Priest of a New Covenant – Hebrews 7-8

In chapter 7, the writer of Hebrews offers some explanation of the “order of Melchizedek.” In Genesis 14:17-20, He is called “priest of God most high.” But Melchizedek came along before the Levitical priesthood. Aaron himself had not been born yet– much less Levi. It is clear that Melchizedek was a special case, and that he was very important. He blessed Abraham; and verse seven of Hebrews 7 says “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.”

Photograph of medieval canvas "Abraham an...

Photograph of medieval canvas “Abraham and Melchisedek” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know very little about this man. His genealogy is not given. He was the king of Salem. Some suppose that this was a shortened name for Jerusalem. If so, that would seem meaningful to us. But the most important thing for us to get from all of this is that Jesus is said to be the new “high priest;” and that He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He was not a Levite, and therefore could not be a priest under the old law. But he is to  be thought of as a priest under the new covenant, in that He intercedes for us through our prayers.

But unlike the high priests who had sin in their own lives, and would have to sacrifice for themselves as well, Jesus was without sin. He bore our sins for us on the cross. The writer closes chapter 8 by confirming the replacement of the old covenant with the new, when he says is verse 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Hebrews

Heb. 4, Heb. 5, Heb. 6, Heb. 7, Heb. 8

 

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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Walking With the Spirit – Galatians 5-6

As we reach the last two chapters of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the subject matter in the first half of chapter five is circumcision because that is one of the tenants of the doctrine that they have been deceived about. He then moves in verses 16-25 to “walking with the Spirit.” The contrast he gives is with the works of the flesh because, as he says, they are in opposition to the Spirit. He names some of the works of the flesh:

…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Fruit of the SpiritIt is certainly not a comprehensive list, but entire sermons could be preached concerning each of those listed. The contrasting fruits of the Spirit are then given:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Belonging to Christ, we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. But what does that mean, really? Are we not tempted by such passions? And in giving in to those passions, do we not belong to Christ? WE shall be tempted, and we shall sin. We know that to be true because the Bible tells us that no one is without sin. With all good intentions, I will not go through the rest of my life without sinning. But by putting on Christ in baptism, I have renounced that way of life, and I will strive each day to walk with the Spirit.

Those nine “fruits” of the Spirit are characteristics that we must put to work consciously, so that they will most certainly choke out the works of the flesh from our lives.

Paul close the letter in chapter 6 with a final word about the law and circumcision. But before he does, he gives them other important admonishment. “Bear one another’s burdens,” he said. It is one of many reminders the Bible gives that everyone who thinks they can serve God without “going to church.” should heed. It is not about you. It is not even about just your relationship with the Lord. We are commanded to encourage one another in fellowship with the Lord, and bear each other’s burdens. Those things do not happen in the right way from one’s own living room.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Galatians and Ephesians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Of Prayer and Faith – Mark 11-15

Jesus entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry.

Jesus entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry.

This week, we read Mark 11-15 in our five day per week journey through the entire New Testament this year. Chapter 11 begins with mark’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. he then cleanses the temple and further angers the Pharisees. There is also the account of the fig tree that he caused to wither. His statement that it would not bear fruit again is symbolic of His beloved Jerusalem. they had been given the stewardship of God’s word, along with His love and favor. But now their rejection of His Son, was too much.

The last account of the chapter is of another challenge by the chief priests, scribes, and the elders demanding to know by what authority He does the things that He has done. His answer is especially shrewd. He will only answer if they tell Him by what authority John the baptist did his baptisms – of heaven or of man. If they answered that it was of man, the people would become angry, for they knew John was a prophet. So they refused to answer.

The portion of the chapter that grabs your attention, however is when Jesus explained the lesson of the fig tree:

Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Grove of fig trees, a mature size.

Grove of fig trees, a mature size.

Moving a mountain in Jewish literature was a metaphor for doing that which seemed impossible (just as it would be for us). Jesus does not mean that God is our magic genie, to whom we only need to incant the proper words in prayer and get whatever we want. We must remember also that the Bible is a unified teaching, and that it has much else to say about prayers — such as in James 4:2-3: “…You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

So clearly, we are expected first of all to pray according to God’s will. But more importantly, we must examine why we should “move the mountain” in first place. Jesus said in Matthew 6: 33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So following His word, and trying hard to be the “light of the world” and “the salt” that He spoke of in Mark 9:50, must be our primary driving force in life. That’s is easy to say, but hard to really do.

At least as important, and possibly more so, is the lesson Jesus gave to the apostles in that same chapter, when they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. In Mark 9:35, He told them: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus taught that being righteous in His kingdom is not about one’s self. It is about how we can serve others in order to help carry them to heaven with us. And that, my friends, is the hardest part of all.

Knowing this then, when we pray for the mountains” that we wish to move, we must ask ourselves how, in doing so, we might be able to put others first, build someone up, and nurse them along life’s journey and into His kingdom. Jesus was the King they had waited for so long to come. But they missed the fact that He was to be the greatest servant — the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. By following his example, and becoming a servant to others, there is truly no mountain we cannot move from faith in our prayers.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul Arrives in Rome – Acts 28

Forum Romanum in Rome. Columns of the Temple o...

Forum Romanum in Rome. Columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux are to the right and the remaining columns of the Temple of Vesta are to the left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke picked up the account after the shipwreck, where they learned that the island they had safely reached is called Malta. He said that the natives were kind and welcoming, and even helped them with a fire. But a snake came out because of the heat, and fastened himself to Paul’s hand. The sight of the deadly creature hanging from his limb just after he had been rescued from a life-threatening shipwreck made them suppose that he must be a murderer, getting his just reward (Greek and Roman tales had long spoken of just such events – “The Argonautica”, for example). But God was certainly not going to let anything happen to him. When he neither died nor showed any ill effects from the bite, they then thought Paul himself to be a god.

Publius in verse 7, is described as a “chief man” – the Greek term for which is “protos,” of which term several inscriptions have been found. Several references to Publius and this chapter, along with photographs can be found in this article at BiblePlaces.com. Publius’ father was ill with fever and dysentery (the description of which ills fit those of an infection caused by goat’s milk called “Malta fever”). Paul healed him, as well as others of the island with diseases that were brought to him afterward (verses 8-9).

After three months, they again set sail in a ship from Alexandria that had been wintering there. Luke describes the ship as having a figurehead of the “twin gods” (Castor and Pollux, the mythological twin sons of Zeus and Leda, were seen as the protectors of seamen). They put in at Syracuse for three days, then ended up in Puteoli, where they stayed with brethren they had found for seven days, then to Rome. The brethren there heard, and came from as far away as “The Three Taverns” and the “Forum of Appius” (hence, the name, the Appian Way) (verses 12-16).

Paul spent considerable time preaching and trying to convince the Jews there of the good news of Jesus through the words of Moses and the prophets. Some believed, but others did not – the latter leaving disagreeably (verses 23-25). Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 to them in verses 26-27; and then told them that now this news of the salvation of God will be brought to the Gentiles, for they will listen.

Verses 30-31 close out the book of Acts with the word that Paul remained there two full years, at his own expense, “teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” No further word is given of Paul’s appearance before Caesar, or any confirmation of secular writings that suggest he fulfilled his desire to go and preach in Spain, nor of a second imprisonment before his martyrdom. As much as we would like to know of the rest of Paul’s story, the inspired word of God does not tell us because the book of Acts is not Paul’s biography, but the word “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).

So, one might wonder, if it was so important for Paul to appear before Caesar, why is there nearly a chapter and a half about the journey and shipwreck, and not a word about what was so important about that appearance? The answer is that first, God had some reason for Paul to go to stand before Caesar that fulfilled His purpose, but there have been countless events since creation important to Him that are not important for us to know about for teaching, for reproof, for correction, or for training in righteousness. But the journey and shipwreck teach a couple of important lessons. One is that when God wants something done, it gets done, period! Nothing will stop it from completion. The other is that God, as we have seen since Genesis, always keeps His promises. Paul was imprisoned, betrayed, the target of assassination, 2,000 miles away from his destination, shipwrecked, stranded on an island, and had a deadly snake bite him severely enough to have hung from his hand. Yet God wanted him to be in Rome, and had promised that he would get there safely. We can take comfort, knowing that His will is going to be done, and that He has promised salvation for His faithful.

 

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of this week’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of this weeks selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.