Thursday, June 11, 2015

His Voice--Evil Times

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Luke 3:1-2

It is certain that we are living in an evil time.  Signs of impending danger due to the wickedness of the heart of man are seen continually.  When this wretchedness becomes an excuse, however, to stop being a vibrant witness for the Lord we need to reevaluate and reconsider human history while observing God’s intervention.  One such window into the heart of God and history is seen in the call of John the Baptist—God’s voice sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord.  Is that any different than what we are called to do today?

Luke, the physician who was also an outstanding historian, details precisely the timing of the call of John.  This was God’s call.  It was the Lord who broke in at this specific time to bring everlasting change.  He called John when society was at its worst.  Was this not a time so godless that the Son of God, Himself, was brutally beaten and nailed to an old rugged cross?  Before we consider our day, let’s consider John’s.

God called John when Tiberius Caesar was nearing the end of his reign.  This was a leader who Pliny the Elder called, “the gloomiest man of all.”  An outstanding military leader, he had divorced a wife he dearly loved only to marry a woman he hated at the request of Augustus for political gain (she also had divorced and remarried twice for political gain).  Did I mention that she, Julia, was the step sister of Tiberius?  She was such an adulterous woman that her list of lovers had to be exiled often to counter the scandals she created.  Yet, she was not to be out done by her perverse step-brother/husband.  He was a blatant pedophile who raped babies and young boys.  “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… the word of God came unto John…”

Tiberius Caesar

John received his assignment when Pilate reigned.  Need I say more?  “…Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea…the word of God came unto John…”

What about God’s word coming when Herod Antipas was Tetrarch?  Like Tiberius, he too divorced and remarried for political gain.  His new wife, Herodias, was also a relative.  She was married to his brother Phillip, but divorced him to marry Herod.  Herod was known for his wild and perverse parties.  The Bible tells us about one where the daughter of Herodias and Herod II danced to the applause of all and the affection of Herod.  Prompted by her mother for calling her out, John’s head on a platter would be Salome's pay.  Did I mention that Salome became the wife of Phillip also mentioned in Luke’s list?  Phillip married the daughter of his ex-wife who was now married to his brother!  “…and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis… the word of God came unto John…”

This was a time when evil men even ruled the “church”.  It was Annas and Caiaphas who hatched the plot to kill Jesus.  Need I say more?  Should I discuss the persecutions they oversaw which are spoken of in Acts?  “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

Truly this is an evil day, but what has changed?  Men have always been evil.  To combat this God sends His servants to be His voice crying out with a message of Hope in Christ.  Is He calling you to speak for Him?  Listen carefully!  You may hear that small still voice calling you to proclaim Christ; consequently, being a part of the solution and not the problem. He wants you to prepare the way of the LORD by warning those who may be in His path—calling them to reconciliation.  Speak quickly since Jesus Christ is Soon2Come! 

More on this another day…

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wide is the Gate

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

No excuses!!! It has been too long since I wrote.  I want to thank those who kept on me to write more.  Thank You!!

Have you ever wondered what gate Jesus was speaking about in the passage above? Of course we know He is symbolically speaking of Himself in that He calls Himself the door (or gate) in other passages such as John 10.  Yet, it still seems that He had a specific gate in mind.  It is quite possible that he actually did, and it was a gate that was a type of Himself given early in the history of Israel.  Let me explain.

First, consider the setting.  Jesus has gathered a large crowd and was in the closing portions of His famed Sermon on the Mount.  The people were absolutely in awe of the Lord's teaching.  They even said He taught as one having authority and  not like the other teachers of their day.  However, was Jesus just another itinerant rabbi sharing His insight about the Word of God?  No!  This is the Lord's only Savior--the Word made Flesh--the Lord our Righteousness.  He is the Aleph and the Tav (Alpha and Omega), an allusion to the sum total of all knowledge.  Many looked at Jesus that day, God's only savior, and saw Him as just a good preacher never realizing that He alone is the only way to the presence of the Father.  They were looking deep into the things of GOD's salvation only to turn away and exit towards the broad path of destruction.

Second, look at the immediate context.  Just prior Jesus discussed asking of God for His blessings.  What is the greatest blessing a soul can receive anyways?  Is it not salvation?  After the verses dealing with entering the straight gate we are warned to beware of false teachers.  What do these false teachers do?  Do they not lead men away from Christ and the truths of His salvation?  In essence, this entire passage is very related even to the place that after the warning Jesus says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven..."  Do you not enter a door?  Let's consider what door He may be speaking of--the wide gate that leads to a broad, open way as opposed to one that leads to a narrower walk.

Maybe we need to put "third" here.  As a man, wasn't Jesus very much Jewish--a descendant of Judah and an heir to King David?  Of course He was.  That means that as a man He would think on and teach from familiarity.  Having read the law many times as all other men His age had, He was very familiar with the instructions for the tabernacle.  There were three distinct entrances in the tabernacle.  The first was the only access to the sanctuary, the outer gate.  Of the three, it was the widest at 20 cubits.  It's colors; crimson, blue, and purple all pointed to the threefold ministry of Christ as prophet, priest, and king.  If you turned around at this point you were exiting back into that wide world with its many idols, traps, and snares.  Jesus was the gate!  Next came the veil which was directly behind the brass laver, and it was less than 10 cubits wide being held up on 5 pillars.  Finally, there was the veil of the Holy of Holies which was also less that 10 cubits wide and it had four pillars holding it.  Did you notice that the further one went in to access the presence of God the narrower the doorways were?

The Savior of all humanity was there teaching that day--God the Creator was in their midst. How many looked at the Door to Life and walked back out into the broad open expanse of the world that day? It is apparent that much of Jesus' message was on accessing the Kingdom of God, but many chose to turn from the hope they saw in Him and walk away to their own destruction.  It was as if they entered the tabernacle, looked around dissatisfied,  and then turned to leave through the widest of the gates never to return.  Truly, that is the path to ultimate destruction. To see Jesus and then to walk away is a tragedy!

If you happen to see Jesus for who He is today--seek to pass on to the altar God set up in the cross and leave your sin there.  Press onward and never seek to leave.  Jesus is GOD's only acceptable tabernacle!  Remember, He is soon 2 come!