rest for our souls.

Look carefully at these alternatives. Do not believe Satan’s lies that true living is found in fulfilling our own desires. Satan is a cruel taskmaster who has been a liar from the beginning. Jesus is a gentle Master. He is lowly in heart, not looking to harm us but to come to our rescue and bring us rest from the destructiveness of sin. Which master makes more sense?

A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:25-27

This chapter began with Jesus taking a tour of Galilean cities in order to bring the gospel to the common people. However, it is evident by verses 20-24 that most of the people were unimpressed and unrepentant. In Mark 6:5-6 we are told that Jesus marveled at their unbelief.

In the text before us, Jesus reveals why some reject His teaching and some accept it. In light of the rejection He has just experienced, Jesus breaks into a prayer of praise, thanking God that He has revealed His will to “little children” but has hidden it from the wise and intelligent. It is at first a curious statement, but once we understand it, we too will break into praise.

What if God had revealed His word in such a way that only those who had superior intelligence could understand it? What if He had revealed His word in such a way that only those who had superior abilities could respond to it? In that case, the Lord would have left the rest of us out, and those who could understand it would be lifted up with pride. In such a case, the glory would not be given to God, but glory would be given to those who through their superior thinking skills were able to see what no one else could see.

But that is not what the Lord did. Instead, He revealed His word in such a way that only the humble in heart would respond to it. This could include people from all walks of life, whether super intelligent or just a commoner. The key to understanding the will of the Lord is to recognize that there is nothing within ourselves that will enable us to see the “deep things of God” or save us from our own sins. A person may have the education of a microbiologist or a brain surgeon, but such will not help him be reconciled to God from whom he is separated because of sin.

It is to humble people, those who mourn over their sins and seek God through His revealed word, that Jesus has “willed” to reveal the Father.

A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:20-24

As Jesus denounces the Jewish cities where He had performed most of His miracles, He compares them to some of the most notoriously wicked cities in history. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities north of Palestine. God marked out Tyre for utter destruction (Ezekiel 26), which was fulfilled by Alexander the Great in about 323 B.C. As for Sidon, God never pronounced complete destruction, but instead prophesied that they would be repeatedly attacked because of their sins (Ezekiel 28). Sodom is well known for perverse sexual sins including homosexuality (Genesis 19). In fact, God destroyed the four cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim with fire and brimstone. So complete was their destruction that God even destroyed all that grew on the ground. Prior to their destruction, the area that we know now as being around the Dead Sea, was lush with vegetation. Lot had chosen this fertile area in order to raise his flocks. Today, the area around the Dead Sea is a desolate wasteland. Many believe that the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah lie somewhere beneath the Dead Sea. The Bible repeatedly uses Sodom as an example of the worst kind of wickedness. God could not even find ten righteous people in the city. Only Lot and two of his daughters escaped the destruction.

But the cities Jesus denounces were not cities known for the gross immorality. However, they were given a greater opportunity than anyone in history to repent of their sins. They were eyewitnesses of the miracles of Jesus and yet they did not change their ways. Because of greater opportunity, Judgment Day would be worse for them than it would be for Sodom and Gomorrah. What exactly is meant by judgment being “more tolerable” for Sodom than for these Galilean cities, we are not told. What is important is the application for us. Though we have not actually seen the miracles of Jesus, our freedoms in America have granted us greater opportunities to know God’s word than any in history. If we do not repent and obey the Lord with these advantages, our judgment will also be worse than for the men and women of Sodom.

A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:16-19

After explaining to the multitudes the mission and purpose of the coming of John the Baptist, Jesus goes on to challenge the unbelief of the Jewish leaders and their followers. They were like two groups of children, one calling to the other to join them in a game. When asked if they would like to play a game simulating a “party,” the obstinate group refuses. But when asked to do the opposite and “play funeral,” they also refuse. In other words, nothing that is offered pleases them. In the same way, John and Jesus took opposite approaches in trying to turn people to repentance. John was an ascetic, living an austere life in the deserts, and they accused him of having a demon. Jesus joined in the social activities of the day, and they called Him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Each of their approaches was with “wisdom” and fulfilled the purpose intended. The wisdom in their approaches was justified by the results they received from those who had an honest heart. But the Jews in general were obstinate, rejecting any approach that did not fit their own preconceived notions.

This text offers a strong warning for all of us. We have a tendency to want “our church” or “our religion” to fit perfectly into our own desires. But worshiping God is not about what we want and it is not about pleasing us, it is about pleasing the One who saved us. The very reason the Jews were rejected is because they could not give up their own religious institutions. If we desire to sincerely come to God, it must be from the pure desire to read His word and obey Him regardless of whether it fits into our whims or not.

Notice also that Jesus was accused of being a “friend of sinners.” This may be the only accusation made of Jesus that was true. He was a friend of sinners. He came to seek and save those who were lost. If we are truly His disciples, we will follow His example in this regard. In order to save a lost world, we must break away from our habit of only being a friend to those who are like us. If we are going to reach the lost, we also must be a friend of sinners.

A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:12-15

In these verses, Jesus concludes His discussion of John the Baptist. Verse 12 is an explanation of why John is in prison. Beginning with John, the kingdom of heaven was “suffering violence, and the violent were taking it by force.” In other words, a battle was going on as the leaders of the world (in this case the Jewish leaders), tried to take God’s rule from Him. Psalm 2 is an excellent explanation of this text as the rulers of the world even go so far as to kill the Lord’s Messiah. But “He who sits in the heavens laughs…yet have I set My King on My holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:4-6). The battle is on for who will rule and God and His Christ will be the victors.

Verse 13 explains part of the reason the battle is waged. The Law and the Prophets were until John. There is now a transition period in which Jesus as the King will now institute His covenant and His laws. This will be in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Galatians 3:24-26 states, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (ESV). Therefore the Law pointed us to Christ where we could be justified by a system of faith instead of a system of Law where we had to rely on our own goodness and perfect law-keeping in order to be saved.

Jesus’ final statement reveals clearly that John was the “Elijah who is to come.” Malachi 4:1-6 speaks of God sending “Elijah” before the coming of the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Jesus already made reference to Mal. 3:1 stating that John was the messenger preparing the way before Him. In Mal. 4, John is the Elijah, that is, he would do just as the prophet Elijah in that he would turn the hearts of the people back to God. He would do this in order to prepare them from the coming of Jesus. However, Jesus’ coming would also bring a “great and dreadful day” in which the Jewish nation would be destroyed by God’s judgment because of their rejection of the Messiah.

We too face a great and dreadful day if we do not serve the Lord. Do not procrastinate! That day will surely come (2 Pet. 3:3-10).

Sunday December 04 2016

Old Testament: Ezekiel 38-39 Ezekiel 38-39

(Daily Reading, ESV)