Monday, December 29, 2014

Leadership Without Titles?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - James Madison

Leadership Without Titles?

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Locust of Joel

I was studying the book of Joel today and I was particularly drawn to Joel 1:1-4 where it describes the locusts that were going to be used by God as an instrument of chastisement because of the sins of his people. These verses are actually describing the same insect at different stages in it's development according to most biblical scholars.

The first stage is the palmerworm. It is the word gazam in Hebrew and it describes a locust that is just out of the egg and still without wings. The word actually means "gnawer". It doesn't eat much but because of its size is only able to mar the fruit and thus start the ruination process. As their wings begin to develop they swarm.

The second stage is the cankerworm. It is the word yekeq in the Hebrew and means "devourer". This is a fully developed adult that has a large mouth and an insatiable appetite.

The third and final stage is the caterpillar. The word used in chaciyl which means "consumer". In this final stage the locust strips whatever remains of the fruit.

In the final analysis, God is saying that his judgement will be thorough.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Coming Messiah

This past weekend, I drove down to South Carolina to visit with my Grandmother and to teach at Harvest Calvary Chapel in Travelers Rest. It was a good drive, but I was pretty tired since just a few days before my son and I had driven down to Chattanooga, Tennessee to help a student relocate her things from Covenant College up to Liberty where she will be attending next semester. It was about a 850 mile drive round trip.

It's always good to see my Grandmother. It was her 86th birthday and we had a great time visiting with one another and family. On Sunday morning, she accompanied me to Harvest Chapel where I was privileged to teach on The Coming Messiah from the first two chapters of Matthew. Here is the text of that message.

The Gospels cover a period of about thirty-five years. They open with an announcement to Zacharias about the birth of John the Baptist in the Temple of God (Lk. 1:11-20) and closed with the ascension of the Son of God (Lk. 24:50-51). As the Old Testament began with man made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), the Gospels open up with God made in the image of man (Jn. 1:14). The man made in the image of God was defeated by Satan in a garden when defied God’s will (Gen. 2:8; 3:1-7), but the God made in the image of man defeated Satan in a garden when He submitted to His Father’s will (Lk. 22:39-42). Prior to the Gospels, sheep died for shepherds (Ex. 12:1-13), but now the Shepherd was going to die  for the sheep (Jn. 10:11). At his birth he was offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh by wise men who worshipped him (Mt. 2:11), while at his death he was offered thorns, vinegar, and spittle by wicked men who ridiculed him (Mt. 27:29, 34, 26:67). The Gospels describe Jesus saving sinners under a tree (Jn. 1:48), up a tree (Lk. 19:4-5), and on a tree (Lk. 23:43).

The Synoptic Gospels
The first three gospels have been labeled as the Synoptic Gospels. The word synoptic means "seeing together”. This is because there is a structure found among Matthew, Mark and Luke in their presentations of the ministry of Jesus.

They all have what is called a “geographic sequence” in that they all focus on our Lord’s ministry in Galilee, his withdrawal to the North, his ministry in Judea on his way back to Jerusalem and final ministry there.

This sequence is not found at all in the John (e.g., the sending out of the twelve, the transfiguration, the Olivet Discourse and the Last Supper are not found in John either).

Chapter 1

Covenants Fulfilled
v.1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Notice that Matthew opens his gospel by introducing Jesus as the son of David and the son of Abraham. Matthew wants to show that Jesus will be the ultimate fulfillment of both the Davidic and the Abrahamic Covenants. Actually, he offered to fulfill them at his first advent, but it was rejected (cf. Mal. 4:5; Matt. 17:12-13).

The Davidic Covenant
Jesus will be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant because is qualified to fulfill that promise (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-16). Now portions of this are speaking of Solomon, but it is ultimately looking to Christ as its fulfillment.

The Abrahamic Covenant
As the son of Abraham, Jesus not only met the requirements of the covenant but will also fulfill it one day (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8).

Jesus was the Promised Seed
Paul says Jesus was the promised seed and thus the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Gal. 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Old Adam vs. New Adam
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ: The last place that phrase is found in the Bible is in Gen. 5 when speaking of the generations of Adam.

Genesis 5:1-5 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; (2) Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (3) And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: (4) And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: (5) And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

It’s also interesting to note that in Adams genealogy there is the mention of death, but not so in Christ’s.

I believe that’s because through Adam came death and through Christ came life (cf. 1Cor. 15:20-22).

The same comparison can be made between the Law and Grace.

Cf. the giving of the Law (Ex. 32:28) and the preaching of the gospel (Acts 2:41).

Genealogical Additions
vv.2-17 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; (3) And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; (4) And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; (5) And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (6) And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; (7) And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; (8) And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; (9) And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; (10) And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; (11) And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: (12) And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; (13) And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; (14) And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; (15) And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; (16) And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (17) So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

It’s interesting that the Jews wanted nothing to do with the Gentiles and yet, five Gentile women are in the line of Jesus.

1. Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law and was a Canaanite (v.3; Gen. 38:13-30).

2. Rahab was a harlot and an Amorite (v.5; Joshua 2:1).

3. Ruth was the wife of Boaz and was a Moabite (v.5); Ruth 4:9-10).

4. Bathsheba was the wife of David and was a Hittite (v.6; 2 Sam. 11:1-5).

5. Naamah was the wife of Solomon and was an Ammonite (v.7; 1 Kings 14:21).

(While Naamah is not specifically mentioned by name, she was Rehoboam’s mother.)

Why is this significant? – It shows that Gentiles were to be included in New Testament salvation.

What is even more interesting is that three of the five women mentioned in this genealogy, Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba had committed sexual sins!

Woman at the Well
Still, the Jews really struggled with the concept of Gentiles being saved (cf. John 4:1-9).

Peter on the Rooftop
God had to supernaturally reveal it to Peter (cf. Acts 10:1-15, 25-29, 34-36).

Revealed in the Old Testament
Paul mentioned the salvation of the Gentiles in Romans 15:8-12 where he quoted from four Old Testament passages confirming Gentile salvation.

Jesus spoke of the Gentiles in the Discourse on the Good Shepherd in John 10:16, And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Jew and Gentile Bride
So, the Bride is made up of a combination of Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Genealogical Differences
Now, I want to talk about the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-16 and the genealogy of Luke 3:23-38.

Matthew is the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph.

Luke is the genealogy of Jesus through Mary.

A careful study of these two genealogies would reveal that they are identical accept in two points.

a. The genealogy of Joseph works forward and Mary’s in Luke works backward.

b. They differ from King David on.

Matthew 1:6 follows David’s son Solomon

Luke 3:31 follows one of David’s other sons Nathan.

Joseph’s genealogy goes from David’s son Solomon to a King Jeconiah, Mary’s does not (Matt1:11).

The key person of note is Jeconiah who is also referred to as Coniah (cf. Jeremiah 22:24-30).

If Joseph were the biological father of Jesus, He would not be qualified to sit on the throne of David.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The Bible is 100% accurate in every area.

The Birth of Jesus - Natural vs. Supernatural
vv.18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (24) Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: (25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

This was not a divine conception, in the sense that they Holy Spirit conceived seed in Mary by natural means.

It was a supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit.

Notice that the Bible says that Mary and Joseph were espousedas husband and wife.

The espousal was like an engagement today.

The Bible tells us that after she found out that she was pregnant that she went and stayed with her cousin Elizabeth for three months (cf. Luke 1:35-40, 56).

Why do you think that she decided to do this?  How many have seen, “The Nativity.”

It was upon her return that Joseph found out that she was pregnant because she was showing.

If you look at his response, he was being very generous in trying to put her away privately.

Under the Law, a woman who did not keep her virginity until her wedding day was considered a whore and could be stoned if her husband found out (cf. Deut. 22:23-24).

You may ask, “How would the new husband find out?” 

There was a test (cf. Deut. 22:13-21).

But rather than doing that, Joseph was content to just divorce her (cf. Deut. 24:1-2).

Of course, had this actually happened, Mary would have been labeled an adulteress for the rest of her life.

Of course, in that culture, it was a sentence to a life of loneliness.

And we do know that it was made public that Mary did indeed get pregnant out of wedlock when the leaders said to him, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41).

But the angel of the Lord convinced him to do otherwise (v.24).

Son of Man
Bear in mind that this is why Jesus was called the Son of Man.

Son of God
However, first and foremost, He is the Son of God.

Mary’s Virginity
Was Mary a virgin?

