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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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 twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. 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

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12 – 02/17/2016

Matthew 3:1 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 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 one of chapter three.

V1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew now moves on from his narrative away from the childhood of Jesus and leaves that account with Jesus growing up in Nazareth in the last article in this series (link here) and begins looking at the child who was promised of Zechariah and Elizabeth called “John the Baptist” so let’s look at who he was. We are introduced to the foretelling of the baby John in the gospel of Luke…

Luke 1: 5 (ESV) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 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.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

So we understand this baby will come and grow into a man who will have the “Spirit of Elijah” Luke carries on in the first chapter of Luke when he accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and a prophecy by his father…

Luke 1:57 (ESV) Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Luke 1:67 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

And here is where we carry on the story in Matthews Gospel and John’s message was not one of hearts and flowers and if modern day folks who examine preachers and assess whether their message would be very “seeker friendly” would find John wanting. John had a simple message because he knew his role in ushering in the Messiah. It was his job to call whoever would listen to repentance, but not repentance for the sake of John, he was requesting a true repentance of the heart and a turning back to God for all people.

His message was so in unison with his messiahs mission that his first words were the same as Jesus, both started their missions calling the ones who had gathered to listen to “repent” and that gives an indication of how far the world had sunk away from God’s plan. That message is still relevant today because we need to lose ourselves and seek the Lord while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near.

John states this by saying “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and that is just as true today than it was then, Jesus is coming again soon and the anticipation of that second coming of the Messiah should excite us to continue our kingdom work down here. John’s main message was not the repent, but he reason for the repentance.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will look at part two of the introduction to John the Baptist where we pick up in verse three and see what John actually preaches and the heart behind that, I would hate for you to miss it and the riches that will be revealed in that bible study. 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

No excuses, because every one of you judges

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No excuses, because every one of you judges

Romans 2:1 (ESV) Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

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. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

We read in chapter one the sinfulness of the heart and how far man had gone to get away from the righteousness of God. This is somewhat expected by those who are novices or do not know what Gods word states, however, as we revealed in our last devotional at the end of the 1st chapter, these folks actually knew better.

Romans 2 starts the same way with the same thought pattern and states that the one in iniquity is one who “judges”, they are one who sits in a seat of authority. In this time, much like today we had two types of people who judged

1) The religious judges
2) The worldly/Roman judges

In both cases, they saw themselves as the authority, the religious judges used the 613 laws to justify their position, the Roman or worldly judges used the law of man to justify his position. By both standards they could pull themselves up and declare themselves “righteous” and “fit to judge”. Neither were looking to God as the absolute authority and using man made positions (even positions of faith) and both would have placed themselves above the “immoral people”.

I think it is awesome that Paul wrote this having come from the zealous, law worshipping, Christian persecuting, and Pharisee background that he did. He saw the massive difference between “empty religion” or a “law keeping relationship with God” and the freedom that exists within the Christian life.

Paul isn’t just looking to expose the wrongdoing, he wants them to change their ways. He uses the very thing the hold the dearest, their moral superiority and compares it to the absolute, the law of God and shows how far they fall short of the perfect standard and the only way it can be achieved through the messiah.

Does anyone face that objection today? From “Moral Non-Christians” stating that they are good?

Both are hypocrites

You see, keeping folks in check in love (discipleship) is okay in God’s eyes as you are doing it for the benefit of the recipient. The advice is non-judgmental and done under the assumption that even if the person who is discipling has a struggle, it is a struggle that is not done in a hypocritical nature.

These folks were judging, but practicing the self-same things behind closed doors. Jesus called these type of people “whitewashed tombs” who look great and holy on the outside but reek of death internally where it really matters. Paul is speaking to the ones who know better when he speaks in verses 2-5. 

The “heart” of the matter

 …Is of course the heart, their hearts were hard, they had the knowledge, they should have had the wisdom, they know God was long suffering and slow to anger and quick to love. But Paul tells them they are storing up their own judgment and they need to repent.

The Christian is no better than the sinner! They have just realized that God has been better to them than they deserve, that God sent a solution to the problem that man created. That despite the mockery, the ignorance and all that man can throw at God; God is perfectly willing and able to forgive. God has come 99% of the way, we just have to complete that 1% and accept the free gift that is freely available from a loving father God.

This is what sets the Christian apart, our willingness to serve God out of gratitude that he was so gracious to us. We still mess up, still sin, but we humble ourselves and repent.

