Nuggets – Interpreting the Bible

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

One basic reason why so many people seem to have trouble understanding the Bible is that they try to “interpret” it to fit their private opinions. The Greek word for “private” (idios) is related to such English words as “idiom” and “idiosyncrasy,” and this key passage warns us against any exposition of Scripture that is based on the teacher’s pet doctrinal or behavioral prejudices. A reader or hearer of the Word of God whose “heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing” will be unable to “understand” (Matthew 13:15) because he comes with his mind and heart already bound to his own opinions.

The Bible does not need to be “interpreted” at all. In every other New Testament reference to “interpretation,” except the one in our text (which means “explanation” or “exposition”), the meaning is simply “translation.” The Bible does, of course, need to be correctly translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and other national languages, but that is all. God is able to say what He means, and He wants to communicate His authoritative Word to men and women of obedient hearts, who are willing to devote diligent study to all the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15Hebrews 5:12-14), to obey them (James 1:22), and then teach them to others (2 Timothy 2:2, 24-26) carefully, and clearly, and graciously.

To such students of the Word, the promise is: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:3-5). HMM

From Days of Praise

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ATB 50 Well Done

With the ever growing expansion of cable television has come it would seem an endless
variety of programs. It has been said that the variety of the programs that we can
view via television range from A to Z. There is it seems something for everybody. No
one should feel left out.

Just like everyone else I have my favorites as well. Be if from sports to say the nature
based programs there is always something that I can view. Having a choice is not a
problem.

I am someone who is drawn to the type of programs such as those ones where
handymen are working on homes or say building projects. Now I am going to be the
first to admit, I am not a handyman.

Truth be told it is something that I was never interested in let along good at. I am at the level of being very basic at best when it comes to fixing things. I am as I have mentioned on many occasion a firm believer in knowing your role. Being that handy person is not my thing nor is it something that I have aspired to become.

That having been said I still watch with interest how these handymen repair and fix
up things via their projects. What appears to be frankly a mess at the beginning over
time becomes a finished project. Invariably at the end of each program I heard the
handymen quote a phrase as the show ends. They close by saying “ well done.”

Another form of programs that I will spend time watching are the cooking shows. I
am amazed at the level of intensity that the cooks and or chefs display when they are
preparing a dish or meal. Their concentration and focus is 100% on the task that they
have undertaken and they don’t waiver even a little bit as they work towards their
end goal. As the competition or demonstration comes to an end, just as is the case with those handyman shows each cook looks to utter or hear that same phrase “ well done .”

Well done . Two words that I believe that each of us look forward to hearing. Two
words that we at times have as well said to ourselves as we have put the finishing
touches on something that we were doing.

Well done serves as a confirmation of what we have completed in a positive manner.
As well these two words also provide us with a sense of success knowing that we have
accomplished what we set out to do.

In our everyday life we seek to obtain affirmation of what we are working on via our
job or within our communities or as much as any other place within our families and
homes. We long to hear or know that those two words stand before us, well done .

As human beings it is in our DNA to seek approval. We are always on a quest to
have that sense of fulfillment of knowing that we are successful and appreciated and
thus our souls long to hear and feel the words well done .

With all that we have done in these earthly tents, the challenge for us as the body of
Christ is to not just long to hear the words well done from those within this earthly
plane but to more than anything else be blessed to hear those two words from the Lord
himself. ‘” Well done .”

For all that we will accomplish in this journey while we live on this side of heaven, for
all the words of appreciation that we will receive while we yet continue to move
forward during our time here, nothing will compare with that moment when we
await to hear those two words from our Lord and savior. “ Well done .”

For all of our accomplishments that we will complete during our life, for all that we
will do for others, what will stand will not be what we have heard and been told by
this world. What will stand as the ultimate measuring stick will be those words from
Christ himself.

As Christians what remains paramount is that we are mindful that what will matter
isn’t what the world will say or approve of. Nor will it matter whether or not the
world will understand what we did for Christ or why. Because when it is all said and
done each of us will stand before Christ and give an accounting of what we have done.
The standard of acceptance or excellence will be that which was done in His name.

