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The Harvest is Ripe (guest post)

The Harvest is Ripe (guest post)

A timely call from visiting professor David Park

Matthew 9:35-38
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

God has made it clear what we as believers are called to do, especially with the advent of Christ Jesus – His Son. The author of Hebrews confirms this in the first chapter where he says:

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2b).

Therefore, we have no excuse, for the Lord has revealed His will to us; He did so not only by His words, but His very life served to be an example for us to follow. And what did Christ do? Christ went throughout the Ancient Near East proclaiming the “Good News” of His Heavenly Kingdom. He also went around and healed the sick of every type of disease and affliction (both physical and spiritual). And the last commandment Christ left us with, which is commonly referred to as the “Great Commission,” were instructions to go and baptize people from all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and also to teach [all] people from every nation [without discrimination] to obey everything He [Christ] had commanded…” (Matthew 28:18-20a, emphasis mine). Henceforth, we see that His disciples did exactly just that.

Scripture tells us in Acts 2 that Peter called those who were present to “Repent and to be baptized,” for the “forgiveness of their sins,” and explained to them that they would then receive the promised Holy Spirit. This was an offer and promise to not only the children of those who were present [the Children of Israel], but also to those who were far off [sinners and gentiles]. And we are told that “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them” (Acts 2:40a), and told them to “save themselves from the corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40b, emphasis mine).

As such, as Peter and the other disciples followed in the footsteps of Christ, we too must follow in the footsteps of Christ, that is, if we truly want to be His disciples. We must also be filled with and exhibit the same type of love and compassion that Christ had for the crowds mentioned in Matthew 9:36 where it says that “he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Christ saw how weary and exhausted the people were from being burdened by the many [613] man-made religious commandments and rites that were being imposed on them by the hypocritical Pharisees and their man-made traditions.

Christ saw the people as sheep without a Shepard – people who were abandoned, neglected, and hungry, who were unfortunately at the mercy of ravenous wolves. For this reason, Christ was compelled to feed them, not with just physical manna, but with the Bread of Life which He Himself is. And this is no different today in the 21st Century.

Recently, on September 22nd, I had another opportunity to do Open-Air Preaching on Vermont and Wilshire near the Metro Station with two brothers in Christ. And while I was preaching the Word of God, I was able to sense that their was a deep hunger and yearning within those who passed by us. There were several people who encouraged us by honking and giving us thumbs up. However, there were many more onlookers who simply looked lifeless. But this should not come as a surprise being that without Christ, there really is no life, or any real hope.

Now we, who have been entrusted with the Gospel, have a duty to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins. We are told that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37). God does not lie, so when Christ tells us that the Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, He is telling us the truth.

Thus, how can we claim to love God and our neighbors when we do not obey the Lord’s commands, and when we just sit back and watch those around us headed for hell and do nothing about it? What’s worse is that God tells us that the Harvest is ripe, meaning that there are many people who are ready to receive the Word, but not enough workers to share it and proclaim it.

Withholding the “Good News,” is no different than watching someone about to walk off a cliff and being silent. It is no different than seeing someone about to get hit by a car and not even say a word. And in reality, not sharing the “Good News” with the lost is actually much worse since physical death is only temporal, but spiritual death and separation from God is eternal. For these reasons, let us pray to God each day and ask him to send workers into the Harvest. Let us ask Him for greater boldness and also ask Him to give us greater love and concern for the lost.

A Clearer Understanding of the Will (Guest Post)

A Clearer Understanding of the Will (Guest Post)

Today we welcome visiting professor and Evangelist David Park, who gives us an excellent article on the doctrine of the will

Do People Have Freewill?
December 27, 2021
Brother David Park
Servant of Jesus Christ
Jonah 1:1-3; 1:17; 4:1-11
Jonah 1:1-3
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord… “

Jonah 1:17
“And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

Jonah 4:1-11
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry… Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day… God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint…”

Most of us know the famous story of Jonah the prophet who was swallowed up by a giant fish. It is a story about a selfish and compassionless prophet who tries to run away from the Lord and what God had called him to do. But this story provides us with great insight into how freewill and predestination can co-exist, and not contradict, but be complementary.

Man may have freewill, but God’s sovereign will and him having predestined all things supplants our freewill. We may have the right to write our own stories, but God desires to teach us along the way how to become better writers. He may give us suggestions and certain guidelines and will accept what we write as long as what we are writing fits his rubric. However, if we deviate from the rubric and or fail to include the things needed, or make errors, he will correct our stores and add-in His own edits. He will continue to do this until we have written the perfect story that aligns with His assignment.
But we need not to fret or be dismayed, for the Lord’s will being perfect and always for our own good and His Glory, is much better in every possible way. Therefore, we ought to be grateful in all circumstances, especially when things don’t go the way we want them to go and instead go the way that God has prepared things to go, which are always for our benefit and our own good; He is the master of rhetoric, the master of all literary devices, the master poet, and the master playwright. This is a most wonderful thing and not something we should be bickering about, accusing God of being a puppet master.