If you seek a relationship with Jesus, then please contact a local bible believing church, if you need help I would love to help so please contact me on the details on my contact page.

God bless you one and all, I hope this has been a blessing and I pray that you like, share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Filled with all manner of unrighteousness

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Filled with all manner of unrighteousness

Romans 1:28 (ESV) And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

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.

This is a very sad bunch of verses for me, in previous verses and articles, we see the slide into sin, the gradual moving away from God and despite God wishing to have communion with them, they reject God for a new worship, a self-worship that puts a new way of living, instead of “thy will be done” it becomes “my will be done”. They are in many sins, when I listen to or read about these verses they focus on the sexual sin, but the real issue is the heart of the one who is wandering further away from God, the sins that are listed are simply symptoms of the root cause, the carnality of the heart.

Paul now completes this thought by wrapping it up by stating this by writing “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” God is a just God, but will not be mocked, I have learned so much about the will of God and how fatherhood works from being a father myself. If it was up to be I would wrap my kid up in cotton wool and never allow her in danger, however the world is out there, she will scrape her knee at times, she will get dirty in the yard, she will scatter her toys and not know to pick them up without being told. If we go with our own wicked heart desires, we will act like that; we will mess up and not be able to clean up.

I thought God was a God of love…

In the beginning of the Bible, we read about how sin entered the world by man’s disobedience and man choosing his own way against what was Gods perfect plan. Imagine it, no sin, no decay, everything was perfect but we blew it. Since then man has been at odds with God and has had to battle against his flesh to live a holy life. Here is how sin grabs a hold of you and destroys from within.

Sinful thought comes into your mind – Your mind dwells on it – it becomes a desire or consuming passion – Thoughts turn into actions and you act upon it.

A few years ago I was blessed to hear a message by Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, he described in that area at that time there were some wildfires and how he started his day by duct taping trash bags over his external air conditioning units, he was informed by a firefighter to do so because of the following. Embers can travel a certain distance, dependent on how the wind is blowing, embers can get into the air conditioning units, land on insulation designed to protect the home, have enough air and combustible material to start a fire and destroy a home from the inside, he likened that to the way a sinful mind destroys us from the inside out.

Now there are ways to combat this, you can stop it at any point by faith. We all have the opportunity to have a debased mind, but we can also pray against it, we can remove ourselves from that temptation. My hot temptation spot is alcohol, so I avoid places where I am going to stumble, I avoid going into bars, as much as I can I avoid parties where people will be drinking heavily, because I know that if I allow myself and give into my flesh, I would stumble and sin.

God is a God of love, sometimes it is just as loving to allow you to have your way and learn from the experience. You see, God cannot win in the human psyche in this one, if he stops us from sinning, he is a tyrannical dictator God and if he allows us to have free will to choose him or choose our own way he is accused of not loving us. We are twisted in that regard that we will blame God regardless of how he allows us to act.

The word “debased” is also the same word that is used for “unapproved” and “substandard” in those times, that word was used for counterfeit currency or something that was not what it was reputed to be, or reaching the standard that was the standard expected of it.

How were they unrighteous?

Verses 29-32 gives us a list in great detail of what the “unapproved” or “substandard” behaviours displayed by the people of that day. (Remember we gave a list of how sin creeps in) Talk about taking the Ten Commandments as a bingo board and crossing off the ones, one at a time they were doing? That may sound unfair on a first glance, but Paul says before and also re-iterates in the last verse that “they know God’s righteous decree” so it was not that they were ignorant of Gods plan for their lives, it is that they chose to be in open rebellion of it.

If you want to “change the world” then showing them the messiah is the beginning, the world is in the state that it is in because it has abandoned the truth of God for a lie of self-promotion and rebellion. Imagine a world where we were serving one another like the church in Acts? Wow that would be awesome!

We read that “The wages of sin is death” in the 6th chapter of Romans in the 23rd verse, so these people were choosing to ignore the second part of that verse “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Let us not kid ourselves, we are all in this world together and one act of sin can destroy 30 years of just service to the LORD. For the believers who read this we need to keep ourselves pure and for the non-believers you have to repent, you have a Saviour who wants you to have solace and escape from the aforementioned “Wrath of God”.

God is a just God who will punish according to our sins, however there is a way of avoiding such judgment is to believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31) This is the first step to a lifelong relationship with the Messiah who came to seek and to save that which was lost. My prayer is that you find my Jesus and start a relationship with him. Should you need help, please contact me on my contact page.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, please share, comment or like as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE