Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Jeremiah

Herod carries out the infanticide – Bethlehem has no more infant boys and fulfilled prophecy – Matthew 2:16-18

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Herod carries out the infanticide – Bethlehem has no more infant boys and fulfilled prophecy – Matthew 2:16-18 – 01/20/2016

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Matthew 2:16 (ESV) Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew continues his narrative by showing what type of man Herod was and showing what type of “worship” that he had in mind (verse 8 in a previous article) when he spoke to the “wise men” and stated the following…

Matthew 2:8 (ESV) 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

Be careful of being Herod-like…

I don’t know about you but that is one messed up worship? As we explained in previous blogs Herod was a messed up guy, he was really only ever concerned with protecting his own little pocket of power, building great buildings that really would be his only legacy and getting rid of his rivals and members of his own family when they came close to touching his power, he was a guy that regardless of who you were to him if you endangered or weakened his position then you had to be killed.

Joseph when he was visited by the angel a few verses back and fled to Egypt after he was warned by an Angel to flee to Egypt which fulfilled prophesy as well as preserved the life of the infant Jesus. Herod was in my opinion doing the devils work for him because in Satan’s mind how much easier would it have been to snuff out the one who came to be the second Adam sacrifice and defeat sin once and for all. God knew this and made provision for Jesus to not even be there, Satan is not looking at the full picture though; Jesus was as much God as he was man so Herod would not have been able to put Christ to death until he surrendered.

Herod-like Christianity

As far as I am aware none of us are kings and have that sort of power but we all have our hot buttons as to how we could be “Herod-like” and often times it happens in the realms of ministry or service to Jesus where we get all protective if we have a position in a fellowship, ministry or church. I see this most often in Pastors who do not wish to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” or leaders who would rather not accept the help of gifted members and plod on in a place that God never intended them to be in because it is “their role” but never “their calling”.

In order to avoid this we need to do some self-evaluation and make sure that our motives for what we are doing are for the Lords will as opposed to ours. It is wonderful to serve but you will not reap the full blessings that God has for you by being a square peg in a round hole. It is not simply enough to just “have a job” in the church but you must always be seeking what the Lord wants for you to use your callings in his service.

From the pastoral side church leaders need to evaluate and like a good coach make some switch ups when required. It is not simply enough just to have the “jobs filled” and make no care about who are why they are doing them, know the people that are laboring alongside you, be aware who is burning out and show those who have served well and faithfully that you care and that you have their backs. I have been on the “burnout curve” before and I know what it is like to be genuinely sickened by ministry because it all got too much. Good leadership goes a long way here.

Pastor-like Herods

As for “Pastor-like Herods” well we have them worldwide where they are who they are because of a number of factors, perhaps it is a trust issue, maybe they see the mission that God put them in as “their mission” as opposed to “Jesus mission that they are allowed to play a part in” perhaps they have that personality of the lone wolf, perhaps they just want people they have known for years in the positions they view as vital, all that can be done from the congregant side is address the issue with the Pastor and let him know that there is an issue and continue in prayer for your leader, do not allow yourself to be embittered by the situation and if God moves you elsewhere then leave on good terms and wish each other well.

Getting back to Herod

Three things happened when Herod realized too much time had passed since the wise men left…

• Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men – The earlier text states that they listened to the king, there is no mention of an agreement but Herod certainly thought there was an understanding that they would return.
• Herod became furious – Herod is widely documented to have a temper and as stated prior he was desperate to keep his small fragmented piece of power in the occupied kingdom, it was ridiculous as he was a puppet king for the occupying forces in Rome.
• He sent and killed all the male children under two years old in Bethlehem – Herod thought he would directly respond to the problem of someone who he thought would displace him from the throne, he would get rid of all the kids around that age who were a specific gender. What a loving and wise king huh? Gives you an idea of the lengths he would go to retain his own circle of influence.

This is a guy who went down in history as murdering his own wife and son, so some peasants children that he would never meet would be no issue of this man. Whilst this account may seem shocking or horrific to those of us who read it, this was small fish in the deeds that Herod did. We see as a consequence of this we see the words of the prophet Jeremiah which first appeared in Jeremiah 31:15 which reads…

Jeremiah 31:15 (ESV) Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

I know as a father of a six year old how devastated my wife and I would be if Governor Jerry Brown declared that all six year olds in the State of California had to be killed! That would be the modern equivalent in my life; it is a real situation with real tears and real heartbreak. My heart goes out to the parents in Bethlehem because I have no idea what it would be like to lose a child and I can only imagine the horror.

In the next installment we look at Jesus return to Nazareth and we see again how the life of Christ fulfills prophecy, although in that occasion not with as events that are as tragic.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16

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God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16 – December 13th 2015

Romans 2:12 (ESV) For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

I love that Paul starts off with the reality of the situation between God and man…

V12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

And that is the truth and where we get confused as humans is that we start of by thinking that we are “morally correct” or that we are “a good person” if we are judging ourselves. However when we are judging ourselves we won’t use honest scales and we will have a bias point of view of our individual sins.

