Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let's Count to Three

Good morning!

I remember one of my mentors, now in Heaven with Jesus, who used to discipline her children thusly:  "I'm going to count to three.  One....two...."  And, if she got to "three", they had had it!  Well, that is not what I'm referring to in the title of this morning's meditation.

Let me warn you:  this is one for Bible Nerds.  This is not a quick morning meditation and then "on with the day".  This is one that you will want to ponder.  And, it is entirely borrowed.

As a child, I had a lot of trouble figuring out how Jesus could have been crucified on a Friday, risen on a Sunday and there have been 3 days in between these events.  Even as a child I could count to three.  Jesus said this:  (Matthew 12:40)

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Friday night....Saturday night.....1....2.....Sunday morning?
You may know that the Jewish calendar, the one which most certainly Jesus would have followed, stipulates "daytime" and "nighttime" differently than do we with our Gregorian, solar calendar.  (The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar.)  Even so, with a Friday crucifixion, you still can't get "three days and three nights" out of that.  So, if this has puzzled you too, I submit for your consideration the study done by Shari Abbott, as presented on her blog.


What amazes me about this study is how beautifully the final days of Jesus and His bearing our sins fits with the Jewish feasts of Unleavened Bread, Passover and First Fruits, all of which were celebrated during the days in question.

In a follow-up blog post, two more reasons for a Thursday crucifixion are presented:


Some of you will not even go to these sites and consider a Thursday crucifixion because you are convinced that a Sabbath can only be a Saturday  (See Mark 15:42).  So, let me give you a teaser regarding this position: Any "high, holy day" during a Jewish feast/convocation is referred to as a Sabbath.  (See John 19:31).  And, that is what is at play here.  The "high, holy day" Sabbath could fall on ANY day of the week.  In the case of Jesus' Passion Week, there was a "high, holy day" Sabbath on Friday (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and a weekly Sabbath the very next day, on Saturday.

Check it out at the links above.  Feel free to disagree.  I'm not trying to start an argument.  As the blog author says, search the Scriptures and come to your own conclusion.

Good morning, Father!  Thank you for the marvelous mysteries of Your Word, which instruct us in matters of living and following hard after You.  Thank you for this new day and the beauty of it. Draw us close to You and teach us Your ways, as we continue to meditate this week on Your Precious Son's amazing sacrifice for us.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Cautionary Lessons of Judas Iscariot

Good morning!

One of the more instructive events of Passion Week centered around the tormented mind and soul of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders during that time.

Based on what we read in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, Judas was a pretender.  He attached himself to the group of disciples (there is no record of Jesus directly calling him to "Follow Me") and eventually was numbered as one of The Twelve, that inner circle of disciple closest to Jesus.

In the four synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), several uncomplimentary descriptors are used to describe him:
John 12: 6    "thief"
Luke 6:16    "traitor"
John 6:70    "devil"
Luke 22:3    possessed by Satan
John 17:12  "son of destruction"

We have no direct testimony in Scripture as to the true motivations of Judas Iscariot.  However, based on what we are told by others, we can conclude that at the very least Judas' motives for hanging out with Jesus were selfish.  At the very least, he was avaricious, a lover of money more than a lover of God.  We read in John 12:1-6 the story of the woman anointing Jesus with precious, costly ointment, and Jesus' reply that she was anointing Him for His burial.  Judas' reaction to this selfless act by the woman was telling.  He wanted to know why a different gift was not given, why the woman did not simply contribute the price of the ointment to the group's treasury.  John plainly states that Judas would "help himself" to the group's funds.  His avarice again comes into play as He "sells out" Jesus to the chief priests of the Sanhedrin.

However, I believe that there was a deeper layer of darkness in Judas, to which we should give our attention.  His avarice was merely a symptom of a deeper problem, his self-centeredness.  Judas wanted Jesus to be whom Judas wanted Him to be, the liberator who would deliver the Jews from Roman rule.  And though this is not stated, I wonder if Judas, realizing Who Jesus was, turned Him over to the authorities in some misguided effort to "force His hand".  Judas had seen Jesus doing miracle after miracle.  He realized that Jesus certainly had the supernatural power to overthrow the Romans.  Yet, day after day, Jesus did not act like the conquering hero Judas so desired.  Jesus was not a Zealot, those outlaws who schemed and plotted (and often acted) to overthrow the Romans. Judas did not want to worship the Savior Who Was; he wanted to worship a god of his own making.

Surely Satan was in possession of Judas.  Judas was listening to Satan's lies.  No doubt Satan tried everything to put a stop to Jesus, even including using Judas to try to thwart God's eternal plan. Satan, however, is not omniscient, as is our Father God and our Savior, Jesus.  By using Judas, Satan was used by God to carry out the very plan he tried to stop.  Our God is amazing!

Did you know that there are Old Testament prophecies which foretell the choices made by Judas Iscariot?
One is Psalm 41:9 - - -
"Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me."
As Jesus sat at The Last Supper with his disciples Jesus speaks of this.  See Matthew 26:21-15, Mark 14:18-21 and John 13:18-26.

Two others are Jeremiah 32:6-10 and Zechariah 11:12-13, both of which Matthew alludes to in Matthew 27.  Matthew points out the parallels between Judas' "blood money" being used by the Jews to purchase a potter's field and how the price and use of the blood money fulfills these two Scriptures. Although Matthew alludes to what was spoken by Jeremiah, Zechariah came along later and wrote down more specifically what Jeremiah had spoken.