To each have been given talents and gifts. Though everyone may not have the same
talents and gifts we all have been blessed with a talent or gift from God. To that end
to whom much is given, much is required.

Ours is not to compare or compete with others as it regards our particular gift or
talent. It is simply a matter of what we were bestowed with from God being used in a
matter that gives him the glory.

One of the most telling stories in our bible is of course that of the talents. Each person
was given a talent. Their master entrusted them with talents and then it was up to
each individual to decide what to do with them. As the scriptures reflect two individuals took what they were blessed with and created an increase. The third person of course chose to do nothing with his.

Where then will you stand? Will you be among those who will take what the
Lord had blessed you with and create an increase that glorifies him? Or will you
decide that what you have been blessed with is for you and you alone.

This world is not our home. It is merely a temporary place for us as Christians. We
who are children of the king know that one day we will be reunited with God. On
that fateful day which is promised to each and every one of us my prayer is that we
will stand ready with great excitement and anticipation as we wait to hear those two
words that will resonate throughout eternity with our souls, “ Well Done .”

To God be the Glory
Alan T. Black

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Nuggets – Praise from the Creation

“Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.” (Psalm 69:34)

We may not yet understand the full purpose of God in creation, but at least one aspect of that purpose is that all things created should somehow praise their Creator. This theme occurs often in Scripture, especially in the psalms. For example, in addition to the exhortation in our text:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1).

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh” (Psalm 96:11-13).

“All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (Psalm 145:10).

“Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. . . . Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl” (Psalm 148:3-4, 7-10).

The Lord Jesus said that if men should refuse to praise Him and “should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Yet even though the whole creation—in its beauty, complexity, and providential orderliness—gives continual praise to its Creator, men perversely have “worshipped and served the creature [or more aptly stated, the creation] more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever” (Romans 1:25).

How poignant, therefore, is the final verse of the book of Psalms: “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:6). HMM

From Days of Praise

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Looking for Our Mother, New Jerusalem

Immortality Road

The old hymn goes: “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.”

[The song comes to a screeching stop. And this newsflash cuts through the ether of our minds: Heaven is coming to earth. The capital of the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Jerusalem, the city built by God and not man, is coming to earth, along with its King.]

And this spectacular city will come down out of heaven and land right over the current geographical location called the Holy Land. This is what makes that piece of real estate “holy” in the pure sense of the word. It has been set apart for the landing zone when the heavenly Jerusalem comes down from above.

So we should be singing about this city. We should be singing about how the New Jerusalem…

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Nuggets – Going and Returning

“I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” (Genesis 46:4)

Imagine the turmoil Jacob must have felt when he heard the news that Joseph was alive and wanted him to move to Egypt. His son, whom he had thought dead for many years, was not only alive but governor of Egypt! As difficult as this was for him to believe, Jacob no doubt had myriad other emotions crowding in on him. God had directed him to Canaan, as with his fathers Abraham and Isaac. This was the land of promise, and yet circumstances seemed to indicate that God was leading him away. In the past, God had always spoken to him directly before each important move, and Jacob must have had that in mind as they traveled.

The company stopped at Beersheba, the southern boundary of the promised land. Here Jacob had lived with his parents (Genesis 28:10). Here God had repeated His covenant to Isaac (Genesis 26:24), and here Jacob decided to build an altar to ask God for clear leading before leaving the land (Genesis 46:1), and God graciously answered: “I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation” (Genesis 46:3). Furthermore, God assured Jacob, in our text, that when His purposes in Egypt were accomplished, He would “bring thee up again” into the land of promise. Many details were as yet unknown to Jacob, but he gladly obeyed.

This pattern is applicable to us. As we endeavor to follow God’s leading, we should proceed as best we can discern the situation (assuming there is no scriptural teaching to the contrary), all the while praying for wisdom and clarification. He may shut the door and redirect, or He may confirm our decision. We can proceed in the confidence that He will go with us, and when the time is right, He will lead us on. JDM

From Days of Praise

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Nuggets – Zechariah's Visions: Transition to the Branch

“Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.” (Zechariah 6:11-12)

The instructions to Zechariah focus on setting up model leaders for Judah. Joshua is crowned high priest, and crowns of authority are issued to others who had returned with Ezra and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 6:14). These were all to be a memorial toward the future coming of the Branch who would come and complete the work of God (Zechariah 6:12-15).

The role of the Branch is told to Zechariah earlier in the fourth vision among the myrtle trees. He would be the servant who would do the Lord’s will as the Branch of righteousness who was the “stone” with “seven eyes” (Zechariah 3:8-9).

The promise of ultimate rule is clear in Scripture (Isaiah 9:7 and Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16). The impact of this prophecy in Zechariah extends to the millennium and even into eternity. “And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you” (Zechariah 6:15).

The little band of remnants needed assurance from their Lord. They, like us, needed to shift their eyes beyond the moment to the end-game. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). HMM III

From Days of Praise

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Nuggets – Zechariah's Visions: The Four Chariots

“And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.” (Zechariah 6:1)

These four great angelic creatures appear in several roles in Scripture. They are specifically identified as “four spirits” and are positioned “before the LORD of all the earth” (Zechariah 6:5). They come out from between two mountains of brass to walk “to and fro through the earth” (Zechariah 6:7). The horses are the same color as the horses in Revelation 6, indicating that these horsemen are age-long angelic authorities that execute and implement God’s will in the earth.

The four living creatures seen by Ezekiel may be the chariots that the horsemen are riding in Ezekiel 1:5. Those living creatures have four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 1:6), and a “wheel was on the earth beside each living creature” (Ezekiel 1:15).

The similar descriptions and connection with the book of world judgment in Zechariah and Revelation argue for a close relationship with four special creatures that are directly positioned with, and to, the throne of the Second Person of the Godhead—the Lamb of God. The differences are tantalizing but can easily be understood as eyewitness testimony by different people at different times in history.

Zechariah was told of their work in the “north country” (Babylon, Gog, and Magog) and in the “south country” (Egypt, Libya). Given Daniel’s previous prophecy of the north and south (Daniel 11), Zechariah would understand the future focus of the horsemen as history moved forward. “They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). HMM III

From Days of Praise

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Nuggets – Zechariah's Visions: The Ephah and the Women

“Then the angel that talked with me . . . said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.” (Zechariah 5:5-7)

The ephah is a volume measure, similar to a bushel basket (Leviticus 19:36). The woman inside is defined as “wickedness” (Zechariah 5:8). The ephah is lead-sealed (contained) by God Himself and is taken (while contained) to Shinar by two women with wings like a stork (Zechariah 5:9-11).

These two women are difficult to identify. It is possible that they are Aholah and Aholibah described in Ezekiel 23, with Aholah representing Samaria as an adulteress with Assyria and Aholibah substituting for Jerusalem as the adulterous wife of Jehovah. It is also possible that these two women could represent Israel and later the church involvement with the worldly system of Babylon. In either case, these two women enable “wickedness” to be brought to Shinar and allow Babylon to be “established” (Zechariah 5:11). The New Testament counterpart of these events is probably the decadent woman pictured in Revelation 17.

This segment of Zechariah’s visions seems to set the stage for God’s harvest. There is the vision of the scroll of judgment impacting the entire earth; then this basket of “wickedness” that resembles conditions “through all the earth.” And lastly the house in the land of Shinar that is “established” before the four chariots (Zechariah 6) begin their final work. While these prophecies are not pleasant to anticipate, God “hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). HMM III

From Days of Praise

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Don’t be moved from Christ

Psalm 62:5…My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him

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From Egypt to Sinai: Exodus 13-32

Will we go God’s way or ours?

Bible in a Year Blog

golden-calf

You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

The journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai took, according to tradition, 45 days. Five days later Moses received the law, so Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, is forever tied up with the law in the Jewish observance of the feast. The Israelites were at Sinai another 40 days as Moses spoke with God. Such a short time and yet so much happened.

  • Pharaoh’s army was destroyed
  • God provided water and bread (manna) even as the Israelites grumbled
  • God gave the Ten Commandments and other laws
  • Moses confirmed a covenant between God and the Israelites, and they agreed to obey the law
  • Instructions were given to Moses on the construction of the Ark and Tabernacle, and on the attire and consecration of the priests
  • The people turned away from God to idol worship when Moses was delayed on the mountain

We…

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