Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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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
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What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8

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What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8 – 01/24/2016

Romans 3:1 (ESV) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

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. Let’s start in verse 1 of chapter 3…

V1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?

Paul asks a series of questions starting with this one and the thought follows from the previous article where we finished chapter two, “here” is the article. Paul debates in that article whether possession of the law would save a Jewish person still in their sins and starts with this question. Paul answers this in verse 2…

V2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Paul extols the rich history of the Jewish relationship with God, they were given the “oracles of God” his word before the mission of Jesus Christ, they were his chosen people and were meant to be the ones that showed the gentiles the way to communion with God. God made covenants with them, he gave them his supreme law and Paul goes on to talk about the blessings and curses the Jewish people received based on their faithfulness to him…

V3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

Paul makes provision for the fact that not everyone in the Jewish faith would always be faithful, God is God and God is perfect. An example of this would be when he covenanted with Abraham that he was the one who took the covenant and walked where Abraham could not have. God will continue to be faithful regardless of our personal faithfulness and as a Christian who has been grafted into the family of God and not one of the natural branches I find that incredibly encouraging.

God when he loves us or works in us is not doing a futile work, yes he knows who will accept him and who will not and this is something that we can carry on today in our evangelism efforts we know that there will be those who will reject the promises and faithfulness of God and will go on believing a lie. The gospel will not fail because not everyone will receive it, Our place in the battle (the battle of course belongs to the LORD) is to be ready and willing to be in the place that God places us and ready to be used as a tool in his arsenal.

GOD IS FAITHFUL – Basic John 3:16 stuff here, God does love the world and that was the reason for Jesus sacrifice and regardless of your past you can still have a future and a use in the service of God. As much as I look good on here in the words I type, I wish I was as faithful to the service of God as I want to be. I fail and mess up as much as anyone who is reading this. (And possibly much more)

V4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

And that is the flip side of what we are talking about, for as unfaithful and untruthful and messed up by what we have experienced in this world, God is the reverse, in as much as we are liars God is truth and the simple fact that we are so unrighteous goes to show what a righteous God we serve. We cannot attain the heights of God or even hold a candle to his holiness but God will justify us and that is a brief look at the grace of God.

We cannot earn this or attain it, Jesus scoffed at the very notion of this stating that our “righteousness would have to exceed those of the scribes and Pharisees” meaning that we would have to keep as many standards as they did but do it with the right heart realizing that we are saved by grace as well as works, works should be the fruit of our salvation but completing a checklist will not save us.

V5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

And Paul goes on to make the point that I was touching on the last paragraph that our unrighteousness shows the righteousness of God, he then goes on to ask if God is unrighteous to inflict wrath upon us? We have to look at it from angles that have been wrongly justified in the past for this passage of scripture

• My sin gives God a job to do – to judge me! – This is incorrect as God does not desire that we sin, he desires obedience more than sacrifice (Read the book of Hosea if you need further clarification on that one!)
• My sin gives him glory, so I should go on sinning in order to be forgiven – God is a loving father who wants the best for his kids and I know that as a father if my child at age six was still making baby mistakes then I would be concerned for her development. We understand this but yet this is how many of us live our Christian lives.
• God cannot conquer xxx sin that I have – How big is your God? Are you serving he same one I am that created all that we see here in six literal days? What is your sin to this Big God? How big is your belief?

Let us get one thing straight here – God is not unrighteous in his wrath, your wickedness is still your wickedness, you have to own that! By our own efforts we are separated from God, if we choose to remain on that path then God is righteous in giving you your “due reward” for your rebellion against him. We have the same choice that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden to follow Gods plan or not.

Tonight in my bible study we are looking at Genesis 27 and the account of Jacob and the fact that he deceived his father by lying and presenting himself as Esau in order to steal the birthright from his brother Esau. In this scenario Jacob could present himself by stating “I sinned to allow your prophecy to be fulfilled, why would I be judged on this?” but as stated above his sin is still his sin, just because God used it to his glory does not make it any less his sin or less culpable.

V6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

Paul uses the world as an example. Make no mistake about it, the world will be judged and Paul knew that a day of judgment was coming where God would judge the evil and restore the good. The Jews knew the difference between righteousness and evil, the difference between being on Gods side and not. Where they erred was they believed that because they were Jewish they would automatically be counted as righteous.

V7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

Paul states that through his lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, so if what Paul does, even if it is not truthful it increases the glory of God then would it be justified and okay in God’s sight? This may seem odd but Paul gives reason behind this thought process in verse eight…

V8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Paul’s teachings were misinterpreted and twisted to make it sound like he was trying to pervert the teachings of God. However Paul goes on to explain here (and in the next article God willing) that the purpose of sinning for the sake of sinning or living a life in sin in order to perversely glorify God is not just alien but downright the reverse of what God wants in your life. Paul did not teach this but it is what was reported and accredited that it was said that he was teaching these doctrines.

We have to be careful in our doctrine that we don’t preach “free grace” in that we can live the lives that we want because we know that in the end up God is going to forgive us. That to me at least is not living the Christian life; we are not seeking to be like Christ and looking to grow at a healthy rate in our day to day relationship with Jesus. Paul preached (and we have evidence in the written epistles) that God will forgive our sins and give us salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not a works based check the box Levitical law system.

Paul agrees with them that they would be right to condemn such teachings; we have grace that we will be forgiven but we have to look at the heart of our sin. When we sin with a sin that we keep falling into, be honest and ask yourself “why did I plan to do this?” because we have accepted salvation and the things of this world, although they be appealing is a toilet bowl compared to what we are promised by God. We cannot serve two masters because we will love one and hate the other. If we choose to live such a life in unrepentance mocks the God that you claim to love so much. Looking forward Paul goes to look at how righteous we are in verses nine through twenty, I pray that God willing we get the opportunity to look at this together.

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