Another verse from the Psalms (109:8) condemns the evil man (and that certainly applies to Judas).   Luke, writing in Acts 1:17-20, attributes this verse to Judas.
"May his days be few; may another take his office."
After the suicide of Judas, the remaining 11 disciples elected another man, a faithful man, to take Judas' place among The Twelve.

So, why do I refer to Judas as a "cautionary tale"?  Jesus stated in Matthew 26:24-25 that "It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."  That should be enough right there, but it is important that we understand the foundational evil of Judas' actions.

Do you remember the time that Jesus called Peter "Satan"?  When Jesus said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!"  Look at Matthew 16:21-23.

 21From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

What Peter had done was to express a fervent desire to oppose the will of God.  Whether in shock or disbelief or horror or what, Peter was making himself a hindrance to Jesus and to the furtherance of God's plan.

We never do that, do we?  Whether consciously or not, set ourselves up in opposition to God and His plan?  Surely none of us has ever wanted something that was contrary to the plan of God!  Certainly none of us has ever barreled forward with our plans without first praying and seeking the will of God! I say this "tongue in cheek", Brothers and Sisters, admonishing myself most of all.

In all things, let's seek to follow the example of Christ.  A couple of days ago I wrote about His declaration from the Cross:  "It is finished!"  Look back at John 17:4 when He prayed,

 "I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do."

I love John 17, Jesus' prayer for His followers, including us!  Do you realize that, as He prayed this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, after He had sweated drops of blood in agony, He already had "prayed through" what He was going to do.  He already had affirmed in His heart what He was going to do. This is why He prayed for the Father to glorify Him with the very splendor He possessed with Father before this world began!  He saw Himself as having "finished" this work.  Between Him and Father, the "deal was sealed" then and there, because this was God's plan when the foundations of earth were laid.  There was nothing splendorous about Jesus's scourging, crucifixion, death and burial!  Jesus was seeing past all of that to the glory that would be His once again, on the other side.

Regardless of our own visions of what should be, let's "hunker down" and resolve to glorify God and our Savior by embracing His plan and by completing, down to the last detail, what He assigns us to do.  Let's resist the temptation to set ourselves up in opposition to God and insist upon our own way.  Such is the path to ruin and destruction.  Let's walk in a higher way...resplendent!

Father, please forgive me when I either intentionally or unintentionally betray You and Your kingdom through my attitudes, words and actions.  I know that the secret to glorifying You is to draw near to You through prayer and through study of Your Word, so that my heart is brought into closer alignment with Yours.  May it be so, Lord!  In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Good morning!

Today is Palm Sunday.  I've got to be at church at 7:45, to prepare my part in this morning's worship services.  This morning's verse for your meditation is Revelation 1:5-6.

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood-- and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

Lord Jesus, I give you all the glory today.  Thank you for the truths revealed in this verse.  That you would faithfully live your human life as a witness to the Truth, revealing to us God the Father, that You are "the firstborn of the dead...we honor You and praise You for your finished work for us, as we worship today.  Thank you for Your blood, which can make the worst sinner righteous.  I am humbled to be a priestess in Your kingdom, both now and forever.  My eyes will one day see You, face to face.  Prepare me to serve You in greater ways.  Teach me to love You more.  To You be all honor and glory and praise, Holy Lamb of God.  Jesus, Your Name is above every Name!  It is in that wonderful name that I offer this morning prayer.  Amen.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Finished (Τετέλεσται,)

Good morning!

Isn't it a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you finish a big job?  Usually, there is a pay-off of some kind, whether financial or emotional or both.  Sometimes there is a celebration!

The text for this morning is John 19:28-30, with a look at parallel texts Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46.  Here they are, in succession:

A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

(Aren't you glad we have four gospel accounts?  One person could never supply all the rich detail from the amazing life and work of Jesus.  When I read the parallel texts of the four gospels, it is like a conversation, where one gospel writer contributes this detail and another more detail and so on. God's marvelous revelation through His Word, the Bible!)

Jesus knew exactly what He needed to accomplish in order to fulfill His Father's plan to redeem mankind from their sin.  The last, unfulfilled Old Testament Scripture surrounding HIs death was Psalm 69:21 - - -

They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Therefore, He expressed His thirst to the Roman soldiers overseeing His crucifixion.  They gave Him a bitter concoction, one as bitter as gall, a drink of vinegar from a sponge.  The more common practice was to give the dying criminal a drink of wine, to ease his death on the cross.  This was not done for Jesus.  There was no ease given, no solace.  The soldiers were in a hurry to hasten the deaths of all three men there being crucified, since dusk was hastening on - - and the beginning of Passover. At the time Jesus was dying, the High Priest in the Temple was making the most holy sacrifice of Passover on the altar there... Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:21 and then, bowing His head in submission to Father, He gave His spirit up to Father, crying "Tetelestai!" - - - "It is accomplished!"  or "It is finished!"

So, we see that the words Jesus spoke from the cross were very intentional.  We'll look at more of them over this next few days.  WHAT was "finished"?  Why was this the last thing He said before He gave up His spirit?

The entire plan of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit - - - the Trinity - - - was to make a "forever sacrifice" to pay for the sins of all mankind.  As Caiaphas was sacrificing the Passover lamb in the Temple, Jesus was bearing the sins of you and me and every other person alive then and through today.  Jesus' death was not a mistake, a wrong turn in God's plan.  This WAS THE plan!   Beginning with the scourging, humanity's tremendous sin burden began to be laid on Jesus.  He bore our sins in His body, on the tree.  (Isaiah 53:6)  "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all."  In the Garden, recorded in John 17, He prayed that His Father's will would be done.  With His triumphant cry from the cross, He declared that it was done.

With Jesus' sacrifice of Himself, there is no need for any further blood/animal sacrifice to be made for sin.  Jesus fulfilled the role of both priest and sacrifice as He hung on the cross.  His blood is sufficient to appease a Holy Father and to cover all sins.  This sacrifice was made once, and it was utterly comprehensive....for all people, for all time.  Hallelujah!  Hebrews 9:12-14 - - -

And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For, if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Jesus did not exclaim, "I am finished!"  Oh no, He would never have said that, because He was not finished, nor will He ever be.  His spirit was in the spirit realm for the three days that His body was physically dead, in the borrowed tomb.  On the third day, His body and spirit were reunited through the resurrection power of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And, He is alive today, in Heaven with Father, even as the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of mankind here on earth.

The earthly ministry of Jesus was the keystone to God's plan of revealing Himself to man.  With Christ's death, burial and resurrection, the door to salvation, to restoration, to fellowship(!) with the Lord of Angel Armies, the Lord of Hosts, is open to any person who will believe, receive, walk through that open door.

But, while God's redemptive plan was finished at the cross of Calvary, there is another chapter in God's plan.  It is yet to come.  This chapter will reveal the other aspects of Messiah, Jesus Christ, when He returns to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning His kingship.  Upon His return, we will not see "the suffering servant" role, but rather, the conquering King, as He comes to establish His authority and to immediately conquer, rule and reign on earth for 1000 years.

My old BJU school-mate, Ron Hamilton, wrote this song about the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  I hope the lyrics bless you today.

Long ago I saw my Saviour
Bearing shame upon a tree;
Then my heart was touched with sorrow,
For I saw He bled for me.

"It is finished," loud He cried;
O what love— for me He died.
In my stead He bled on Calvary;
Once for all Christ rescued me.

Lo, the sky was veiled in darkness;
Sudden trembling shook the ground
As the angry crowd was jeering,
Mocking Jesus all around.

Then my Saviour called to heaven
As I saw His love anew,
"O my Father, please forgive them,
For they know not what they do."

Free salvation now he offers;
Take His gift, O hear His plea;
On the bloody cross behold Him,
Join His shout of victory.

Father, thank you for the finished work of Your Son, my Savior.  Thank you that His blood has the power to cleanse even the vilest sinner - - - even me.  I have been "washed" in His blood, and am forever clean in Your sight.  I pray that those reading this are as well or, if not, will accept my Savior's offer of free salvation, today.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, March 27, 2015

God With Us

Good morning!

On the news this morning there was coverage of some tornadoes that devastated parts of Oklahoma Wednesday night.  The news anchor was interviewing a 14-year old boy who took a picture of the upper part of a telephone pole, which had been broken and flung through the air, coming to rest suspended by several electrical lines.
I have been "in" a tornado.  It was one of the most frightening things I've ever lived through. When the picture was made, this boy and his family were driving around to check on friends and loved ones, to see if they were unharmed.
The caption he tweeted along with his photo was "God was with us."

And you shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14

That verse is often quoted at Christmas time, to celebrate that fact that Jesus' birth as a human marked the beginning of a time when He was "with us" bodily/physically for about 33 years.  The culmination of His time "with us" then was to accomplish the work He was sent to do.  He was sent to reveal to us Father and to reconcile us to Him: to satisfy Father's holiness by paying for our sin.

Immanuel, God with us, so that God could live in us, be with us, eternally.

This morning's main text is John 19:17-42 in which the apostle records his personal experiences during the 24 hours of Jesus' earthly life before the crucifixion. This is not a text I eagerly blog about. What Father put His Son through, put Himself through, for my sake was horrific.

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:
20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Therefore the soldiers did these things.
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary thewife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave himpermission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

Why this was necessary to appease my holy Father, I cannot fully understand.  Why He would want us ... want to redeem us, is beyond my comprehension.  Still, I cannot turn away from such love, from such sacrifice.  I cannot walk away from that gospel picture of selfless suffering, unchanged. Such a great love compels me.  It compelled me to choose Him, some 45 years ago; and, it compels me to worship and follow Him through the twists and turns of this mortal life.  God with us.

Father knew, has eternally known, that we, His creation, made in His image, are made of dust.  He knew that we would reject Him, long before our creation.  His plan to reconcile us to Himself was in place before Adam was formed from the dirt of Eden's ground.

He was with us in Eden.  And, His heart was broken there.
He was with the patriarchs and prophets and warriors and kings of the Old Testament.  And, His heart was broken over and over as His message of reconciliation continued to be rejected.
He sent His Son, because He had always known that No One else "would do", to bring us --- the wandering, the rebellious, the defiant, the crazed, the beaten, the ruined, the fallen - - - back to Him.
And, His heart was broken there, on Golgotha.
God with us.

Even as Jesus hung on that timber, the one He carried up Golgotha to the summit, He never cursed us or even uttered an unloving word.  He steadfastly, resolutely fulfilled Old Testament scriptures, one after another, finishing the work ordained by His Father, while with His Father before this world began.