No, He is much better than that, He is the good shepherd who guides his children on the right path, disciplining us with his rod when needed, and dragging us out of danger with his staff to save us from the fire we would have walked into. So although man has freewill, God has predestined that His will would supercede our will for our own good. Therefore, there is no contradiction in man having his own freewill, and God having predestined all things according to His perfect and much more glorious will.
Imagine what a nightmare our lives would be like if everything happened according to what we would have willed. If Jonah had gotten what he had wanted, he would of drowned. Not only that, if it had been up to Jonah, the entire population of 120,000 Ninevites would have been destroyed. But God knows what is best for us, and He is a loving, kind, and patient God who cares for His creation, especially us human-beings who were created in His image.

What we can see from this story is that every single thing, every act, and every event is a result of God’s providence. He cares deeply for us and provides us with comforts even when we do not deserve them. What’s interesting is that this past year, one of the things I began doing was thanking God for even the breeze I would feel on hot and sunny days. I would often times be sitting down, but would witness a shade appear out of nowhere, followed by a cooling breeze. When this would happen, I would always thank the Lord thinking that He was providing the shade and the breeze for me intentionally, and this story confirms my suspicions; nothing happens by accident, there are no coincidences, God has foreordained all things for His good pleasure and our well-being.

But we must remember that the things that are good for us may not always feel like it at the time, especially such things like pain. However, pain is essential for us to feel as it keeps us safe, and is a mechanism that warns us of danger, or serves as an indicator for growth. And although God may provide us with even a thing like a gourd to provide us with shade from our discomfort, these comforts can as easily disappear and get destroyed by the smallest of evils, just like the withered leaves of Jonah’s gourd were a result of a tiny unseen worm which wrought great havoc. But even events like these too are God’s providence and serve as lessons for us, to teach us not to place our faith in created things, but rather in the Creator of all things, who controls all things.

God restraining us from getting the things we want are acts of mercy; they are acts of grace. No mother in the world would allow their child to only consume sugar because they like it. No father would ever allow their five year old child to drive the car because they keep crying. And that is what we are, we are children of God, and will always remain being His children no matter how old we may get. God will always watch over us and try to teach us the things that we must learn so that we would live the right way. But he will also always protect us, and make certain, whether we like it or not, that our stories are completed with perfect canonized endings

7 Promises and a Call to Personal Holiness

7 Promises and a Call to Personal Holiness

Our world is in trouble and the bulk of that trouble stems from a lack of holiness. The words of Paul the Apostle, in his letter to the Church at Rome, ring true of America, perhaps more so than when Paul penned them, “There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18). If we continue to read that letter we find that there is no one who seeks after God (Chapter 3 and Verses 10-17)  but we do not need to recap the entire epistle.

God has raised up His Church as a bulwark against wickedness. There is a particular message that is needed from the Church more than ever before, a call to personal holiness. What I mean by that is a disciplined set apartness to the Lord God and working toward His glory among the people we encounter every day.  There is frequently the question of what holiness looks like in practicality; I have found that the 7 Promises from Promise Keepers to be a good example.

PROMISE 1 HONOR GOD

A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Hebrews 12:28-29

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.

 

PROMISE 2 BROTHERHOOD

A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

 

PROMISE 3 INTEGRITY

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

 

PROMISE 4 FAMILY

A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Psalm 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

 

PROMISE 5 SERVING

A Promise Keeper understands that Jesus calls him to be His hands and feet, serving others with integrity. He purposely lifts up the leadership of the church and his nation in prayer.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

PROMISE 6 UNITY

A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial, denominational, generational, and cultural barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.

1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
Ephesians 4:1-3
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

PROMISE 7 OBEDIENCE

A Promise Keeper is committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Mark 16:15

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…”

1 Peter 3:15

…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 

 

We will examine these further in the future. For now, I encourage you to meditate on these promises

Review of A Private Commentary on Scripture

Review of A Private Commentary on Scripture

There are many good commentaries out there, though not as many are written from a Dispensational Standpoint as I would like. One answer to that problem comes from our favorite guest teacher, James D. Quiggle, Th.M. It is a very helpful commentary series written from a Dispensational Standpoint. Why is such a thing important? In Dispensationalism we focus on a consistent interpretation and understanding across all segments of theology. You might be tempted to say does not everyone do that, but some do not. That, though, is for another day.

 Why is this commentary set important? This commentary is very practical- that is to say that it is not full of lofty words and  ideas, which my grandfather used to call four dollar words. It is clear and concise, easily accessible to any Christian, from the gentleman who came to Christ this morning all the way to the grandmother who has prayed for countless hosts of missionaries.  This is what I enjoy most about when James provides lessons for my readers- he writes not only as a teacher but as an Elder who has walked the Scripture for decades and calls the reader to be his student and to understand the Bible in a way that might have not been before. The Bible is meant to be understood and James excels in opening the Scripture to the reader.

Which translation does James use here? Like many commentators, James does his own translation. His translation reads very close to the English Standard Bible, which if memory serves correctly, is the translation he uses for teaching, His translation is what is called essentially literal, meaning that it is as close to a word for word translation as possible without it being unintelligible.

The translation is the most important choice when studying the Bible; the first question to address in study is, simply, what does it say? I would like to point out that James uses a number of excellent translations in addition to his own so that the reader might get the broadest possible meaning of the text.

What is included and is anything missing? Besides the verse-by-verse commentary, there is a fairly in-depth introduction. James treats several of the things unique to John and his Gospel Account.  He also gives considerable background information regarding the audience etc.

I do have two items that I wish were included but the fact that they are missing is neither bad nor good. It is just a fact. I would like to see a much more detailed outline and specifically with regard to teaching through the Bible. The simple fact is that most commentary users are pastors, Sunday school teachers etc. Most commentaries are lacking in giving a teaching outline.  Further, I would like to see a section on Interpretive Challenges.  Any teacher attempting to prepare helpful lessons will doubtlessly encounter points of view that attack the Scripture and it would he very helpful to have even a small treatment of these issues.

This commentary series is very well footnoted. There is so much to learn about each book and James has given us a tremendous number of footnotes not just for the purposes of citing references but primarily to provoke further study.

Overall Impression/thoughts

In personal study, I have found the material provided to be quite helpful. The most common question which I receive is “Who should use it?” I will tell you very simply and pointedly, this should be used by any person who is going to teach the Bible. If you have a wife, you should be teaching her the Bible and you should have this commentary set. Same goes if you have children. Do you teach Sunday School? This commentary series is for you. Are you a missionary? You guessed it; you should have this commentary set. Bible college students, seminarians, teaching elders, Sunday School teachers it’s a good fit for you. In fact, I will go this far…there are only two reasons this would not be a helpful commentary set- if you are unsaved or if you are dead but I repeat myself.

God’s Whole Armor

God’s Whole Armor

Visiting Professor Matt Bassford had treated us to a great article on the Armor of God. May you be blessed by it…

God’s Whole Armor

Ephesians 6:13-17 is perhaps the most familiar passage in the entire epistle. Most Christians have heard at least one sermon about the whole armor of God, complete with a helpfully labeled illustration of a Roman soldier. Certainly, there is much to be gained from considering the importance of salvation, righteousness, and so forth to our spiritual lives!

However, there’s another point in this well-known text that is worth considering, and it comes from the phrase that usually only supplies the title for the sermon. We read, “the whole armor of God,” and we think, “OK; this is the armor that God gives us.” That’s true, but it’s incomplete. The whole armor of God isn’t only the armor that God gives. It’s also the armor that He wears.

This is evident from Paul’s use of the Old Testament. He didn’t invent any of the items of the Christian’s armament. Instead, he took passages describing the armament of God and cited or adapted them.

This is most obvious when it comes to the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness. Both come from Isaiah 59:17, in which Isaiah says of God, “He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head. . .” (NASB95, and throughout). Paul clearly adapted that language for his own purposes, and the adaptation gives us the key to his whole approach.

Similarly, we find the shield of faith in the last part of Psalm 91:4, which tells us, “His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” The same Greek word is translated in our Bibles as both “faithfulness” and “faith”.

The other items in the panoply are a bit trickier. The sword that is the word of God is taken from Hosea 6:5, where God says of His unfaithful people, “Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth. . .” The passage doesn’t say straight up that God’s word is a sword; it merely describes His words as a hewing, slaying implement. However, from “hewing, slaying implement” to “sword” isn’t much of a leap.

The belt of truth also takes a little bit of digging to figure out. In the Old Testament, it appears in the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11:5, which reads, “Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.” The link becomes clearer when we realize that the Hebrew word for “faithfulness” also can be translated “truth” and is so translated in the Septuagint, which Paul used in his writing.

Finally, we come to the preparation of the gospel of peace. This comes from Isaiah 52:7, which says in part, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace. . .” If we look only at the verse, the antecedent of “him” is unclear, but the previous verse, Isaiah 52:6, is about God speaking. In Isaiah 52:7, “him” probably should be “Him”.

Paul, then, isn’t merely telling us to use the equipment that God offers us. He’s telling us to fight like He does, with all of His weapons and His virtues. If that’s the way we enter into spiritual warfare, the devil scarcely can hope to defeat us.

Forgiven

Forgiven

One of the most important concepts to the Christian Faith is that we are forgiven in Christ and by Christ. It is our privilege, as the redeemed, to feel secure in our salvation and have peace in, with, and from the Lord Jesus,  Let us look at some points  from the Scripture

  1. Joseph, who foreshadows Christ, forgives his brothers without condition, (Genesis50:1-21)

  2. In the Old Covenant, sacrifices were integral to forgiveness (Leviticus 5:1-19)

  3. God forgives His rebellious peoplen(Jeremiah 50:1-20)

  4. God forgives spiritual unfaithfulness (Hosea 14:1-9)

  5. The Son of Man forgives sins and heals from the consequences of our sin (Matthew 9:1-8)

  6. The Lord Jesus show s compassion to sinners (Luke 7:36-50)

 

Keep the words of the old hymn in your mind daily: “Jesus sinners doth receive.” Forgiveness is available to all the believing (John 3:16) Simply confess that Jesus is Lord, that God raised Him from the dead and you will be forgiven (Romans 10:9-10). Afterall, if we will confess our sin, the Lord Jesus, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from the filthiness of our sin.

 

Until next time, Grace to you.

Where is God when I am suffering

Where is God when I am suffering

The following Pathfinder Discipleship Guide focuses on one of the most commonly asked questions that people bring to pastors: Where is God when I am suffering? Does He even care?  I pray that the points which follow will bless you and be of help and comfort.

 

  1. A possible explanation for suffering: Suffering can help us to identify sin in our lives and also avoid it. (Job 36:1-21)

  2. A prayer in time of anguis (Psalm 22)

  3. God’s Compassion: Via the Prophet Isaiah, God tells all of his people througout all time that He will have compassion on them and bring their suffering to a close. (Isaiah 49:8-1)

  4. Jesus promises us both suffering and peace, we will overcome the world because He did first (John 16:33)

  5. God promises us that we will share in future glory with Him (Romans 8:15-20)

  6. Help in our times of need: Since Jesus has come to Earth and lived among us, he understands our struggle and we can come to Him for help in our suffering (Hebrews 4:15-16)

  7. God is sovereign, cares for us, and will see us thtough (1 Peter 5:6-10)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you have given us your Holy Spirit to be with us until you come. When we suffer, will you have Him bring your Scritpture to our minds and let us feel His comforting presence. Most importantly, when we suffer, help us to use that suffering to bring glory to Your Name. Amen

NKJV Large Print Wide Margin Reference BIble

NKJV Large Print Wide Margin Reference BIble

Click for additional photos

I have a very special relationship with Thomas Nelson’s NJKJV Wide Margin Reference Bible. My current is actually called The Precious because of the story behind its acquisition. I was delighted to find out that one would be offered in comfort print and I am ecstatic at the opportunity to review it.  (Thomas Nelson sent this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.)

 

Translation

Naturally, this is offered in the New King James Version, a fastidiously literal update to the KJV.

Side note: NKJV has been my primary teaching translation for the last 14 years of the 24 years I have taught the Bible. I have used it in over 13,000 interactions with Scripture.

The New Testament is based on the Textus Receptus, just like its predecessor the KJV.

Cover and Binding

Like the rest of the Premier Collection, the cover is black goatskin. The cover is moderately grained, not ironed smooth but there is also not a pronounced grain on the cover.  As will all the Premier Collection’s Bibles, it is quite delightful to the touch. The edge  lined cover is quite limp and supple, a favorite feature of mine when it comes to the Premier Collection. I enjoy the fell of their covers more than most other goatskin Bibles. I would like to suggest a full-yapp offering from the Premier Collection but it is not a deal breaker that they do not have it.

If you guessed that the text block was smythe sewn, you would be correct. A sewn binding is not simply a mark of quality, it is an essential feature in a Bible that is designed to last a lifetime. It is also what causes the Bible to lay flat in both Genesis and Revelation.

Paper, Layout, & Font

The Large Print Wide Margin Bible is offered in Comfort Print at a 10.5-point with 11-point leading. Placed side by side  with the NKJV Preaching Bible reveals that it is the exact same font in both Bibles.

Like its cousin, the Preaching Bible, the Large Print Wide Margin Bible is laid out in a double column verse by verse format. Footnotes are placed beneath the Scripture text in the footer of the Bible. The wide margins are 1.25 inches, ample space for your annotations.

The paper is a mild white, 36 GSM I  believe. The opacity is wonderful. I cannot think of a modern Bible that is more ideal for writing in. My primary recommendation is Prismacolor for color coding notes and Papermate Sharpwriter Pencil for notes. If you like to use pen, I recommend Pilot Pen Company’s Better Retractable brand.

Helps

Cross-References

This Bible contains Thomas Nelson’s Complete Cross Reference System. There are 72,000 references, 4000 of which are redundancies/alternate reference points. As far as reference systems go, only two Bibles top the offerings of Thomas Nelson, The Thompson Chain Reference Bible and the Westminster Reference Bible.

Introductions

The Introductions are a couple paragraphs each. The usual material (author, historical background etc.) is included.  Each Introduction is around a half a page. I am glad to see that they do not inundate with information but I would like to see an outline, at least a basic one.

Complete Concordance

The full NKJV Topical Concordance is included. It is always good to see a full concordance rather than the abbreviated concordance that some publishers include. For the Sunday School Teacher or the everyday Christian, the Concordance is THE essential tool for answer ing the question, “What does the Bible teach?”

How do I use it?

There is no right or wrong way to use the Large Print Wide Margin. I, personally, pair the Large Print Wide Margin with the NKKJV Preaching Bible. They are similar enough that the Wide Margin is used for Study and annotation while the Preaching Bible is used in the pulpit.

As an every -day Bible

This Bible has some heft to it and may or may not suit you as a daily carry Bible. The size is not an issue for me but for some it is. It will work well on just about any desk.

As a preaching Bible

Being so similar as the Preaching Bible, this Bible works well for preaching, Some of my colleagues actually prefer to preach from a wide margin Bible so that they have all of their exegetical notes handy.

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent Bible. It is my favorit in the Premier Collection.

Jeremiah Essentials

Jeremiah Essentials

A little more than a century after Isaiah preached in Jerusalem, Nebuchad­nezzar king of Babylon launched his final invasion into the southern kingdom of Judah. After a terrible siege, he destroyed the city and its temple, wiped out its royal house, and deported its citizens as slaves and exiles to his own capital city. And Jeremiah the prophet was there in Jerusalem to witness it all and to explain to the people of Judah precisely why it was all happening: because they had broken faith with the Lord their God, shattering the covenant he had made with them and thereby calling that covenant’s curses down on their own heads.

Jeremiah’s book is very different from Isaiah’s. Where Isaiah is highly structured around a definite and easily recognizable plotline, Jeremiah’s book is more like an abstract painting. Images, oracles, visions, sermons, and narrative are thrown (somewhat chaotically and not always in chronological order) against the canvas, and the result is not so much a linear story as an impression of truth and emotion and meaning. But even if Jeremiah’s literary approach is somewhat unusual, his message comes through loud and clear: Judah has sinned by disobeying and ignoring the Lord’s word, and just as with her sister kingdom Israel to the north, the hammer blow of God’s wrath and justice is about to fall on them.

Theme: Jeremiah reminds us that faith demands action. Covenant living requires a faithful response to God in the form of proper worship and of helping, not exploiting, the weak and vulnerable.

Author: The book itself states that its contents are “the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah” (Jeremiah 1:1). The prophet Jeremiah dictated most of his prophecies to his secretary, Baruch, who wrote them down word for word. Chapter 52 may have been added by a later editor.

Date of Writing: Jeremiah wrote these words over the course of his ministry (626–585 BC). Chapter 52 was added sometime after King Jehoiachin’s release from captivity (approximately 560 BC).

Encouragement From Jeremiah: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). God gives this promise to Israel while they are in captivity in Babylon- though they are in the midst of judgment, the Lord has not forgotten them and He reminds them that their chastisement is for their good. They are still God’s covenant people.

Challenge From Jeremiah: “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13–14).

Reflection From Jeremiah: “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure—not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23–24).

 

Storyline

On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus (the foretold “righteous Branch”) ate a final meal with his twelve disciples; during their time together, He declared that the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah had arrived. Unlike the old covenant, which gave merely a picture of forgiveness through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, the new covenant, established through the precious blood of Christ, would accomplish true, enduring salvation. As the Lord declared through the prophet, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Key Verses: Jeremiah 7:23, 24 and 8:11, 12—“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (7:23, 24).

“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; in the time of their punishment they shall be cast down, says the LORD” (8:11, 12).

The Christ of Jeremiah

The Messiah is clearly seen in 23:1–8 as the coming Shepherd and righteous Branch who “shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (23:5, 6). He will bring in the new covenant (31:31–34), which will fulfill God’s covenants with Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3; 17:1–8), Moses and the people (Deut. 28–30), and David (2 Sam. 7:1–17).

The curse on Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) in 22:28–30 meant that no physical descendant would succeed him to the throne. Matthew 1:1–17 traces the genealogy of Christ through Solomon and Jeconiah to His legal (but not His physical) father, Joseph. However, no son of Joseph could sit upon the throne of David, for he would be under the curse of Jehoiachin. Luke 3:23–38 t races Christ’s lineage backward from Mary (His physical parent) through David’s other son, Nathan (3:31), thereby avoiding the curse. The righteous Branch will indeed reign on the throne of David.

 

Key People in Jeremiah

King Josiah —sixteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah; attempted to follow God (1:1–3; 22:11,18)

King Jehoahaz —evil son of Josiah and seventeenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (22:9–11)

King Jehoiakim —evil son of Josiah and eighteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (22:18–23; 25:1–38; 26:1–24; 27:1–11; 35:1–19; 36:1–32)

King Jehoiachin (Coniah) —evil son of Jehoiakim and nineteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (13:18–27; 22:24–30)

King Zedekiah —evil uncle of Jehoiachin and twentieth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (21:1–14; 24:8–10; 27:12–22; 32:1–5; 34:1–22; 37:1– 21; 38:1–28; 51:59–64)

Baruch —served as Jeremiah’s scribe (32:12–16; 36:4–32; 43:3–45:4)

Ebed-Melech —Ethiopian palace official who feared God and helped Jeremiah (38:7–39:16)

King Nebuchadnezzar —greatest king of Babylon; led the people of Judah into captivity (21–52)

The Rechabites —obedient descendants of Jonadab; contrasted to the disobedient people of Israel (35:1–19)

Key Doctrines in Jeremiah

Sin —Israel’s sin demanded punishment from God (2:1–13, 23–37; 5:1–6; 7:16–34; 11:1–17; 17:1–4; 18:1–17; 23:9–40; Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 9:16; 1 Kings 11:39; Ezra 6:17; Job 1:22; Psalm 5:4; Micah 3:8; Matthew 5:30; Luke 17:1; Romans 1:29)

Judgment/Punishment (4:3–18; 9:3–26; 12:14–17; 15:1–9; 16:5–13; 19:1–15; 24:8–10; 25:1–38; 39:1–10; 44:1–30; 46:1–51:14; Exodus 12:12; Psalm 1:5; Hosea 5:1; Amos 4:12; John 12:31–32; Romans 14:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10)

Restoration of Israel (23:3–8; chapters 30–33; Deuteronomy 30:1–5; Psalm 71:20–21; Isaiah 49:6; Nahum 2:2; Acts 1:6–8; 15:16; 1 Peter 5:10)

God’s Character in Jeremiah

God fills heaven and earth —23:24

God is good —31:12,14; 33:9,11

God is holy —23:9

God is just —9:24; 32:19; 50:7

God is kind —31:3

God is long-suffering —15:15; 44:22

God is loving —31:3

God is merciful —3:12; 33:11

God is omnipresent —23:23

God is powerful —5:22; 10:12; 20:11; 37:27

God is a promise keeper —31:33; 33:14

God is righteous —9:24; 12:1

God is sovereign —5:22, 24; 7:1–15; 10:12–16; 14:22; 17:5–10; 18:5–10, 25:15–38; 27:5–8; 31:1–3; 42:1–22; 51:15–19

God is true —10:10

God is unequaled —10:6

God is wise —10:7,12; 32:19

God is wrathful —3:12–13; 4:8; 7:19–20; 10:10; 18:7–8; 30:11; 31:18–20; 44:3

 

 

Teaching Outline

  1. JEREMIAH’S SPECIAL APPOINTMENT (1:1-19)
  2. THE PROPHET DELIVERS GOD’S MESSAGES (2:1–45:5)
  3. God’s Warnings to Judah (2:1–29:32)
  4. The Coming Exile and Restoration (30:1–33:26)
  5. The Fall of Jerusalem (34:1–45:5)
  6. GOD’S JUDGMENT ON THE NATIONS (46:1–51:64)
  7. A PAINFUL REMINDER OF PAINFUL DAYS (52:1-34)

 

 

Isaiah Essentials

Isaiah Essentials

Theme: Isaiah describes God’s judgment of sin, as well as God’s forgiveness, comfort and hope. Other than Psalms, Isaiah contains the most Messianic prophecies of any Old Testament book.

Author: The prophet Isaiah is identified as the book’s author, and other Scripture passages agree.

Date of Writing: The book of Isaiah was probably written between 700 and 680 BC.

Encouragement From Isaiah: “A bruised reed [the LORD] will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3).

Challenge From Isaiah: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30–31).

Reflection From Isaiah: “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’” (Isaiah 29:15).

Storyline

New Testament writers quote Isaiah frequently because it contains many predictions of the Messiah. Best known are those of Isaiah 53, which declares that “like sheep” all humankind has “gone astray,” but that the Lord has “laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all” (v. 6) so that He can “justify many” (v. 11). All those who trust in Jesus for salvation have the hope of “new heavens and the new earth” in which they will dwell forever with God (Isaiah 66:22).

 

The Christ of Isaiah

When he speaks about Christ, Isaiah sounds more like a New Testament writer than an Old Testament prophet. His messianic prophecies are clearer and more explicit than those in any other Old Testament book. They describe many aspects of the Person and work of Christ in His first and second advents, and often blend the two together. Here are a few of the Christological prophecies with their New Testament fulfillments: 7:14 (Matt. 1:22, 23); 9:1, 2 (Matt. 4:12–16); 9:6 (Luke 2:11; Eph. 2:14–18); 11:1 (Luke 3:23, 32; Acts 13:22, 23); 11:2 (Luke 3:22); 28:16 (1 Pet. 2:4–6); 40:3–5 (Matt. 3:1–3); 42:1–4 (Matt. 12:15–21); 42:6 (Luke 2:29–32); 50:6 (Matt. 26:67; 27:26, 30); 52:14 (Phil. 2:7–11); 53:3 (Luke 23:18; John 1:11; 7:5); 53:4, 5 (Rom. 5:6, 8); 53:7 (Matt. 27:12–14; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19); 53:9 (Matt. 27:57–60); 53:12 (Mark 15:28); 61:1, 2 (Luke 4:17–19, 21). The Old Testament has over three hundred prophecies about the first advent of Christ, and Isaiah contributes a number of them. The odds that even ten of them could be fulfilled by one person is a statistical marvel. Isaiah’s messianic prophecies that await fulfillment in the Lord’s second advent include: 4:2; 11:2–6, 10; 32:1–8; 49:7; 52:13, 15; 59:20, 21; 60:1–3; 61:2, 3.

Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is the central passage of the consolation section (40–66). Its five stanzas present five different aspects of the saving work of Christ: (1) 52:13–15—His wholehearted sacrifice (burnt offering); (2) 53:1–3—His perfect character (meal offering); (3) 53:4–6—He brought atonement that issues in peace with God (peace offering); (4) 53:7–9—He paid for the transgression of the people (sin offering); (5) 53:10–12—He died for the effects of sin (trespass offering).

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 9:6, 7 and 53:6—“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (9:6, 7).

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6).

Key People in Isaiah

Isaiah —prophet who ministered throughout the reigns of four kings of Judah; gave both a message of judgment and hope (1–66)

Shear-Jashub —Isaiah’s son; name means “a remnant shall return,” denoting God’s promised faithfulness to His people (7:3; 8:18; 10:21)

Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz —Isaiah’s son; name means “hasting to the spoil, hurrying to the prey” denoting God’s coming punishment (8:1,3,18)

Key Doctrines in Isaiah

Christ as the Suffering Servant (49:1–57:21; Psalms 68:18; 110:1; Matthew 26:39; John 10:18; Acts 3:13–15; Philippians 2:8,9; Hebrews 2:9)

The first coming of the Messiah (7:14; 8:14; 9:2,6–7; 11:1–2; Ezekiel 11:16; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31; 2:34; John 1:45; 3:16; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; Revelation 12:5)

The second coming of the Messiah (4:2; 11:2–6,10; 32:1–8; 49:7; 52:13,15; 59:20–21; 60:1–3; 61:2–3; Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8; Matthew 25:6; 26:64; Romans 13:11–12; Philippians 4:5; Revelation 3:11)

Salvation through Christ (9:6–7; 52:13–15; 53:1–12; Isaiah 12:2; Psalm 103:11–12; Luke 19:9; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:21–24; 1 Timothy 1:15)

God’s Character in Isaiah

God is accessible —55:3,6

God is eternal —9:6

God is faithful —49:7

God is glorious —2:10; 6:3; 42:8; 48:11; 59:19

God is holy —5:16; 6:3; 57:15

God is just —45:21

God is kind —54:8,10; 63:7

God is Light —60:19

God is long-suffering —30:18; 48:9

God is loving —38:17; 43:3–4; 49:15–16; 63:9

God is merciful —49:13; 54:7–8, 55:3,7

God is powerful —26:4; 33:13; 41:10; 43:13; 48:13; 52:10; 63:12

God is a promise keeper —1:18; 43:2

God is provident —10:5–17; 27:3; 31:5; 44:7; 50:2; 63:14

God is righteous —41:10

God is true —25:1; 38:19; 65:16

God is unequaled —43:10; 44:6; 46:5,9

God is unified —44:6,8,24; 45:5–8,18,21–22; 46:9–11

God is unsearchable —40:28

God is wise —28:29; 40:14,28; 42:9; 44:7; 46:10; 47:10; 66:18

God is wrathful —1:4; 3:8; 9:13–14,19; 13:9; 26:20; 42:24–25; 47:6; 48:9; 54:8; 57:15–16; 64:9

Key Words in Isaiah

Light: Hebrew ‘or —2:5; 5:30; 10:17; 13:10; 30:26; 45:7; 58:10; 60:20—refers to literal or symbolic light. This Hebrew word often denotes daylight or daybreak (Judges 16:2; Nehemiah 8:3), but it can also be symbolic of life and deliverance (Job 33:28,30; Psalm 27:1; 36:9; 49:19; Micah 7:8,9). In the Bible, light is frequently associated with true knowledge and understanding (42:6; 49:6; 51:4; Job 12:25), and even gladness, good fortune, and goodness (Job 30:26; Psalm 97:11). The Bible describes light as the clothing of God: a vivid picture of His honor, majesty, splendor, and glory (Psalm 104:2; Habakkuk 3:3–4). A proper lifestyle is characterized by walking in God’s light (2:5; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 4:18; 6:20–23).

Blessing: Hebrew berakah —19:24,25; 44:3; 51:2; 61:9; 65:8,16; 66:3— comes from a verb expressing several significant ideas, namely “to fill with potency,” “to make fruitful,” or “to secure victory.” The word alludes to God’s promise to benefit all nations through Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:3). When people offer a blessing, they are wishing someone well or offering a prayer on behalf of themselves or someone else (Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 33:1). Old Testament patriarchs are often remembered for the blessings they gave to their children. When God gives a blessing, He gives it to those who faithfully follow Him (Deuteronomy 11:27), providing them with salvation (Psalm 3:8), life (Psalm 133:3), and success (2 Samuel 7:29).

Servant: Hebrew ‘ebed —20:3; 24:2; 37:35; 42:1; 44:21; 49:5; 53:11—derives from a verb meaning “to serve,” “to work,” or “to enslave.” While ‘ebed can mean “slave” (Genesis 43:18), slavery in Israel was different than in most places in the ancient Middle East. Slavery was regulated by the law of Moses, which prohibited indefinite slavery and required that slaves be freed on the Sabbath (seventh) year (Exodus 21:2) and the Year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year (Leviticus 25:25–28). Sometimes the Hebrew word can refer to the subjects of a king (2 Samuel 10:19). But usually the word is best translated “servant.” God referred to His prophets as “My servants” (Jeremiah 7:25) and spoke of the coming Messiah as His Servant, the One who would perfectly obey His will (see 42:1–4; 49:1–6; 50:4–9; 52:13– 53:12).

Salvation: Hebrew yeshu ‘ah —12:2; 25:9; 33:6; 49:6; 51:8; 59:11; 62:1— describes deliverance from distress and the resultant victory and well-being. The term occurs most often in Psalms and Isaiah, where it is frequently used along with the word righteousness , indicating a connection between God’s righteousness and His saving acts (45:8; 51:6,8; 56:1; 62:1; Psalm 98:2). This word can be used for a military victory (1 Samuel 14:45), but it is normally used of God’s deliverance (Exodus 15:2; Psalm 13:5,6). The expressions the salvation of the Lord and the salvation of our God speak of God’s work on behalf of His people. The expression the God of my salvation is more private in nature, referring to the deliverance of an individual (12:2; 52:10; Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Psalms 88:1; 98:3).

Teaching Outline

  1. God’s overture to his people (chs. 1-6)
  2. Threat and promises (ch. 1)
  3. Present failure and future hope (chs. 2-4)
  4. Lament for God’s vineyard (ch. 5)
  5. Isaiah’s call and ministry (ch. 6)
  6. The hope of Immanuel (chs. 7-12)
  7. The contrast with faithless King Ahaz (7:1-9:7)
  8. God’s discipline and promises (9:8-10:34)
  9. Cosmic hope (chs. 11-12)
  10. King of the nations (chs. 13-27)
  11. Babylon to Egypt (chs. 13-20)
  12. Babylon to Tyre (chs. 21-23)
  13. The world is judged and Israel renewed (chs. 24-27)
  14. Trust and obedience (chs. 28-39)
  15. God’s judgment pronounced on human rebellion (chs. 28-33)
  16. A choice of two destinies (chs. 34-35)
  17. The example of faithful King Hezekiah (chs. 36-39)
  18. The Servant King (chs. 40-55)
  19. Here is your God! (ch. 40)
  20. The glory of God and the futility of idols (chs. 41-48)
  21. The servant’s work accomplished (chs. 49-53)
  22. The growth of God’s eternal kingdom (chs. 54-55)
  23. The Sovereign Conqueror (chs. 56-66)
  24. Faithfulness and trust in the waiting time (chs. 56-59)
  25. The glories of the King and his eternal kingdom (60:1-63:6)
  26. The prayer of faith (63:7-64:12)
  27. The ultimate triumph (chs. 65-66)