THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS?

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If Jesus was crucified on Friday and has risen on Sunday, does that really mean three days and three nights? ANDREAS KÖSTENBERGER from THEBIBLICAL FOUNDATION provides us with a great answer in his article, “Did Jesus Rise On The third Day?”

I’m hardly the only one who believes that Jesus died on a Friday (“Good” Friday), but some have taken issue with the fact that such a belief stands in apparent conflict with Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of Matthew that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40).

On the face of it, I can certainly appreciate that those who employ a very literal hermeneutic are troubled by this passage, for if Jesus was crucified on a Friday, he was in the tomb at best three days and two nights, which would conflict with Jesus’ own affirmation in Matthew. As we will see, and is so often the case, hermeneutics is critical when tackling this apparent contradiction. In dealing with this question, we come to a fork in the road. Are we going to: (1) start with a word-for-word reading of Matthew 12:40Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) and, on the basis of a high view of Scripture (inerrancy) try to make the rest of Scripture conform to a literal “three days and three nights” interpretation? or (2) investigate whether there is a way to understand Jesus’ statement that does not involve him in actual conflict with the belief, abundantly attested elsewhere in the New Testament (as we shall see shortly) that Jesus in fact died on a Friday and was subsequently raised “on the third day”?

Of course, the day Jesus died is not nearly as important as the fact that he, the God-man, did die for our sins on the cross. All sides can agree on that. So this is not so much a theological question as it is a hermeneutical and exegetical issue. My preference in the above scenario is (2), so I’m going to proceed accordingly, though you’ll get to the same place (or at least you should, in my view) regardless of where you start.

Before we do so, let me make one more point, related to tradition. When I point out to people that I’m hardly the only one who believes Jesus died on a Friday, the response is regularly, “Well, tradition doesn’t make you right. In fact, tradition can be wrong!” Well, yes, I know. That’s why I departed from Roman Catholicism and moved to an evangelical faith (so it seems a bit odd for me now to defend tradition). Nevertheless, there are often good reasons for a certain tradition, and in this case at least, I submit the reason for the “Good Friday” tradition is rooted in the very Gospels themselves who attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

Regarding the Gospel evidence, we can observe at least two things. First, the Gospels uniformly attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified and subsequently rose “on the third day” (e.g., Luke 24:7Open in Logos Bible Software (if available); see also Luke 24:21 where the two disciples on the road to Emmaus tell Jesus that this is “now the third day since these things happened”; this later became part of the gospel message, as we can see in passages such as 1 Cor 15:4 and later still in the Apostles’ Creed). The Gospels nowhere say Jesus was crucified and rose “on the fourth day” or “on the fifth day”; it’s always on the third day. By inclusive reckoning, this means Friday is the first day, the day Jesus was crucified; Saturday, the day he was in the tomb, is the second day; and Sunday, the day he rose, is the third day (other scenarios can be posited, but none of them are convincing). Jesus rose on the third day, just like he predicted numerous times. Second, the Gospels say Jesus was hurriedly buried in a new tomb when Sabbath was about to begin (i.e., Friday late afternoon); then, on the Sabbath, the only thing that happened was that the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to secure the tomb, to which he agreed; and next, on the break of dawn on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb to finish the job they started on Friday late afternoon in attending to Jesus’ dead body.

Now those who try to fit the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection “on the third day” into a “three days and three nights” scheme, it seems to me, must invariably argue that Jesus in fact rose on the fourth or fifth day. If he died on Wednesday, as some suggest, Wednesday was the first day, Thursday the second, Friday the third, Saturday the fourth, and Sunday the fifth. If on Thursday, Jesus would have risen on day #4 (explanations to avoid this seem strained). Either scenario is in conflict with the uniform scriptural testimony that Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day. These proposals also do not work well (to say the least) with the Gospel sequence of the final events in Jesus’ life surrounding the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, as we lay out in The Final Days of Jesus.

For this reason, it is perhaps better to see if there is a legitimate way to account for Jesus’ statement, recorded in Matthew 12:40, that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” How can “three days and three nights” mean “three days and two nights”? Well, the answer is not nearly as impossible as those employing a very literal, word-for-word hermeneutic in the interpretation of this verse might suggest (and let me say that literal interpretation is certainly one I generally advocate, except for cases where we’re dealing with an idiom in Scripture). The reason for this is that, in Semitic idiom, any portion of a 24-hour period of time could be called “a day and a night” (i.e., “a day and a night” = 1 day). With Jewish days beginning and ending at dusk, that gives us about 3 hours on “Friday,” 24 hours on “Saturday,” and up to almost 12 hours on “Sunday” – three days, or, in Semitic idiom, “three days and three nights.” (For supporting evidence, see the respective commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel.)

I know that’s different from the way we communicate in English, but that’s what happens when translating from one language into another: we have to accept that people in other languages, culture, and times communicate differently, and sometimes idioms don’t come across perfectly straightforwardly to speakers of other languages. Those who are open to the presence of idioms and other literary devices such as these will readily recognize that this resolves the difficulty, while those who adhere to a very literal interpretive approach most likely will not.