The most dramatic picture of the redemption, the restoration, the welcoming, is seen in the Temple, as the veil (separating the most holy place in the Temple from the next outer room) is suddenly, violently ripped in two from the top to the bottom.  (Matthew 27:51) This "veil" was no flimsy lightweight.  It was a huge, heavy curtain, weighing hundreds of pounds.  This tearing was a supernatural act, symbolizing the beginning of the most intimate relationship between man and his Creator, symbolizing the communion of Eden, restored.

God with us.

There are times I don't feel this, when I question Him: "God, are you there?"  Fortunately, the promises of God are greater than our feelings.  His promise is that He will be with us, His Beloved, always, even unto the end of the age.  He said these words as He was ascending bodily into the sky. So, He meant them to be interpreted as "with us in Spirit".  Obviously, physically, His body was leaving this earthly plane.  For a time.

And He is.  He is with us.  His Spirit lives in every one who calls Him Savior Lord.
He is with us in our "close calls", in our joys, in our griefs, in our struggles, in our loves, in our life and in our death.  He is ever with us.

Hallelujah, Praise His Name!  The Lamb of God for sinners slain.  He takes away the scarlet stain. Oh Hallelujah, Praise His Name!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

He's allright.

Good morning,

Making the morning coffee I turned on the t.v. to catch a bit of news.  You may have noticed this is a pattern!  The usual hubbub and mischief were certainly afoot.  But, shortly, a news conference came on.  A French official was holding the news conference to share more information about a tragic plane crash a couple of days ago, in the remote French Alps.  The newest information is that the co-pilot likely crashed the plane deliberately.  That man has become the focus of the investigation and is, in essence, "on trial", although now dead.  The goal is to lay fault at the feet of someone or some thing, since over 150 people are dead from that crash, the worst to occur in France in many, many years.  The investigators may or may not be able to conclusively determine where that fault lies.

In Jesus' trial, recorded in John 19, the prosecuting agency was the Roman government.  And, oddly, the Roman governing judge, Pilate, three times in the course of that trial pronounced Jesus "not guilty" (vs. 4, 6, 12).  Twice, he actually said, "I find no fault in Him."  "He's allright."  Pilate wanted to release Jesus.  He was afraid not to release Jesus.

I had some weird dreams last night...One thing I dreamed was that a bald eagle flew into my classroom and landed on my outstretched arm (which is ludicrous since adult bald eagles are 3-feet tall).  Then, I dreamed that I was in someone's house, cleaning out their basement (Hubster was cleaning out ours yesterday, bless him!) and I found all these lovely antique hat boxes with hats in them, in the throw-away pile.  Appalling!  Then, I dreamed I was looking out a window of the house and saw about 30 wild, white cats milling around.  When I awoke, I was glad to be out of that crazy house in my head.
A biblical character, Pilate's wife, also had dreams.  Hers were more ominous, however.  In her dreams she was warned that her husband should have nothing to do with Jesus.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat his wife sent him a message saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night, I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."
Matthew 27:19

We read in the verse just prior (vs. 18) that Pilate knew the Jewish leaders had delivered Jesus to him out of envy.
So, while Pilate did not fully realize the extent of what he was about to do, he had been given plenty of warning of the consequences for condemning Jesus to death.

What "tipped the scales"?  What made him decide against Jesus?  It certainly wasn't Jesus' guilt over any trumped-up charge.  We find the answer in John 19:12.

Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. {This is the point at which he would have received the message from his wife, concerning her disturbing dreams.}  14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
Pilate decided that his personal stakes in releasing Jesus were simply too high.  He could not risk being associated as one who was not loyal to Caesar Augustus, who had a long and bloody track record of punishing those who even appeared to be disloyal.

Pilate said, "I find no fault in Him".  Yet, he condemned Him to die.

Do you know....many, many people have done the same with Jesus?  They hear about Him, gain an intellectual knowledge (to a limited extent) about His life, work, death, burial and resurrection.  And, their reaction is:  "I don't have any objection to Him."  or "He was a good person."  But, that is as far as it goes.  Those people either do not fully explore Jesus' truth claims or they do explore them and decide for "Caesar", which represents any inferior "god" that takes the place of the one, true God in their hearts.  As was described yesterday, these people stop short of "receiving" Jesus as their Savior. In so doing, they kill Him all over again because they make it so that (in their cases) He died in vain. Although He died for them, they accept Him only as far as "He's allright."

These same folks may even tell you that they are Christians.  But, that's not true.  They are either deceived or know that they are out-right lying.  They say this because "Jesus is allright", and they identify with the Christian faith more than any other.  But, the actual god on the throne of each of their hearts is Self.

It's easy to look at our lost friends and loved ones and shake our heads and say, "uhm-mmm-mmmmmmm", isn't it?  But, Believers, every time we choose our own way over God's way, every time we choose Self in our daily walk, we quench His spirit in our hearts too. Our salvation is assured, if we have received Him, made Him the Lord of our lives.  In our day-to-day living, though, we must be vigilant to guard our hearts against an attitude of "He's allright".

Because He is not just "allright."  I want you to go listen to something this morning, Christian.


Take about 5 minutes to click on the above link, and listen.  (Thankful for these words of Dr. S.M. Lockridge!)  Re-affirm in your heart this morning who Jesus is, as we head into the Passion Week, beginning this Sunday.

Oh hallelujah!  That's MY King!
Do you know Him?

O Lord, you are the Incomparable One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Even though Rev. Lockridge and others have tried to do so, none of us can fully describe You.  You are so much more than "allright".  Thank you for revealing Yourself to us, through the person of Your Son, Jesus.  Thank you for allowing each of us to know You.  Teach us to know You more and to love You more.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Miscarriage of Justice?

Good morning!

Back in January I was journeying through the book of John, but stopped at the end of John 18, figuring I'd wait until Passion Week was approaching to finish up that book.  That time has come.
Today's text is John 19:1-16.

Most assuredly some of the disciples were present at Jesus' trial.  John was one of these and here, we read his firsthand account of what occurred.

Why was Jesus on trial?  Do you know?  It was because He claimed to be exactly Who He was - - - the Son of God (vs. 7).  It wasn't for a political offense, claiming to be a political "King of the Jews" that the Jewish leaders called for his crucifixion.  Such was a pretense to have Him arrested and convicted by the Romans, the alleged crime being political sedition against Caesar.  (The Jews had no power to put anyone to death; that power had to come from Rome.) But, the pretense is over, revealed in verse 7:  the Jews were really up-in-arms over His claim of being the Messiah, God-in-Flesh which, indeed, He was.

In their book, Killing Jesus, O'Reilly and Dugard point out that Jesus made this factual claim when He was 12 years old.  Do you remember when He, Mary and Joseph journeyed to Jerusalem for Passover that year?  He was left behind when the caravan left to return to Nazareth.  Mary and Joseph had to turn back to search for Him.  They found Him in the Temple, teaching with the elders and priests.  At that time He asked, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) Jewish boys at age 13 were/are considered to be "of age", to be held responsible for their own actions. Had Jesus been 13 at the time He made that truth claim in the Temple, He could have been prosecuted for blasphemy, just as he was being brought to trial for it many years later, in Pilate's court.

"And when I think ... of God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die....I scarce can take it in."
Hymn: "How Great Thou Art"

Like all mothers I grieve when my children hurt, when they stumble and fall, make mistakes, get into trouble.  I truly cannot imagine the agony of Mary, mother of Jesus, witnessing the horror God the Father allowed to touch His only begotten Son - - - beginning with this kangaroo court trial before Pontius Pilate.  Much is made of Pilate's mistakes in this debacle, but Jesus points out in verse 11:

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore he who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent three separate times; yet, the Jews clamored for His death.  Jesus very pointedly lays the blame for this scenario (His arrest, scourging, trial) at the feet of Judas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin.  Wesley, Barnes and Clarke, in their Bible commentaries all agree on this point.  Barnes, specifically, points out that the word "he" in verse 11 is a plural form, not a singular.

Yet, Mary knew, and I hope you know, that it was not Judas, nor Caiaphas, nor Pilate, nor any Jew per se who brought Jesus to this scene in John 19.  It was every one of us, and our sin.  Mary had to watch her son be beaten, falsely accused and murdered because of her own sin.  I simply cannot comprehend that level of spiritual and emotional pain.  Joseph was long since dead; she did not even have a husband to comfort her.

You may have, like me, watched the movie, "Passion of the Christ", which was made several years ago.  The brutality of Jesus' scourging and crucifixion was on unvarnished display, through the cinematic medium.  Many who watched that film could not comprehend the depths of His suffering.

And Mary, no doubt, watched all of this, wishing she could die right there with Him, perhaps wondering why she could not.  I don't know if she realized that He was laying His life down of His own accord, or not, at that point.  I'm sure that there was a tremendous amount of confusion and mayhem among His disciples in those hours.  (It's not like they could text each other to stay in contact!)  Long before Gethsemane, Herod's palace and Pilate's court, Jesus declared (John 10:17-18) that He was laying down His life willingly.

"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This commandment I received from my Father."

Of course, at the time He made that emphatic declaration, the disciples had no idea of its implications; but, John remembered it later and wrote it in his gospel account.  I wonder if he whispered those words to Mary at the cross, as he held her, as he received from Jesus the command to care for her for the rest of her life?  Matthew records in 26:53 that, at the time of His arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus reminded those present that if He just asked His Father, He would instantaneously send thousands of angels to His rescue.

So, don't think that all of this caught the Father or the Son unawares.  Jesus was "slain before the foundations of the world" were laid.  This was no miscarriage of justice, this kangaroo trial, this scourging, this crucifixion.  Rather, this plan of God the Father's, with the agreement of God the Son, was carried forward for the purpose of justice - - - ours.

Theologians call this "justification": the legal act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his or her sins.
We, who were unable to attain a righteous status with God from our own, pitiful works of "righteousness", can have a right standing with God through this marvelous, breathtaking, heartbreaking work of His Son.  And, that is the only way we can get it.  As much as it hurts to cast our eyes on the Scriptures and read of His tremendous pain and sacrifice, to and through the point of death, we must.  For it is only through His amazing sacrifice that we can have peace with God.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.
Romans 3:24-26  The Message

Yesterday's post was about receiving.  Salvation is about believing and then receiving.  Many will read about Jesus and will believe intellectually that He did what Scriptures say He did.  But, they won't receive Him in order to claim the gift of righteousness for which He died.  Saving faith believes...and then receives.

To as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them who believed on His name.
John 1:12

Is pride keeping you from receiving God's greatest gift, the gift of His Son?

Father, I pray today that anyone reading these words who has not said, "yes" to Your greatest gift will lay down their pride at Your feet and accept Jesus' gift of eternal salvation today.  I'm so sorry for my many sins, which nailed Your Son to that cross.  Thank you for providing the way for me to be made righteous in Your eyes.  When You look at me now, you look through "rose-colored glasses", colored with, coated with, Your Son's shed blood, which covers all my sin.  Thank you, Father.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Good morning!