Paul continues this thought from verse 11 which states “For God shows no partiality” which is both encouraging and discouraging in that he does judge everyone with no favor but he will judge as a just judge does with honest scales. He will judge those who are under the Law (traditional Jews) and the ones who were not under the Law. (Traditional Gentiles) This is awesome because it works on so many levels as in the first century there were many heretics that kept trying to convince the Gentile Christian converts that they had to adopt Jewish practices in order to please God. We see this correction by letter in a few of the Epistles that we are not saved by works (keeping the Law in this case) alone. Let’s look at both types of people that Paul addresses here:

•       Sinned under the Law – So the Jews had the Law but did they keep it? If they kept it in actions did they keep it in their hearts? Was it an empty practice to appear holy? Were their hearts near or far from God? Was his faith in God or the empty religion of keeping the rules of the Law?
•       Sinned without the Law – He may be further in his own sin because he has no idea what God wanted in the first place? Does he have Jesus as his Savior? Is he trying to be morally right in the sight of the world? Will he die in his sins due to a lack of repentance? Does he only live by what his conscience says?

Whilst the former may appear “more holy” they both are headed away from God and headed for condemnation unless they have a heart change and be repentant and seek God while he may be found and call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6-7) if you think I am maybe overstating this then please look at what Jesus said to the folks who had the Law as their religion in the book of Matthew…

Matthew 23:23 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus certainly did not spare feelings when he dealt with those who the people lauded as holy. He called them the following…

•       Hypocrites
•       Blind guides
•       Whitewashed tombs
•       Internally full of death
•       Lawless

And that is the heart (pun intended) of this is that the heart must be correct in order to please God and it is only God who can see into the depths of the heart and can see the true nature of your heart and can even see the self-deceit if you have deceived yourselves into believing your motives are pure. If you don’t believe me that the heart is wicked then read Jeremiah 17:9.

V13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Just because you have heard the law (or even heard the bible) that will not make you righteous and let us look at two scenarios…

•       Scenario A – Pastors kid – has been raised in church, knows the bible inside out, can quote large portions of scripture, is an awesome apologetic teacher in his own right but does not live the Christian life and never repents in his own right.
•       Scenario B – Mass Murderer – Spent all of his adult life in jail following a mass murder at eighteen. Is in a state where he has waited 225 years on the death penalty catching up with him. The day before he dies a Prison Pastor convicts him of his sin and he falls on his knees and accepts Jesus in his life and for the last 24 hours of his life he pours himself into the bible the pastor gave him.

Which of these two people will be in heaven? It will be those who are doers of the law, those of whom who have repented of their sins and got their hearts right with God. Just simply attending church and being a passenger with no life change will not do anything. Does that mean we will always be enthusiastic for the gospel? No! Christians will have attitude problems in the same way as those in the world, but they know the way to resolve this by turning back to God.

V14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

We have to be careful to not become “a law unto ourselves” and make up laws that suit ourselves due to having ignorance to what God wanted or required of us. We have to diligently study the scriptures to understand the will of God in our lives. We cannot go off what someone else says or an interpretation that may or may not be correct. Even as you are reading this I urge you to do your due diligence and study the scripture for yourselves and “Study you show yourself approved” (2nd Timothy 2:15) and please never take man’s word when it contradicts what the scripture is plainly saying.

V15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Paul talks about writing the law on your heart and this comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that reads…

Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

You have to understand that these people were not of the original children of Israel, they were part of the New Covenant and were adopted into God’s family through their obedience and as Paul writes here they can be condemned by their conflicting thoughts or even justified.

This is a battle of the flesh, the fleshly man wants to do his will and there will be a struggle often times in order to allow Gods will to overcome. (What Paul calls conflicting thoughts) and we have this today as Christians. A few examples would be…

•       Do I have to be honorable on my taxes, I could get away with that
•       Do I have to tithe exactly 10% (even though that is a conviction of my heart) as we could put that extra money towards something I want
•       Do I have to deal fairly with others if I can make a quick profit?
•       Do I have to be diligent in my workplace?
•       Do I need to be pure in my thoughts if I am single?
•       Do I need to stay faithful to my wife/husband? What if I can get away with it with no scandal?
•       Do I really need to forgive that guy? Do you know what he did?

And that is just some common ones that people struggle with. We have to remember that “the work of the law is written on their hearts” and greater is he that is in us that he who is in the world!

V16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

And here is the kicker, God sees the heart, he sees the secret places, he sees what goes on behind closed doors. He knows the very thing that would shame you most but he loves you so much. If you remain in your sins you will be judged and found wanting in the balance. An example of this is found in Daniel 5:27 where Belshazzar was judged according to the actions he took and was found wanting in the eyes of the LORD.

We all have the same choice in life, in fact the same choice that Adam and Eve had that we can choose to go with God’s plan for our lives or go against it. Where are you in that situation? If you were to die tonight would you die in your sins? Or have you truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so then go tell others about his salvation because NOW is the accepted time, now is God’s day of Salvation. (2nd Corinthians 6:2)

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Are you “Abel” to rule over your sin?