In the end, my preference is to find a satisfactory explanation for the “three days and three nights” reference in Matthew 12:40 such as the one presented above rather than to revision the entirety of the Gospel evidence regarding the day of Jesus’ death. I realize that some very learned arguments have been made for a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion, though none of them that are convincing to me (or many others). Mercifully, as mentioned, our salvation does not rest on our ability to fit Matthew 12:40 into the Gospel chronology of Jesus’ death. At the same time, I submit that there is a satisfactory way to resolve the apparent difficulty, which provides an excellent case study attesting to the fact that not every apparent contradiction is in fact an actual contradiction. This, too, is something on which all of us who hold to a high view of Scripture should be able to agree.

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CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCE OF THE KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

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INTRODUCTION

The period of the kings and writing prophets spanned from 1050-432 BC. The kings only ruled from 1050-586 BC whereas the prophets continued to preach and write to the needs of the nation of Israel.

Beginning with the settlement of Canaan, and through the period of the judges, Israel was merely a group of scattered, unorganized tribes. They had little connection with each other, almost living as separate peoples.

Samuel was the bridge between this original, isolated condition of the people, and the period when the kingdom was united under its first king. This prophet—priest ushered in a period of transition and radical changes in Hebrew life, which molded Israel into a united nation.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KINGS AND CHRONICLES?

It is clear to even the casual reader that the books of 1 and 2 Kings share a great deal of similarities with the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. So much so, in fact, that some wonder why it is that we have both of these accounts of Israel’s history in our Bibles.

At first glance it can seem as though the same information is being repeated but from a slightly different angle. And this is, to some extent, true. Roughly 50% of the material in Chronicles is covered elsewhere in the Old Testament.

So why do we have both Kings and Chronicles in our Bibles? The answer lies in understanding the differences between these two histories of Israel.

In order to account for these differences, we must first understand the date and setting of each of these books.

Together with the books of Samuel, Kings was written around 550-560 BC during the Babylonian exile, while Chronicles was written after the exile was over, around 450-440 BC. Whereas Samuel/Kings addressed the hardhearted Jews experiencing exile and captivity, Chronicles seeks to inspire hope and faith in God among those who are hurting after this spiritually devastating ordeal.

The fact that these two accounts of Israel’s history are given to different audiences accounts for the contrasts between the two. While Samuel/Kings needed to show the people that the nation’s troubles were the result of their sinful disobedience rather than God’s abandonment of His people, Chronicles wanted to encourage the Israelites and help them turn back to worshiping Yahweh as the one true God.

Three distinctives in Chronicles help show how it is different than Samuel/Kings.

A Focus on David and Solomon

The Chronicler focuses heavily on David and Solomon, to the tune of 29 chapters. When discussing these rulers, the spotlight is on their triumphs rather than their respective failures of adultery and idolatry.

Though Chronicles does not whitewash history, it does deal more favorably with many of the kings of Israel. For instance, the wicked King Manasseh is described as an evil king in both 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 33, but only Chronicles mentions his repentance and return to God.

A Focus on Judah

A second distinctive is that the Chronicler focuses primarily on the kings of Judah, the house of David, rather than the kings of Israel (remember, the kingdoms were divided after the death of Solomon). When the kings of Israel (the northern kingdom) are mentioned, it is because it has a direct connection to the narrative related to the exploits of Judah in the south.

While it does not ignore the northern kingdom and the complex issues associated with it, the book of Chronicles sees Judah as the center of God’s work among His people.

A Focus on Restoration

Lastly, whereas Samuel/Kings acknowledges that God dealt with the wickedness of Israel’s kings by punishing even their descendents, Chronicles focuses on God’s dealing with obedient and disobedient kings within their own lifetime.

The overall purpose of Chronicles was not to browbeat an already dejected Israel, but to lift them up and point them back to God. This is why it is fitting that the book of Chronicles is the final book in the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh). By demonstrating for them how God is in control, the author of Chronicles seeks to inspire a return to proper worship and reverence for Yahweh, the God of Israel.

While there is more that can be said about the difference between the books of Kings and Chronicles, the above distinctives reveal that the latter book is not redundant. When we read Scripture – particularly the Old Testament – we must remember that while these books were written for us they were not originally written to us.

The original readers of these books would have been much better attuned to the differences in their content and in their purpose. As we read through the Bible we will always benefit by trying to first understand what the text meant to the original audience before we try to understand how it applies to us today.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Reading the Bible chronologically can be a refreshing way to see it through new eyes. We might think that because the Bible starts with creation and ends with Revelation it’s already laid out sequentially, but it’s not. Reading it in the order that events occurred can equip us to understand its narrative more clearly and see it from a fresh perspective.

Studying the time of the Israeli kings and the prophets in the Old Testament can often be a little confusing, especially when taking into consideration that we not only dealing with a single book or two, but with the second book of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, the 4 major and 12 minor prophetic books.

The main purpose of this article is to provide you with a chronological list of references to Scripture to assist you in your studies. Although such a chronological list may never be 100% accurate, we trust that it would at least provide some guidance.

Please click on the link below to open the downloadable pdf list:

CHRONOLOGY OF ISRAEL’S KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

“PAULINE CHRISTIANITY”

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Pauline Christianity is a term applied by those who claim that Jesus taught one thing, and Paul taught something completely different. They believe that the Christianity of today has little to do with Jesus’ teachings; rather, it is the product of Paul’s corruption of those teachings.

In short, according to them, Paul was a charlatan, an evangelical huckster who succeeded in twisting Jesus’ message of love into something Jesus himself would never recognize. It was Paul, not Jesus, who originated the “Christianity” of today.

We on the other hand, believe that the New Testament is a unified whole: the Gospels present the life and work of Jesus the Messiah; the Epistles explain the meaning and scope of Jesus’ work and apply it to daily living. For example, Matthew 28 narrates the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, and 1 Corinthians 15 explains the significance of His resurrection. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Gospels also inspired the Epistles to give us a fuller understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

Commonly, many of those who hold to the negative theory about Paul, also believe the following:
1) Jesus was not divine. He never claimed to be God, and he never intended to start a new religion.
2) The Bible is not an inspired book and is riddled with contradictions. None of the Bible, except possibly the book of James, was written by anyone who knew Jesus. There are fragments of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, but it is difficult to discern what he really said.
3) Paul was never a Pharisee and was not highly educated. His “conversion” was either a personal hallucinogenic experience or an outright fraud. His claims to be an apostle were attempts to further his own authority in the church.
4) Pauline theological “inventions” include a) the deity of Jesus; b) salvation by grace through faith; c) salvation through the blood of Jesus; d) the sinless nature of Jesus; e) the concept of original sin; and f) the Holy Spirit. None of these “new doctrines” were accepted by Jesus’ true followers.
5) The Gnostic Gospels are closer to the truth about Jesus than are the traditional four Gospels of the Bible.

The concept of “Pauline Christianity” represents an outright attack on the Bible as the Word of God. Adherents of the “Pauline Christianity” theory are truly misrepresenting Jesus’ teachings. They choose to believe His words on love but deny His teachings on judgment (such as Matthew 24). They insist on a human Jesus, denying His divinity, although Jesus plainly taught His equality with God in passages such as John 10:30. They want a “loving” Jesus without having to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

Interestingly, Paul’s credentials as an apostle were attacked, even in his own lifetime, by those who desired to lead the church into legalism and other errant ideologies. Paul defends himself from the spurious attacks of false teachers in 1 Corinthians 92 Corinthians 12; and Galatians 1.

Paul’s apostleship is attested to by the miracles he performed (Romans 15:19), the training he received (Galatians 1:15-20), and the testimony of the other apostles. Peter, far from being Paul’s enemy, wrote this about him: “Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

(The above are extracts from an article by GotQuestions.Org – https://www.gotquestions.org/Pauline-Christianity.html )

Don Stewart, from The Blue Letter Bible gives us some clarity about Paul:

What evidence do we have to call Paul’s writings Scripture?

WHO WAS PAUL?

We have no physical description of Saul of Tarsus given to us in Scripture. Early tradition says that he was a small man with a bald head. No matter what he looked liked, his writings have become part of the Word of God as found in the New Testament.

He was born Saul of Tarsus – a city which is in modern-day Turkey. Tarsus had been part of the Greek world for some time. Although the family of Saul were Jews, Saul himself was a Roman citizen.

While still a young man Saul travelled to Jerusalem to train as a Rabbi. In Jerusalem, he became acquainted with a group of people who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. Saul relentlessly persecuted these people while all the time thinking that he was serving God.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS

While heading for Damascus to further jail believers in Jesus, Saul had a blinding vision that knocked him to the ground. The voice that spoke to Saul identified Himself as Jesus of Nazareth – the one whom he had been persecuting. Thus, began one of the great turnarounds in history. The greatest antagonist of the Christian faith – Saul of Tarsus – became its greatest missionary – the Apostle Paul. During his lifetime he penned thirteen different works that have become part of the New Testament. It is impossible to overestimate the influence that Paul played in the spread of the Christian faith.

HE BELIEVED HIS MESSAGE TO BE DIVINE

The first thing that must be noticed is that Paul believed his message to be divine. He wrote:

“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

He wrote to the church at Thessalonica:

“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

PAUL SPOKE OF “MY GOSPEL”

Paul spoke of “my gospel.” He said the preaching of Jesus Christ had been kept secret but now had been revealed.

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith” (Romans 16:25,26).

However, believing to have a divine message does not make it so. What evidence do we have of this message having been sent from God?

PAUL RECEIVED DIRECT REVELATION FROM THE LORD

The Bible teaches that Paul received direct revelation from God. Paul wrote:

Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1).

After an encounter with the ascended Jesus on the Damascus road, Paul had it explained by Ananias:

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of his mouth. For you will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard “ (Acts 22:14,15).

DISOBEYING HIS WRITINGS BRINGS DISCIPLINE

Paul said that anyone who disobeyed his writings was to be disciplined by the local church. He wrote:

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

To the Corinthians he wrote:

I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Corinthians 13:2-3).

Paul also wrote:

“If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored” (1 Corinthians 14:37,38).

HIS WRITINGS WERE CONSIDERED SCRIPTURE DURING HIS LIFETIME

The final point is that the New Testament recognized Paul’s writing as Scripture. Peter wrote:

Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15,16).

The writings of Paul complete the New Testament. He was the chosen instrument to explain the meaning of the two comings of Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY

Saul of Tarsus was a great enemy of the church. However, he was converted on the road to Damascus while in the midst of persecuting Christians. He became the Apostle Paul – the greatest missionary the church has ever seen.

Paul was given the task of explaining the ministry of Christ to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world.

We find that he received direct revelation from the Lord. Paul also believed his message to be divine. The Apostle Peter confirmed Paul’s words as Scripture. He was God’s chosen instrument to reveal much about the central truths of the Christian faith. Paul also explained the necessity of the two comings of Christ.

(Source: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1242.cfm )

PSALM 19: A Psalm About The Sufficiency Of Scripture

PSALM 19

Psalm 19 provides one of the very best descriptions on the sufficiency of Scripture in all of the Bible, if not the very best. This psalm conveys to us the significance of divine revelation. The first half (vv. 1-6) describes God’s revelation in nature. God is revealed in His creation. As Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But while general revelation is sufficient to reveal the fact that God exists, and to teach us something about His attributes, nature alone does not reveal saving truth. The point of the Psalm is the utter spiritual perfection and all-sufficiency of special revelation, in the written Word of God.

Therefore the second half of the Psalm (vv. 7-14) focuses on the absolute and utter sufficiency of Scripture as our one true and infallible guide in life. The psalmist begins this section on the Word of God by writing:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

—vv. 7-9

Those three verses contain an absolutely comprehensive, yet concise, statement on the sufficiency of Scripture. It contains six basic lines of thought, each with three basic elements, namely: a title for the Word of God, a characteristic of the Word of God, and a benefit of the Word of God. Each of those lines of thought uses the key phrase “of the LORD.” Six times the covenant name of God, Yahweh, is used to identify the source of the sufficient Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

The first title for Scripture is “the law,” which basically means divine teaching. It points to the teaching nature of Scripture. In the Scriptures, It teaches what we should believe, what kind of character we should cultivate, and how we ought to live. It is God’s teaching for every area of life.

The first characteristic of God’s Word, according to verse 7, is that it is “perfect.” The Hebrew term translated “perfect” is a common word that also can mean “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” The Scriptures cover everything and lacks nothing.

The first part of verse 7 also lists the first of Scripture’s six benefits: it revives the soul. It is so comprehensive that if carefully obeyed, it can transform the entire person by giving him salvation and providing all the means necessary for his sanctification, making the very soul of the individual new (cf. Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 3:15-17; 1 Pet 1:23-25).

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

Psalm 19:7 also declares a second title and characteristic of Scripture: “the testimony of the LORD is sure.”

“Testimony” defines God’s written Word as a witness to the truth. In the Bible God gives testimony to who He is and what He requires. His testimony is “sure,” in sharp contrast to the unreliable notions of men. “Sure” means unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, and worthy to be trusted. The truth of God’s Word thus provides a solid foundation on which people, without hesitation, can build their lives and eternal destinies (cf. 2 Pet 1:19-21).

The benefit of this sure testimony is that of “making wise the simple.” The word translated “wise” basically means to be skilled in the matters of practical godly living. To be wise is to master the art of daily living by knowing the Word of God and applying it in every situation.

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The first half of Psalm 19:8 begins with a third title and characteristic of God’s Word: “The precepts of the LORD are right.”

“Precepts,” mean divine principles, statutes, and guidelines. They are simply characterized as “right.” They show believers the right spiritual path and guide them into the way of true understanding. People who follow the Word of God are not left to wander around in the fog of human opinion.

The result of applying Scripture’s principles, obeying its precepts, and walking in its pathways is true joy — “rejoicing the heart.” The prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of tremendous human stress—rejection of his person and message, and the disaster befalling his entire nation—gave great testimony to the joy that comes through God’s Word: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16; cf. 1 John 1:4). If those who claim to follow Christ today were as excited about scriptural precepts as they are about the materialism of this world, the character of the church would be wholly different, and our testimony to the world would be consistent and potent.

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The second part of Psalm 19:8 lists a fourth title and characteristic to identify the Word of God: “the commandment of the LORD is pure.”

The word “commandment” emphasizes the authoritative, binding character of Scripture. God requires certain things from people, and He blesses those who comply but judges those who do not. His requirements are “pure,” a word actually better translated as “clear.” Some elements of Scripture are more obscure and harder to understand than others, but generally the Bible is clear and not obscure.

Scripture’s purity and clarity produces the benefit of “enlightening the eyes.” It provides illumination in the midst of moral, ethical, and spiritual darkness. It reveals the knowledge of everything not otherwise readily seen (cf. Prov 6:23). Life itself is confusing and chaotic. Seeking truth apart from Scripture only adds to the confusion. Scripture, by contrast, is remarkably clear.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

Fifth in the list of Scripture’s titles and characteristics is the opening phrase of Psalm 19:9, “the fear of the LORD is clean.”

Here the psalmist uses the term “fear” as a synonym for the Word of God. Scripture that seeks to produce the fear of God in its readers is “clean.” That speaks of the utter absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. God’s Word alone, is unsullied by sin, untainted by evil, devoid of corruption, and without error of any kind (cf. 119:9).

Consequently, the Bible has the remarkable benefit of “enduring forever” (Ps 19:9). It is “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23) that never changes and never needs to be altered, no matter what the generation.

The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether;

Sixth and last title and characteristic of Scripture is found in the second half of verse 9: “The rules of the LORD are true.”

These “rules” are the judgments and ordinances of God — in essence, divine verdicts. The commandments of the Bible are the eternally supreme Judge’s legal decrees for the life and eternal destiny of mankind. And those rules are “true.” It is always relevant, and applicable—in contrast to the lies of unregenerate men who are mere pawns and victims of Satan, the father of lies.

The result of the truthfulness of Scripture in verse 9 is that it is “righteous altogether.” That phrase conveys the idea of comprehensiveness. Scripture is the complete, sufficient, error-free source of all truth. That is why God issued such commands as “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut 4:2; cf. Rev 22:18-19).

Further in the second half of Psalm 19, it goes on to affirm the supreme value of Scripture:

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

—vv. 10-13

First, David says God’s Word is more valuable than “much fine gold.” Material blessings are valueless compared to the truth of God’s Word.

Second, Scripture is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Nothing is as enriching, as personally meaningful, and as much a source of lasting pleasure as joyful hours spent reading, studying, and meditating on the contents of God’s Word (cf. Jer 15:16).

Third, the Bible is valuable as the greatest source of spiritual protection: “By them is your servant warned” (v. 11). Scripture protects believers in the face of temptation, sin, and ignorance (cf. Ps 119:9-11).

Fourth, in keeping its truths there is “great reward,” derive from obedience to Scripture, which results in eternal glory. In fact, the word “reward” here in Hebrew is literally “the end.” The psalmist is saying that in obeying the Word there is a great end, an eternal reward.

The Scriptures are also valuable as the supplier of the greatest purification. “Who can discern his errors?” (v. 12). In light of all the positive characteristics and life-transforming benefits attendant to God’s Word, David could not understand why anyone would ever disobey God’s precepts. That prompted him to cry out, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (vv. 12-13). “Hidden faults” are the sins we do not plan to commit and often don’t remember to confess. “Presumptuous sins” are those arrogant, premeditated ones we commit even though we know better.

David sincerely desired not to have such sins dominate him, so that he could be “blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” He employs a Hebrew term for “transgression” that has the idea of willfully breaking free from a restraint or charging past a barrier to escape the dominion of God and the realm of grace. It simply means apostasy. The psalmist was appealing to God for purity of heart, that he might never apostatize, because he realized the Word of God was the only sufficient safeguard against spiritual disaster.

Psalm 19 concludes by expressing the psalmist’s commitment to Scripture: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (v. 14).

David wanted the Lord to make his words and thoughts biblical. He wanted to be a man of the Word. A true and consistent commitment to divine revelation is the only commitment that really matters in this life.

Is the Bible really sufficient to meet every problem of human life? Of course it is. And anyone who says it is not, whether by explicit statement or by implicit action, calls God a liar and ignores or seriously undermines Paul’s clear, self-explanatory instruction to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

—2 TIM 3:14-17

(Source: Thinking Biblically! – Recovering A Christian Worldview)

TREASURES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL 2

INTRODUCTION

Sadly, many Christians avoid the Old Testament, and especially the prophetic books. Except for the prophetic messages, these books are also rich in material that teaches us more about the character of God, what he loves and hates and how He deals with it.

In this presentation, I will not add anything else but a few headings and let the verses speak for themselves.

Just for some background, Ezekiel, a priest and a prophet, ministers during the darkest days of Judah’s history: the seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity. His first vision came in the time of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. Carried to Babylon before the final assault on Jerusalem, Ezekiel uses prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols to dramatize God’s message to His exiled people. Though they are like dry bones in the sun, God will reassemble them and breathe life into the nation once again. Present judgment will be followed by future glory so that “ye shall know that I am the LORD” (6:7).

The Hebrew name Yehezke’l means “God Strengthens” or “Strengthened by God.” Ezekiel is indeed strengthened by God for the prophetic ministry to which he is called (3:8, 9). The name occurs twice in this book and nowhere else in the Old Testament.

DO NOT FEAR MAN – GO OUT AND SHARE GOD’S TRUTHS

Ezekiel 2:6-7 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

HEAR AND SEE

Ezekiel 3:27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 33:31-33 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

ANOTHER LITTLE BOOK

Ezekiel 2:9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

Ezekiel 3:1-3 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.

SHEPHERS AND WATCHMEN

Ezekiel 3:18-21 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.

Ezekiel 33:1-11 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Ezekiel 34:7-10 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”

SINS

Ezekiel 16:30 How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord God, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

Ezekiel 17:24-26 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

JUDGEMENT AND WRATH

Ezekiel 5:9,11,13 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them.

Ezekiel 7:3-4 Now the end has come upon you, And I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. My eye will not spare you, Nor will I have pity; But I will repay your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst; Then you shall know that I am the Lord!’

Ezekiel 7:8-9 Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, And spend My anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, And I will repay you for all your abominations. ‘My eye will not spare, Nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways, And your abominations will be in your midst. Then you shall know that I am the Lord who strikes.

Ezekiel 7:27 The king will mourn, The prince will be clothed with desolation, And the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, And according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!

Ezekiel 14:8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 16:43 Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head,” says the Lord God. “And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations.

Ezekiel 16:59 For thus says the Lord God: “I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant.

Ezekiel 17:18-20a Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare.

Ezekiel 22:20-22 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’

Ezekiel 23:35 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, Therefore you shall bear the penalty, Of your lewdness and your harlotry.’

Ezekiel 24:13-14 In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, You will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, Till I have caused My fury to rest upon you. I, the Lord, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, Nor will I spare, Nor will I relent; According to your ways And according to your deeds, They will judge you,” Says the Lord God.’”

Ezekiel 24:25 And you, son of man—will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters

Ezekiel 25:6-7 For thus says the Lord God: “Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations; I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

THE FAIRNESS OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 33:12-19 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”

Ezekiel 34:17 And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.

Ezekiel 34:20-23 Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

FALSE PROPHETS

Ezekiel 13:2-3,6-9a “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken. Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people

Ezekiel 12:22-23 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 13:9-10 And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired

Ezekiel 22:28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken.

THE PROUD WILL FALL

Ezekiel 17:24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.

GOD WILL NOT HEAR THEM

Ezekiel 7:22,25-26I will turn My face from them, And they will defile My secret place; For robbers shall enter it and defile it. Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders.

Ezekiel 8:18 Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.

REMNANT

Ezekiel 6:8 Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries.

Ezekiel 12:16 But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 14:14,22a Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God. Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings.

MARK ON THE FOREHEAD

Ezekiel 9:4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Ezekiel 6:10 And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.

Ezekiel 12:13a I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare.

Ezekiel 12:25,28 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 14:23b you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 20:3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you.”

Ezekiel 20:33 As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

Ezekiel 20:48 All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.

Ezekiel 22:14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it.

SALVATION

Ezekiel 11:19-21 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 16:5-9 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God. “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.

Ezekiel 16:60,62-63 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord God.’

Ezekiel 18:4-5, 8-9, 17 Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father, As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right; If he has not exacted usury. Nor taken any increase, But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity, And executed true judgment between man and man; If he has walked in My statutes, And kept My judgments faithfully— He is just; He shall surely live!” Says the Lord God. Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor, And not received usury or increase, But has executed My judgments, And walked in My statutes—He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!

Ezekiel 18:21-23 But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:30-32 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!

Ezekiel 20:43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

THE DRY BONES LIVE – EZEKIEL 37

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”

HOW CAN JESUS BE THE “WORD” AND THE “LIGHT”? – JOHN 1:1–14

The message of John is about the divine nature (deity) of Christ and the fact that Jesus is God. He said, “I and the Father are one. If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” Thomas called Him, “My Lord and My God.” Titles are given to Jesus that belong only to God, like the eternal judge, the holy One, the first and the last, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Savior, the Mighty God, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the King of kings and the Redeemer. God is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, sovereign and all glorious and all of those things are said of Christ as well.

The most concise statement in all the Bible on the incarnation, on God becoming man, is found in verse 14, “The Word became Flesh,” God became a man. John is saying that God came into the world in the man Jesus.

To the Jew, the Word had even more meaning. In the Old Testament, you will read many times, “The Word of the Lord came” to so-and-so. The Word of the Lord was simply God revealing Himself, His person, His nature, His will, His wisdom, His truth. The Word of the Lord was the expression of the personal God, the true and living God of the Old Testament. By His Word, God had spoken. Hebrews 1 says, “Through many means in many ways, in time past, through the prophets God spoke. John is saying that the revelation of God, the disclosure of God, the manifestation of God is now incarnate. The expression of God’s nature, will, wisdom, truth is embodied. That is why Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”

So the Word is the personal God to the Jew in flesh. Jesus then is God in human flesh. He is the Word of the living God and He uses that term because it covers both the Gentiles and the Jews. Psalm 138:2 says, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” God and His Word are one and the same because if God doesn’t speak, we do not know anything about Him. When He does speak, everything He speaks is consistent with who He is.

God is unchanging and not at any point incomplete. And yet, He became a man. The Incarnation was that event when God took on the fullness of humanity while remaining fully God. Two natures not mingled, fused together in indivisible oneness, in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ’s humanity is not an illusion or some mental experience. It is not a mere appearance. He took on humanity. Hebrews 2 says, “He partook of flesh and blood.” He lived in this world for thirty-three years, thirty of them as a man among men with no indications that He was any other than a human being, till He began His ministry. The clearest representation of God ever was the incarnation of Christ. Jesus is the Word who became flesh.

First of all, John shows us that the Word became flesh by virtue of His pre-existence. Remember, verse started with, “In the beginning was the Word.” That phrase is taken right out of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” It refers to the original beginning of everything that exists. In other words, Jesus was already in existence when everything that exists came into existence while the Word already was. At the point where everything began, He already was in pre-existence. John does not say, “In the beginning the Word came into existence.” That is very important. Jesus is not God’s competitor, He is God. In John 17 He prays at the end of His incarnation, looking at the cross, “Restore to Me the glory I had with You before the world began.”

God the Father gives testimony to His relationship to the Son in Luke 3:22 at the baptism when He says, “This is My beloved Son.” As He is outside the creation and before time, He is eternal. And if He is eternal, He is God.

Secondly, John is of the co-existence of Christ. Back to verse 1, “… and the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God.” Therein lies the mystery of the Trinity. He is as much God as the Father is God. The Word is not a message from God, the Word is God.

Then thirdly, there is His self-existence. His self-existence relates to the essence of His nature. Verse 4 says, “In Him was Life.” John 5:26 again says that in God is life and in the Son is life. He wasn’t given life or received life, He possesses it as an essential of His nature. That is why Jesus would say things like, “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This is is foundational to the Christian faith. Unless you believe this, you cannot be saved. Altering the foundational realities of the identity of Jesus Christ is a damning act, very popular in false religions.

