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….

Death in the Pot!

Friday, August 24, 2018

So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot (2 Kings 4:40 KJV).

Why is there “death in the pot?” What is the remedy?

“[38] And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth [famine] in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. [39] And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. [40] So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.”

Elisha, God’s prophet, instructed his servant to boil a soup for the sons of the prophets. One “son” scouted and unwittingly collected gourds from “a wild vine.” He tossed them into the pot without their knowledge. Later, the men realized they were eating toxic food! Verse 41 continues, “But [Elisha] said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.” Elisha had them bring “meal” (flour), which he threw into the soup to make it harmless. Strange! What is being communicated by this miracle?

Israel is called God’s “vine” (Isaiah 5:7; Psalm 80:8); in contrast, the wild vine is sinful, man’s efforts (note the “wild grapes” of Isaiah 5:2). Human works corrupt God’s work. However, when God’s Word is added, the evil is overcome. Scripture is likened unto bread, flour (Matthew 4:4). God’s Word can transform sinful (spiritually deadly) Israel into a blessing! “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). Israel has a glorious hope indeed! 🙂

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?

Holy Land to Go

Monday, April 21, 2014

And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD” (2 Kings 5:17 KJV).

What valuable lesson did Naaman learn before he desired to have some Holy Land “to go?”

Captain of the Syrian army, Naaman (a Gentile, non-Jew), is “a mighty man in valour [courage, heroism]” and “a leper” (suffering from a skin disease) (verse 1). When Naaman hears of a prophet (Elisha) in Israel who can heal him of his disease, the king of Syria permits Naaman to visit the land of Israel (verses 2-9). Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home to hear some rather strange advice: he is to wash in the (filthy) Jordan River seven times and be healed of JEHOVAH (verses 10,11). Naaman questions, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (verse 12). Upset and disappointed, Naaman refuses to go to Jordan.

A servant of Naaman reasons with him, encouraging him to obey God’s Word through Elisha (verse 13). Naaman finally goes to the Jordan River, still thinking Israel’s God is quite bizarre. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).

Naaman, utterly shocked, returns to give Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses (verses 15,16). Representative of the few Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s God, Naaman confesses, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Earlier, recall that Naaman said Syria’s rivers were better than all of Israel’s bodies of waters (verse 12). After his healing, Naaman recognized JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was the one true God (today’s Scripture). He learned that the land of Israel was unique because the God of Israel was incomparable. In fact, he asked if he could take two loads of Israel’s holy soil back home to Syria!

The Spirit of God and the Word of God #5

Saturday, March 23, 2013

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV).

As today’s Scripture demonstrates, the Spirit of God never operates apart from the Word of God.

In the Old Testament, King David said, “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).

The Apostle Peter wrote of the Old Testament prophets: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11).

Peter elaborates in 2 Peter 1:20,21: “Knowing this first, that no scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

In Bible days, there were both preaching prophets and writing prophets. Some would speak forth God’s Word (Elijah, Elisha, et al.), others wrote it (David, Joel, et al.), and some prophets spoke it and wrote it (Daniel, Jeremiah, et cetera). Regardless of their ministry, it was the same Holy Spirit working in all of God’s prophets. This is true in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

When speaking of the spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4,8,9,11 say: “Now there are many diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;… But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally [individually] as he will.”

The Holy Spirit gave believers spiritual gifts to further God’s Word before it was written down. Let us see how the Holy Ghost works today in light of the written, completed Holy Bible….