Matthew 4 – Jesus Begins His Ministry

In verse 1, Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  God never tempts anyone to do wrong (James 1:13), but He has sometimes used situations to test someone’s faithfulness and character (see  Hebrews 11:17).  This testing had a purpose from the devil’s perspective (to derail God’s plan for the redemption of man, by preventing Jesus from being without sin).  The purpose from the perspective of God’s plan was that by having suffered from temptation himself (Hebrews 2:18), he understands how temptation affects us, and He is strengthened as our savior.  It also reinforces for us the value of knowing God’s word.

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Ol...

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hungry from fasting forty days, which compares to the 40 years of the testing of the people of Israel in the wilderness, the ability to use His power to feed himself in verse 3 would be a substantial temptation.  Jesus quotes the latter part of Deuteronomy 8:3 in verse 4 as an answer to the devil.  The devil’s quotation of Psalm 91:11-13 in the second  temptation of verses 5-6 is a deliberate misuse of the scripture – God does not encourage people to place themselves in needless danger.   The pinnacle of the Temple would likely be the southeast corner – some 300 feet above the Kidron Valley.  Such a feat would have been a great shortcut to achieve fame and attract people to Him, but would subvert God’s plan.  Jesus then answers in verse 7 by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16.   The last temptation in verse 8 offers yet another opportunity to reign as king by nothing short of the worst kind of idolatry and betrayal of God; and is answered by a quote from Deuteronomy 6:13.

Then, returning to Galilee to avoid the area where John the Baptist was arrested (verse 12), in verses 13-16, he fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2.  Reinforcing John the Baptist’s message, Jesus preaches for the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  This simply refers to the kingdom as a new period of the reign of God in people’s hearts and in their lives, shortly to come.  The calling of His disciples in verses 18-22 at first reading makes one think that these men dropped everything all of a sudden to follow a complete stranger.  But John 1:35-42 demonstrates a prior relationship.  Now He was calling them to be apostles.   Verses 23-25 detail the great following that He was accumulating, and the wonders such as healing the sick that He began doing.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 23 – Josiah’s Reforms

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Ol...

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we read in 2 Kings 23 of more of Josiah’s reforms, we start to get a picture of how far the people had fallen.  Josiah broke idols into pieces, destroyed “high places” of worship to false gods from the Hinnon Valley to the Kidron Valley.  He broke down the houses of male cult prostitutes in the Temple, and used the Kidron Valley (a place of idol worship since the time of Solomon) as a place to remove and destroy the abominations, defiling their altars and the valley itself.  In verse 10, he defiled Topheth, a place where children were burned in sacrifice to Molech.  In verses 21-23, he commanded the people to keep the Passover, a practice that had been forgotten.

So with all this reform, why was God not appeased?  Why, in verses 26-27, did His anger still burn hot against Judah and determine that they suffer the same fate as Israel?  Notice that verse 21 says that Josiah commanded the people to keep the passover.  The other account of the these events that are written in 2 Chronicles 34  (particularly verse 32-33) tells us that Josiah had made the people turn from their idolatry and serve the Lord.  Their hearts had not changed.

In an attempt to prevent Egypt’s reinforcement of the Assyrians, Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco at Megiddo in 609 BC.   It was a battle that would be the last conflict with the Babylonians in which the Egyptians and Assyrians would unite.  The people of Judah made his son Jehoahaz king in his place, and verse 32 tells us that Jehoahaz turned back to the evil ways of his fathers.  His reign was short, as Pharaoh Neco of Egypt put him in bondage and made Josiah’s other son, Eliakim, the vassal king – changing his name to Jehoiakim.  Jehoiakim taxed the people in order to pay tribute to Egypt.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.