Sunday, November 20, 2011

Luke Part 45: Beware hypocracy!

Text: Luke 12:1-12

This passage continues Jesus' teachings on kingdom living. Jesus is teaching about how the members of the Kingdom (Christians) will live. The way they live will be seen by the world around them.

The subject of this section is indicated plainly in the first verse: hypocracy. Hypocracy is simply acting differently than what we are. It is one of the most dangerous things in the Kingdom, and is to be constantly guarded against.

The first comment Jesus makes regarding hypocracy is that it is foolishness. All things will be revealed anyway; there is nothing hidden from God. Why act in this way?

Jesus further elaborates that hypocracy is borne from a fear of men's faces. Do we want to play down our relationship with Jesus? Do we want to fit in? Jesus reminds us not to have any fear of men; they can only harm our physical well-being, but they have no power over the soul. Fear, specifically the fear of man, is a danger that leads to hypocracy.

How can we avoid hypocracy? By fearing God, rather than man! We must reverence Him and trust Him. We're reminded that we can trust Him, as He takes care of the sparrow and knows the number of the hairs on our heads. He is kind, loving, and trustworthy. We have great value to Him ("more than many sparrows") because of Christ's work. Christ has brought us near and we have been adopted as sons.

In verse 8, we see that Christ will own His people before the angels. This is not in some future life; this is something that occurs now, as Christ guides the angels to meet our needs.

The next section concerns the so-called "unpardonable sin".  We are told that you can speak against Christ and be forgiven, but a blaspheming the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit represents an unrepentant heart.  An unrepentant heart cannot be forgiven; the self-righteous cannot be saved.  The hard heart refuses the Spirit and goes on in opposition to Christ.

Finally, we have a reminder of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.  The ministry of the Holy Spirit will help you when you are in a situation where you need to give an account of your faith.  Yield to the Holy Spirit; He will lead you into open confession, not hypocracy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zechariah Part 6: Conclusion of the Prophecy

Text: Zechariah 14

This chapter contains the conclusion to the prophecy began in the previous chapters. We can assume that the prophecy is consistent throughout; that the same things are being referred to as in the previous chapters. This prophecy contains a discussion about God as King, and this King's people, and a gathering of people into that kingdom.

As in the previous chapters, this is a prophecy about "that day". Is this prophecy regarding Israel's destruction in 70 AD? It could be. The physical Jerusalem that existed until 70 AD was a representative of the Old Covenant, and it was replaced by a spiritual New Jerusalem, a representative of the New Covenant. There is both a physical and spiritual explanation.

In verse 4, we see the theme of a great wide valley being opened up. This valley is a picture of the gospel truth spreading, and the fleeing is a picture of Jewish conversions, including the great day of Pentecost.

There is a darkness described in verses 6,7 -- but even in the darkest hours of the Kingdom, there will remain a light. There will be an era of incomplete light.

Verse 8 pictures the truth spreading beyond Jerusalem, beyond the Jewish people. The spread of the truth will continue through the hard times (winter) and good times (summer).

Verse 12 shows the judgment to come on those who reject these spiritual truths and refuse to enter the Kingdom. They had seen the truth, but rejected it, so their eyes are consumed. They didn't glorify God, but instead rejected Him, so their tongue shall be consumed.

Interestingly, the terrible things prophesied about in this passage did come true in 70 AD. The Zealots within the Temple under siege were fighting among themselves, killing each other for power and authority, and even killing and consuming each other in the famine.

There is the picture of plagues in verse 16-19. There would be no rain on those who didn't come up to keep the Feast of Booths; rain (water) is symbolic of the wells of salvation that will be loosed upon those who recognize the transitory nature of their lives, the symbolic meaning of the Feast of Booths.

Jesus showed the significance of the Feast of Booths when He proclaimed in John 7, "All who are thirsty, come to Me and drink!" as the water was poured out in the ceremony. That is the significance of this feast -- that we are pilgrims in this world, but at the end we shall receive God's deliverance and blessings. We look to a heavenly kingdom, and we are not caught up in the politics and affairs of this world.

Verses 20 and 21 would have been shocking words to the Jewish hearers. In the New Covenant, all things are "holiness unto the Lord." Every person in the Kingdom is involved in the service of the Lord; each of us is a priest to Him. This is not a mixed community, as the Old Covenant was. There are no more unbelievers in the New Jerusalem.

The Lord has won the victory! Do we look forward to the great day coming when His kingdom with have its ultimate consummation?