Jesus is the source of life. This is the foundational reality of all realities. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and He gave life to everything that has life, because life is in Him. Sadly we see massive effort to deny the creation account of Genesis 1 today. Get rid of the creation and you can get rid of the Creator. If you get rid of the Creator, you can live the way you want because there is no recourse for your sin.

That is why Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” He came into the world as that eternal life and when He arrived, the light was on. In John 8:12 He sais ““I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

There is certainly distinction between life and light but they are fused together. Life is the principle, while light is simply the illustration. The preexistent, coexistet, self-existent life of God in human form in Jesus became the light of men. In other words, when He showed up, the light went on and overcame the darkness of ignorance. As God and the Word are the same, light and life are the same. The light combines with life and manifests itself.

When God appeared in the Old Testament on many occasions as light. It’s called the Shekinah, blazing light. We see that with Moses when He showed up at the tabernacle, when He showed up at the temple, when He led them by a pillar of light during the day, and cloudy light and fire by night. Jesus is the eternal life of God in human flesh, manifesting like light shining in the darkness of a sinful world. Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness. There was nothing like this ever.”

1 John 2:8 says, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” As Christ came, and as He began to appear and manifested Himself at the beginning of His ministry, the darkness began to be dispelled and it could not overpower the light of His life.

Verses 6 to 8 mention that there was a man sent from God, a prophet, to give testimony and that prophet was John the Baptist. He came to testify about the light, He pointed to Christ so that all might believe through Him. He wasn’t the light, but He came to testify about the light. Jesus came in to display the life of God like light in a dark world. Verse 9 says there was the true light which coming into the world. Jesus was the Word made flesh and the light coming into the world. He enlightens every man who knows about Him, who ever hear or read of Him.

In verse 10 we read, “He was in the world and the world was made through Him.” That is how we know Jesus is God. The world was made through Him and the world didn’t know Him. They still don’t. Verse 11 says, “He came to His own,” and now he is talking about Israel, His own, “My people” as He refers to them repeatedly in the Old Testament. His own people who had all the prophecies telling them that He was coming didn’t receive Him. They killed Him, along with the nations, the Romans.

In verses 12 and 13 we read, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Not only is the Word, the Lord Jesus, the Creator of the material universe, but He is also the Creator of His own family through spiritual creation. He is the one who creates the material world and He is the one who creates His own spiritual family.” They were born of God, not by any human means, not by blood, the will of the flesh or the will of man. This is a spiritual creation by God. We become His new creation, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

In John 20 as John closes his gospel, he says, “These things that I’ve written to you, I’ve written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.” He also says in chapter 1: 12, “To those who believe in His name.” His name is who He is. To believe in His name is not to believe that His name was Jesus, but to believe in the fullness of His person.

(Source: My Bible studies, based on John MacArthur’s sermons)

 

ALL IS VANITY – ECCLESIASTES

Many readers consider the book of Ecclesiastes as relentlessly severe, stern, or gloomy in manner or appearance. However, this approach to Ecclesiastes has some problems. Life is not a bed of roses, even for the Christian (especially for the Christian?), and there is a good deal of wisdom in it which corresponds to Proverbs, which is a little hard to explain if the whole book is not considered in context.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

TITLE

The English title, Ecclesiastes, comes from the Greek and Latin translations of Solomon’s book. It means “preacher,” translated “assembly” or “congregation” in the New Testament. Both the Greek and Latin versions derive their titles from the Hebrew title, which means “one who calls or gathers” the people.

AUTHOR AND DATE

All point to Solomon, the son of David, as the author. He was probably writing in his later years, primarily to warn the young people of his kingdom, without omitting others. He warned them to avoid walking through life on the path of human wisdom and exhorted them to live by the revealed wisdom of God (12:9–14).

BACKGROUND AND SETTING

Solomon’s reputation for possessing extraordinary wisdom fits the Ecclesiastes profile. David recognized his son’s wisdom (1 Kin. 2:6, 9) before God gave Solomon an additional measure. After he received a “wise and understanding heart” from the Lord (1 Kin. 3:7–12), Solomon gained renown for being exceedingly wise by rendering insightful decisions (1 Kin.3:16–28), a reputation that attracted “all the kings of the earth” to his courts (1 Kin. 4:34). In addition, he composed songs and proverbs (1 Kin. 4:32; cf. 12:9), activity befitting only the ablest of sages. Solomon’s wisdom, like Job’s wealth, surpassed the wisdom “of all the people of the east” (1 Kin. 4:30; Job 1:3).

The book is applicable to all who would listen and benefit, not so much from Solomon’s experiences, but from the principles he drew as a result. Its aim is to answer some of life’s most challenging questions, particularly where they seem contrary to Solomon’s expectations. This has led some unwisely to take the view that Ecclesiastes is a book of skepticism. But in spite of amazingly unwise behavior and thinking, Solomon never let go of his faith in God (12:13, 14).

HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL THEMES

As is true with most biblical Wisdom literature, little historical narrative occurs in Ecclesiastes, apart from Solomon’s own personal pilgrimage. The kingly sage studied life with high expectations but repeatedly bemoaned its shortcomings, which he acknowledged were due to the curse (Gen. 3:14–19). Ecclesiastes represents the painful autobiography of Solomon who, for much of his life, squandered God’s blessings on his own personal pleasure rather than God’s glory. He wrote to warn subsequent generations not to make the same tragic error, in much the same manner as Paul wrote to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18–31; 2:13–16).

