Friday, July 12, 2013

The Prophet on the Mountain

Reflections on Matthew 5:1

ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος - "he went up into the mountain" is the exact phrase used of Moses in Exodus 19:3 (LXX; also 24:18; 34:4) when he received the Law from God and gave it to Israel.  Jesus is presented as the "prophet like Moses" to whom the people were to give heed (Deut. 18:18-19) for his words were also from God.  In fact, his words fulfill and supersede the words of Moses.  In both cases, a multitude of people surrounded God's prophet on the mountain.  May we be more than one in that crowd that Jesus saw.  May we be one of those disciples or learners who come to him and give heed to his words.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Army of the Lord

Reflections on 1 Chron. 12:23-40

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
-- 1 Cor. 16:13
TRIBES. All twelve tribes and the Levites were present to make David king over all Israel. Two tribes (Judah and Simeon) were present from the south. Seven and a half tribes (Benjamin, Ephraim, half Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan, and Asher) were present from the north. Two and a half tribes (Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh) were present from the east. In addition to the twelve tribes, the Levites also sent representatives to make David king. Just as all the tribes made David their king, so today all who come to Jesus make him their Lord (Rom. 10:9).

NUMBERS. The soldiers who came under David’s command at Hebron numbered 340,800 men. (Some have suggested that only the officers, commanders of thousands and hundreds, were present for the anointing in which case a total of 398 officers from the twelve tribes are enumerated in text; see Payne, 1988, p. 378). This number under David’s command were about a quarter of all the men of fighting age in David’s kingdom at the time he took the census toward the end of his reign. All of these, however, were the core of the army which would give Israel victory over the people of the land and the surrounding nations. Today, God gives us victory over all the power of Satan through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).

READINESS. These soldiers were experienced and equipped for battle. They bore “shield and spear,” and they were “equipped for battle with all the weapons of war.” They were “mighty men of valor,” troops “seasoned” and “ready for battle.” Some were men who had “understanding of the time, to know what Israel ought to do,” but all came with singleness of purpose to make David king. Today, Christians are soldiers called to serve Jesus, the son of David. We who given our lives to Christ should have a single of purpose – to please the one who enlisted us (2 Tim. 2:4). We should be equipped having taken up the whole armor of God. Being equipped, we should be ready to engage the enemy standing firm in our opposition to all evil spiritual forces (Eph. 6:13).

Confessing Their Sins

Reflections on Mark 1:5

In the Old Testament, there are three great prayers of national confession and repentance (Daniel 9, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 9). All of them sought the Lord's favor as Israel returned from Babylonian captivity and the reestablished their nation. Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah turned their hearts toward God. Their nation was restored, but not their king. The nation still looked forward to the time God would send his Messiah, his anointed one, to rule over them.

John was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. His preaching turned the hearts of the people toward God. The people responded, not just a few leaders. All Judea and all Jerusalem went out to hear John and were baptized confessing their sins. The people were prepared to receive their Messiah. Sadly, this time most of the leaders did not prepare their own hearts with repentance and confession of sin. Most of them would reject the Messiah.