Let’s Start Listening to the WHOLE Story

POST’S SCRIPTURE:  HOSEA 5:1 – 6:3

I was feeling a bit nostalgic the other day while writing down thoughts towards my next blog.  I started THE WORD DETECTIVE blog-site over 5 years ago, relating many personal stories throughout my life.  But it struck me (that’s a funny choice of words) this morning that I hadn’t revealed the story about when I was once stabbed.

It was a regular work day in January 1999.  There were 7 of us in a room–myself, three other men, and three women.  One of the guys was talking about his upcoming vacation when one of the women handed him a knife and he stabbed me in the chest!  The last thing I remembered before I passed out was a woman working to control the bleeding.  I woke up in a 5th-floor hospital bed with an oxygen mask over my entire face at Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

I GUESS I BETTER TELL YOU THE WHOLE STORY–

I wasn’t at work.  The room was a surgical room and the six other people in the room were my anesthesiologist, my surgeon, and his PA (Physician’s Assistant), and three nurses.  They were there to perform Heart Bypass Surgery, which is why the doctor stabbed me in the chest.

Fortunately, he had my best interest at heart (no pun intended) and nice enough to have his PA sew me up when he was finished.

You see if you don’t LISTEN to THE WHOLE STORY You May Get the Wrong Opinion. –

The ACT of a surgeon cutting into you with a knife sounds quite traumatic and who would opt for that?  But for someone who has cardiovascular disease and in need of relief in my breathing, a loss of energy, and everyday existence, it is a welcomed wound.

I’m telling this story as an introduction to God’s solution to the problem of UNFAITHFULNESS.

“HOW DOES GOD GET OUR ATTENTION?”

Those who don’t HEAR THE WHOLE STORY might only hear that the Lord will tear into us and go away, like a lion.

On that basis, people reject God, thinking of Him as a vengeful judge who wants to destroy all of us who don’t OBEY His commands.  But in my thinking, it is more appropriate to describe God as a divine Surgeon, who indeed cuts into us, but also binds up our wounds.

Job 5:18:  “For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”

Lamentations 3:32:  “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

Deuteronomy 32:39:  “See now that I am he!  There is no god besides me.  I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” 

HOSEA CHAPTER 5 ~

Hosea chapter 5 describes the surgical work of God in detail.  It describes how God gets our attention and removes the spiritual blockage left by our UNFAITHFULNESS.

The relief of the symptoms I acquired over time came through surgery, which was painful at the time, but critical for relieving my symptoms and ultimately my life.

Hosea 5:1-2 (Amplified bible):

[1]  HEAR THIS, O you priests!  And listen, O house of Israel!  And give ear, O house of the king!  For the judgment pronounced pertains to you and is meant for you, because you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor [military strongholds on either side of the Jordan River).  

[2] The revolters are deeply sunk in corruption and slaughter, but I [the Lord God] am a rebuke and a chastisement for them all.”

Hosea was called upon by God to get Israel’s attention so He could address the “rottenness”–the “decay” that came as a result of the nation’s sickness of SIN.

IN VERSE 3, God charges Ephraim [the northern ten tribes] with prostitution and corruption.

IN VERSE 4, the words reveal a HEART CONDITION of Unfaithfulness.

IN VERSE 5, the symptom is ARROGANCE–“pride and self-reliance”. 

VERSE 6 talks about going “with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord,” meaning these people were bringing their animals for Sacrifice, but it was empty worship.  Outwardly they were “worshipping,” but inwardly they had a heart condition and were far off from God.

These were a people, like us, who were sick with SIN of self-seeking and self-centeredness and assumed they were self-sufficient.

THEY SOLD OUT…their bodies as well as their moral and religious convictions like a prostitute.  They were UNFAITHFUL to God

They were UNFAITHFUL to God as Hosea’s wife Gomer was unfaithful to her husband.  Even their sad attempts at WORSHIP was empty and void of meaning.

So am I referring only to ISRAEL here, or am I pointing a finger at us–the CHURCH today?

Do you see your own sickness in ISRAEL half as clearly as I see my own?  I see signs of DECAY showing up in our BEHAVIOR.  At times I have to admit that even my own worship experience on Sunday morning is just an act–going through the motions which then leads to repentance.  Or should “lead to repentance.”

The DIAGNOSIS is clear, God goes to work as a SURGEON.

From verses 8-12, we find a series of pronouncements that cut at ISRAEL like the perspective wounds of a SURGEON’S knife:

  • “Sound the trumpet…”
  • “Raise the battle cry…”
  • “Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning.”
  • “I will pour out my wrath”
  • “I am like a moth…”
  • “I am like rot…”

These don’t sound like words from a loving-God, any more than a six-inch cut down the chest sounds like the wounds of a healer!  But that’s exactly what they are.

For even God can be like a LION; His presence is that of a RESTORER and HEALER.

Coming to an Understanding…

This interaction between God and Israel through His prophet HOSEA, we are given the ability to recognize how God is at work to RESTORE us as INDIVIDUALS, as the CHURCH, and even our NATION.

Recognizing the Ways God Comes To Us to Get Our Attention So He Can Heal Us ~

FIRST, He comes like A MOTH or We Rot!

IN VERSE 12 He says,  “I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah.”  ISRAEL, represented by the divided kingdoms of EPHRAIM and JUDAH, already were in a state of decay.

It was a slow decay much like the slow, natural damage a MOTH does when forgotten sweaters folded in the closet are noticed after slipping them over my head.  And then my wife would notice the damage and say, “Looks like we have MOTHS in  the closet!”

GOD had allowed the natural consequences of Israel’s UNFAITHFULNESS to ROT their NATION.

Next, GOD Would Come Like A LION (verse 14).

Courtesy of Photo Pin

If the people couldn’t see the signs of DECAY…or just ignored them, God was warning through His prophet Hosea, He was next going to come and tear them to pieces–carry them off in exile with no one to rescue them.

But notice there would be a PURPOSE in this.  God would do this until…until they would admit their GUILT.

He would become like a LION so they would seek His face:  “in their MISERY,” He said, “they will earnestly seek me”  (verse 15).

 THE RAIN, It’s a Comin’!  – (Hosea 6:1-3)

 

Ultimately, God LOVES us and He wants us to experience Him in the SPRING RAIN.  He will let you ROT in your choices for a time if you insist and if you’re stubborn He will come to you like a Lion.  But His ultimate purpose will always be to RESTORE you.  It will always be to PROSPER you and not harm you.

His PURPOSE is to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.

Today in our nation, God is like a MOTH and like RUST.  He’s allowing us to DECAY because in general, we’ve forsaken Him.  And if we refuse to turn to the gentle rain of Jesus, we may soon know Him as a Great Lion.

Our nation, your nation, will crumble as with any dynasty that has gone before us.  Unless we change, the Western church will be torn apart.

So the question arises before each one of us:  How do you see God at work in restoring you personally?

This very week, have you lived in HIS PRESENCE and experienced His GRACE-like a SPRING RAIN?

If the answer is “NO”, then look carefully to see if God has been like a MOTH to you in your life.

Consider that your spiritual desert might show that you’re in a slowly developing state of DECAY.  Like the folded sweater lying unnoticed in the closet–not seeing the things changing before your eyes, but before you know it, you realize that the clothing of righteousness you once wore has been eaten away by the natural consequences of your choices.

If you are not spending the necessary time in the presence of God each day you have in essence locked your spirituality in a closet infested with MOTHS.

My fear is that you may try to pull it out later and only find it has been eaten away.

BEWARE OF APATHY!  Because APATHY will ROT your spiritual life–like RUST on a nail.

Maybe some who are reading this Blog-study have felt Him tearing at you like a lion ripping at his prey.  Perhaps the consequences of your choices have you confused–a struggling marriage, the loss of a job, an addiction. Maybe the pain of sickness or the mourning of death has reminded you of sin’s curse.  It could be the activity of the Holy Spirit has you weighted down concerning your own SIN, and the weight of GUILT is more than you can bear.

If God has been like a GREAT LION to you this week, do not despair!  He will BIND up your wounds!! –

JESUS came to Peter like a roaring lion with the crow of a rooster.  He came to Paul like a roaring lion in the midst of a blinding light.  Yet He came to them both like a refreshing RAIN restoring them to places of great significance in His divine plan.

SPRING RAINS ARE A COMIN’

Knowing the WHOLE STORY, will you let Him wash you like the RAIN?

There is only ONE WAY to God’s presence and that’ through to the CROSS of JESUS CHRIST.  Let Him tear apart your self-seeking–self-sufficient ways and RESTORE your spirit.

REJOICE, THE GREAT SURGEON COMES!

He brings HEALING on His wings.

He RESTORES us.

He is JESUS, our SAVIOR…AND He wants to operate on you.  Will you let Him?

