Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Malachi

John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12 – 03/02/2016

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

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.

Let’s start our bible study in verse three of chapter three.

V3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

In the last article we dealt with an introduction of John the Baptist and who he was and now John introduces himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and in the previous few paragraphs we get an idea of who John was genealogically and Matthew draws this comparison (also made in John 1:23) and John was clear in his mission. His mission was that as a prophet, to warn and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. To create an understanding of their sin as a forerunner to Jesus, John knew his role as the warm up man and not the main event.

The idea of make his ways straight comes from what would be done for a visiting monarch or visiting royalty that the route that would be travelled would be prepared and be mended to make sure that the visit and journey was as smooth as possible. The hearts of the people were like the wilderness that John was preaching in, they had to be prepared and smoothed out and I have seen it with my own life and own eyes that often times the one who prepares the hearts and sows seeds is not the one who harvests.

V4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John had a rather odd attire, personality and diet; (he literally lived off what God provided in the wilderness – locusts and wild honey) he dressed and spoke like an Old Testament prophet He took his fashion sense straight from the books of Isaiah, here is Old Testament confirmation of this…

2nd Kings 1:8 (ESV) They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

He was prophesied as coming prior to being born by Malachi…

Malachi 4:1 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Now you understand why great care is told to tell the story of his birth! John knew who he was, what was promised and why he was on the mission he was on. If we had the attitude that John had of Jesus first – I second and just think for one second how more effective our ministries would be for the Lord. Often times we struggle because we feel entitled to some kudos in the role of the ministry. The more I do ministry and the more articles I prepare and the more lessons I teach I realize that it is not about me but the one I am following.

The last part talks about the fruit of John’s ministry, John was blessed by God and was given fruit in his ministry as evidence of his obedience. People were realizing that the words he were speaking were from God, they were convicted in their hearts and were confessing their sins and more importantly they were willing to put that conviction into action and actually make a life change. John convicted these people of their sins and they responded by the outward sign of faith in baptism, and this became so famous that it reached the ears of the ones who were the religious establishment. Let’s see how John deals with the religious establishment…

V7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Talk about putting a target on your back! John takes on the ones who are perceived as being the “holy ones” with a righteous anger that came straight from heaven. As much as they were different groups in that the Pharisees and Sadducees and had huge theological differences, they came together to see who this new guy was who was convicting them of their sins. The Pharisees believed in the Law and the righteousness that gave you a local and moral spirituality and be seen as being closer to God by doing so. The Sadducees were more worldly and normally the Pharisees would not be teaming up with them but this new threat to the status quo had to be looked at, perhaps they were seeing if they could align this popular prophet to their tribe or cause?

John responds as they arrive calling them snakes, he mocked their genealogical arguments that they were righteous because of a lineage of birth as opposed to personal repentance or sacrifice. Even if they had come to be baptized to look as if they were prepared for the coming messiah we see that John concluded that like everything else they did that it was to put on a religious show and reminded all who were there that the important. John wanted to see that they had repentance on their hearts as well as their lips.

He reminded them of the wrath to come and who it was from. God was about to send his son to preach words direct from the Father and that this Messiah would come and shine the light of God into their lives and tell them of some really uncomfortable truths. They will not survive that wrath and the only way to sustain is to flee from it. He lastly uses the analogy of an axman, getting ready to chop out the unrepentant branches of that olive tree and graft in those who would repent (see Romans 11 for the culmination of that picture) John then advises why he was baptizing…

V11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And John again states that he is not the main attraction and when you are in ministry it is very easy to be lifted up and people to hold you higher than you should be held up. John remembers his place and states that he is not worthy to perform the tasks of the lowest servant in a house. What a heart to have and it certainly challenges me about my heart when I take on tasks that I have been allowed to do for the Lord, he culminates that and shows his heart in his words in John 3:30 when he says that “He must increase and I must decrease” and we have to remember that in ministries where you are giving a public recognition, that it should not be about you but the Messiah you serve! John brought them to a place of repentance but he was not the one who would save them.

John finishes by telling those in attendance about the judgment that is coming and to be prepared for the Messiah and his coming because he was going to come in judgment. John brought the water baptism but the messiah and only the messiah was the only one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, if you have been following along in our series “the ACTS files” then you would see the fulfilment of that prophecy that was first stated in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:14)

He speaks of the wheat and the chaff, the wheat would be the harvest that is useable by the Lord and pure and he will purify those who were pure, not by their own efforts but by the grace of God and the repentance of their hearts and the chaff are the ones who choose to live in their wickedness and never repent. Chaff is the unusable, inedible residue that the agricultural people used to separate from the good stuff using a form and allow nature to blow it away from the stuff that was kept as good. A question to ask yourself is are you wheat or chaff?