Did you know that there are words in the New Testament attributed to Jesus, but which do not appear in any of the four Gospels?  I really had not considered this until this morning.  I was on my way back to John 19 (where I left off in exposition of the book of John, waiting for Passion Week to approach), when I encountered this verse in Acts 20:35 - -

In everything I did I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Even though Acts was written by Luke, this verse is part of Luke's record of Paul bidding farewell to the Ephesian church.  Paul was most certainly a "giver".  Everywhere he went, he paid his own way, usually by working as a tentmaker.  He possessed a skill that was, in his day, extremely marketable and transferrable from location to location.  It would be good for every one of us to possess such a skill in these uncertain times.

However, let's focus this morning on Jesus' words.  More blessed to give than to receive...

Obviously, Paul is saying here that, as believers, we are to have compassion on those whom God places in our paths, that we are to give of our time, talents, resources and hearts to others.  But, I wonder which is harder for the Christian - - - giving?  Or receiving?

The sin of pride comes into play here.  If giving is not done out of a pure and humble heart, pride can creep in and taint our gifts.  (See Matthew 6:1-34.)  Conversely, but similarly, pride prevents many from receiving gifts from others.

Yesterday, as you know from the "non-post" I posted, I was ill.  My husband ministered to me as I lay in the bed, unable to get up and "take care of business".  The most I was able to do was to cancel my obligations for the day.  He tended to the house, made me some chicken noodle soup, brought me water, aspirin, thermometer...you get the idea.   I was grateful to him for his help, thankful for him... and thankful that I was not incapacitated for more than 24 hours!

The first person to whom we should turn for help is our Savior.  Psalm 107:28-30 is actually a prophecy about Messiah (those O.T. prophecies turn up in the oddest of places...).

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven.

This is fulfilled in Matthew 8:23-27 and also in Mark 4:38-40.  Here is the latter passage:

38Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?"…

And, then, Jesus and His disciples sailed on uneventfully to their destination.  In this situation the disciples were desperate to "receive" from Christ.  As they knew He was their only hope, so should we turn and receive from Him daily, whether we are "in dire straits" or not.  Most often, however, we try to handle things in our own strength, do we not?

My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth.  
Psalm 121:2

More commonly, when we are offered help from others, we refuse it, often because of pride. We fail to recognize that our Lord works through others to provide His help to us.   I'm not talking about enablement and cultural dependency here - - - a lifestyle of "living on the dole".  I'm talking about someone with an immediate need, that need being recognized by another, and that friend being prompted by the Holy Spirit to help.  Yet, the intended recipient turns away, refusing the help.  In so doing, the intended recipient denies both herself and the intended giver a blessing!  Have you ever thought about that?  God blesses the giver by giving her the opportunity to serve and the receiver a blessing through receiving!  Don't let your pride deny both you and your friends/loved ones a blessing.  Receive what the Lord brings to you today, whether it be through a word in Scripture, an answer to prayer, the loving acts of friends, loved ones...even strangers(!)  Receive, and be thankful.

Dear Father, teach us to be watchful and wary of the sin of pride in both our giving and in our receiving.  Open our eyes to both opportunities to give and also to receive.  May we be quick to act when Your Spirit presents a need in the lives of others.  May we look to You for all our needs and then graciously accept Your provision.   In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sick Day

Good morning!

This "resplendent daughter" is not feeling so resplendent today.  I was up all night with a stomach bug.  So, please forgive me for taking a sick day.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Good-Smelling Imitators

Good morning!

I am at my mother's house this morning, celebrating her birthday and also my niece's baby shower. That makes blogging more challenging - - - especially the internet connection piece and getting text to appear as a uniform color...  But, I'm loving just sitting and talking with my loved ones this morning too, a lovely distraction.  At the moment, my other niece's boyfriend has arrived here to go walking/running with my niece.  He and I both attended Bob Jones University which, in early April, does a presentation called Living Gallery. I commented that I've never seen it.  They've not been doing it for many years.  At any rate, we were talking about that, as his parents have gone to seen it more than once.

What happens in the Living Gallery is this:  a piece of great artwork from the University's extensive and well-respected art collection is displayed on stage.  Then, while the art is displayed, original drama is presented by the University Players.  The entire production is a series of vignettes like this.

There's an expression that goes, "Life imitates Art."  But, conversely, the opposite is true:  art imitates life.  Artists seek to represent reality through their creations. What is in their souls comes out in their artwork.

All this reminds me of these admonitions from the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:1-2 - - -

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.…

One of the things every parent comes to realize, for good or bad, is that his or her children imitate their parents.  I have realized in my own children, with a certain degree of horror, that they possess some of my negative traits! "Well, they didn't suck it out of their baby bottle!"  As spiritual children of God,because we are "born of God" through the work of our Savior Jesus, we imitate Him.  Or, at least we should.  How does that look -- when we imitate Christ?

Paul says that we will "smell good" to others, if we are imitating Christ.  That does not mean that our lives and message never offend anyone, because the gospel is just "pure and plain" offensive to those whose ears are not open to hear it (1 Corinthians 1:18).  Rather, it means that, if we extend the grace of Jesus Christ to others by walking in love, sacrificing our own desires for the needs of others, then we will be a fragrant aroma to others, as Christ was to our Father.

What we have to be on guard against is setting up a stink with spiritual pride, selfishness, and other carnal behaviors.  I'm talking about in our families, our work places, the ball fields (!), and especially our churches. When people who are not part of the Family of God see us engaging in behaviors that are not godly, they still see us as imitators of Jesus Christ.  Their view and idea of who Jesus is comes from what they observe in us. Frightening, isn't it?  It is to me.  What a weighty responsibility we have been given - - - to represent Jesus to the world!

It is only through the power and the grace of our Lord that we can do this.  As His beloved children, only He can enable us, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to be good-smelling imitators.

Oh Father, glorify Yourself through me today.  My Your Word be like spiritual detergent, to wash my heart clean and to make me as pure and fresh-smelling as my beautiful Savior, so that when this world sees me, Your artistic, one-of-a-kind creation, it sees You.  May Your Body, Your Church, Lord Jesus, be a Living Gallery today, to draw the lost and dying to You.  In Your name, Lord Jesus, amen.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Goin' Through the Motions

Good morning!

As today began on the other side of the world, there was a solar eclipse.  Tonight's moon will be what star-gazers call a Supermoon, which means the moon will be as close to the earth as it ever gets.  All this is happening on the Spring Equinox, 2015.  Signs in the heavens!  We can observe those and know that our great God, who created this universe we can hardly fathom, is in total control.  But, I digress...

I promised yesterday we'd look at Micah 6:6-8.

6With what shall I come to the LORD
         And bow myself before the God on high?
         Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
         With yearling calves?

7Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,
         In ten thousand rivers of oil?
         Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
         The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8He has told you, O man, what is good;
         And what does the LORD require of you
         But to do justice, to love kindness,
         And to walk humbly with your God?

Before Christ came, part of the Law that God handed down to the Israelites dictated that animal sacrifices be made.  However, that old problem of "the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law" was at work then as it is today.  In order to "do their duty", people would outwardly obey the Law, even though their hearts were far from God.

Isaiah, whom you may recall from yesterday was a contemporary of Micah's, shared a similar word in Isaiah 29:13 - - - (Jesus quoted these words in Matthew 15:8.)

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught."

"Going through the motions", we might call it, to "get in good with God".  Is that what the resplendent walk of Christian discipleship is all about?  No.  But, that is what Micah is saying was going on in his day, and it is what in large part goes on today.  Let's break it down.

The late Keith Green, one of my favorite Christians of the 1970s and '80s, wrote a song called, "To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice".  The song was inspired by this passage in Micah.  Here are some of the lyrics:  "I don't want your money; I want your life.  I want more than Sundays and Wednesday nights."

So, okay, we "get" that we are not supposed to merely go through the motions of Christian living - - - going to church, serving in some way, giving our resources.  All of these "sacrifices" can demonstrate a devotion to God flowing from a righteous foundation; or, they can be mere rule-following.  All of those "good works" are meaningless to God, unless first He has our hearts.  The foundation of a real and resplendent Christian walk is a person's heart relationship with God.  That's what "do justice" means in Micah 6:8.  Having a heart right with God through faith in Him was, in the O.T. and is today, the bedrock of "godly living".

It is through our giving of our hearts to Jesus Christ that we, in this New Testament era, "do justice" because it is through Christ's finished work on our behalf that we can become "just" - - - right with God.  It is the only way we can become right with God.  J.C. Chambers called this "inward religion".

I was talking with a friend a few days ago about a loved one who has not made that transformative decision to accept God's way to righteousness through Christ.  The hindrance is that he is such a "good man", by the world's standards.  However, how "good" is "good enough"?  None of our efforts measure up, according to God's standard.  Andy Stanley wrote a little book, (a booklet, really) a few years ago entitled, Since Nobody's Perfect, How Good is Good Enough?  I recommend it as a tool for those enslaved in this mentality of trying to "work" one's way to God.

Once our relationship with God is right and just, what are the other two attributes mentioned in this passage?  They are kindness (or mercy) and humility, (or what Chambers calls "outward religion").

You may, like I do, know some people whose hearts are full of mercy for others.  These friends have such compassion for others; they long to help others who are in dire need, at every opportunity. Bless them!  Those Christians have been given the spiritual gift of mercy by the Holy Spirit.  But, to some of us (me included), this merciful attitude and those merciful actions do not "come easily".  In my flesh, my "natural" (carnal) response is to say, "You got yourself into this mess, Buddy.  Now, you get yourself out."  Thank God He did not have such a sanctimonious, self-righteous attitude toward us!  Otherwise, He would not have sent His Son, Jesus.  And, let's look at Jesus, who was full of mercy for the most needy.  The people He rebuked were those (Pharisees, religious leaders) who were gods to themselves, who did not know God or desire to follow Him.  All of us Christians, whether we have an "extra helping", the spiritual gift of mercy, are called by God to show mercy.

How can we show mercy today?
1.  By meeting immediate physical needs.
A hungry or cold or sick or desperate person is in no condition to hear the gospel until his or her more immediate physical needs have been met.  This is why Jesus spoke about "giving a cup of cold water in my Name" (Matthew 10:42; 25:34-40)
2.  By sharing the truth of the gospel.
We do no one any merciful favors by neglecting to tell them the truth.  It is not merciful to show approval to sinful behaviors or lifestyle choices.  It is not kind to allow people to die and go to Hell. Believe me, when they are in Hell for all eternity, they will wish someone had "stepped on their toes" or "hurt their feelings" in this life.  That is not to advocate bludgeoning people with the truth.  We should always be in an attitude of prayer as to how the Spirit wants us to share with others.  But, we also must not shrink from this because of our fears of rejection.

It is difficult to love mercy if one's heart is proud. That is why these two requirements go hand-in-hand. To "walk humbly with your God" ... this is the resplendent walk, Y'all!  But, it is so hard!! Spiritual pride is a pit into which many Christians fall. Because we are light-bearers we are prone to hoard that light because of a lack of mercy toward those who are enslaved in sin.  The key to walking in humility is to have a broken heart - - - a heart that is broken over the lostness of others and also broken over our own ongoing sin battles.  This is the humble heart that can share the life-saving gospel with a lost and dying world.

Dear Holy Father, we need more of You.  Whether we are already Yours or whether we are "lost as last year's Easter egg", or whether we even know it or not ... we are spiritually bankrupt, starving for Your love, Your truth.  If in our pride and hardness of heart we believe otherwise, we are deceived. Please reveal to each of us the areas in which we need to become right with You and Your holy standard of righteousness.  Break our hearts for what breaks Yours, Loving Savior.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Want Plenty of Wine and Beer?

Good morning!

I was drawn this morning to the book of Micah.  With a ministry that spanned 750-686 B.C., he was a contemporary of both Isaiah and Hosea.  The themes of his book are judgment and deliverance. Micah was a resident of a small Judean town called Moresheth.  God can use even "nobodies" from "nowhere", Y'all.

Micah's ministry began after the northern kingdom of Israel had broken away from the southern kingdom of Judah.  Despite his small town roots, he was very aware of what was going on in both Israel and Judah.  Micah was extremely distressed at the word of the Lord and the vision he received from God over his countrymen...so distressed, in fact, that he engaged in such bizarre behaviors as wailing, howling like a jackal, moaning like an owl and running around naked (1:8).  {He needed to get the people's attention!}

Why?  The reason is given in 1:9 - - - Samaria's "wound" of idolatry is "incurable".  It is like a cancer, which has spread to the very gates of Jerusalem, in Judah.  {Remember now, there's Israel, the northern kingdom, whose capitol is Samaria.  Then, there's Judah, the southern kingdom, whose capitol is Jerusalem.}
God had shown to Micah that he was going to destroy the northern nation of Israel over its idolatry, starting with the capitol city of Samaria, which would be stripped down to its foundations (1:6).

The Lord says, "I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves.  You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity."
Micah 2:3

If we had a "Micah" today, this would be like a prophecy saying that invaders will come and destroy our major cities because of our national sin.  Think it can't happen here?  Think again.  It's coming. Micah had some naysayers in his day.  He described their advice to him in 2:9-10.  They said,

"Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will not overtake us!"

That people preferred prophecies of prosperity (such as today's popular "Prosperity Gospel") and of fullness and blessing.  Micah pointed out in 2:11 that the prophet who prophesied "plenty of wine and beer" would be just the prophet for those profligate people!  (Sound familiar?) They only wanted to hear the gentle, soothing words, even in the midst of their apostasy.  They could not imagine that God would judge them, that disgrace would overtake them.  But, it did.

A prophet of Judah, prophesying words of judgment against Israel was one thing; but then, Micah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in 3:12, even with the specificity in 4:10 that the conquerors would be the Babylonians, whose political star had not begun to ascend.  During his lifetime, he saw a partial fulfillment of his vision from God - - - the conquering of Israel by the Assyrians, which occurred in 721 B.C.  He did not live to see the destruction of Jerusalem in the mid-500s B.C.

In chapter 4 and following, Micah "changes gears" and begins to describe the restoration that God would bring about for a remnant of His people (4:6-7).  Chapter 4 begins with the phrase, "In the last days...".  Micah goes on to describe what life will be like during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Here, in verse 4:3, we find the famous passage about world peace..."they will study war no more"  because their swords will have been re-cast into plows and their spears into pruning instruments...war tools re-made into agricultural tools.

Later on in chapter 4 we find a prophecy about Jesus' first coming, in verse 2, specifying where he would be born:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathath, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
Out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel
Whose origins are from old, from ancient times."

And, it happened, just like that (Luke 2:4-6).  This Deliverer is described as a Shepherd in Micah.  In 2:13 - - -

I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture.
One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
they will break through the gate and go out.
Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.

Jesus Christ, who called Himself "The Good Shepherd" (John 10:11), "broke open the way" to God through the completion of His first earthly ministry.  When He returns, He will shepherd His flock again.  5:4-5 explains - - -

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And He will be their peace.

He will be not only the peace of Israel and Judah in that day, but also of those of us who are "adopted", "grafted in" to the House of Israel.  This prophecy refers to all who follow Christ as Savior.  This will happen after that multi-year, end-times judgment on the earth called The Tribulation, which will be so bad that only a "remnant" of Jacob will be left (4:7, 5:7, 7:18).  It will appear as if God has abandoned His people, until that moment when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords appears to rescue His remnant, decisively defeat Israel's enemies (4:12 - - - He will gather them like a bunch of sheaves of wheat are gathered to the threshing floor), and establish His everlasting kingdom on this earth.

One of my favorite Micah passages is 6:6-8.  We'll explore that one tomorrow.

Good morning Lord Jesus, thank you for this new day, this new beginning.  Your mercies are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!  Thank you that, though you cannot tolerate sin, You also have such compassion toward men.  Thank you for making a way for us to enter the sheep pen, through the coming of my Good Shepherd, Your Son.  May those of us who call you Savior and Lord "walk in the name of the Lord our God {today and} forever and ever." (Micah 4:5).  In Jesus' name, amen.