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CREDITS –

Photo Credits:  Google Advanced Image Search and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Out On A Limb Might Be Risky!

CHEERS is an American sitcom that ran on television from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993.  The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meets to drink, relax, and socialize.  The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy lent its famous refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” is the show’s tagline.

CHEERS, (from left): Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Paul Wilson, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, 1982-93. ©Paramount Television / courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone likes to be known by their name.

Everyone likes to know that someone knows their name and knows their name and knows them.  It shows intimacy; it shows that the person has put in some effort to actually get to know you.  Unfortunately today, we seldom are known by our names, but rather by a number.  You have to know your ID number by heart: When you complete forms you have to enter your ID number.  When you complete your Tax Return you have a number that was given to you, and you only.  We have become numbers to people and it’s impersonal reflecting an unwillingness to know you as a person.  And even if they know your name, they probably are not willing to spend the time to get to know you better.

There is no personal relationship!

I understand that it’s impractical to suggest that everyone we meet can’t have a personal relationship.  It’s just impossible.

But with JESUS, it’s a different story.  For JESUS we are not just another name.  JESUS knows my name and He knows your name and He knows us! He knows our innermost being!!

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 19:1-10:

WHO WAS ZACCHAEUS?

Zacchaeus is a Jewish name (it means he was a Jew) AND…it means “Pure One.”

Not only was this man a tax collector, he was the Director of the tax collectors…CHIEF among the publicans (KJV).  The Greek term indicates that it seems Zacchaeus was a tax commissioner over the district of Jericho.  He more than likely purchased this position from the Roman authorities.

The local JEWS hated those who worked for Rome because often if not always, overtaxed them.  That’s how they made their money.  They didn’t receive a salary but received either a percentage of the tax they collected or…Rome would give them amount to collect and anything more was theirs.

So we know and see Zacchaeus was a powerful man and he was a very rich man.

The GOSPEL also tells us something else about this man…

This I believe, is extremely important, but often taken as just another piece of information.

Zacchaeus was a short man.

WHAT DID ZACCHAEUS DO WHILE BEING IN A TREE?

He tried to see who Jesus was.  He couldn’t see Him because of the crowd and because of his height.  I think it was even probable that the crowd might have noticed him trying to see Jesus, standing on his tip-toes, but they blocked him on purpose because of who he was.

They hated him!

Because of this, Zacchaeus climbed a nearby TREE to see Jesus better.

He was a JEW and he knew about the prophecies.

  • He probably heard about Jesus and that he was the Prophesied Messiah.
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people.
  • He heard that this man had performed miracles and healed the sick.

He wanted to see who this man was…but nobody wanted to give him the opportunity because of who he was.

So he climbed a tree and Jesus called him and told him that He wanted to go to his house and stay there.

AND HERE COMES THE THING…

Zacchaeus was glad to WELCOME Jesus into his home.

Luke 19:6 – The MESSAGE Bible:

“Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him.”

WHAT DID THE CROWD DO?

The people voiced their disapproval at Jesus eating at the house of a sinner.  Remember, a tax collector was seen as a SINNER; they were not allowed in the synagogue or the Temple.  “Sorry, but you are not welcome at church!”  So the Rabbis and the people rejected these people.

What it meant that Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name.

JESUS SHOWS THAT HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!

Even if you hide, He knows where you are.  He knew where Zacchaeus was.

Zacchaeus was probably HIDING IN THE TREE when Jesus and the parade of people came by; He knew exactly where Zacchaeus was!  I’m sure that he didn’t want anyone to see him in the TREE because it could have damaged his standing in the community.

So Zacchaeus was hiding in the tree, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passes by.  He was HAPPY with only a glimpse of Jesus.

But then Jesus does the unexpected!

Jesus stood still under that tree and He called him.  By doing this Jesus recognized that He knew where Zacchaeus was.

As hard as Zacchaeus tried, he wasn’t invisible to Him.  Maybe the CROWD missed him there out on a limb, but Jesus didn’t!

JESUS KNEW WHERE HE WAS.

But not just that, Jesus knew the situation he was in:

JESUS KNEW his past…

JESUS KNEW his childhood…

JESUS KNEW all his secrets…

JESUS KNEW all the pain he had to endure and still endures.

JESUS saw all the tears that flowed when Zacchaeus was growing up regarding the importance of mentioning his size.  It was important to mention it in order to explain why he was in the tree in the first place.