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

BIAY – Bible in a year – October 1st 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 October check out our October page.

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

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Malachi 1-4.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

Thank you for reading our tenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Thank you for reading this article today; this is part of an advent series where we examine prophetic claims that Jesus Christ was the messiah. Today we look at a claim that is not actually about Jesus himself but that he would be preceded by a forerunner. Let us look at the prophecy in the book of Malachi…

Malachi 4:5 (ESV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

It is no mistake or error that the closing words of the Old Testament proclaim that one will be sent to redeem Israel and you will know that it is him because he has a forerunner. (In comparison the New Testament finishes by speaking of the grace of Christ Jesus.)

This prophecy has two fulfillments, the first of which was fulfilled in the book of Matthew chapter eleven, Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 1. This fulfillment was in the body of the person we know in history as John the Baptist.

No one greater than John the Baptist

Let’s look at the text in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus was the one saying these words. He advised that “no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” he said these words because although Jesus was born of a woman, he was not conceived in the natural sense. (We will see what happened here in Luke 1 later in the article)

Jesus gives confirmation that he is Elijah to come (v14) this is an answer in a way to the question that was posed to John the Baptist at the beginning of the chapter when his disciples asked “are you the one?”

John was great in the eyes of the LORD but to give him his place in the kingdom of heaven, the least were greater than he. In verse 13 we get a vital piece of information into who Jesus is. Up until that point, all the prophets had stated “The messiah is coming” but John could say “The messiah is here”. Does this tell you who the messiah is? it is of course Jesus Christ.

Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must suffer?

Let’s look at the gospel of Mark

Mark 9:11 (ESV) And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Peter James and John had just had the mountain top experience to beat all mountain top experiences. They got a face to face audience with Jesus in all of his glory, with Elijah and Moses. God spoke to them, told them who Jesus was and that he was well pleased in his son’s mission.

Now they have questions, they know they are talking to the messiah and they quote the earlier verse in Malachi so they asked “where is Elijah?” So Jesus answers in the same way this article did, he advises of the two comings, that Elijah does come first to restore all things (prior to the second coming) that the Son of Man must suffer, which he was heading to do so on the cross at Calvary and concludes by stating that Elijah had come as John the Baptist, and he was killed by Herod. John came and ministered in the spirit of Elijah.

Who was John the Baptist?

Let’s look at the back story of John the Baptist in the book of Luke.

Luke 1:8 (ESV) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

We meet Johns father and mother, Elizabeth was barren and God was about to bless them in a way far beyond anything they would have prayed for. John’s father was of the correct lineage and served in the priesthood and we read that he was a faithful man. We read that because of the amount of priests it was done by division and by lot and it fell to him to be given the task to burn incense unto the LORD.

Can you imagine what a day this was for him, he had been waiting so long to serve in this way. Dependent on the amount of worthy priests, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I know that when I get to serve in certain ways for the LORD I do get pumped about it, I enjoy conveying God’s word and I always look forward to sharing. I am inspired when I read of this man’s life and see how faithful he was.

You can wonder about a lot of things in this situation, you wonder if he had been asking other priests what it was like back there, wondered if the LORD had a word for him in his life, wondered if he was worthy enough, you can imagine all sorts of things.

To offer the incense was seen as the most privileged position, he would be in the face of God whilst everyone else gathered and prayed from before dawn. He was in there alone in front but on the other side of the holy of holies (I mean that he hadn’t entered this) He was in the inner sanctum of the temple, about as close as a man would get to the altar.

Whilst the nation was in prayer (Could we learn something from this?) An Angel of the LORD came and spoke to him. We know he would have been praying for the nation, for himself, for a coming Messiah, to rid the land of the Romans, who knows? What we do know is that in his heart was the yearning to be a father. We read that “your prayer had been heard” and then he proceeded to advise that he would be a father and his son would be called John.

I love that the Bible is so honest, if I was face to face with an angel in that situation I think I would be scared also, something tells me he was freaking out. I am learning from this that despite how “veteran” we think our Christianity is, we can sometimes be surprised when God shows up. We shouldn’t be, but sometimes we are.

Here is a list of what he was told:

1) He would father a son called John
2) He will be great before the LORD
3) He would not drink wine or strong drink
4) He would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
5) He would turn many back to the LORD
6) He would have the spirit and power of Elijah
7) He would prepare the way of the LORD

Future prophetic meaning

We have to realize that it is one messiah and he will come twice, once to be the “suffering servant and the second time when he comes back to judge the world. It is truly one messiah and two comings. Let’s look at the book of Revelation chapter eleven.

Revelation 11:1 (ESV) Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

Elijah will return as part of the “two witnesses” who will prophesy for 1260 days prior to the second coming of the messiah. This is some feat as the world will at that point be so anti-God and the witnesses will be attacked, mocked and ridiculed. This will be why they are given tools to defend themselves. They will have power and protection from God until that time is elapsed.

Once that time is elapsed, there will be no time wasted in killing them; this will bring great rejoicing amongst those who are following the beast. They will not be buried, they will lay there for 3 and a half days and then God will raise them up. Can you imagine the stir that would cause?

This has been a long article and I apologize for the length, however it was on my heart that I needed to cover this in this way, my hope is that you find something in this article that strengthens your faith, renews your faith or sparks an interest in investigating whether Christ was indeed the messiah. Should you have any questions then please contact me or comment below.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Ten Commandments through the eyes of the Epistles

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Your mission field should you choose to accept it

Ten Commandments through the eyes of the Epistles

In a previous article I spoke of Agape love and gave a brief definition of what it was, when beginning this study I decided to take a short look at something Christ said. This question occurred when the Pharisees (The teachers of the Law, the ones who should know better) were questioning him about what the greatest commandment was.

Jesus answers in the gospel of Matthew 22:35-40 when he says:

 

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

I find this wonderful and what a teacher our LORD was, broke down the 10 Commandments in one sentence! (If you wish to read the 10 Commandments they are in Exodus 20:2-17)

10 Commandments in a paragraph

I am no way as good a teacher as our LORD so I will try to do this in a paragraph. (I also studied this a lot as I wanted to write a book on the subject) The first 4 Commandments refer to your relationship with God. (Verses 3-11) The last 6 refer to your relationship with others. (Verses 12-17)

You can’t love people the way God wants you to until you first love God.

How so you treat your neighbour?

Lets have a reality check here folks, I was in a meeting recently with a local Pastor and we were discussing an issue that was divisive in the church at large and I eventually said to him “we all have to own how we treat each other!” (This was 2014 and it was concerning two Christian brothers at opposite ends of Christendom as far as how they reach people for Christ)

Jesus himself advised this self same point in the Gospel of Luke 10:29-37, so many of us become a “Diotrephes” and become puffed up and start to think we are the main show when we are simply the tolls used by the master craftsman.

The thing that strikes me today about that parable is it is the ones who have been overlooked for the “show ministries” that are making the difference to the guys who are in the ditches, Praise God for those with a Samaritans heart that just get on with it and have the heart to do it for Gods glory and not for the praises of men.

Those folks to me are showing the real Christ, those guys who show Jesus’ love and not judgement to the guy in bondage to drugs, to alcohol or whatever their vice is. That to me is true agape love.

Verses that show the value of keeping the last 6 Commandments

Lastly, we have further reading in the Scriptures that show the principles of the Ten Commandments in other parts of the Bible. They are below:

Respect authority – Ephesians 6:1-3; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Protect Life – Deuteronomy 19:11-12; 1 John 3:15

Protect Marriage – 1 Corinthians 6:13-18; James 4:1-4

Respect Property – Exodus 22:1-15; Malachi 3:8-10

Honour Truth – Zechariah 8:16-17; Ephesians 4:29-32

Reject Greed – Psalm 106:13-15; 1 Timothy 6:9-10

Love is showing them Jesus

In conclusion, I want to share that it is great to love people on this earth and attend to their day to day needs, but if we really wish to love them we also have to show them Jesus.

To do the first would be like performing the role of a triage nurse in an ER room to a gunshot wound victim. Whilst your role is important, if they don’t have surgery they will not survive. We have to book the person we are agape-ing (is that a word?) in For a “Salvation-ectomy)

Step 1 – Bear them in love

We read in the book of Ephesians the following words:

Ephesians 4:2 (ESV) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

That is what we were talking about before, this applies to our relationship with believers and non-believers, if you clean a man up when he is at his lowest, he will listen to you when you try to show him a better way.

Step 2 – preaching is not just words

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

You notice the word that is in both verses “patience” I love this because when I was in sin, I loved it! I was Mr. I can drink more than you, I can eat more than you, I can party more than you.

The person you are “agape-ing” may still be there, they may have one foot in both camps, they may still be in sin, you have to teach them honestly sound doctrine and show them the reason you are there and why you love.

Step 3 – Have compassion but save by fear

This point is summed up beautifully in the Epistle of Jude:

Jude 1:20 (ESV) But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Some will believe when they hear of Jesus love, some will believe because they do not wish to spend eternity in the lake of fire! (Revelation 20:11-15)

Hell is real folks! Lets not forget, as Christians our MO is to keep as many folks out of there as possible. We are to be missionaries to where God has planted us, and to do what he has called in our lives.

I pray this was challenging and an exhortation to you! God bless you and TGBTG
TTE