Christmas Homily 2015December 25, 2015 in Bible - NT - Luke, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Zechariah, Christmas, Church History, King Jesus
God’s Compassion in SufferingsSeptember 7, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Bible - OT - Ezekiel, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Job, Meditations, Providence, Sanctification, Trials
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
False Prophets, Priests, and PeopleFebruary 2, 2015 in Authority, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Church History, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Confession, Homosexuality, Judgment, Meditations, Sexuality, Ten Commandments, Word of God
Shod with WoolJanuary 1, 2014 in Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Psalms, Church History, Judgment, Sovereignty of God
While reading Spurgeon’s Treasury of David today I came across an old Roman proverb:
The feet of the avenging Deity are shod with wool.
Spurgeon comments: With noiseless footsteps vengeance nears its victim, and sudden and overwhelming shall be its destroying stroke. One of our follies as human beings is that we imagine that God’s silence means that He doesn’t care.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace” ’; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16–17)
Josephus QuotationsSeptember 12, 2012 in Bible - NT - Matthew, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Nahum, Bible - OT - Obadiah, Eschatology, King Jesus
Quotations from Josephus’ The Wars of the Jews excerpt as found in David Chilton’s Paradise Restored: An Eschatology of Dominion.
“The first man who was slain by [the Sicarii] was Jonathan the high-priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served, was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while everybody expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain.” (p. 238) cf. Mt 10:34-36
“…I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these their great defenders and wellwishers, while those that a little before had worn the sacred garments, and had presided over the public worship, and had been esteemed venerable by those that dwelt on the whole habitable earth when they came int our city, were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts.” (p. 250)
Already the city of Jerusalem was divided into two factions and the leading Jews made the remarkable decision to invite a third, the Idumeans, into the city under the leadership of Simon. Josephus remarks: “Now it was God who turned their opinions to the worst advice, and thence they devised such a remedy to get themselves free, as was worse than the disease itself.” (p. 255) (cf. with irony that it is directed against Edom, Obadiah 8-9)
The siege engines of the Romans wreaked awful destruction, reaching even the courts of the Temple where Jew and Gentile would be slain in the midst of offering sacrifice. So “the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcases stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.” (p. 256)
Josephus speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem and urging them to surrender: “Wherefore I cannot but suppose that God is fled out of his sanctuary, and stands on the side of those against whom you fight.” (p. 262)
“It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: – That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world…” (p. 264)
Josephus writes of the tragedy of those who deserted to the Romans only to be slain by the Syrians who were searching for hidden gold in their bowels: “in reality it was God who condemned the whole nation, and turned every course that was taken for their preservation to their destruction.” (p. 269)
“I suppose, that had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed.” (p. 270)
Josephus speaking to John of Gischala after John rejected another overture of peace: “It is God therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions.” (p. 272)
Josephus remarks on the Providential timing of the Temple’s destruction by the Romans – it was destroyed on the same day that the first Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians: “…as for that house [the Temple], God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages: it was the tenth day of the month [Ab], upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon.” (p. 274) cf. Jer 52:12-13
“Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething-hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of these bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them.” (p. 277) cf. Nah 3:3
“…before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at the feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.'” (p. 279)
He remarks on the career of Jesus, son of Ananus, who went through the city of Jerusalem for seven years and five months announcing the same message of woe against the city. in the end he was slain by one of the stones from the Roman catapults. (pp. 279-80)
The Root of DavidDecember 27, 2010 in Bible - NT - Luke, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Zechariah, Christmas, King Jesus
Isaiah 11:1-5 (NKJV)
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NKJV)
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Zechariah 6:12-13 (NKJV)
12 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; 13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’
Luke 2:8-20 (NKJV)
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
The passages before us today from the prophets and from the Gospel of Luke share a common theme – the arrival of the Branch of the Line of David. The Tree of David was faltering, falling into sin repeatedly. In Isaiah the tree was diseased, in Jeremiah dying, in Zechariah nearly dead. So God promised a Branch who would be a planting from the original tree of Israel, the true fulfillment of all that which the dying tree of David’s royal line anticipated. It was Isaiah who first heard God’s promise of the Branch who would rule and reign in righteousness. He would not be like the false shepherds in Israel – looking out only for their personal interests, pursuing personal gain at the expense of the sheep. Rather, He would be filled with the Spirit of God, filled with wisdom, knowledge, and discretion – modeling the character of God Himself. But for the time being, Israel endured the darkness of kings like Manasseh and Amon.
Over a hundred years later, Jeremiah picked up on this promise. Disgusted like Isaiah with the selfishness and folly of the kings of Israel, he reminded his readers of God’s promise through Isaiah. One day God would raise up to David a Branch of righteousness. This king would reign and prosper, saving and protecting His people, upholding righteousness and purity in His person. But for the time being, Israel continued to endure the darkness of men like Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
Over a hundred years later, Zechariah again returned to the promise. Told by God to set a kingly crown upon the head of the High Priest Jeshua, Zechariah announced that like David, the Branch would be a Temple builder. Zechariah announced, “He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord.” But He would not merely build the Temple, He would serve in it, for He would be not only King but also Priest. That which King Uzziah was forbidden to do – to rule and reign not only as king but as high priest – this King would be able to do. “He shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne.” Why? Because He would not abuse the authority granted to Him but would rule and reign in righteousness and justice. As Zechariah insisted, “The counsel of peace shall be between the two offices.” But for the time being, the offices were divided and our fathers endured the darkness of Persian, Greek, Maccabbean, and Roman rule.
But then an angel spoke to some shepherds. The long-promised Branch of righteousness, the Shepherd of Israel, the One who would rule and reign in justice was to be born. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And this was good news not just for Israel but for all people, all the nations of the earth, all the families of the earth. The light has come, the world will change. Then glory filled the sky, the light and life of the Messiah’s rule reflected in the voices and faces of the angelic hosts as they declared that the prophecies of Isaiah and of Jeremiah and of Zechariah were coming to fruition. Praise filled the sky as the angels marveled that the mercies of God would now extend to all the peoples of the earth. The light has come!
So what do these words mean for us? Just this: the darkness of the Judaic Age has come to an end. The Judaic Age – when God’s presence was by and large limited to the land of Israel, closeted behind the veil in the Holy of Holies – the Judaic Age has passed. Now the Age of the Messiah has come – all nations have been given to Him and so the Word of Truth, the light of life, is going forth to all the nations of the earth. The Spirit of God has been poured out on the Church and is now pouring forth from her into the world bringing life and salvation in His wake. God has begun to fulfill the promises He made long ago through the prophets. He has given a King to rule and reign in Justice; He has given a High Priest to minister in the Temple. And this King, this High Priest is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Branch from the Stem of Jesse.
It is this transition from darkness to light that we sung of just a moment ago. In the darkness of the ancient world, amidst the rot and decay of paganism, amidst the folly of apostate Judaism, came the Root and Branch of David.
Isaiah ‘twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.
And from this Root, this Branch, planted by the hand of God, a great tree has grown which shall one day fill the entire earth.
This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.
It is the planting of this Branch, the Branch of Righteousness, which we celebrate today. The light has come – let us feast! Our King sits upon His throne – let us rejoice! Our High Priest has offered up a perfect sacrifice on our behalf and offers up prayers and petitions for us continually – let us give thanks! And let us start even now. Let us pray together:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Your birth at Bethlehem
Draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth.
You have saved us, you have delivered us,
You have done far beyond anything we could ask or think.
Accept our heartfelt praise
As we worship you,
In harmony with the Father and the Spirit,
Our Savior and our eternal God.