But I wanted to go deeper in thought about Zacchaeus’ character.

I believe that Zacchaeus was probably MOCKED as a child growing up because of his stature.  I’m sure the neighborhood kids during his time were much like children today.  They can be cruel by belittling other children.  In today’s culture, they call it “bullying”.  Because of the “bullying,” not all children grow up forgetting these experiences.  Some children grow up with these experiences and the hurt grows with them, in them.  They never heal from it.  Some of them will even go to the extreme

Some of them will even go to the extreme and dream of one day being in a position of POWER and then they will show them.

I believe that Zacchaeus was one of those children.  He was MOCKED because of being ‘altitude challenged’ and that’s why he eventually became a tax collector.

THE PROBLEM…NOTHING can really fill that void of HUMILIATION, EXCEPT JESUS!!

Zacchaeus tried but never succeeded…and then Jesus called him by name.

“Zacchaeus come down!  I must stay at your house today.”

AND THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE.

Maybe you find yourself hiding out on a limb of a tree.

Maybe you are struggling with certain things in your life right now.

Maybe you are living a sinful life and cannot comprehend that JESUS would even look upon you, much less talk to you or call out your name. You can’t think that He can forgive you for what you have done.

HERE SOME GOOD NEWS for you!

JESUS is standing right next to you where you are and He is calling your name…

Low Self-Esteem –

Maybe there are things in your life that have broken down your self-worth, your self-esteem.  You might be in an abusive relationship with your husband or wife, physical or psychological.  You might not enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed (John 10:10).  You are being abused and it has hardened your heart towards everyone, including God.

Maybe you blame God for what’s happening in your life…

MAYBE HE HAS ABANDONED YOU…

He hasn’t.

He sees you.  He sees what you are going through.

He sees your pain and He cries with you.  Tears are running down His cheeks.

AND YET, GOD IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

“Get out of that tree.  I want to stay at your house.”

Some people are happy with getting a glimpse of Jesus as He crosses their path.

BUT JESUS WANTS MORE THAN THAT FROM US!

Jesus is calling your name where you are.  So, you will have to come down out of that tree and meet Him on a personal level.

Understand this:  It is not us who called Jesus.  He called us first!

John 15:16 (NIV):

[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you…

Ephesians 1:4 (AMP):

[4] Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world…

He calls us first and on that CROSS He called out your name.

All you have to do is to give heed to His call and come!

ZACCHAEUS was carrying a heavy load.  All it took for him was to listen to Jesus’ call.

“Zacchaeus, come down…I want to stay at your house.”

ISAIAH 49:16 (NIV):

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

When Jesus was nailed to the CROSS, your NAME was engraved on His palms.  ENGRAVING is a process that is permanent.  That’s how much He LOVES you.  That’s how much He CARES for you.

HE KNOWS YOUR NAME BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE!

Jesus Recognizes and Sees the Potential in All of Us–

Zacchaeus means Pure, Righteous.  But the people didn’t see him as “pure” and “righteous”.  However, JESUS saw the REAL Zacchaeus–He knew who he was supposed to be.

WE HAVE PURPOSE!

Jesus doesn’t see who we are, He sees who we are supposed to be.

The world sees us as they want to see us.  They see us because of what we do, what we portray, who we are.  They see only our number or title.

BUT JESUS SEES WHO WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

He sees Zacchaeus as pure and righteous.  He sees POTENTIAL.

You see, you and I were created for a PURPOSE: Romans 8:28-20 (NAS):

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

YOU ARE ALREADY CALLED!  YOU WERE PREDESTINED!!

The question now becomes…Will you listen and take your calling with both hands?  ZACCHAEUS DID!

When Jesus came to his house that day he had a change of heart because for the FIRST TIME in his life somebody saw the REAL him.

For the FIRST TIME, someone ate with him.  Not because of what he had, nor because of his power or money or status.  But because of who he was. At that moment the void in him was filled–he knew that he was worth something more than money.

JESUS SHOWS THAT WE ARE PART OF THE FAMILY (v. 9):

[9] Today salvation has come to this house…

Zacchaeus lineage didn’t bring SALVATION, but his FAITH, evidenced by public confession, sure did!

JESUS sees him as part of the family.

But people will not always look at you that way.  When you repent of your sins and you accept JESUS as your savior, then you reveal your Family Relationship, your true identity.

When Jesus Called Zacchaeus’ Name He Showed That He Knew Where He Was.

He showed that he had PURPOSE and…He showed that he was part of the Family of God!

Somewhere on your journey, you may have lost that sense of family.  But JESUS is calling you right where you are.  HE’S CALLING YOU BY NAME!

JESUS wants you to come down from your tree and to accept Him into your home, into your life.  He wants to dine with you.  He wants to feed you and protect you.  But He can only do this if you LISTEN to His CALL.

AND HE IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

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CREDITS:

Harper’s Bible Dictionary: PUBLICANS, pg. 84.

Sermon Notes from Searching For Answers? A Candid Look At The Life Of A Seeker by Mike Dankson.

PHOTOS:  Google’s Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

 

A “KODAK MOMENT” of Calvary

In photography, a snapshot concept was introduced to the public on a large-scale by Eastman Kodak, which introduced the Brownie box camera. Kodak encouraged families to use the Brownie to capture moments in time of perfect images seen through the viewfinder.

And I remember receiving the gift of a Kodak Box Camera, a Brownie Hawkeye, no less,  from my parents before going on a family vacation one summer.  It was easy to operate, even for a young boy–point, look through the lens at the object to be photographed, and “SNAP!” No fancy adjustments.  Just point and shoot!

So here I am in this blog-Post, taking a snapshot of a moment in time by viewing the biblical landscape in Genesis 22.

An ‘Abraham and His Son’ moment:  Genesis 22:2, 6 and 8.

“Take now your son”…”Abraham took the wood…laid it on Isaac his son”…and Abraham said, “My son”.

Just as Abraham had a son, so God the Father has a Son.

  • God the Father offered His Son, by the POWER of the Holy Spirit:

“How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”  (Hebrews 9:14 ~ New International Version – NIV).

So you can see that the TRINITY (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is plainly in view and involved in our SALVATION–

The FATHER PLANNED it…

The SON PROVIDED it…

And the SPIRIT APPLIED it.

Furthermore, by sharpening our FOCUS, we can see He was the Father’s lone Son – “your only son”.

Of course, Abraham had other sons, but the only one like Isaac–he was his unique son.

Next, we see through our lens, the Father’s LOVE for His Son.

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love” (vs 2)

  • The LOVE Abraham had for Isaac was only a subdued love, compared to the LOVE God had for His Son.

This is the FIRST MENTION of LOVE in the Bible and a VIEW of God’s LOVE for His Son:

The first mention of LOVE in the Gospel of Matthew is “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased”  (Matthew 3:17).

The first mention of LOVE in Mark’s Gospel is again, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased” (Mark 2:11).

And Luke… “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased”  (Luke 3:22).

And finally, the first mention of LOVE in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

SPURGEON: “JESUS was God’s Son, his only-begotten Son, whom he loved more than any of you can ever love your sons or daughters, for the love of God towards him is ineffable, immeasurable.  It is not possible for me to tell you how much God loved his Son, but that Son who had always given him delight, in whom he was well pleased, that Son must endure shame, and agony, and death, if sinners were ever to be saved.  How could the Father give up his Son for such a purpose?  I have felt sometimes as if I could almost rush in, and say, “No; it must not be, the price is too great to be paid for the rescue of such worthless worms as we.”  Yet, to ransom every one of us, the Son of God must be sacrificed, and sacrificed, as it were, by his Father, for thus it is written, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”  This, there is one point of resemblance between the offering of Isaac and the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, it was the father who had to offer up his son who he loved so dearly.”

A SNAP-SHOT of the Landscape–The Land of Moriah (Gen 22:2;  2 Chron. 3:1).

Genesis 22, Verse 2:  “go to the region of Moriah”

The importance of Mount Moriah is established by a number of KEY historical events which have taken place there:

  • Abraham offers Isaac (Gen. 22:2)
  • The Site of Solomon’s Temple.  King David was instructed by God to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite which occupied this site.  So David purchased the land which later became the site of Solomon’s Temple.
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus.  On the very mountain where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his “only son”, God sacrificed His only Son.

The LAW of the Burnt Offering (22:2).

This LAW was spelled out in Leviticus (Lev. 1:3-9), much later than what we see here in Genesis 22.  Actually, the term is first used of the sacrifices of Noah (Gen. 8:20), predating Abraham’s day.

The LAW spells out that the SACRIFICE is not to be a Second-rate offering:

#1.  It must be sacrificial–from the herd or flock that is domestic not of a wild animal.

#2.  There was to be a relationship between the OFFERING and the one offering it ~ “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

#3.  The SACRIFICE must be the Strongest of the flock–a male animal (John 1:29).

#4.  It must be Spotless–without blemish (1 Peter 1:18-19):

[18] You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”  [Amplified Bible].

JESUS WAS SINLESS!

#5.  AND…It must not be Stiff-necked; used of an uncooperative animal–it must be a VOLUNTARY Offering (John 10:17-18)

A SACRIFICE was made to BALANCE our account (Romans 4:35 & 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Romans 4:25 (AMP): 

Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal),  [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God].

The SACRIFICE was SLAIN by the one who brought it.

Ultimately, it was God the Father who brought Jesus to CALVARY who slew Him for our sins (Matthew 27:45-46). 

The BLOOD from the SACRIFICE had to be Sprinkled (Hebrews 12:24):

[24]  And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy] a better and nobler and more gracious message that the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]  (AMP).

The SACRIFICE was a Sweet Aroma to Father God (Ephesians 5:2):

[2] Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A Lapse of Time occurred…(Genesis 22:3)

ABRAHAM rose early in the morning…on the THIRD DAY–he did not offer his son immediately but had to wait for 3 days.

Those had to be 3 difficult days and mindful of what he was about to do.

  • JESUS waited some 3 years before going to the CROSS and it was ever before Him!  (John 2:4; 7:30; 12:27).

LOOKING FOR A RESURRECTION (Hebrews 11:17-19):

Abraham came to the conclusion that he was going to see a MIRACLE because God can’t lie!  God had previously said this son of his, Isaac, would be the one whom He would fulfill all His promises (Gen, 12:2, 3 – “The Abrahamic Blessing”).  Therefore the son must live or God would be found as a liar.  And yet God commands that THIS SON (Isaac) be put to death.  Since there is no contradiction in God, He must be planning on raising Isaac from the dead.  All this…a SNAPSHOT of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

All this…A VIEW of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

The Laying Of Our Sins Upon Christ –

The WOOD that is laid upon Isaac (Gen. 22:6) becomes a PICTURE of Jesus carrying His own cross (John 19:16-18).

The FIRE (Genesis 22:6-7) that Abraham carried in the fire-pot for the “burnt sacrifice” becomes a snapshot once more of God’s Holy wrath upon Christ (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The KNIFE (22:10) depicts His being pierced with nails and the spear in His side…

And FINALLY, the LAMB (Genesis 22:8; 11-14).

GOD DID PROVIDE A LAMB FOR HIMSELF AT CALVARY (Romans 8:32):

[32]  “Certainly not God. who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all!  He gave us his Son–will he not also freely give us all things?”  (GNT- The Good News Translation)

Why did God tell Abraham to offer his son?

Abraham was an Old Testament PROPHET (GENESIS 20:7)–one who by the grace of God have us a glimpse into future events.

JESUS said ABRAHAM hoped for “My day [My incarnation]; and he did see it and was delighted”  (John 8:56).

This MOMENT, this event in history becomes a SNAPSHOT taken to illustrate God offering His only Son at CALVARY.

From 1935 to 1962, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had a daily newspaper column writing her opinion on various world events.  One quote I especially took to heart is from an article she wrote in 1946:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”

God will never ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself–and that includes SACRIFICE.

ISAAC is the beginning of the CROSS, and a shining example of how God will always do the same thing He expects of us.

Isaac was the RESULT of A PROMISE, through his birth that allowed God’s presence to reach a new nation of people–ISRAEL.

And JESUS was also the RESULT of a PROMISE, and through His DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION allowed God’s presence to reach the entire world!

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CREDITS FOR THIS POST:

Genesis: A Devotional Exposition by Donald G. Barnhouse.

Commentary:  Pondering Scripture – An Uncommon Commentary, Genesis 22:5.

Kodak Brownie photo:  Snapshot (photography)–Wikipedia.

Other PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations used for this blog-POST:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

Is “Sabbath-keeping” Today Really A Big-deal?

POST SCRIPTURE – Luke 6:1-10

I have been residing in the small town of Lynden, Washington now for almost fifteen years.  It is a small rural town south of the Canadian border.  I have been hearing stories from residents and have become interested in how the town’s history all began with the early pioneers.

There Are Really Two Lynden’s –

The historic downtown part of the city was settled in the 1870s by Baptists, Methodists and THREE DUTCHMEN who, legend has it, wrote back to their families in the Midwest that LYNDEN was “just like home.”