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Are you “Abel” to rule over your sin?

Not exactly Jerry Springer here guys…

Genesis 4:1 (ESV) Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This is by far one of the most taught, most well-known passages in the bible today. It is the scene of the 2nd generation of man and the scene also of the first murder. Adam the first man and Eve the first woman had already sinned against God and then began to fulfil God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 1:28)

So here we have a happy family with two sons, not exactly Jerry Springer material here is it? Adam and Eve have the fruit of their love and all is well, Abel and Cain were given two different jobs, one was a keeper of the sheep and one worked the ground. Both are good trades, neither are regarded higher than another from a biblical perspective. What separates these men is their hearts. 

Called to a battle, a heavenly war

You see we are called to a battle, some may say a heavenly war and as we attempt to do the will of God in our lives we will be attacked on a spiritual realm, I have found often times that myself and my home are attacked most when I am being used by God (I say being used by God as anything I do for God is from God and not from me as I have little merit on my own) for the will of him and doing what he commands and using the gifts he has bestowed.

Thy will be done before my will be done

That attack may come directly to me, my countenance may fall or it may come in the form of attacks on my house, my wife may come under tremendous spiritual attack, my daughter or even people I care about and I cling to the verse seven in this passage as it truly is true for me on a day to day basis. We are in a battle against the flesh, the easy route is the sin route, the selfish route, the “my will be done” route, the “serve me first” rather than “serve others first” but it is not just about the flesh, we battle one who desires to control the flesh. Let’s look at Paul’s epistle to the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Cain chose darkness over light, he chose to not give the best of the best and when he was called out by God, who really knows what is in our hearts he was mad at GOD! The LORD called him out in verse 6 asking him “why his face had fallen and why he was angry?” and gave the pearl of wisdom that sin was crouching at the door, that it desires over us. When we choose darkness over light with no repentance then it often spirals out of all control, let’s read on to see what happens to Cain and Abel…

Genesis 4:8 (ESV) Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

Remember, Cain was mad at GOD not his brother, he was jealous that his brother got glory from God, I believe that in some part even if Cain was “going through the motions” then I don’t think that he wanted to displease God, I just question that he was giving the “best of the best”. When God requires sacrifice from us, he requires us to be “all in” as my wife reminds me often. When we are “half in”, when we are lukewarm then we really are not asking for Gods blessings. I have no idea whether Abel teased Cain about getting the glory, there is no record of sibling rivalry but I have a brother, I want to measure up it is natural.

Cain slew his brother in vengeance and we are not told how, whether he used a farm tool, (I wonder if the gun control people should read this blog, it was a heart issue rather than a weapons issue) a rock or whatever method he used but his heart had degenerated to such a place that he wanted to make someone pay, God was untouchable so he took it out on Abel. One thing is true and we read it in Jeremiah 17…

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

So the next time someone says “follow your heart” what will you say?

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Much like his conversation with Adam and Eve when the original sin happened God asked a question to enable Cain to tell the truth, Cain chose to lie to God and claim he did not know where Abel was. As shocking as that sounds, how often do you lie to God in your prayers? Do you talk yourself up instead of falling on your face and begging for his leniency?

Cain was just like Adam and Eve, they tried to hide their shame with fig leaves and Cain tried to hide his shame with untrue statements, God called him out on it and Cain was guilty of his brother’s blood. He allowed sin to brew like a craft beer, the sin began with a thought, the thought was meditated on, it was allowed to permeate and poison the heart and then he acted upon it…

In layman’s terms – He got mad – He got jealous – He hated in his heart – Despite counsel directly from God he acted on his sinful nature and slew his brother.

It happens today

I see this often times in the church too, brothers go all “Cain-like” if they think someone gets more kudos than others, they hate in their heart if they believe they were passed over for a ministry and I have never seen behavior like I have seen in the church in the real world and it hurts more because we expect more from our brothers and sisters in the LORD. However, the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for the saints. Romans 3:23 tells us “we have all fallen short of God’s glory due to sin”. But it is important that we rule over that sin and rule over it quickly.

What do you struggle with? Do you hate your brother? Do you not love your wife as Christ loved the church? Are you “going through the motions with God? Do you dislike your brothers in Christ because they were blessed in ways you weren’t? Is jealousy running rampant in your life? Do you succumb to your sin? Do you live your life in sin?

There is hope, call on the name of Jesus, repent and seek his forgiveness. Tell your brothers and sisters in the LORD and pray for one another, grow daily in the LORD and be blessed. I pray this was a challenge and I pray that should you have comments then please comment below and I pray you are blessed today.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 23rd 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August twenty third.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Lamentations 3-5 .

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 22nd 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August twenty second.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Lamentations 1 – 2 .

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
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TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 21st 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August twenty first.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Jeremiah 51-52.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 20th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August twenty.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Jeremiah 50.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 19th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August nineteenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Jeremiah 49.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 18th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August eighteenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Jeremiah 47-48.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 17th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August seventeenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Jeremiah 44-46.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE