Without Honour #6

Monday, March 23, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

The word “Nazareth” means “the despised place.” Its stigma is evident from John 1:45,46. Here, Jesus spent nearly all His childhood and adulthood until around age 30 (see Matthew 2:19-23). This entire time, Israel has been comfortable in having Gentile rulers govern them. Unfortunately, they do not want Him as their King! Apparently, even Nazareth—the very place where Israel has sent the “despised” Son of God to live out His first three decades—has no interest in Him. Leaving Nazareth, He travels south to be water baptized of John at the Jordan River. After His temptations, He moves north, returning to Galilee to start His earthly ministry. Leaving Capernaum, He comes back to Nazareth (delivering His synagogue sermon there in Luke chapter 4).

Situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the fishing town of Capernaum featured a heavy Gentile population because of Israel’s Assyrian Captivity seven centuries earlier (cf. 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:24). It was home to a Roman garrison or fort, thus explaining the presence of a Gentile military commander (Matthew 8:5; Luke 7:1,2). The Nazarenes therefore took offense that Jesus ministered in Gentile Capernaum when He should have been “at home” among them “His family and friends” (Luke 4:23)! Yet, remember, Nazareth had treated Him with such disrespect for all the years previous. Verse 24, “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country” (cf. today’s Scripture).

Recall our earlier comments about the Prophets Elijah and Elisha who lived many centuries earlier. Using Luke 4:25-27, its context, and the pertinent Old Testament quotes, we can infer these spokesmen of God were rejected of apostate Israel (unbelievers). God therefore guided them to minister amongst Gentiles (who were ready to believe Him!). Likewise, the Lord Jesus Himself was “without honour” among His own people. As the old adage says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Extensive but unappreciated exposure to the truth is more damning than contact with error….

Without Honour #5

Sunday, March 22, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Read Luke 4:14,15: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” Then, He travels to and preaches in the synagogue of Nazareth (verses 16ff.). In light of verse 23, we understand that He ministered in Capernaum before preaching here in Nazareth. He apparently performed miracles in Capernaum, but not Nazareth.

Answering the Nazarenes when they would whine about this “unfairness,” Jesus skillfully selected two Old Testament passages (see Luke 4:23-27). Firstly, He reminds them of the Prophet Elijah’s ministry to the Sidonian/Gentile widow woman (1 Kings 17:8-24). Secondly, He has His audience recall the Prophet Elisha’s ministry to the Syrian/Gentile military man called Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14). Now, watch how Nazareth replies to Jesus’ final comments.

Back to Luke chapter 4: “[28] And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, [29] And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. [30] But he passing through the midst of them went his way, [31] And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.” The people in Nazareth did not warmly receive Jesus’ sermon, did they? Actually, they were ready to murder (!!) Him by throwing Him headfirst off a cliff! Why?

Think critically of all we have discussed thus far. Elijah and Elisha were performing miracles—not among Israelites—but among Gentiles. Many widow women were in Israel, but Elijah ministered to a non-Jewish widow woman in Sidon. Why? Also, numerous lepers were in Israel, yet Elisha ministered to a non-Jewish leper of Syria. Why? God exposes Israel’s apostasy, her unbelief, by working with these Gentiles. So it is during Christ’s earthly ministry, and the Nazarenes are convicted….

Indecisive Israel #11

Sunday, September 17, 2017

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14,15 KJV).

Whom shall Israel follow? (It depends on their circumstances!)

Recall the Jews’ two chief sins that led to their idolatry during the Book of Judges. Firstly, they did not cleanse the land of all its idolatrous, heathen inhabitants, disobeying what JEHOVAH God had commanded them through Moses (Exodus 22:20; Exodus 23:23-25; Deuteronomy 13:12-15; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; et cetera). Satan used these Gentiles to corrupt the land, and they contaminated Israel once left there. Secondly, the Israelites married those pagans, something God also clearly prohibited in the Mosaic Law (Exodus 34:10-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-6; et al.). Such intimate relationships further perverted Israel. She compromised and was ultimately neutralized.

Centuries after Judges ended, the Prophet Elijah stands on Mount Carmel. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel have influenced Israel (Northern Kingdom) to adopt Baal worship as its official religion. In the famous account of Elijah exposing Baal as a dead idol and JEHOVAH as the one true God, 1 Kings 18:21 says: “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” Imagine! Over 200 years after Judges closed, Israel is still waffling between Baal and JEHOVAH!

Beyond our day, Israel will reach “rock bottom” spiritually. Accepting the Antichrist and his false religious system (revived Baal worship!), unbelieving Israel is thus destroyed in God’s wrath during the Tribulation. Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming to forgive national Israel, make atonement for her sins, restore her unto Himself, and make believing Israel His kingdom of priests. Eternally joined to JEHOVAH God, Israel will never again be indecisive!

Now, we conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?

His Son #5

Sunday, October 23, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Bible says Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was to the nation Israel only. Jesus Himself stated, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Romans 15:8 affirms: “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” These “fathers” are the “fathers” of today’s Scripture—Israel’s patriarchs. Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John) continues what started in Genesis through Malachi, and early Acts (according to the Book of Hebrews) continues Christ’s earthly ministry.

Reading again from Hebrews chapter 2: “[1] Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. [2] For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; [3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord [Matthew through John—“Hear ye My Son”], and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [4] God also bearing them witness [in the early Acts period], both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? [5] For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”

Reviewing thus far, we know that, whether in the Four Gospels, or early Acts (Hebrews), God is urging Israel to listen to His Son. In Jesus Christ alone will they find salvation (deliverance) from sin, Satan, and the “wrath to come….”

His Son #4

Saturday, October 22, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

Jesus’ earthly ministry began with Father God announcing from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Transfiguration occurred. Two individuals appeared with Jesus—Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets). As the Law and the Prophets foretold Jesus’ death, so Moses and Elijah discussed that death on the Mount. Father God spoke from Heaven again: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him(Matthew 17:5). “This is my beloved Son: hear him(Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). For Israel, there is insight from God beyond the Law and the Prophets. Any Jews who refuse to listen to Jesus are depriving themselves of further revelation from the God of Abraham.

In light of today’s Scripture, God’s Son speaking, Hebrews chapter 2 warns Israel: “[1] Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. [2] For if the word [the Law] spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; [3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [4] God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

Let us examine this passage a little more closely….

Have Ye Not Known, Heard, Been Told, and Understood?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (Isaiah 40:21 KJV).

Long before spiritual ignorance gripped the Body of Christ, it smothered the nation Israel!

Isaiah chapters 40 through 48 are a polemic, JEHOVAH’S rebuke of idolatrous Israel. She had traded her living Creator God for dead wood and stone statues! Today’s Scripture is directed toward the Jews, God attempting to reach their darkened hearts and silly minds: “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?” The answer to all four questions is “Yes!” Israel had known, had heard, had been told, and had understood from the very day God had formed them!

Going all the way back to the Abrahamic Covenant, God had promised to make Israel His chief nation in the earth, the channel of blessing to reach Gentiles, His instrument to restore His authority in the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). Essentially, Israel was to do and be what Adam failed to do and be. The Apostle Peter said that that earthly kingdom, over which Jesus Christ was King, was that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). Up until Isaiah’s day, God had sent prophets to Israel to instruct them in His ways. Moses was chief, but others were Job, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, David, Joel, Nathan, and Micah. Israel was without excuse!

The verse following today’s Scripture says: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” In other words, “Israel, I formed you because I wanted to live on planet Earth with you and the rest of mankind.” Alas, like Adam, Israel threw away the promises of God and the Word of God, embracing worthless idols! What would He say of the Body of Christ today, who has largely ignored His Word for 20 centuries?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does not Acts 11:15 prove the Body of Christ began in Acts 2?

Praying Like Elijah #20

Monday, March 9, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Prayer, and its fundamental level, is talking to God in light of His Word to us. When saints in Israel’s program prayed, they saw visible manifestations of divine intervention. They saw angels, they saw miraculous healings and raisings of the dead, and so on, because that is what God said He would do for them (“the Jews require a sign;” 1 Corinthians 1:22). What did Jesus say to Israel? “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe!” (John 4:48). Actually, according to Jesus, anyone asking for a miracle today is really saying, “God, I need a miracle before I believe!”

Dispensational Bible study guards against such Bible mishandling. There are no such promises of signs, miracles, and wonders, given to us in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Rather, God is working invisibly today. “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Today, God’s Word is working in us when we believe it, to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:2), to “renew our inner man” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul, our pattern, was never spared trouble. Rather, he had God’s power so that the trouble would not destroy him. This is our identity in Jesus Christ, our provisions in Jesus Christ, to handle all circumstances, good or bad (Philippians 4:13).

We should not use prayer as a “use-the-right-words-to-get-something-from-God” scheme. Prayer is simply an intelligent understanding to what God has already said in His Word, has already given us in Christ, and then believing and repeating it back to Him so that that Word works in us. Prayer is designed to be a blessing, not a burden as religious confusion makes it. Dispensational Bible study is thus critical to our prayer life, for without right division, we would have no prayer life at all! Let us never forget to pray the Pauline way! 🙂

FINIS!

You may also see our study, “Praying With Paul,” for more information about Pauline prayer.