They were right and by the early 1920s, the Dutch were the majority. Soon. Lynden stores closed on Sundays, reflecting the Christian Reformed church belief that one day of the week should be set aside for rest.  And boy, did they “set aside the day”; abstaining from all other activities was as-much-a-part of observing the Sabbath Day, as was, going to church.

At one time, the city of Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita although unsubstantiated.  [Lynden History Museum]

I heard long time residents tell me stories of the “Christian Dutch Mafia” who would respond to church members reports of “mowing lawns” on the Sabbath or reading the newspaper on front porches; checking out the reports, then telling the so-called ‘violators’–“The Sabbath is holy, so you should be holy.”  No strong-arming–just a verbal warning.

Front Street in Lynden, Washington

Things are different in this small little Dutch town today.  On October 20th, 2008, liquor is now sold on Sundays in local grocery stores and local restaurants. And even the local Family Bible Book Store opened its doors for business on Sundays.  [Note: The Family Bible Book Store has closed their doors.]

Before I go any further…let me say that these particular church members of their day were no legalists.  The didn’t make and keep rules just for the sake of making and keeping rules!

SABBATH DEFINITION:  Google online Dictionary defines “Sabbath” this way:  “A day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians (my add: ‘whatever “most” Christians mean’) on Sunday.”

Somehow…some way, these THINGS had become commitments for them; deeply rooted personal commitments that emerged in the course of living and applied their faith day-to-day, week-to-week.  And I think that’s what we wanna do!  Having FAITH,…believing in God,…trusting that God has forgiven us through the redemptive work of Jesus: that’s the one thing.

And what about life and living when it comes to the Sabbath?

What difference does it make how I spend my days…how my time is organized and spent during the week?

That’s what SABBATH is all about!

We don’t keep the Sabbath in order to be a Christian; …But we keep the Sabbath because we already are Christians!

In other words, …the motivation, …the impulse to recognize the Sabbath doesn’t arise from a desperate hope to be acceptable to God; …but it springs from a HEART OF GRATITUDE that we’ve already been accepted by God.

QUESTIONS arise when investigating what the SABBATH is all about:

  • What was God thinking when He established a Sabbath-day?
  • Why should we observe the Sabbath in today’s society?
  • What does it mean to “keep the Sabbath”?

Looking up in my Bible concordance, I found the word “SABBATH” appearing 151 times!  94 times in the Old Testament and 57 times in the New Testament.  So, I’m thinkin’ that it was pretty important to the biblical writers.

The Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8)

Bible scholars have pointed out that the first 3 commandments given deal with our relationship with God…and the last 6 deal with our relationship with others. The 4th Commandment becomes a bridge.

So if “keeping the Sabbath” is in the Top 10 of God’s Commandments, it must be important.

I thought about that for a while and reasoned why it’s an important thing for us to practice because, by the time Jesus stepped onto the scene of human history, Sabbath-keeping is an issue that keeps coming up.

Over and over again, JESUS is answering questions, providing new teachings, handling complaints, and the SABBATH is one of the main points of argument between himself and the religious leaders of the day.

If Sabbath-keeping was something Jesus talked about a lot, it must be a pretty important thing for us to understand.

My whole purpose of this exploration of “Keeping the Sabbath” is to challenge and to inspire us all to a greater appreciation…a deeper understanding…a stronger commitment to Sabbath-keeping.  And by-the-way, I had to do some soul-searching as I hope you will also, in getting a clearer picture.

We may find some stuff that has been working beneath the surface,…that really has held us back to embrace the GIFT of the Sabbath.  When we don’t observe the Sabbath,…we are really subjecting ourselves to BONDAGE–SLAVERY!  Does that sound pretty harsh?  Well…it is!

But as Galatians 5, verse 1 says:  “IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].”  (Amplified Bible)

SABBATH-KEEPING IS A BIG PART OF EXPERIENCING FREEDOM IN CHRIST  (Luke 6:1-10):

TWO incidents happen…involving JESUS and those who were considered “religious leaders” of the day.

The FIRST involved picking and eating some grain (verse 1); the SECOND involved healing a crippled man’s hand (verse 10).

Both times, Jesus was put on the spot.

Both times, the implications was:  JESUS was breaking the Sabbath command.

Both times, Jesus used the opportunity to shed new light on what Sabbath-keeping was really supposed to be about.

