Psalms 78:1-8 Speak to You in a Parable

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Psalms 78:1-8 NLTse O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, (2) for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– (3) stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. (4) We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. (5) For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, (6) so the next generation might know them– even the children not yet born– and they in turn will teach their own children. (7) So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. (8) Then they will not be like their ancestorsstubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.

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Who doesn’t want to learn the hidden treasures and stories in God’s Word? Who doesn’t want to learn how to teach them? Unfortunately most Christians would rather ignore lessons about God’s Word. Many Christians have been deceived into thinking all the truth has been revealed. I was watching a preacher on TV. He preached on a verse for ten minutes. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:2-3 KJV). The preacher talked about the peace and grace knowledge will give you and insisted people are lost because of a lack of knowledge. Of course he led people to believe God gave this knowledge to him and he was the only one who had the knowledge to save. I guess its too bad for all those people born before this preacher got the knowledge required to be saved. If you weren’t tuned into that preacher’s show, you better pray there’s a rerun. Sorry I can’t share the information with you. All he talked about was the fact he had the knowledge and everyone else was deceived by this, that, or the other thing. The preacher never got to the point – so he never shared the knowledge – but he did ask for money. I guess you had to pay to get saved. Maybe that’s the secret he didn’t share on the air.

That’s one example of how people distort God’s Word. They make a comfortable living claiming they have some sort of greater knowledge, but in reality never share a thing. Why do people fall for such scams? Because no one ever taught them how to study the Bible. People are always searching for truth, but let’s face it – it’s not easy to find. I challenge you to ask your preacher to show you how to study your Bible. What do you think the answer will be? The two most popular are – the preacher will hand you a set or pamphlets he calls Bible Studies. Those were never designed to teach people how to study their Bible and they never will. In essence Bible Study pamphlets are designed to play the odds based on the fact most people will be satisfied with that answer. It’s nothing more than a modern style of counting or numbering like David and Solomon did. Remember the reason David and Solomon numbered Israel. David did it to measure his power. Solomon did it to enslave people. Pay attention to the sequence.

The second most popular answer when you ask a preacher how to study the Bible is, “only qualified, educated people should study the Bible.” This is the answer the TV preacher relied on. He talked a bit about his qualifications, hoping people wouldn’t question him. Well who could? He was talking to a hand chosen TV audience. No one was going to question him. He was displaying his power over the body and mind.

You’ll be lucky to find a preacher who can explain how to do a simple word study which is hardly more than looking key words up in a Concordance and looking at other texts the word is used in. This method can be used to find the spiritual meaning of key words, but some key words have a number of spiritual meanings. Which one do you use? You have to look at the context. Many times the spiritual meaning of a word is taken out of context. The most popular is the symbol of a woman. Preachers love to use the symbol of a virtuous woman as a symbol of their church. The Bible never says a church represents a woman. In over 20 years of asking for a verse, no one has been able to produce a single verse out of the Bible that shows a woman represents a church. There is no end to outside sources people have been able to produce, which shows how long this symbol has been distorted. Take a look and remember, the fulfillment is much greater than the symbol. That hint just gave away the answer.

If you find a preacher who is able to explain how the introduction and summation explain the context of a chapter and know how to point out the rule of repeated words, key words that are the same, similar, and related, you found a preacher who knows how to read, understand, and is qualified to teach God’s Word. If the preacher can’t share those simple Bible study rules, you have a lot of praying in front of you. A good preacher listening to God’s Spirit will open his Bible to show you examples. He’ll know how easy it is to understand lessons are in the gospels. He may show you how the parables Jesus taught in the court have a common theme, they all deal with the harvest of the world. After I discovered this simple method God uses to teach deeper lessons, a friend pointed me to a book written over 150 years ago – so this information has been around for quite some time. It’s nothing new. God wrote it thousands of years ago and people have been using these forms of study since the first printed copy of the Bible was published. Satan knew if God’s people caught onto these Study methods his cause would be lost. Satan would loose again. That’s why He tried to stop printing and distribution of the Bible. Most people think that battle was won – but that’s far from the truth. Satan attacked from different angles. Satan convinced the world the Bible was difficult to understand and locked these lessons in schools of higher education where he could easily manipulate God’s rules of Bible Study until it was all but lost. Who reads books written 100, 200, 300, or more years ago explaining and using these study rules? Sad to say, no one does anymore. The world has fallen for deceptions like the TV preacher insisting people need to go through him for knowledge. But we know that’s not true – for one – David tells us, Jesus tells us, all God’s prophets tells us, God’s Word is open to all of us.

We already know David’s prophecy tells about, “parables and hidden lessons from the past, stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. David also tells us, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” These are the mysteries of the Bible people are looking for. How are we supposed to tell our children if we don’t know how to ask and listen to God’s Spirit when He’s ready, willing, and able to teach us these secrets? Too bad there aren’t enough people able to explain those hidden lessons from our past. We’ve covered a number of details in this book and previous books in this series. As we progress in God’s Word from prophecy to prophecy, God’s Spirit reveals valuable lessons showing how to find and understand those hidden lessons. Once again we have to rely on those simple rules to locate a parallel chapter in the New Testament.

David began with the related key words listen, open, speak, and teach. The key word teach is repeated three times. The prophecy is also the introduction of the chapter which of course establishes the context telling us this prophecy will teach us how to understand parables. Once we find a parallel chapter we’ll see how God teaches us so we’re able to teach others.

Searching gospels for the word teach and related words we find dozens to choose from. Once again we have to follow the rule of context by comparing introductions and summations of the prophecy to find the fulfillment. Also remember the key word teach, used as a sort of symbol points to a greater fulfillment. There are a number of chapters to choose from. While praying my mind centered on one chapter in particular where Jesus taught two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Once the key words were highlighted, it showed a spiritual connection to Psalm 78.

Luke 24:13-36 NLTse That same day two of Jesus‘ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. (14) As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. (15) As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. (16) But God kept them from recognizing him. (17) He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. (18) Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” (19) “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. (20) But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. (21) We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. (22) “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. (23) They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! (24) Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” (25) Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. (26) Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” (27) Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (28) By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, (29) but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. (30) As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. (31) Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! (32) They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (33) And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, (34) who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” (35) Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. (36) And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.

At first this chapter seems to be linked by the single similar word, teacher. When we consider who this points to all the details begin to fall into place. First we can look at how the author led into this story. After Jesus rose from the grave where He met Mary and the other women, He seemed to disappear. Later on the same day, Jesus turned up on the road walking next to two of His followers. Notice how the author calls attention to the word, walk, by repeating it. Luke is calling attention to a spiritual walk with Jesus. The repeated words, talked, talking, discussed, and discussing also relate to the word walk by pointing out a walk with Jesus refers to a relationship with verbal communication. Jesus’ followers didn’t yet understand the plan of salvation, but they saw Jesus, “was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.” This relates to David’s prophecy where he points out, “we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” It’s obvious those stories will be about Jesus, His ministry on earth, and the prophecies He fulfilled. Luke also repeats the word recognized to point out how Jesus’ follower did not really know who He was. We have to look at more than the physical aspects of Jesus they didn’t recognize. When you look at this on a spiritual level you can see how they thought they knew Jesus, but missed so much. Look at the detail they misunderstood about Jesus, His victory at the cross and over death. This also points to future generations who take Jesus’ victory for granted. So little is studied and known about the cross on the spiritual level. Too much attention has been paid to the physical aspects of the cross while people lost sight of the person on the cross and what He came to accomplish. People also overlook Jesus’ personality. Listen to this message that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel and Judah–against the entire family I rescued from Egypt: “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins.” Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:1-3 NLTse). A walk with Jesus has to be an intimate relationship. It’s not by mistake Amos mentions the family rescued from Egypt and David covers the same subject in detail. To know Jesus you have to look back, way back, thousands of years to see the relationship He has been trying to establish with His followers. On the road to Emmaus, one of Jesus’ followers looked back over a small portion of Jesus’ life, the same small portion a lot of people know. This shows how knowing a small part of His life is not really knowing Jesus. What does Jesus do? He keeps reaching out like He always has. This time Jesus reaches out the way He has been trying do so long. “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” This is knowing Jesus. We begin in the books Moses wrote and followed through all the prophets. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

Scripture explains itself because Jesus spent not only His life on this world, but generations trying to teach this world about Himself. As we get into this study we’ll take a look at how some of the details David recorded explain a little part of Jesus He always wanted us to know. Then they will not be like their ancestorsstubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. Because the main theme of David’s prophecy in Psalm 78 is contained in the introduction, our first step is to compare the introduction to Luke 24.

Luke 24:1-11 NLTse But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (2) They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (3) So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. (4) As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. (5) The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? (6) He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, (7) that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (8) Then they remembered that he had said this. (9) So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples–and everyone else–what had happened. (10) It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. (11) But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.

There seems to be very little the introduction to Luke 24 has in common with Psalm 78. On the surface we don’t see much in common with parables and hidden lessons. We won’t see much if we don’t compare the two chapters on a spiritual level. Once we look at, “stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us,” on a spiritual level, we can see the relationship. The angels told the women, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” The word remember ties everything together. Jesus taught a number of prophecies to His disciples and women. They didn’t know what they meant either. Like the men on the road to Emmaus, the women didn’t really know or understand Jesus. But they were about to get to know Him. Jesus didn’t give up on any of them. The women didn’t waste any time as the sprung into action. Their new ministry was plain as, “they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples–and everyone else–what had happened.” This was the beginning of a new phase in God’s plan of salvation. Look at all the characters involved. Angels were given the honor of playing a part in Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb. Then another role for God’s angels was revealed when they told the women what happened and REMINDED them what Jesus told them. Angels are our reminders of what Jesus taught us. Let’s face it, after we read a book we may remember maybe ten percent. Remember school? How hard did you work to prepare for a test? How many times did you have to review details to memorize answers for an exam? How does the effort you put into eternal life compare? The entire introduction of Luke 24 deals with finally seeing the plan of salvation and how the women couldn’t wait to share the story they learned. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. The spiritual link is obvious. Luke also shows us the role God’s angels will play in the plan of salvation. We are all working together. The angles also serve another purpose, another illustration of the relationship we’re supposed to have with Jesus – as close as the women who found Him risen and the angels given the honor of rolling the stone back and offering praise and congratulations to the Son of God. There is so much more to Jesus than what we see and hear taught today – “He died for our sins.” There is a lot more to learn about Jesus from these two chapters, which leads to other chapters. One of those details is to follow the rules of Bible Study Jesus recorded in His book, His message to this fallen world. The next step is to compare summations.

Psalms 78:65-72 NLTse Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a warrior aroused from a drunken stupor. (66) He routed his enemies and sent them to eternal shame. (67) But he rejected Joseph’s descendants; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. (68) He chose instead the tribe of Judah, and Mount Zion, which he loved. (69) There he built his sanctuary as high as the heavens, as solid and enduring as the earth. (70) He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. (71) He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendantsGod’s own people, Israel. (72) He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.

Luke 24:45-53 NLTse Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (46) And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. (47) It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ (48) You are witnesses of all these things. (49) “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (50) Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. (51) While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. (52) So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. (53) And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.

One of the first details we see in the summation for Psalm 78 is how its spiritual meaning is clear when we follow the proper sequence of study. Without studying the introduction of Luke 24, Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb, we would not understand the summation of Psalm 78. Now we can see the spiritual meaning of, “Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a warrior aroused from a drunken stupor.” This describes Jesus’ transition from human, to death, to risen Savior.

In this case the NLT seems to have missed the point in translating this verse. Looking at a different translation will help. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. (Psalms 78:65 KJV). I’m sure there will be some people who will take a look at this and argue the point based only on the physical view. Following another simple Bible Study rule will answer the question. Looking back from Jesus’ resurrection, when was the last time we saw anything about wine? It was the last thing Jesus tasted from this world. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. (Mark 15:34-37 KJV).

Once again we’re reminded of one of the most important Bible Study rules. NEVER try guessing at an answer on your own. When an author refers to scripture, always look it up. Notice how God put in another example showing how people misunderstood Jesus. You have to be blind not to see this theme repeated time and again in the gospels and throughout the Bible.

David also repeated the word, “choose,” and words associated with God’s followers. The theme is clear to see. “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” This refers to God training with skillful hands so His people are able to pass the information He gives them to others. This is the theme in the summation in Luke 24 and the entire chapter. “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Now that we know the information about all these stories and secrets is found in scripture, what do we do about it? Lucky for us David recorded a list of texts for us to examine. It’s not by accident God gave us a sequence to follow when we study. Each part builds upon another, but those stones always have a particular order to follow. When we don’t follow the rules and proper sequence we’ll do nothing but build faulty walls. When we follow the rules we help build up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5 KJV).

Psalms 78:13-20 NLTse For he divided the sea and led them through, making the water stand up like walls! (14) In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and all night by a pillar of fire. (15) He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them water, as from a gushing spring. (16) He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river! (17) Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. (18) They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. (19) They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness. (20) Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”

David looks back to the crossing of the Red Sea. We can study some of the events David lists while asking what all these events have in common. One way of finding the answer is to look at each event then look for the common thread that connects them. Another method is to look at the introduction to Psalm 78 which tells us we are searching for hidden treasure. Since we’ve already studied the parallel chapter, Luke 24, we know Jesus is the hidden treasure David referred to. Before we look at the events David listed, we can look a little further back to review some of the events pointing to Jesus.

A lot of people refer to Genesis 3:14-15 as the first prophecy about Jesus in the Bible. Then the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. (15) And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Later we see Jesus represented as the ram Abraham found caught in the bush. The ram took the place of Abraham’s son as the sacrifice sin required. Some people miss a symbol God gave before testing him with the sacrifice of his son. After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. (Genesis 15:17 NLTse).

God told Abraham to, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. (Genesis 15:9-10 NLTse). Why did God tell Abraham to divide each animal? You have to look at what Abraham had to go through to cut each animal in half. It wasn’t an easy job even with the best knives and tools available. There were no specific instructions to separate any part of the animal, every part of the animal was divided evenly. It was a messy, bloody job that left stains on his clothing and an impression on his mind. In the middle of the night Abraham saw a burning furnace pass between the two halves. Furnace can also be translated lamp, light, or candle. How do we interpret the spiritual meaning of those symbols? The first step is to look back at previous texts where we see references to the promised land repeated.

Genesis 15:16 NLTse After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”

Genesis 15:7-8 NLTse Then the LORD told him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” (8) But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”

Genesis 15:1 NLTse Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”

Now that we know the prophecy refers to the promised land, we only need to look at it and determine the timing. Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (Genesis 15:13-14 NLTse). Once we determine the time frame, we can look at the greater fulfillment of the prophecy which is always greater than the symbol.

Some people think the furnace represents Egypt as the furnace of affliction. Since Egypt is not greater than the symbol, it cannot be the fulfillment. The symbol points to an intersecting event in God’s time line. From there we look at previous and following details and events which point to the greater spiritual fulfillment. Abraham’s experience points to Israel’s release from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea which is a symbol pointing to Jesus’ victory over death and the tomb which is the spiritual crossing to the promised land. Paul explains how these symbols point to Jesus. I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-7 NLTse).

Once we see the time line, we can understand why the animals were equally divided with a light passing between them. Jesus opened the path to the spiritual promised land at the cross which is the greatest source of new light. At the cross we see another separation. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46 NLTse). For a few moments in eternity, Jesus was separated from His Father.

When we look back to compare the lesson taught on the road to Emmaus with Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea, we see another spiritual lesson. Jesus’ followers didn’t recognize Jesus as they walked along the road and the people who crossed the Red Sea complained before and after the crossing. They didn’t recognize Jesus in the pillar of fire. The question is, do you and other Christians recognize Jesus on the walk to the promised land? Do you see Jesus in all the events, symbols, and prophecies pointing to Jesus? A better question is, do you know how to share and explain those events, parables, stories, symbols, and prophecies?

So far this series of books has been rejected and ignored. Publishers have indicated there is no interest or audience in stories or studies about Jesus? What is Christianity without Jesus? In the past churches proclaiming to follow Christ have ignored and shunned new light. God reveals new light for three reasons. First to call His people back. Second to teach a lesson. Third is to reveal fulfillment of prophecy. One of the most important prophetic events most Christians are waiting for is Jesus’ return. God and His angles will perform a great work to call His people, teach lessons, prepare them for service, and reveal prophecy in great detail. Since people have not learned lessons in the past, God will do what He always does when people fail, He repeats the lesson. We can see that happening today in events all over the world. The question is, are you willing to listen this time?

David didn’t stop with the Red Sea. He included details to point us back to their complaints after crossing the Red Sea and seeing Egypt’s army destroyed behind them. All the miracles they saw in Egypt weren’t enough. Neither was the pillar of fire that guided them and stood between them and Egypt’s army. Israel wanted more, so they tested God again.

Psalms 78:27-31 NLTse He rained down meat as thick as dust– birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore! (28) He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents. (29) The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved. (30) But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths, (31) the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men. He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men.

There are a number of spiritual lessons in the symbols as well as revealing an illustration of another important Bible Study rule in this story. David’s Psalm leads us to one story which would not be complete if we didn’t look at the beginning of the story, the details that led to Israel’s complaint when they wanted more than what God already gave them. Before giving them more, God added a condition. “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the LORD heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘” (Numbers 11:18-20 NLTse).

Following basic Bible Study rules we’ve already learned and followed, we have to look back in scripture to see the spiritual lesson taught in this story. Before God agreed to give them what they asked form, He offered them what they really needed. “I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.” (Numbers 11:17 NLTse).

God was willing to give them a measure of His Spirit they couldn’t imagine. Got is repeating His original offer of making them a nation of priests. God is offering another detail of His offer. Think of the details in these stories. Who has the right to question an offer from God especially when He freed them from bondage? This is a lesson in human nature, aspects we still see today. Following God’s rules of Bible Study we have to look at the introduction of this chapter to understand the context.”Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1 NLTse).

Once again we see what seems to be an endless list of complaints. Once we understand the context we begin to see how it reveals the spiritual lesson. Before we begin commenting on the spiritual lesson, we have to continue to follow general Bible Study rules by comparing the summation to this chapter. “But while they were gorging themselves on the meat–while it was still in their mouths–the anger of the LORD blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt. From Kibroth-hattaavah the Israelites traveled to Hazeroth, where they stayed for some time.” (Numbers 11:33-35 NLTse).

We see God’s anger repeated in the chapter. This brings up the obvious question of why God was so angry? Once we understand God’s personality, we’re reminded of another important Bible Study rule, God provided the answer before asking the question. What was Israel turning down when they demanded meat and WHY? Looking back at the food God offered them we find the answer. That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the LORD has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:13-15 NLTse).

God gave them manna from Heaven to eat. You’ll notice God first sent quail, but there is no indication Israel ate any of the quail that day. They gathered the manna. God knew they wouldn’t be satisfied with food He gave them, so He recorded the vast number of quail just before the description of His bread from Heaven which is a symbol pointing to Jesus, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NLTse).

Now that we’ve gathered a number of related texts scripture led us to, we can understand the spiritual lessons. If Israel had seen Jesus, they never would have asked for any other type of food. They would have never been hungry again. Their lack of insight spiritually starved them. We see a pattern in the food God gave Israel in the wilderness. Manna was on the ground as well as the quail. This seems like a small detail until we consider another symbol Jesus used in a number of parables. When Jesus used the symbol of a sheep, we see an animal who gets its food from the ground. When Jesus leads His sheep, He leads them to pasture, the food He knows they need. Sheep don’t ask for different food, they graze where the shepherd leads them and eat what the shepherd leads them to. Of course there is the parable of the lost sheep. I’ve heard the sermon a hundred times how the shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep and carried it back. Do you really think Jesus searched for people missing from His flock so He can break their legs? Is that story about the broken leg Biblical or a man made story aimed at keeping people in the worldly church? They missed a main feature of the story. Manna, quail, and grass on the ground all appear to be the same source of food, but one of them, quail, is given because people were selfish. When we look at the story we can’t help but see how selfishness destroyed a number of people.

When sheep separate from the flock they wander the wilderness alone, easy prey for the wolf. It’s only a matter of time before a single wolf or pack find the stray animal. This parable seems to contradict other texts relating to a small remnant that follows God and understands. If you study the word remnant, you’ll find they come out of the general population of so – so believers. It’s only a small group that will listen to God’s Words and understand His commands. How many people made it in Noah’s ark or completed the journey to the promised land? Most of the flock is lost. They just don’t know it. The very things that make them think they are safe are putting their salvation in jeopardy.

When we look at quail people craved, it was not what God wanted to give them, but what their selfish desires wanted. When we compare quail to the food from Heaven, Jesus’ bread of life, we see how people use selfish desires to alter God’s Words. Grass for sheep and manna come from Heaven and is gathered from the ground. Quail are also gathered from the ground but come from a different source, the world. People think they’re gathering the right thing but they desire more than what Jesus offers, so they look for something from the world then insist it’s gathered from the same place – they push it on other people claiming it’s much better than what others have to offer. We see an example in the introduction to Exodus 16.

Exodus 16:4-5 NLTse Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. (5) On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”

Once we understand manna represents spiritual food from Jesus, we can see the spiritual meaning associated with the conditions God provided with the food. They’re told to gather food for six days and twice as much on the sixth day which means there is no food collected on the seventh day, but it is still eaten and shared. I’ve heard this preached a hundred times and most preachers look at only the physical aspects of this chapter. I wonder why they’re afraid of the spiritual message.

People are to collect spiritual food during the week and share it on the seventh day Sabbath. Let me ask a question here. Is there anything wrong with meeting to gather God’s Word on the first day of the week? According to scripture there’s nothing wrong with it. The first day of the week is the beginning of a new cycle to collect spiritual bread. Let me ask another question. Is it okay to ask God to work on the first day of the week?

I’ve been in dozens of churches claiming to keep the seventh day Sabbath. I often wandered why they all have long prayers asking God to do this or that for them. Is asking for favors keeping the Sabbath? Is asking God to work on the Sabbath correct? Another thing a lot of Sabbath keepers do is gather spiritual food on the Sabbath even though Exodus 16 says we’re not supposed to. For most Sabbath keepers the seventh day is the only day they gather manna. When did God change the rules? Now I can see why God called it a test. If people gathered His Word for six days a week, maybe they would learn how to understand it.

What food are they gathering on the seventh day? Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the LORD. There will be no food on the ground today. You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.” (Exodus 16:25-26 NLTse). According to the Bible there is no manna available on the seventh day. What food are they trying to feast on? It must be the quail. Food from the world for selfish people complaining they are tired of manna from Heaven.

No one can argue, worship on the seventh day has been changed to reflect the desires of the world. Sabbath worship has been changed to adopt the preferred methods of the world. Why? I can’t be sure, but when we look at the texts, it’s something they craved – the same form of worship the world craves after.

The New Testament describes people gathering in homes on the Sabbath to share the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The church established by Jesus’ disciples didn’t have buildings or predetermined worship services like we see today. People studied scripture and talked to one another about the things they saw Jesus accomplish in His ministry. On Sabbath they met to share the blessings they learned during the week. Some where along the way many Sabbath keepers decided to ignore Exodus and the New Testament to feast on quail they craved.

None of us can be sure how or when Sabbath worship was changed. We can search the Bible to look for a change, but I don’t think we’ll find any scripture to support the type of worship copied from the world. Sabbath worship may be one of the best illustrations of rejecting manna from Heaven and craving food from the world. We do know God let them have more than they were able to handle. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘” (Numbers 11:20 NLTse). Which gives us two additional points to consider. While it was in their mouths, they gagged on quail. When someone is gagging, it’s very difficult to understand anything they say. It’ll be the same with preachers adding their personal thoughts to God’s Word and adding all kinds of stuff from the world to it.

How many sermons have you heard with little scripture but filled with opinions or stories about people you never heard of with little or no relationship to verses quoted. Rejecting the LORD is rejecting His Word as well as the blessings He gives. When worship is centered around one person sharing their opinion, where is the worship, where is God’s praise? Worship is sharing what God has done for you. It disappoints God when He provides a blessing designed to grow by the effects it has on others. Organized worship eliminates time to share blessings God gave during the week as well as any chance to praise Him.

Not much is found in scripture about praise. It’s not something God wanted to designate. God never wanted to make a list of how to praise Him in the form or a list with designated time frames. God wanted to leave praise to us. One of the most important parts of a relationship with God is searching for and perfecting praise. Like any other relationship this requires time, attention to detail, constant improvement, and of course, a constant growth. None of those features are found in this world’s rules, regulations, and traditions on worship. Israel had a difficult time praising God because of their selfish attitude. We now have the examples Jesus set in the New Testament to follow. Jesus went around helping and healing people on the Sabbath. We don’t see a specific set of rules on the Sabbath in the New Testament compared to the Old Testament. Jesus showed how the Jews misinterpreted the Sabbath and did not honor it the way God intended. When you think of it, the best way to find out about the Sabbath is to honor the day in the simple way God first intended, which was to spend time with Him, the best way to get the answers, directly from the God who set the date. Have a personal talk with God and let Him tell you what He wants to do on the Sabbath. The Jews let religious leaders make all the decisions for them and we saw how that failed. David doesn’t elaborate on the Sabbath, but he wrote about some of the details he saw on Israel’s relationship with God when they crossed the wilderness.

Psalms 78:32-43 NLTse But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him. (33) So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror. (34) When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. (35) Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer. (36) But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. (37) Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. (38) Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! (39) For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns. (40) Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland. (41) Again and again they tested God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel. (42) They did not remember his power and how he rescued them from their enemies. (43) They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan.

What do you see when you look at what these texts teach about Jesus? We see the connection between the symbol rock and it’s fulfillment in our Redeemer, Jesus. We also see the word remember repeated a number of times. We also find remember in the forth commandment which is the last of the commandments describing a relationship with God. The first commandment tells us, “You must not have any other god but me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7 NLTse). Jesus showed the spiritual interpretation. ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”

(Matthew 22:37 NLTse). The second commandment tells us not to worship idols or images. The third tells us not to take God’s name in vain. Now look at the second and third commandments from Jesus’ point of view. Don’t you see a deeper meaning? Maybe that was part of Israel’s problem, they looked at the ten commandments on the surface and didn’t spend time on the Sabbath to discuss them with God like Jesus did.

David shows us how Israel had an up and down relationship with God. They ran to Him when they needed help and put Him on a shelf when things seemed to be going their way. They fell out of the time sequence God set for man. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! Why would David say God held back His anger?

Think of a marriage relationship. If there are marriage problems people go to counseling where they learn how to communicate. If one party doesn’t want to put in effort to communicate, it doesn’t matter what the other half does. This is where many people are in their relationship with Jesus. He never stops trying to communicate, but many people continue to ignore Him. Their in a relationship with no desire to listen. That’s where Israel was. They tried setting up Moses between them and God. We’ve seen how that worked out. Only a few of them made it to the promised land because they refused to put their hearts into the first four commandments. They couldn’t see the love God placed in them. Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.

It wasn’t hard for them to ignore the commandments. David tells us they forgot how He rescued them from their enemies. They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan. Come on now get serious. I know what your thinking. If you had been there you would have remembered all the details and followed God. Ya sure. How is that working for you so far? Do you remember everything God has done for you in the past year, month, or week? Are you scoring any higher than the people crossing the wilderness when it comes to seeing and understanding the lessons taught along the way? Have you spent time looking at the details, signs, and symbols and praying to see how they relate to Jesus? Have you spent any time at all explaining those hidden lessons and stories to anyone? How do you measure up to the people who fell along the road in the wilderness? Are you following Jesus or are you putting someone in his place like they did with Moses? Although David made a lot of mistakes and often forgot to consult with God on a lot of details, he did spend time with God. We can see it in the details he wrote about.

Psalms 78:44-53 NLTse For he turned their rivers into blood, so no one could drink from the streams. (45) He sent vast swarms of flies to consume them and hordes of frogs to ruin them. (46) He gave their crops to caterpillars; their harvest was consumed by locusts. (47) He destroyed their grapevines with hail and shattered their sycamore-figs with sleet. (48) He abandoned their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. (49) He loosed on them his fierce anger— all his fury, rage, and hostility. He dispatched against them a band of destroying angels. (50) He turned his anger against them; he did not spare the Egyptians‘ lives but ravaged them with the plague. (51) He killed the oldest son in each Egyptian family, the flower of youth throughout the land of Egypt. (52) But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness. (53) He kept them safe so they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies.

Based on the order David listed the plagues in Egypt it shows he missed the spiritual meaning of the story. David listed, water to blood, flies, then frogs. The actual order in Exodus 7 and 8 is water, frogs, lice, then flies. David didn’t change the order by accident. The order David recorded in Psalm 78 is a clue to investigate. When water was turned to blood, everything in it died. The next plague was frogs God called up from the waters He healed. See the spiritual impact. What is God proving in this sequence? After the frogs died, swarms of lice were raised from dust. Look up the spiritual meaning of dust. After lice came flies. How could there be so many lice and flies days after the land was covered with frogs? God is showing us how He teaches spiritual lessons by looking back and comparing the sequence. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.

In this study we’ve reviewed a number of Bible Study rules and seen how God builds upon them. We’ve looked at how these stories relate to Jesus and His ministry. At this moment Jesus is in the Heavenly Sanctuary where all the items of gold are reflecting His image and character. His Word is more valuable than gold, and also reflects Jesus’ image, character, ministry, and personality. How can we claim to be Christians if we spend so little time and put in no effort to make our relationship with Him stronger and more secure everyday? Do you really think you can spend eternity with someone you don’t know? “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. (Matthew 7:21-24 NLTse).

Psalms 49:1-4 Listen to a Parable

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Psalms 49:1-4 NLTse Listen to this, all you people! Pay attention, everyone in the world! (2) High and low, rich and poor–listen! (3) For my words are wise, and my thoughts are filled with insight. (4) I listen carefully to many proverbs and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.

The obvious key word in this prophecy is listen followed by the related words, people, everyone, and world. Key words also tell us what to listen to, proverbs and riddles. Some translations use the word parables for proverbs. This prophecy is simple. It is asking everyone in the world to listen to many proverbs. It’s also another prophecy about Jesus that is easy to locate because it’s quoted by inspiration in Matthew 13.

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Matthew 13:1-3 NLTse Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. (2) A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. (3) He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.

As we’ve seen in previous studies of God’s Word, when Old Testament scripture is quoted, we need to look at surrounding texts and the entire chapter to get the whole message. We also learned an important rule of Bible Study concerning the introduction to chapters. Since the fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 49 is found in the introduction of Matthew 13, we need to look at the first few words. Look at how the words, “later that same day,” point us back to the previous chapter. Once again there’s a reason Matthew points us back to the previous chapter that we’ll look at later. At this point we’ll compare key words between the prophecy and fulfillment. Psalm 49 has the key word, listen. Matthew 13 repeated the similar words, told and taught. The key word people is also found in both chapters as well as sharing the related words, proverbs, riddles, stories, and parables. The connection between these two chapters is established by the simple Bible Study rule of repetition.

It’s unusual for both the prophecy and fulfillment to be introductions. This points us to the importance of the lesson since the introduction of chapters establishes the theme. Since the introductions share the same key words and theme, it’s obvious the chapters dwell on the same spiritual lesson which will be revealed as we study and compare more of these chapters.

We need to note, Psalm chapter 78 is a second version of the prophecy fulfilled by Jesus that will be studies at a later time. O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past- (Psalms 78:1-2 NLTse).

We also need to look at the previous study showing how people throughout history will betray Jesus. Once we’re shown how we’ve physically turned away from Jesus and spiritually betrayed Him, we have to learn how to serve Him and prepare to work in the harvest. We see this in the sequence Jesus placed in His word. All the details point to the significance to this subject. Not only is this prophecy found in the introduction to Psalm 40 and Matthew 13, it’s repeated in the introduction of Psalm 78. The fulfillment is also repeated in Mark 4 and Luke chapter 8. When God repeats Himself we need to pay attention!

The parable of the sower is one of the most important parables Jesus told because it is one of the few parables where Jesus explained the spiritual interpretation. In His explanation Jesus tells his disciples; “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’” (Mark 4:11-12 NLTse). We see two concepts in Jesus’ explanation. “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God,” and by turning to Jesus to understand those parables, you will be forgiven. This requires much more than some of the conventional teaching that offers forgiveness by merely knowing Jesus’ name which is sometimes termed the once forgiven, always forgiven theory. To learn and understand the lessons taught between these two chapters we need to compare the summations.

Psalms 49:16-20 NLTse So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. (17) For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. (18) In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. (19) But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. (20) People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals.

Matthew 13:53-58 NLTse When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. (54) He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” (55) Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers–James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. (56) All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” (57) And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” (58) And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

David tells us how useless worldly riches are. Matthew shows us a spiritual contrast when he describes how people in Jesus’ hometown rejected Him. They had the riches of the universe in front of them, but the pull of the world blinded them as they looked at the physical aspects and ignored the spiritual. Looking deeper into the story we see how people Jesus grew up with picked and chose what to see and what not to see. They didn’t see the good Jesus did. They didn’t see the example He set as He grew up in front of them. They also closed their eyes to miracles Jesus performed after He began His ministry. It’s not by accident they asked, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Their faith was anchored in the established religious order who they trusted and believed had the truth. But as history has shown, was far from the truth. All of this ties into the parable Jesus explained and David’s warning about worthless riches. The religious leaders built a fortune on their rules, regulations, doctrines, traditions, and of course their version of the sacrificial system. Every facet of their form of worship was designed to produce income, place excess burdens on people, and draw them away form the real vision of God as well as a personal relationship with Him and His Son. It’s hard to believe people growing up with Jesus missed so much. But how much do people miss today? Do they know how to understand parables like Jesus explained? Don’t forget the opening line to David’s prophecy. “Listen to this, all you people! Pay attention, everyone in the world!” Following basic Bible Study rules we see the same method in Matthew. Now it’s time to look back at the previous chapter.

Matthew 12:46-50 NLTse As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. (47) Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” (48) Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” (49) Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. (50) Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

To help us understand, Jesus placed a more personal emphasis on David’s plea for everyone to listen. “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” David shows us the world is supposed to listen. Jesus explains His family will be the ones who actually follow Him. David adds more details to his prophecy to show how important it is to learn the mysteries of proverbs and parallels, in other words, how to understand God’s Word.

Psalms 49:5-15 NLTse Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? (6) They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. (7) Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. (8) Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough (9) to live forever and never see the grave. (10) Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. (11) The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever. They may name their estates after themselves, (12) but their fame will not last. They will die, just like animals. (13) This is the fate of fools, though they are remembered as being wise. (14) Like sheep, they are led to the grave, where death will be their shepherd. In the morning the godly will rule over them. Their bodies will rot in the grave, far from their grand estates. (15) But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

The contrast continues to unfold as we see David explain how riches and wealth will never redeem a single person. God doesn’t want our wealth, He wants us to listen to His Son. But even as he spoke, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5 NLTse). The way David explains how useless riches are reminds me of one verse. So I advise you to buy gold from me–gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. (Revelation 3:18 NLTse).

There’s a difference between worldly riches and spiritual just like there’s a difference between a message from the world and one from Heaven. Jesus explained how to find the message from Heaven when He taught His disciples how to understand the parable about the sower. Where do you think Jesus got His interpretations for the key words from? Do you think He guessed at them or made up the spiritual meanings like other people do? No! Every interpretation Jesus provided came from scripture. Every interpretation can be proved with scripture. When we look at Matthew 13 we see Jesus point us back to scripture a number of times.

Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. (Matthew 13:5 NLTse).

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26 NLTse)

He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. (Matthew 13:11-14 NLTse)

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” (Isaiah 6:8-10 NLTse)

But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. (Matthew 13:21 NLTse)

To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. The LORD approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots. (Proverbs 12:1-3 NLTse)

The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. (Matthew 13:22 NLTse)

This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. (Jeremiah 4:3 NLTse)

The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Matthew 13:23 NLTse)

For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines. (Ezekiel 36:24-30 NLTse)

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalms 1:1-3 NLTse)

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35 NLTse)

O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them– even the children not yet born– and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors– stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. (Psalms 78:1-8 NLTse)

The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (Matthew 13:38 NLTse)

Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. And they in turn will answer, ‘Jezreel’–‘God plants!’ At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our God!'” (Hosea 2:22-23 NLTse)

The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. (Matthew 13:39 NLTse)

Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive. (Joel 3:13-14 NLTse)

And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:42 NLTse)

You will throw them in a flaming furnace when you appear. The LORD will consume them in his anger; fire will devour them. You will wipe their children from the face of the earth; they will never have descendants. Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never succeed. (Psalms 21:9-11 NLTse)

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! (Matthew 13:43 NLTse)

Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” (Daniel 12:2-4 NLTse)

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. (Matthew 13:44 NLTse)

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5 NLTse)

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! (Matthew 13:45-46 NLTse)

In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD will be your treasure. (Isaiah 33:6 NLTse)

There’s an obvious connection between riches and Heaven, but who in their right mind confuses worldly riches from this world with eternal riches from Heaven? Look at what people consider riches in this world and how they effect lives. Today it costs thousands of dollars a month to maintain a comfortable living. Tens of thousands of dollars a year. This world is filled with people after those riches. Mortgage, taxes, food, clothing, cars, vacations, electronics, the latest phone, service plans, insurance, transportation, gasoline, heat, electricity, the list goes on. It never ends in this world. Compare that to Heaven where everything is given by a loving God who died so we can have salvation, eternal life, and Heaven with a home and no bills! One of the things Jesus offers us is the ability to understand His Word. In this example we see unmistakable evidence. Jesus’ quoted a number of texts in His lesson. A large percentage of that lesson is made up of scripture. If we ignore that fact and don’t look at and compare that Old Testament texts to the parable, we’ll never see or understand the message.

Looking at this world it’s not difficult to see where the warnings we that to be heeded. Look at the grand churches with sprawling parking lots, manicured lawns and landscaping designed to attract financially stable members. Inside the church people spend hours, days and weeks choosing carpeting, colors, padded pews, choir robs, and decorations exceeding the extravagance of former idols worshiped generations ago. Some people waste hours every week spending a fortune planning back grounds and flower arrangements to please the eye. More time, money, and effort is placed on planning decorations inside the church than on the sermon. Before the sermon becomes a thought details on lighting, camera, big screens, and sound systems rob time that could have been spent sharing the simple message Jesus gave His disciples to share. Jesus never taught in an atmosphere churches spend millions of dollars and endless hours to create. But that’s the world today. That’s the way of the world. Create a church to compete for members and donations. Popular churches have become so elaborate, they push away the poor, depressed, needy, sick, bewildered, all the people Jesus ministered to. Today’s churches who consider themselves successful reject the same people the religious leaders who opposed Jesus turned away. No wonder we find Jesus preaching this vital message in a simple boat with nothing but blue sky highlighting an endless view of water on the lake. Neither one of the gospel writers recorded any details about forming a committee or collecting funds to paint the boat, or long meetings to agree on a new sail to add atmosphere to the scene. As a matter of fact a sail would have upset the entire service. Jesus was smarter than most people give Him credit for when He followed God’s Spirit to set the location, theme, and words for His message.

Psalms 17:1-15 Hear My Plea

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Psalms 17:1-15 NLTse O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips. (2) Declare me innocent, for you see those who do right. (3) You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. (4) I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. (5) My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. (6) I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. (7) Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. (8) Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. (9) Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me. (10) They are without pity. Listen to their boasting! (11) They track me down and surround me, watching for the chance to throw me to the ground. (12) They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart– like young lions hiding in ambush. (13) Arise, O LORD! Stand against them, and bring them to their knees! Rescue me from the wicked with your sword! (14) By the power of your hand, O LORD, destroy those who look to this world for their reward. But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones. May their children have plenty, leaving an inheritance for their descendants. (15) Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

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Some times we can look at a text, see it’s a prophecy about Jesus, but can’t be sure where it’s explained in the New Testament. It appears Psalm 17 is telling about Jesus – asking God to listen, pay attention, and declare Him innocent. We know Jesus is the only person who could ask God to declare Him innocent – at least the first person. When David wrote about hungry lions, it leads us to believe this is about Jesus on the cross. But which text and chapter explain exactly how this has been fulfilled? Looking back on what we’ve learned, we know the answer is in the key words. This texts has so many key words, it looks confusing. It shows God has a sense of humor, or this is an exam. Since this chapter has such a wide variety of key words, one method that may help is to make a chart of the key word groups.

Plea, prayer, praying, pray

Listen, attention,

see, tested, examined, scrutinized

followed, following,

enemies

Guard, Protect

wicked

Rescue

face

See how a chart of the key words tells a story all its own? The two most likely appear to be prayer and see. These two words lead us to only a few verses in the Gospels. Only one seems like a close fit. Next we compare the texts and chapters.

Matthew 6:5-15 NLTse “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. (6) But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (7) “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. (8) Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (9) Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (10) May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (11) Give us today the food we need, (12) and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (13) And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. (14) “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. (15) But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

It’s easy to see prayer is the main theme is Jesus’ lesson. He tells us to look at prayer two ways. First Jesus tells us how not to pray. Prayer should not attract attention from the world. That’s because it’s directed to Heaven in a personal manner. David also covers hypocrites in his own way. “They are without pity. Listen to their boasting!” David elaborates on the attitude and actions of hypocrites. “They track me down and surround me, watching for the chance to throw me to the ground. They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart– like young lions hiding in ambush.” Hypocrites look out for themselves. They have a form of godliness with plans of destruction on their minds. Their prayers are designed to gain the confidence of unsuspecting people. Once the trap is set, people flock to them like birds, expecting a reward, but find themselves trapped in a cage of deceit.

When Jesus points out how to pray by ourselves, He is pointing to the close and personal relationship with God He came to teach about. He also points us back to David’s prayer which takes on a whole new meaning when we put it into the personal context Jesus teaches about. “O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.” Look at this prayer not only from David’s view point, but Jesus’. It’s a plea to God to listen. We know God is always listening, sees everything, and is always with us. Why would we have to ask God to listen? Why would David or Jesus ask God to listen? Prayer works in stages. In essence, prayer is approaching God’s throne. As a symbol of Jesus, David shows his humility when approaching God’s throne. Jesus approaches His Father’s throne with the same humility. It’s an example for us to follow. Look how Jesus tells us to begin our prayers. “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” It’s a praise to God while reminding us who we are. Look how David continues his prayer. “You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.” David’s prayer and Jesus’ go hand in hand and compliment one another. “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” We need to be rescued by God as well as David and Jesus needed God’s help. “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me.” We all face problems, temptations, trials, and threats. David had his problems – so did Jesus. In addition to people trying to physically trying to kill Him, Jesus had Satan and his angels tempting and trying to kill Jesus spiritually. A lot of people say, “Jesus was tempted just like us.” I wonder if they realize what Jesus faced. We can sin and receive forgiveness. Jesus had no one but God to look to. If Jesus sinned just once, that would have ended it all. No one has ever faced that type of pressure. No one can imagine what Jesus had to go through for us. No one knows how much He prayed and listened to God. We do know it worked for Jesus. Look what we see when we compare the end of the two prayers. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” “Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” If that doesn’t explain why we need to forgive, nothing will. Jesus brought out two main points in these parallel texts, how to pray and how prayer needs to be addressed to God in private. Looking back at the introduction, we see how Jesus was adding details to the lesson He began at the beginning of this chapter.

Matthew 6:1-4 NLTse “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (2) When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. (3) But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (4) Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Jesus begins His lesson with the warning to, “Watch out!” He then tells us not to do our good deeds in public. Compare this to David who prays in private. Who is David praying to? “O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.” We’ve seen how God uses contracts to teach the same lesson. Here is a perfect example of God using contrasts to teach about prayer and a personal relationship with Him. We also see the key word Jesus used to introduce this subject. Why did Jesus choose the key word, “reward,” to introduce the subject? We also see Jesus used the key word, “give,” in His introduction. Did Jesus do this to draw the attention of the people listening to the lesson, spell out important details of the lesson, or both? Let’s take a look at how some people or businesses unfairly use giving and prayer.

Companies often advertise a free give away. It may be a gift or contest. What’s their real intent? To get your contact information so they can hound you for the rest of your life to sell you something. It may be the offer of a free item to gain access to your home – steal a moment of your time. It may be the promise of making you rich in a drawing to entice you to buy products. Either way, nothing’s free. There’s always a price to pay. Who profits in the end? Even churches will use this method to get people through their doors. They promise a free book or CD to get you to come in and listen to them. Number one – these churches show little faith in God’s Spirit. They rely on worldly tactics to get your attention. What kind of information will they share? Worldly or spiritual? Pay attention to their prayers. Are they tainted with the bits and pieces of information they are selling? Are their prayers about the doctrines and prophecies they want to sell you? What about God? Are there conditions to His rewards?

When we look at the Gospels, we see examples of Jesus calling His disciples. Did He promise them anything? No! Jesus asked His disciples to give everything up. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NLTse). Of course Jesus promised them something in return – eternal life. What about the people Jesus healed? Did Jesus call a bunch of people together then healed them to attract a crowd of listeners? People came to Jesus to be healed. “But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.” (Luke 5:15 NLTse). Now look at the very next verse in the context of what we’ve been learning. “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 NLTse). Despite the crowds and power Jesus received, He still had to withdraw into the wilderness to be alone with His Father. How many examples do we find in the Gospels of Jesus publicly praying to attract crowds? None. What about healing? Did Jesus use His power of healing to attract people? When Jesus healed the leper, He sent him to the priests. When Jesus healed ten lepers, He sent them away. When Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man, Jesus told him to go back home and tell his family what happened to him. When Jesus healed the religious leader’s daughter, He left. When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, He sent him back to check on his servant. Jesus had a habit of sending people away after healing. Why? Jesus wanted them to be alone, to find God’s Spirit on their own. Jesus did it all for God’s glory. What a contrast to this world? No wonder why Jesus taught using contrasts. “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” When David asked God to, “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.” Do you think David wanted a public display or power, or do you think David wanted something close and personal? By drawing attention to the relationship between giving and prayer, Jesus showed how each needs to be close and personal. It seems like a mystery because it’s so different from this world. How does Jesus sum up the lesson at the end of this chapter?

Matthew 6:24-34 NLTse “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (25) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? (26) Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? (27) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (28) “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, (29) yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. (30) And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (31) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ (32) These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (33) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (34) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I’ve heard this preached a thousand times. Every time I’ve heard it, the pastor segregated a single verse from this chapter. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Why would they do that? After quoting a single scripture they attempt to explain it in their own words, using their own thoughts, maybe mixing in a scripture or two from other parts of the Bible. But are the other verses within the same context? They may seem like they are, but are they really? We can take what we’ve learned to test this theory. The results may show how much time teachers these days spend alone with God in prayer. The main focus of sermons is always on money – but the rules of context tell us to look at words that are repeated. Remember the relationship between the words? They are the same, similar, or related. In the verse preachers segregate, the only word repeated is, serve. The next rule of context is to look at the introduction and summation to determine the main theme.

Matthew 6:1-2 NLTse “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (2) When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

Matthew 6:32-34 NLTse These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (33) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (34) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

When we look at the introduction and summation of Matthew 6 and compare it to the key word, “service,” we begin to understand what that one verse is teaching. No one can serve two masters. Money is not the main thought, but service is. Service to God and in the introduction Jesus tells us to serve others. His summation tells us to serve God by not worrying about the world and all the strain it places in us. God wants to free us from worry so we have more time with Him. “O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.”

We see the beauty of contrast and context when we compare the two parallel chapters. Look at how David explained this concept in his prophecy. “By the power of your hand, O LORD, destroy those who look to this world for their reward. But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones. May their children have plenty, leaving an inheritance for their descendants. Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” This is only brought to light when we study the Bible within the context it was written. What is the fulfillment of David’s prophecy? What fulfillment is it pointing to? When we look at Matthew 6, we see it is written at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. To accomplish His task, Jesus needed God’s protection throughout His ministry. When David wrote, “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies,” he was showing how Jesus would face enemies throughout His ministry, just like we face temptation and attacks throughout our lives. Teaching about Jesus is much more than teaching about the cross. The cross has its time and place when reaching out to others, but does little for someone in need when you have the ability to help. Look at the main themes, giving and prayer. Compare them to the summation where God promises to provide all your needs. How have you been taught to pray? Is it as detailed as this study shows? Most people have prayer lists. Do you go through yours, asking God to help others? We can’t be sure how prayer works. We don’t know if prayer somehow frees God from some type of rules of engagement in the conflict between Him and Satan. Some time, long ago, Satan openly defied God. Somehow Satan attempted to over throw God’s government in Heaven. All we know is, Jesus was able to conquer Satan and a third of God’s angels who took sides with him. Satan was defeated in Heaven and cast down to earth. Then Jesus came here to face Satan in what he claimed was his world. Once again, Jesus defeated Satan when he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus defeated Satan with words from scripture. A close study of the subject in the Gospels and the scripture Jesus quoted will show, Jesus answered all of Satan’s temptations in the first scripture He quoted. It will also show Satan’s biggest mistake – he separated himself from God. Of course the Old Testament scripture tells about how Satan separated from God and its consequences. It also showed how Satan failed to properly interpret scripture, a gift and power God’s Spirit can easily give us. These two parallel chapters show how important it is to regain that one on one contact with God. There is a relationship between giving, receiving, and prayer. There is one more rule of Bible study we can check. How did the author lead into Matthew 6 the chapter that recorded the fulfillment of Psalm 17? “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”(Matthew 5:46-48 NLTse). It shows how important our relationship with others is. All of the prophecies about Jesus show details about God’s plan of salvation. First and most important is our relationship with God. Once that is established, God will supply everything we need to develop relationships with others … and provide their needs. As these two chapters combine to show, this is the process Jesus had to follow to be successful. He needed protection as well as guidance and power to speak, reach out, and heal. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Hezekiah’s Pride

I’m posting a small section of the next book I’m working on. I don’t often do this, but this one asked some serious questions.

2 Chronicles 32:23-26 NLTse (23) From then on King Hezekiah became highly respected among all the surrounding nations, and many gifts for the LORD arrived at Jerusalem, with valuable presents for King Hezekiah, too. (24) About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the LORD, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. (25) But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the LORD’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. (26) Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the LORD’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.

I have a serious question here. Why do we worship God? I wish I could get some feed back before sharing my answer, but I can’t in this venue. I asked that question this morning. So far the only answer I could come up with is, because He is the only one who can provide a better life for us, guaranteed. Isn’t that what this chapter and the previous stories are showing us?

Hezekiah was faced with insurmountable odds. God took care of that problem in one night. He only needed one angel to handle that situation. After that, king Hezekiah was blessed and respected. He was a rich and respected king. What more could a man ask for? Hezekiah had everything a man could dream of. How did he get in that position? Hezekiah respected God, and did his best to serve Him. In return, God gave Hezekiah the best life a man could dream of in this world.

Let’s look at that from a modern day Christian perspective. In his first letter we find in the Bible, Paul tells us the message Christians are supposed to carry out to this lost world. This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son, Jesus. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. (Romans 1:1-7 NLTse).

Of course the message focuses on the Good News about Jesus and what He did for us. But why wouldn’t that message also focus on where Jesus is? God didn’t take Jesus back to Heaven just to live with Him again. God took Jesus to a far better place because that is part of the message.

Too often the message we carry is all about this world. What this world did to Christ, mixed in with a little bit of what Jesus did for this world. Jesus healed the sick because that’s what this world does to us, it makes us sick, weak, and evil. This world bombards us with misunderstandings about God, and dims whatever view of Heaven we could possible have. The focus of this world is to convince its people, this is life, and there ain’t anything more. Sad to say, this world has been doing a lot better job of getting its message out than Christians have been getting out the truth about Jesus and the Heaven He lives in.

How well do we know Christ if we don’t know where He lives? Don’t you know where your best friend lives? Don’t you know where they work, their favorite food, and about a thousand other details? How can Jesus be our best friend when we don’t know the basics about Him?

Too often we make the same mistake Hezekiah made. We see miracles in our lives, we praise God, He blesses us, things go well for a while, and we forget all about God. Say a millionaire meets you. He takes you shopping, buys you all the things that make you happy and satisfied for a moment, than invites you to his house for dinner. What does that have to do with Jesus? Didn’t Jesus talk about meals and banquets? Didn’t the Tabernacle have a table wet for a meal? What did you think those symbols pointed to? They are an invitation we see where Jesus is now living. You do believe Jesus lives? Doesn’t it make sense to see where and how He lives?

Heaven has to be a much better place to live than this world. Heaven has to be much better than anything this world has to offer. Even an island paradise. But look at where most people live, in cities. What do cities have to offer? For the most part, sin and temptation around every corner. Cities have crime, drugs, transportation problems, pollution, smug, over crowding, high cost of living, the list goes on. Of course they have their attractions, bars, night clubs, theaters, museums, art gallerias, and of course stores and shopping centers. A wide variety of attractions to fulfill the desires of many people. When Christians present Heaven as a could you sit on all day strumming a harp, you can see what a turn off that can be, That is an image set up so the world wins, and Heaven losses. How can a cloud and harp compete with the big city?

Then people want to get out of the city. They want to get out and experience nature. So television bombards people with images of parks, woods, and fields filled with homicidal manics lurking about, trying to commit the most heinous and perfect crime. The world deters people from leaving the cities. Once again the world wins and Heaven losses. The world uses fear to control minds, and people can’t see that happening, because they are being entertained. They can’t see they are being manipulated.

John told us about a new city in this world after sin has been dwelt with and destroyed. Along with that sin, all the cities are destroyed without a trace. Every evil influence is removed from this world. God will only have one city in this world. I’m not sure if some people will live in towns and villages in the new world, or if we will spread out and enjoy nature. But lambs will lay down with wolves and lions, there will be no more poisonous creatures, and we will always be safe, because we will all respect one another. That brief description sounds a lot better than anything this world has to offer.

We will also have people from past generations to meet. People from all eras and walks of life. We can meet people from Biblical times, both Old and New Testament times. Imagine the stories we will hear and share. And of course,we will have access to the Infinite God, who will never run out of things to teach. I wish more of this world could see that part of Heaven. I am tired of running into people who want to prove they know everything about our Infinite God.

I often wonder why we don’t know more about Heaven, and why we seldom have details to share Is Heaven so wonderful that is we received a full taste of it, this world would seem so bleak and useless, we would find it impossible to exist in this toxic atmosphere much longer? What about Jesus? He came from Heaven to this world to save it. If He could do it, why not us?

Jesus was in fact a unique example. Jesus came to this world to share His infinite love, and show us a little part of it. Could we stand a full dose of the love Jesus has for this world and survive? Of course we’d survive, but could we find any happiness in this world, or spend our time dreaming about Heaven? These are not easy questions.

Hezekiah received a great blessing from God, then became proud. Didn’t God share His love with Hezekiah and teach him a little about that love? Hezekiah only saw a dim view of God’s love. Most likely more than most of us will experience, and look what it did to Hezekiah. Would we be better able to handle that blessing, or would we also fail? Be honest now.

Chapter 1 – Psalms 2:1-6 Why Are the Nations Angry

Psalms 2:1-6 NLTse Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? (2) The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his

anointed one. (3) “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” (4) But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. (5) Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. (6) For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”

Before we begin the first lesson, it’s a good idea to review basic study rules covered in previous books. Look for and highlight words that are the same, similar, or related. Those key words tell us two things. The main theme of the texts we are studying. Bible authors follow a pattern of repeating key words to draw reader’s attention to the main theme. Key words are also used to search for parallel texts, which lead to parallel chapters. Context is found in the introduction and summary of chapters. Parallel chapters can have similar or contrasting themes which focus on the same spiritual lessons. It can be difficult to understand Bible study lessons without proper examples. The good news is, God knew we needed good examples. He knew exactly how people would take His simple Word and examples then come up with the most confusing ways of explaining the simple methods God installed in scripture thousands of years ago. There’s never any reason to be confused or intimidated when it comes to Bible Study. When God wrote His book, He included the rules… all of them. The best news is, all of God’s study rules were placed in the prophecies about His Son, Jesus. Not only does God’s plan of salvation provide forgiveness, redemption, and a direct path to God’s throne – God’s plan also includes simple lessons so each of us can learn to study His Word, stand in awe, and give all the glory to Him.

We see some of the fiercest words in the Bible at the beginning of Psalm 2. David lays it on the line. They are wasting their time when they plot against God and His Anointed One. This is also one of the easiest

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New Testament texts to find since it is quoted in Acts chapter 4.

Acts 4:24-30 NLTse When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– (25) you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? (26) The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against his Messiah.’ (27) “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. (28) But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. (29) And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. (30) Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Notice how only a small part of Psalm 2 is quoted. Look at the details found when the Old Testament texts is read. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” I’ve mentioned how much God teaches with repetition, here’s another example. Did you ever notice how often Jesus quoted scripture? Almost every time He answered a question. The pattern is repeated in Acts. The thing that fascinates me is – if the religious leaders bothered to look at scripture Jesus sent them to, there is no way they would have crucified Him. Take a look at this small detail and think about it for a moment. Why is so much of the New Testament made up of Old Testament texts? I’ll bet you didn’t know this. A large amount of Paul’s letters are actually quotes from the Old Testament. As much as thirty percent or more of some of Paul’s letters are quotes from the Old Testament. Why is that you may ask? For one thing, all of those quotes make it impossible for anyone to separate the New Testament from the Old. I’ve heard some preachers try to do it, but never met one. Here is another fact that may surprise you. I want you to take a look back at all the studies you read, all the seminars you attended, and all the sermons you heard. Did anyone ever point out this little fact? Look at the lesson in Acts 4, “ you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying.” Did anyone ever explain to you the fact this term is repeated in the Bible hundreds of times for a reason. You may be asking why. There are two reasons for this. Either they don’t know, or don’t want you to know. Let’s examine why preachers do not want you to know how to read and study the Bible.

How long has it been since anyone discovered anything new in the Bible? God’s been revealing new light in every generation. What happened to our generation? Did their god run out of information to share? I can give you one little revelation a serious student of the Bible will see. Look at the story about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Pay attention to ALL the words and the timing. There was a preparation time included. How long did Jesus fast? When did Satan come on the scene? How many sermons have you heard on this story — I know each one left out vital details. Did they tell you what Jesus did during those forty days? Did anyone explain how Jesus prepared for the confrontation? Did anyone bother to show you how Jesus answered Satan? Did they explain the entire chapter Jesus’ first answer came from? Did they tell you how that chapter answered all of Satan’s temptations? Did they explain Satan’s limitations? Why not? Why would one of God’s warriors not equip you with the proper armor to go out into the world as one of God’s soldiers? If your preacher has, that’s great. If they haven’t, how much more are you missing? Why have the so called world’s greatest minds of the most advanced society on earth withheld so many basic details in the Bible at a time you need it most?

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Every Christian denomination claims there will be an outpouring of God’s Spirit before Jesus returns. Where is it? Why are they delaying this outpouring? Come on now… the strangest religions in the most isolated areas in the world claim there will be an outpouring of new understanding before the end of the world. The entire world seems to agree, but whose looking? Whose searching? Who cares? Why have they stopped searching?

Years ago the United States and other countries got into counting. The common term is census. Governments collected all kinds of facts and figures. For what? To identify, prepare for, and solve problems. They wouldn’t think of asking God’s help, but thought with enough facts and figures, they could solve any problem. Soon churches joined the frenzy. They were not only included in Government census, but started their own. There was a reason God told David not to number Israel. David didn’t have to pay the price, but his people did. This is a prophecy repeated today. Get on your computer and see. You can search every fact and figure about any church you choose. But what about finding new insight to God’s Word? Getting the picture here? How did it happen? What went wrong? Churches got caught up in numbers – their main concern today. To increase numbers they compromised – changed the way they wanted their preachers to study the Bible, or shall we say, AVOID studying the Bible at all cost. It seemed to change overnight. Common sense left the world as darkness crept in. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” To free themselves from God, scholars threw out the basic rules of Bible study. The very rules contained within God’s Word discovered long ago and taught for generations. To cover truth they needed a deception so close to truth common people would never notice. Man made up a newer, simpler set of rules… one they could control. Inductive study and context have been replaced by a new form of study referred to as proof texts. The steps are contrary to God and His Word. The steps for proof texts study are simple, there are only three. Develop a concept. Find texts supporting that concept. Check the results against the doctrine you practice. No where does Jesus teach such blasphemy. No where does the Bible support any concept which begins with man’s concept of what to think and how to think. But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. The question remains – do world religious authorities preach proof texts studies from ignorance, or control? All of this is tied into the numbers game, designed to divide denominations instead of bringing them together to drink deep of the pure, untainted water of Christ. To wash the feet of fellow disciples in a show of humility and unity.

Jesus’ disciples had an attitude quite different from today. A casual reading of the New Testament will show how they struggled to keep the young growing church united. I doubt if church leaders will ever get together to celebrate communion, the observance of the last supper, or an ordinary dinner. For one thing, they would never agree what to eat. If it should be clean, or unclean meats, or no meats at all. Their happy with what separates them… they are deceived into thinking that’s what makes their church grow. I always thought it was Jesus who made a church grow. “Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” This isn’t a new problem. The disciples saw the same problem creep into the early church. People wanted to join the church and bring in a few of their customs. So what is the difference between customs, doctrine, and tradition? Why does every church have custom doctrines, traditions and make them the focus of their study, sermons, and messages? What happened to the simple message Jesus gave His disciples? What happened to simply preaching about what Jesus accomplished? It was enough to hold the early church together. It seems the world just broke down and accepted division. It seems that’s what makes the world happy. Census, numbers, division, and proof texts. A simple plan – man’s plan – but not God’s plan of salvation.

Time to put away influences running free across the world. No one’s doctrines are on trial here. That’s for you to determine on your own. All I want to do is tell you what kind of deceptions to look out for. What good is that? Once one is exposed, the devil has a list of others to take its place. If you looked at how Jesus answered Satan, you already know Satan’s limitations. Let’s face it, Satan is missing one vital link to God’s Word, His Spirit. We need to look at God’s Word as it’s written – test it, ask questions, wait for answers. It’s not only words we’re looking at but God’s personality and wisdom. We see a portion of that in His creation and another little part in how His lessons effected His followers. We see this revealed in the introduction to Acts 4.

Acts 4:1-4 NLTse While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. (2) These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. (3) They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. (4) But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers now totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children.

What do we see in this introduction and how does it compare to the introduction in Psalm 2? Peter and John were confronted by all the religious leaders. The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. Those leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. Look at the detail. Why did they arrest Peter and John? Almost every Christian denomination believes in one form of resurrection or another. They may be all over the map on their beliefs, from the moment of death all the way to the moment Jesus returns. That’s not the point, but you can see how man’s common method of study, proof texts will miss the point in this chapter. This is why it’s important to study repetition to reveal the lesson. The kings and leaders stood against the Anointed One, Jesus who is the resurrection and life. Now ask why and how they stood against Jesus. If the religious leaders didn’t believe in a resurrection what did they believe in? Were they of the opinion only people living at the moment their Messiah appeared would reign with Him forever? Why did the religious leaders twist their own beliefs? For control. See how the Bible is showing the problem we’re facing today? See how easily proof texts can be laid aside when control is at stake? If we only looked at the Old Testament we see signs of a resurrection. Many of David’s Psalms talk about his reign in the distant future. The religious leaders knew David was dead. They talked about his future reign. To arrest Peter and John they threw their beliefs out the window to regain control.

Now to put yourself into the scene, another important step to understand scripture. Imagine yourself in prison with Peter and John. Pray about the scene and look at the image in your mind. What is God showing you? Look back at scripture that comes to mind. Look at how details show Peter and John reactions at the time. Look back at what they experienced and learned before the event. In this case ask yourself what this trial accomplished.

Jesus took Peter and John up a mountain with another disciple where they met Moses and Elijah. They also heard God’s voice and trembled in fear. Peter often jumped to conclusions, answering questions before he understood them. Peter was always trying to outdo the other disciples. John was the biggest in size. Was physical power going to win John a special seat next to Jesus? Peter and John often argued about who was the greatest. Look at when they brought up the subject. Every time Jesus tried to tell them about the prophecies He was going to fulfill on the cross.

Peter and John were thrown into a small cell in the deepest, darkest dungeon. There seemed no way out. The smell was worse than they ever imagined. The floors were slimy and so were the walls. It seemed as if the cell was intentionally littered to make them suffer more. A thought occurred to John. He wondered what the pit was like that Daniel was thrown into. No one left the lions out. They ate, slept, performed all their functions in that pit and finally died in the hole. All the lions could do is wait for another meal. John wondered if the angel who spent the night with Daniel did anything to light the cave or counter the smell. For a while they didn’t speak. Peter thought about how he told Jesus he would die with Him, and later denied Him. John’s mind wondered over the times he interrupted Jesus every time He brought up the prophecies. Jesus recounted those events when He sat down to reveal everything after His resurrection. Peter and John were sure of the resurrection. They saw Jesus in the flesh and in the Spirit. When Peter’s mind rested upon this assurance, he asked John. “Remember when Jesus took us up the mountain?” Even in the stench the memory brought a smile to John’s face. “Yes,” he relied. A few moments of silence went by in the darkness. Neither one of the disciples knew if they would live to see another day, or if they were going to live out their last days in that dingy, dark dungeon. John turned to Peter in the dark, reached out, put his hand on him and asked, “forgive me brother? I don’t want to be greater than you. All I want to do is share the comfort Jesus gave us.” Peter was speechless. For what seemed to be the first time in his life, Peter didn’t know what to say. Finally Peter asked, “John can you forgive me?”

It took a great trial for Peter and John to see their weakness which they always considered their strength. After learning at Jesus’ side for three and a half years, and forty days at His feet, God’s Spirit was still teaching them. In the deepest, darkest, dirtiest hole they could imagine, God’s Spirit reached out and touched each of the disciples. They were ready to preach together. Their first test was to defend their Savior at their trial. The summation of Acts 4 tells the outcome of their trial. When we compare it to the summation in Psalm 2 we see another dimension of the story revealed.

Psalms 2:11-12 NLTse Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. (12) Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities– for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Acts 4:33-37 NLTse The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. (34) There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them (35) and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. (36) For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. (37) He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.

It’s interesting to think of what Peter and John may have thought about the conclusion in Psalm 2. Of course the lessons Jesus taught them were still on their minds. What did serving the Lord in fear and trembling mean to them? After escaping the grasp of the religious leaders, trembling was fresh on their minds along with thoughts of rejoicing. Psalm 2 was no longer only words, but an experience. Peter and John knew exactly what it meant to find joy in God’s refuge. This was another spring board for Peter and John who went out and testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.

What about the people who gave up all they had? Did they do it through fear? I see a lot of women saying they’re looking for a God fearing man and wonder what they mean by it. I’m not sure they know what they mean or what they’re looking for. When I chat with them, they seem to have little or no idea what they’re looking for or how to tell if a Christian is for real or putting on a show. I had that experience in my life and learned the lesson the hard way. Looking at the story in Acts 4, we see another important detail that helps answer this question. As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against his Messiah.’ “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:23-32 NLTse).

A closer look at scripture shows all the believers lifted up their voices in prayer, reciting the prophecy in Psalm 2. God’s Spirit gave all the believers the same thought at the same time. Has that ever happened to you? It happened to me. The week leading up to the day I published the second book in this series I talked to a number of people. They all brought up the same concern. They all saw how the world, especially those around them seemed unconcerned about developing a close relationship with God. People thought little about what Jesus is doing today, how He’s calling out for workers, how He’s looking down at a world that seems less concerned than the day before. It wasn’t by mistake my friends shared the same concern. The series of events showed how important it is to share these simple concepts of Bible Study. Doctrines and traditions have little to do with a real relationship with Jesus. What would a marriage be like if week after week the rules of the household were discussed? You do the dishes, cooking, cleaning, clean the bathrooms, dust, vacuum, etc., etc…. What kind of a relationship would that make? Does it sound like fun to you? Is that what church sounds like? People churches are witnessing to today look at their message as the most boring, restrictive choice on earth. What choice do you think they’re going to make? What’s the message the church gives you? Don’t do this, that or the other thing. We do this and that’s what makes us better than others. Where did thinking they were better than the others get the disciples? That attitude led them in the wrong direction. They wanted to be the greatest and missed seeing hundreds of prophecies fulfilled in front of their eyes. What makes people today think they can harbor the same thoughts and selfishness the disciples displayed and not miss messages, lessons, and prophecies in front of them? How many have they missed already? When will time run out?

2 Kings 6:1-7 The Ax

2 Kings 6:1-7 NLTse One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. (2) Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there a

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re plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” (3) “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. (4) So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. (5) But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” (6) “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. (7) “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

I have to admit, I looked at this one and wondered how it fit into the type of study the Bible has been leading us to in this series. Is this a transition into a new series of lessons, or is this a story that does not coincide with events recorded in the Gospels? There is another general rule of Bible study to review. When an event defies the natural laws of nature, it must have a spiritual meaning and fulfillment. A quick look at keys words shows us a connection in the Gospels will be found through the words, ax and water. Since an ax head does not float, it must be a symbol pointing to a far greater fulfillment.

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Matthew 3:5-10 NLTse People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. (6) And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. (7) But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? (8) Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. (9) Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. (10) Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

Two gospels contain this story, Matthew and Luke. You can look at Luke to understand why Matthew appears to be an easier chapter to work with and a better match when comparing summations for the two chapters. First we need to compare details between the two parallel texts and introductions. In 2 Kings 6:1-7 a group pf prophets ask Elisha if they should build a larger place to meet. What does this represent? Growth of course. Notice who the prophets contract for labor. Themselves. They put their backs to work. While they provide the labor, the author points out an important detail – the ax is borrowed. Seems like a strange detail – but no stranger then a floating iron ax head – or the fact the prophet was cutting a tree close enough to a river to loose the ax head which had to travel far enough to reach deeper water.

Matthew 3:5-10 tells about John baptizing in the Jordan River, which happens to be the same river the ax head fell into. Matthew tells us about growth. “People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.” But there’s trouble. When John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees watching him, he denounced them. On one hand we see growth, on the other we see a group with little or no need to confess their sins – at least to John and in front of a crowd. But wait — isn’t that what they were in the business of – buying and sacrifices so people could confess their sins over them before they were offered? We can see two things occurring here. First is a conflict of interests. John was cutting into profits. Secondly – and most people can relate to this – John is introducing something new — which is referred to as change. Most people know – change inside a religious group can be like moving a mountain. It didn’t help matters when John called the religious leaders a, “brood of snakes!” Of course John names the instrument of their destruction, an ax. Checking previous texts, which in this case is the introduction to Matthew chapter 3, will lead us to other symbols explaining the spiritual meaning of the ax.

Matthew 3:1-4 NLTse In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, (2) “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (3) The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'” (4) John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

The most important point we see in the introduction is a quote from Isiah, which brings up one of the most important rules of Bible study. Whenever Old Testament scripture is quoted in the New Testament – LOOK IT UP!!!! Never rely on memory. Jesus quoted scripture dozens of times. He sent them back in the hopes they would learn something. The most important thing was to let God’s Spirit guide their minds and open their hearts. They ignored all the chances Jesus gave them. Then they killed Him. We don’t want to repeat the same mistake. We have to look at the texts Matthew quoted.

Isaiah 40:1-5 NLTse “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. (2) “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” (3) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! (4) Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. (5) Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!”

The answer is obvious when we compare the introduction of Matthew 3 to texts quoted in Isaiah 40. Look at the sequence of similar words. Preaching, message, speaking, voice, shouting, comfort, speak, tell, listen, voice, shouting, revealed, and spoken. An overwhelming amount of words all tied together. What are they pointing to? John’s message – he is announcing the Messiah! Jesus’ message is the ax that will take bad trees down at the roots. Why is Jesus cutting bad trees at the roots? To comfort His people. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” There are important details to pay attention to here. John is announcing an important event in God’s plan of salvation. Jesus is about to begin His ministry. When we compare this to 1 Kings 6, we see they are also building a new place to meet. Can you see the spiritual connection? Words reflecting on a message are continually repeated. Isaiah sums up the message. “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” When we look at contrasts there are two groups of people. One group comes to John to listen to the message and are baptized, the sign of a new beginning. The second group receives a warning from John. We see additional contrasts to this message in the summations of the two chapters.

2 Kings 6:24-33 NLTse Some time later, however, King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria. (25) As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver. (26) One day as the king of Israel was walking along the wall of the city, a woman called to him, “Please help me, my lord the king!” (27) He answered, “If the LORD doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.” (28) But then the king asked, “What is the matter?” She replied, “This woman said to me: ‘Come on, let’s eat your son today, then we will eat my son tomorrow.’ (29) So we cooked my son and ate him. Then the next day I said to her, ‘Kill your son so we can eat him,’ but she has hidden her son.” (30) When the king heard this, he tore his clothes in despair. And as the king walked along the wall, the people could see that he was wearing burlap under his robe next to his skin. (31) “May God strike me and even kill me if I don’t separate Elisha’s head from his shoulders this very day,” the king vowed. (32) Elisha was sitting in his house with the elders of Israel when the king sent a messenger to summon him. But before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “A murderer has sent a man to cut off my head. When he arrives, shut the door and keep him out. We will soon hear his master’s steps following him.” (33) While Elisha was still saying this, the messenger arrived. And the king said, “All this misery is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”

Once again we’re faced with a new lesson taught by God’s Spirit as we progress through this series of studies. Looking back at the previous study about Naaman the leper, we see an obvious connection. The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the LORD had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. (2 Kings 5:1 NLTse). In chapter 5, the king of Aram sends his army’s commander to Israel’s king to be healed. Elisha tells Naaman to: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:10 NLTse). We have a connection. Naaman is sent to bath in the Jordan River. The prophet looses the ax head in the Jordan River. John baptized people in the Jordan River. The river didn’t make the ax head float. Neither did the river heal Naaman. The river certainly did not remove sins when John baptized people. The Jordan River is a symbol pointing to a greater fulfillment. God’s Spirit is introducing symbolism. At this point God’s Spirit is teaching us how to recognize symbolism, which is different than interpreting symbols. So far we have seen how God’s Word and Spirit establish a line of details to consider, but not how to interpret symbols. There are a number of lessons we need to be comfortable with before we are ready to jump to the next level. We first have to become familiar with how God’s Spirit leads to parallel texts. We have to become fluent with using and recognizing context. If we do not master these lessons, any future use of God’s Word in an attempt to interpret symbols will most likely fail.

Its strange to see one chapter with a king and his subject obtain a blessing beyond belief, then see them invade the land that played a part in that blessing and cause so much pain, suffering, and death. One of the key thoughts in the summation for 2 Kings 6 is the sacrifice and cannibalism of children in Samaria, Israel’s capital. When we look back we see, Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD, as his ancestor David had done. Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel. He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3 NLTse). Their sacrifices moved from one form to another until it reached a point God had to step in and say that’s enough. We also see Israel’s king placing the blame on Elisha. We can begin to see the spiritual application of such a gruesome story once we compare it to the summation of Matthew 3 and look at it through Jesus’ eyes.

Matthew 3:11-17 NLTse “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (12) He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” (13) Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. (14) But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” (15) But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. (16) After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. (17) And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

Once we put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes to look at the summation of 2 Kings 6 and compare it to what we’ve seen while comparing the two chapters, we can understand what these stories meant to Jesus as He began His ministry.

The prophets asked Elisha about building a larger place to assemble. This marked a new, greater beginning. John announced the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Along with the announcement of Jesus’ ministry, John also warned about the end of the established religious order. One must fall for the other to grow. Aram’s king surrounded Samaria and starved the city into submission. It appears as if that marked the end of Israel. Of course God came and saved the day by sending the army around Samaria fleeing for their lives. Israel was starving, but God’s grace provided them with an abundance of food. When Jesus read this story, He could see how His ministry would eventually end the reign of Israel’s priests in Jerusalem. Spiritually they were starving. Their lack of a spiritual connection with God was sacrificing the lives of all the children in their control. Jesus came to end this form of spiritual bondage and starvation. Jesus was also reminded it was His role to give the religious leaders another chance. Some how the religious leaders had to see, food was available from the One they considered an enemy. Once again God used contrasts to teach a spiritual lesson far deeper than ever expected. Jerusalem’s religious leaders had to put away their prejudice so God’s Spirit could equip them to preach God’s plan of salvation. To do that, God used Samaria as a symbol – one of the subjects Jesus preached during His ministry. God also used the Jordan River in a series of lessons to point to another beginning. Israel crossed the Jordan River into the promised land — another new beginning. Jesus is the path taking us from this world into the promised land. A journey that begins once our sins are confessed and forgiven. You have to wonder – why God saved Samaria after its king tried to place blame on Elisha instead of taking responsibility for driving the city and country to ruin. With this particular chapter, our study would not be complete without looking at the lessons between the introduction and summation for 2 Kings chapter 6.

2 Kings 6:8-13 NLTse When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.” (9) But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” (10) So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there. (11) The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?” (12) “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!” (13) “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.” And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.”

The key words lead to the main thought in these texts. God is warning Israel through His prophet Elisha. Time after time God saved lives and protected Israel. No matter how far Israel drifted away, God was still looking over them. Imagine if Israel opened their hearts and ears directly to God. What messages did He have for each individual? God was willing, but like Aram’s king, consulted with their advisers instead of God. Worse yet – other gods. Elisha is in a tough spot. Not only doesn’t Israel’s king appreciate him, Aram sends troops to capture him. Jesus had the same problem. He was opposed and eventually turned in by one of His disciples. The spiritual lesson goes much deeper than that. The story in 2 Kings chapter 6 reveals far greater details.

2 Kings 6:14-18 NLTse So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. (15) When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. (16) “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” (17) Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. (18) As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

Fear was everywhere. It surrounded the little city of Dothan. There was no place to go. The end seemed eminent. Elijah knew God’s plan. All he had to do is look up to see God’s plan. Why could Elisha see God’s plan, but his servant couldn’t – until Elisha prayed for him? This shows the power of prayer. It also shows how a man of God is able to see beyond physical elements of this world into God’s domain. Can you imagine – when Jesus came up from the waters of Jordan – what He saw and how the sight of God’s army all around Him, comforted Him, and gave Jesus the confidence to begin His ministry. Prayer was a large part of Jesus’ ministry to open the eyes of both His followers and enemies alike. There were a few people who heard God’s voice and a few who looked up into the sky to see God’s army. Can you imagine the comfort and enthusiasm they received. That sight, comfort and enthusiasm is available today. We can still see and believe God’s army is all around us, showing us, this battle involves much more than this world. Can we see – all of God’s creation is effected and involved in this struggle? Can we understand everything at stake in this conflict? Are we willing to open our eyes to the greater picture – the greater fulfillment of all the symbols God is using? Are we willing to accept our limitations, rely on God’s Spirit, seek help, knowledge, wisdom from above? Are you willing to ask forgiveness for your sins and begin the journey? Baptism is not the end of the journey. I know people preach – if you are baptized into their church, your sins are forgiven. They refer to baptism as saving souls. Naaman was baptized, cleansed of leprosy, then led an army against God’s people. Naaman and his king not only saw, but experienced God’s presence. It had little effect on them…. they soon turned their backs on God to consult with the same people who mislead them before the event. When are you going to be willing to learn from God and continue to live in God’s hands… to go directly to Him for advice, counsel, and guidance? We can see how God guided Elisha.

2 Kings 6:19-23 NLTse Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. (20) As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria. (21) When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?” (22) “Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.” (23) So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

Elisha had so much confidence in God, he went straight into the middle of the enemies camp and led them into the middle of their enemies city. Elisha had so much confidence in God, he faced off against Israel’s king, who wanted to kill them. Elisha told the king to “Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.” We never know how a situation will work out until we learn to open our eyes and ears to God. We see how Elisha received a double blessing of Elijah’s power. Elisha had more confidence in God than Elijah was able to display. So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. (John 5:19-20 NLTse).

1 Kings 8:26-30 House of Prayer

1 Kings 8:26-30 NLTse Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father. (27) “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you.

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How much less this Temple I have built! (28) Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. (29) May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. (30) May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.

As we’ve seen in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25, Solomon dedicated his temple by moving the Ark into it on the Festival of Shelters. While building his temple, Solomon missed the opportunity to share God with king Hiram of Tyre. It seems strange to see Solomon with all his wisdom miss such an opportunity, then at the end of his prayer indicate he wanted the world to know about God. “And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the LORD be before him constantly, day and night, so that the LORD our God may give justice to me and to his people Israel, according to each day’s needs. Then people all over the earth will know that the LORD alone is God and there is no other.” (1 Kings 8:59-60 NLTse). The word, “then,” indicates two conditions. Solomon suggests people all over the world will hear God when certain requirements are met. It also suggests this is a future prophetic event. How can we blame Solomon? He knew little about God’s harvest and less about God’s plan of salvation. Imagine living in the dark about these details? Solomon knew God and believed His promises and had an idea life would be far greater in the future. How much better could it be for a king who had everything? It seems odd God would choose someone like

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Solomon to write about far greater things than he had which are waiting for us in the future. Can we blame Solomon for the way he acted? After all, aren’t we the ones who finally got the full message? And what are we doing with the message? Do you know anyone who can explain God’s FULL plan of salvation? Can you? Where are we going when we can’t explain the basic message in the Bible, but claim to have a higher degree of understanding previous generations missed? Where are people going when they claim to unlock the mysteries of God’s Word, when they have no idea how to explain the basics? Didn’t Jesus warn about this in parables, and openly when He talked to His disciples alone? Even though Solomon had a dim view of God’s plan of salvation, many of the words he wrote pointed to details of the plan Jesus fulfilled. Some of them are in this prayer. As with other prophets, Solomon did not understand many of the prophecies he recorded. Solomon delivered a message that would be understood at the right time. How do we figure out how to understand these messages? Its a simple process. All you need to do is figure out where the author placed the main focus. God makes it easy to see spiritual messages because He placed all the attention in the right areas. All we have to do is look at the words and phrases the author repeated. So simple a child can do it. I’ve seen children bring more out of texts than most adults are able to see.

The first series of repeated words we notice is prayer, prayers, and the related words, cry, plea, and requests. This of course draws us to the main concept the author is conveying. The series of words on prayer is closely related to the next series of repeated words, listen and hear. We also see the word temple and Heaven repeated. Of course, God and Lord is repeated a number of times. Now how do we use this information? If this is a prophecy with a deeper spiritual lesson, the repeated words will lead us right to the proper texts. You see there is no guessing or speculation. God’s Word is arranged to link Old Testament prophecies to New Testament texts explaining their fulfillment. That’s the easy part. Spending more time to compare texts will reveal lessons beyond imagination, bringing all the glory to God. These types of lessons are never revealed through idle study, speculation, or personal interpretations. They can only be found by following the simple rules of context.

The context of 1 Kings chapter 8 has been covered in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25 by examining the introduction and summation of the chapter. The introduction showed Solomon celebrated the Festival of Shelters by taking God’s Ark into the stone temple. The summation verified the date and recorded the sacrifices Solomon made, 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. Was this what God wanted? Its clear something was wrong with that scene.

This is the first time I’ve seen a lesson go this deep. That is the way God teaches, one step at a time. As we progress in our studies into the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, God adds more depth, a little at a time. God’s way of teaching reminds me of Ezekiel’s vision as he walked along a river flowing away from the temple. To get deeper into this lesson we have to locate the New Testament parallel texts by using the key word prayer.

Mark 11:15-17 NLTse When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, (16) and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. (17) He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

In addition to, “prayer,” the word, “temple,” links Mark 11:15-17 to 1 Kings 8:26-30. Mark tells us how Jesus drove out people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. Many people refer to this as the, “cleansing of the temple.” This must be an important story. It is one of the few stories found in all four Gospels. Anyone preaching Jesus drove people out of the temple courtyard in a fit of rage failed to study the scriptures. I would question their relationship with God and how they organize their messages. John tells us how Jesus sat outside the gate weaving a whip from some ropes. (John 2:15 NLTse). A man who sat outside a gate long enough to weave a whip from ropes had adequate time to contemplate his actions. What do you think went through Jesus’ mind before He entered the courtyard, cracked His whip over His head, and across tables where the money changers sat? Do you think Jesus used His whip against people, or to herd sheep and goats through the temple gate? Why do you think Jesus drove out the sacrifices? When I think of this I can’t help but think of the 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats Solomon sacrificed in one day. So many animals were being sacrificed so fast, the bronze altar in the LORD’s presence was too small to hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. Solomon decided to side step another of God’s commands. What was one more? Did the priest’s in Jesus day look at this and use it as an excuse to turn the temple into a den of thieves? Was Jesus thinking about all those sacrifices when He drove out the sheep and goats? To find out why Jesus drove the people and animals out of the temple, we have to check the context of of Mark chapter 11. The context will always provide valuable information.

Mark 11:7-8 NLTse Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. (8) Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

The introduction of the chapter shows how Jesus displayed His humility by entering Jerusalem on a colt. Once again when we check the story in the other Gospels we collect more details which explain the entire theme behind the story. Matthew tells us the disciples would see a donkey and its colt. Jesus did not ride the donkey, but chose its colt. The disciples covered the colt with their own coats to hide their embarrassment. How often does Jesus do something for us in a way that makes us feel embarrassed? What do we do? Do we try to hide the blessing because it wasn’t what we expected? It’s true, Jesus always seemed to do things the world doesn’t agree with and it can seem difficult to follow His example. So we either hide or ignore a lot of the lessons Jesus taught. We’re afraid to take a closer look at the example Jesus set because we’re afraid to change ourselves. Taking a closer look at Jesus should not be a fearful thing. After all, if you plan on spending eternity with Jesus, you gotta learn sooner or later. Which is the wisest choice? We also see the introduction repeats the word, “garment,” and uses branches in the same context. Is this a loose reference to the Festival of Shelter? We need to look at the summation to understand the full explanation of the context.

Mark 11:27-33 NLTse Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. (28) They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (29) “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. (30) “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” (31) They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. (32) But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. (33) So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”

When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).

The beginning of Mark 11 tells us how Jesus entered Jerusalem. The end of the chapter tells us what happened to Jesus when He reentered the temple. Once the repeated words are highlighted, we see the summation centers on authority, which is completely opposite of the humility described in the introduction. When we look at the details we see the priests are questioning Jesus’ authority. Notice Jesus does not claim any authority. This is an example of how context uses opposites to teach the same lesson. Solomon uses this form of communication in Proverbs. It is quite common in the Bible. The summation also shows us why Jesus went into the temple the day before, made a mess of things and drove the animals out. Its quite clear in verse 27. Who was in the temple questioning Jesus on the day after He drove out the people? Also note the summation of Mark 11 has certain similarities to 1 Kings 8. Both had leaders present. In 1 Kings 8 they came to see the Ark enter the temple. In Mark 8 they saw Jesus enter the temple. Which has more glory? In 1 Kings 8 they sacrificed thousands of animals. In Mark 11 Jesus freed sacrificial animals and what did the priests want to do? When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).

The list of similarities goes on and on. The deeper we look, the more we learn. We also learn details from what isn’t present. Look carefully at what Mark wrote. “ When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done…” The priests were not at the temple when Jesus drove out the people and animals. Where were they? Who knows. Us common laborers can tell you, it takes a major event to get managers on the shop floor or out in the field. When Jesus stopped production, the leading priests had to go to the temple to get business back on line. Jesus created a scene to ensure they leading priests would be in the temple the next day. Jesus never acted out in rage…. He did it to save the priests. Jesus was reaching out to them.

The next day when Jesus went to the temple, the gates were locked. Guards were stationed outside as well as inside the gates. The priests were already suffering a financial set back — all efforts were focused on getting business up and running as well as avoiding additional embarrassment. Guards were ordered to let no one pass. The priests didn’t want anyone to see the mess Jesus created. Jesus already caused enough trouble and the priests didn’t want to give people the impression Jesus gained a victory over them.

Jesus showed up with his disciples and a small crowd following. More people began gathering as word quickly spread. People were expecting to find Jesus in Jerusalem, since He was in the neighborhood, but few expected Jesus to show up at the temple, especially since extra guards were on duty and the priests were furious with revenge for the previous day’s events on their mind. The guards outside didn’t know what to do. They were ordered to guard the gate, but didn’t expect such a huge crowd to gather. Although fearful, they could not see what the people would gain by harming them. The gates were locked from the inside. People waited to see what Jesus would do. He stood silent for some time, looking at the faces gathered. Jesus could tell which people wanted to learn from the curiosity seekers who wanted to see what was going to happen. Jesus knew their hearts would not understand what was about to happen. He prayed to Himself for some time, until He felt the time was right.

Jesus moved slowly forward approaching the gate. The guards were frozen as if in the presence of a king. Jesus passed by them to stand near the gate. The crowd stood in silence watching to see what would happen next. A noise was heard from the gates. As the guards turned to look, the gates slowly swung open. No one would forget the surprised looks on the guards inside the gate as Jesus walked past them. It took only a few seconds for the crowd to follow. Jesus moved across the empty courtyard, taking His place where the animals waited the day before. People looked back and forth as they compared Jesus’ simple dress to the luxurious robes of the leading priests. Some gazed in awe. It wasn’t everyday they saw the leading priests in the temple.

The contrast between Jesus and the priests in the courtyard is a direct parallel to the contrast between God’s Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. A study of the Tabernacle shows the outer covering was black. Translations may differ on the type of animal giving up its skin to cover the Tabernacle, but they all agree it was a dark color, most likely black. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins. (Exodus 26:14 KJV). Many people describe the Tabernacle with elaborate colors and expensive materials. The fact of the matter is, all of that was on the inside of the Tabernacle. From the outside, there was nothing to attract attention, or distract attention from the symbols inside and outside of the Tabernacle. The covering was an unassuming black. Which is another symbol pointing to Jesus. My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2 NLTse).

Why did Jesus return the following day to preach in the temple court and why was it so important for the priests to be there? What was so important about Jesus’ message that day? Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (Mark 12:1-2 NLTse). One of the first stories Jesus told was about a vineyard a man planted then leased out to tenant farmers who refused to share the harvest. The farmers over estimated the work they put into the vineyard. They thought their work earned them the right to call the vineyard their own. As time went by, they chased away and killed messengers sent to collect the landlords share of the harvest. Finally the man sent his son. The farmers thought they saw a loop hole in the law. Talking among themselves, they reasoned, “Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!” (Mark 12:7 NLTse). The farmers had no respect for the landlord, the law, nor did they appreciate the hard work and preparation the landlord put into the vineyard. One more thought…. if the farmers would have prayed, what do you think God’s answer would have been?

Jesus ends His story with a direct reference to the temple. “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” (Mark 12:10-11 NLTse). Do you see how the dedication to Solomon’s temple has direct ties to Jesus in the courtyard? Jesus was teaching a lesson Jews should have understood for generations. God never wanted a stone temple to distract people away from the Temple He was sending to teach the world. We have the same problem today. People build their temples of stone, wood, steel, and glass. They hold elaborate services to dedicate their temples. They use Solomon as an example, and refuse to look at God’s point of view. People have the same problem on an individual level we refer to as prayer. In his prayer Solomon directed God. Sure he made it sound like a request, but Solomon gave God conditions. Twice Solomon said he knew he had to tell the world about Him. Solomon knew his role, but instead of fulfilling his role, he attached conditions to its fulfillment. We all follow Solomon’s poor example. We pray. We talk to God. We tell God what to fix, who to fix, and often times tell the Creator of the universe how to fix it. We are just like Solomon directing God and setting up conditions before we will complete our end of the bargain. We fail to listen! Prayer has been taught as a one way conversation with God. That’s the problem with this world, no one listens! Did the priest listen to Jesus? No! The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (Mark 12:12 NLTse). After all the trouble Jesus went through to get them in the courtyard at the right time to listen to the right message, they refused to hear. Instead the Pharisees changed the subject to something they knew about —- money.

Before leaving the temple court, Jesus had to teach another lesson in humility. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44 NLTse). Jesus began His journey to the temple with a lesson in humility and ended His visit to the temple with a lesson in humility. Why was there only one widow? Why was there only one person giving more than they could spare? Why was the widow giving her last cent to the temple? Would the priests appreciate her gift? Did they appreciate the gift Jesus gave them? Jesus was about to give more than His life savings to the priests.

Studies and stories like this do not come around everyday. They take time. It takes time to read God’s Word and become familiar with it, to develop a personal relationship with God and His Spirit and most importantly —- LISTEN!!! I know God is not going to give me an entire story of this magnitude in one day. God never works that way. He gives me what I need, when I need it. Then sits and waits to see what I do with it. If I do nothing…. it seems that message ends. If I write about what God’s Spirit showed me, I get more. I never knew the priests were not in the temple when Jesus drove everyone out until God’s Spirit showed me. I read that chapter 100 times, but never saw the world, “then.” One word opened up a whole new understanding. That’s the way God works. That’s a display of God’s power and glory. He can change everything with one word. God can hide it or make it plain to see. He does all of this in His time. Pray —- Listen —– Learn. Then you will know what to share, when and with whom.

No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!” It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace–his undeserved kindness in choosing them.

(Romans 11:2-5 NLTse)