The key word is “vanity,” which expresses the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God. This word is used 37 times expressing the many things hard to understand about life. All earthly goals and ambitions when pursued as ends in themselves produce only emptiness. Paul was probably echoing Solomon’s dissatisfaction when he wrote, “ … the creation was subjected to futility” (Solomon’s “vanity”; Rom. 8:19–21). Solomon’s experience with the effects of the curse (see Gen. 3:17–19) led him to view life as “chasing after the wind.”

Solomon asked, “What profit has a man from all his labor …?” (1:3), a question he repeated in 2:24 and 3:9. The wise king gave over a considerable portion of the book to addressing this dilemma. The impossibility of discovering both the inner workings of God’s creation and the personal providence of God in Solomon’s life were also deeply troubling to the king, as they were to Job. But the reality of judgment for all, despite many unknowns, emerged as the great certainty. In light of this judgment by God, the only fulfilled life is one lived in proper recognition of God and service to Him. Any other kind of life is frustrating and pointless.

A proper balance of the prominent “enjoy life” theme with that of “divine judgment” tethers the reader to Solomon’s God with the sure chord of faith. For a time, Solomon suffered from the imbalance of trying to enjoy life without regard for the fear of Yahweh’s judgment holding him on the path of obedience. In the end, he came to grasp the importance of obedience. The tragic results of Solomon’s personal experience, coupled with the insight of extraordinary wisdom, make Ecclesiastes a book from which all believers can be warned and grow in their faith (cf. 2:1–26). This book shows that if one perceives each day of existence, labor, and basic provision as a gift from God, and accepts whatever God gives, then that person lives an abundant life (cf. John 10:10). However, one who looks to be satisfied apart from God will live with futility regardless of his accumulations.

INTERPRETIVE CHALLENGES

The author’s declaration that “all is vanity” envelops the primary message of the book (cf. 1:2; 12:8). The word translated “vanity” is used in at least 3 ways throughout the book. In each case, it looks at the nature of man’s activity “under the sun” as:

1)”fleeting,” which has in view the vapor-like (cf. James 4:14) or transitory nature of life;

2)”futile” or “meaningless,” which focuses on the cursed condition of the universe and the debilitating effects it has on man’s earthly experience; or

3) “incomprehensible” or “enigmatic,” which gives consideration to life’s unanswerable questions. Solomon draws upon all 3 meanings in Ecclesiastes.

While the context in each case will determine which meaning Solomon is focusing upon, the most recurring meaning of vanity is “incomprehensible” or “unknowable,” referring to the mysteries of God’s purposes.

Solomon’s conclusion to “fear God and keep His commandments” (12:13, 14) is more than the book’s summary; it is the only hope of the good life and the only reasonable response of faith and obedience to sovereign God. He precisely works out all activities under the sun, each in its time according to His perfect plan, but also discloses only as much as His perfect wisdom dictates and holds all men accountable. Those who refuse to take God and His Word seriously are doomed to lives of the severest vanity.

OUTLINE

The book chronicles Solomon’s investigations and conclusions regarding man’s lifework, which combine all of his activity and its potential outcomes including limited satisfaction. The role of wisdom in experiencing success surfaces repeatedly, particularly when Solomon must acknowledge that God has not revealed all of the details. This leads Solomon to the conclusion that the primary issues of life after the Edenic fall involve divine blessings to be enjoyed and the divine judgment for which all must prepare.

I – INTRODUCTION

  1. Title (1:1)
  2. Poem—A Life of Activity That Appears Wearisome (1:2–11)

II – SOLOMON’S INVESTIGATION (1:12–6:9)

A. Introduction—The King and His Investigation (1:12–18)

B. Investigation of Pleasure-Seeking (2:1–11)

C. Investigation of Wisdom and Folly (2:12–17)

D. Investigation of Labor and Rewards (2:18–6:9)

  1. One has to leave them to another (2:18–26)
  2. One cannot find the right time to act (3:1–4:6)
  3. One often must work alone (4:7–16)
  4. One can easily lose all he acquires (5:1–6:9)

III. SOLOMON’S CONCLUSIONS (6:10–12:8)

A. Introduction—The Problem of Not Knowing (6:10–12)

B. Man Cannot Always Find Out Which Route is the Most Successful for Him to Take Because His Wisdom is Limited (7:1–8:17)

  1. On prosperity and adversity (7:1–14)
  2. On justice and wickedness (7:15–24)
  3. On women and folly (7:25–29)
  4. On the wise man and the king (8:1–17)

C. Man Does Not Know What Will Come After Him (9:1–11:6)

  1. He knows he will die (9:1–4)
  2. He has no knowledge in the grave (9:5–10)
  3. He does not know his time of death (9:11, 12)
  4. He does not know what will happen (9:13–10:15)
  5. He does not know what evil will come (10:16–11:2)
  6. He does not know what good will come (11:3–6)

D. Man Should Enjoy Life, But Not Sin, Because Judgment Will Come to All (11:7–12:8)

IV SOLOMON’S FINAL ADVICE (12:9–14)

 

*Based on the teachings of Grace To You on the book of Ecclesiastes

https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB21/ecclesiastes