Giving the Pharisees the Benefit of the Doubt –

The prize of the Ten Commandments was their greatest desire and not to break any of God’s commands.  And so, in order to protect the commandments, they designed an elaborate and detailed system of additional RULES,…not so much because they liked a bunch of rules, but because they really didn’t want to break the BIG ONE!

Look at some of the RULES that we’ve come up with at home.  We don’t want our children to get their hand burned by touching a hot stove.  But, we add RULES so they are protected from ever getting close enough to the stove to get burned.

So we tell the children they can’t come into the kitchen when Mom is cooking.  The KITCHEN is off-limits!

Is the kitchen such a bad place for kids that we have a RULE saying they would have to stay out?!  NO!  The only reason why the kids must stay out of the kitchen is to make sure they don’t break the really big rule:  “Don’t touch a hot stove!”

That’s the kind of attitude that the Pharisees had.  They started coming up with layers and layers of RULES & TRADITIONS.

And so, when we read about them getting their feathers all ruffled with Jesus picking grain, or healing a man’s crippled right hand on the Sabbath…we must realize that they had developed these extensive, and elaborate rules to guard against breaking the Sabbath Command!

If you pick a handful of grain as you walk through the fields, the next thing you know, you’ll break out the combines and open a 24-hour bakery on the Sabbath!

If you heal one crippled hand on the Sabbath, the next thing you know, you’ll open an emergency care clinic on the Sabbath!

The Pharisees saw it all as a slippery slope.

They weren’t going to stand for Jesus and His disciples flaunting their “disregard” to the traditions and the laws of their fathers!

In their efforts to protect and preserve the LAW, the religious leaders added greater burdens that obscured the BLESSINGS that God wanted to give through the covenantal Law.  Their intentions were initially good. But, over time, the pharisaical restrictions…their interpretations became the focus, rather than the HEART of the Law.  And because they had lost focus, they ended up arguing with and despising Jesus.

So was Jesus then a RULE BREAKER?

Was He a trouble making, rabble-rouser?  Did He snub His nose at the good rules that had been in place for generations?  Did Jesus think He and His disciples were better than them?

Keep in mind that JESUS came to fulfill the LAW, not to abolish it!  (Matthew 5:17)

So how do we understand these events, and particularly Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath?

JESUS GIVES US THE BOTTOM LINE.

He says that He is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 5).  In other words, the SABBATH is all about Him!

Keeping the Sabbath is all about walking with Him; it’s about submitting to His Lordship.  So, whatever else it means to “keep the Sabbath”, this we can be sure of:  JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE DAY, He is the focus!

JESUS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  It is a “holy” day because we treat it differently from all the rest!

IT’S A “HOLY” DAY BECAUSE GOD, MADE IT HOLY (Exodus 20:8-11):

AND…that’s why we should treat it differently from all the rest.

We keep it HOLY when it is distinct from every other day.  It has a HOLY origin…really going back to the SEVENTH DAY of Creation:

It is a HOLY day, …with HOLY beginnings, …and a HOLY purpose.

And, Keeping It Holy!

So back to my earlier question:  “Was Jesus a rule breaker?”  Well, if you’re talking about man-made rules and traditions…I guess He was.

But when it comes down to it, how can He, …be a Sabbath-breaker, if He is the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’, as Scripture tells us?

It begins with Him; it focuses on Him, and it ends with Him.

The Pharisees had done the old ‘switcheroo’!  Instead of putting the emphasis on the One who instituted and established the SABBATH, instead of focusing on the One who gave humanity this gift, instead, their focus had shifted to man-made rules and regulations and traditions.

Those things are fine for what they are.  We all set up these kinds of things in our lives, in our households, and in our work ethics.

BUT, our RULES, TRADITIONS, AND REGULATIONS…

Being more specific…the particular ways that we practice Sabbath-keeping are not more important than the One who gave us the SABBATH and blessed it!

MY MESSAGE in this Post regarding the SABBATH is a simple one:

#1.  It is to get our focus in the right place…or better yet, on the right Person!

We start exactly where we need to start:  on the Lord Jesus!

We don’t start with man-made rules or traditions.  We don’t start with our own personal preferences.

We start with the Lord…the Lord of the SABBATH!

The SABBATH is a gift from God for us to enjoy.  So let’s CELEBRATE the Giver of this good gift;

Let’s CELEBRATE the Lord of the SABBATH!!

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CREDITS & SOURCES:

The Seattle Times:  Change Comes to Lynden by Robert T. Nelson.

Lynden History Museum.

The NIV Complete Concordance by Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.