#1 She said that she was.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

#2 The Bible said that she would be a virgin.

Is. 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Cf. v.25

#3 She had to be a virgin

If Mary had not been a virgin, Jesus would have been born a sinner.

Ps 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Perpetual Virginity
Notice the word firstbornin v.25.

Some of the modern versions remove that word, I might add to the great pleasure of the Catholic Church who teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin.

Contrary to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, she did have children after our Lord.

Cf. v.18, 25

Mark. 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Cf. Matt. 12:46-47; John 2:11-12, 7:1-5; Acts 1:14

The Catholics say that the brothers mentioned in these verses are the sons of Joseph from a previous marriage.

If that be the case, why are they mentioned with Mary so much?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

Paul refers to one of his brother in Gal. 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

The perpetual virginity of Mary simply cannot be drawn from Scripture.

It must be forced on the Scripture and in clear contradiction to their teachings.

So, Jesus was the firstborn of Mary!

Chapter 2

Wise Men from the East
vv.1-10 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (3) When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (4) And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. (5) And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, (6) And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (7) Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. (9) When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. (10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king: We celebrate Christmas in December, but we really don’t know exactly when Jesus was born

Hyppolytus in the 3rd century was the first that we can determine who said that he was born on December 25th.

John Chrysostom also favored that date as did Cyril of Jerusalem who reportedly had access to the Roman birth census.

Of course the date also aligns with the celebration of Saturnalia and the winter solstice, which are pagan festivals, and the birth of Christ was an alternative for Christians.
The biggest argument that I have heard against the month of December is that it would have been too cold and the shepherds would not have been out in the fields at that time.

However, historically that argument doesn’t hold water because unblemished lambs for the Temple sacrifices were kept out in the fields all winter.

behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem: Here are a few things about the wise men to think about.

1. We have no idea who they were or where they came from.

Psalm 72:10-12 may be a hint (i.e., Spain, Mediterranean, and Arabia)

2. We are not sure as to exactly how many there were.

We assume three because of the gifts they brought.

The traditional names given to them are Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, but that is total fiction.

3. There is no mention of camels in the narrative.

It is just an assumption that that’s what they might have been riding.

How did they Know?
How did the wise men know about the birth of our Lord?

Most feel that they followed the prophecy of Daniel (cf. Dan. 9:23-27).

I believe that the wise men may have very well used this prophecy to determine the date of birth of Jesus.

The command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was given in Neh. 2 on March 14, 445.

The prophecy said that from the going forth of the command on March 14, 445 that it would be sixty-nine weeks of years until the Messiah would come. 

That’s 483 years or 173,880 days using the Babylonian calendar.

That puts us at April 6th, 32 A.D., the exact day that Jesus came through the Eastern gate.

They could have back-tracked this date to his approximate birth time.

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
v.11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Notice the gifts that the wise men brought: gold, Frankincense, and myrrh.

Each of the gifts represents some aspect of our Lord.

The gold symbolizes his kingly role.

The frankincense symbolizes his priestly role.

The myrrh symbolizes his death.

Isa. 60:6 says that these gifts will be given to him again someday minus the myrrh when it says,
The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

Young Child in a House
And when they were come into the house: Another interesting note is that the verse tells us that Jesus was a young child and that they lived in a house.

We sometimes forget that while Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger, it was most likely only one night of his life.

According to the dictionary, a manger is a box or trough in a stable or barn from which horses or cattle eat.

And, of course, we know from v.16 that Jesus couldn’t have been any older than two when they saw him.

The truth is that they only people present the night of the birth of Christ was Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds (cf. Luke 2:8-16).

So much for the Nativity Scene!

vv.12-13 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.  (13)  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Many times in the Scripture’s we find God warning and directing men through dreams.

They are mentioned in v.12, 13, 19-20, and v.22.

Dreams were not uncommon before the Bible was finally published because men did not have all of the words of God to direct them.

Of course, some of them had the Old Testament or parts of it, which was their absolute authority.

But still, it is recorded that God occasionally directed them by dreams.

However, we must always remember that our dreams never trump the Word of God.

In Jer. 23:25-29 when the prophets prophesied lies to the people.

God said their dreams compared to his words were like the chaff to the wheat.

vv.14-15 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: (15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

This is a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 that the Lord would be called out of Egypt.