Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 28 February 2019

“…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” 1 Timothy 6:14-15 (NIV).

It isn’t up to you and me.   Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ, will appear at a time of God’s own choosing.   The Father already knows when it will happen; the Son doesn’t; their Spirit doesn’t.  The Son, Jesus, will appear in the clouds and all the world will see Him, acknowledge Him, revere Him even as many won’t believe it’s actually Him.  You and I (and our world), despite our knowledge and ‘advanced humanity,’ have no say in this in any way.   It isn’t up to us.   It’s up to Him.

It also isn’t up to you and me that God is blessed.   So many folks today spend much of their time hating God.   That isn’t anything new.   It goes all the way back to Cain, even further if you consider the fall of Satan.   Satan hated that God was God and he wasn’t.   So did Cain.   So did every one of us whose sins, small and large, prove we choose anything other than God.  Yet our rebellion from the fact of God Himself doesn’t change the fact that He is blessed to be Himself.   We bless Him with our worship, honor, and love, and He blesses us simply by being Himself, then sharing that with us.   We don’t deserve such goodness, yet He uses our lives to then revere and love others around us.  It’s not about us because it is about Him.   The more we get in touch with that simple fact, the more we become less stressed by the realization that it isn’t up to us that God is holy, blessed, magnificent, just and loving and, well, God.

And it isn’t up to you and me that God is the ONLY ruler, the ultimate king, the Lord above all other earthly lords, the highest authority.   He’s God and we aren’t.   He allows earthly authorities to rule us, or rule over us.   He uses their actions to boundary the lives in which we carry out His work here.   Yet all rulers are subordinate to Him, even the despots.  None is more powerful than the Lord God, and none has the power or dominion that He has.   It’s impossible for them to have those things because we are mere mortals and He isn’t.  God was God and sovereign before the first king, dictator or president, and He will be there when, one day, all bow down in deference to Him.

It’s important to remember these things because we tend to fall away from God if we aren’t frequently reminded.  We fail to show that we know He is God and we aren’t, and we substitute faith in Him with misguided faith in un-divine mankind.

For further reading:   1 Timothy 6:13-21.

Sovereign Lord, You are God, the Only God.   All praise to only You.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 6 December 2016

In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”  And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 5, verses 5-6.

First let’s discuss the Son and Father:  there is nobody else in all of human history who can hold that title other than Jesus Christ.   Christ is the only Son of God the Father while still being one with the Father.  He could have taken on the glory of accepting God’s calling to be an ordained high priest of the Jewish faith, but He didn’t.   He could have assumed God’s glory for Himself, but He didn’t.   If He had done these things, He wouldn’t have been the perfect Christ who satisfied the hundreds of Old Testament Biblical prophecies about the Christ.   And yet Jesus did become the ultimate priest, the ultimate pastor and Good Shepherd of God’s flock that is the church.   It is only Jesus who intercedes for us with the glorious Father, who demands perfection to satisfy His just holiness.   It is only Jesus who sacrificed Himself so that something could be done that had never been done before and couldn’t have been done since.   Only Jesus could atone for all of humanity’s wrongdoings; nobody before or since has so satisfied all the requirements of being the penultimate and perfect Passover lamb.

And then there’s Melchizedek.   Verse 6 quotes Psalm 110, which says “you are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizidek.”  Perhaps ancient Jewish discussions focused a lot on Melchizidek, who is a minor, almost obscure figure in the early part of Genesis.   But he was important.  Melchizedek is the “king of Salem” who came out to meet Abraham and to whom Abraham gave a tenth of all he owned (providing precedence for our practice of ten percent tithing).   Historically, almost nothing else is known of him though it’s interesting to note that “king of Salem” likely means that Melchizedek was the ruler or high priest of Salem.   That location was, according to some scholars, what became Jerusalem.  How fascinating is it, then, in knowing this considering the later importance of Jerusalem to the stories of King David, King Jesus, and even in our world today.

Some Bible scholars say that Melchizidek may have been a pre-incarnate Jesus, come to reside for a short time with His people but, as the author of Hebrews notes, “a priest forever” (and the only priest forever).  Other Bible scholars think Melchizekek may actually have been Shem, the son of Noah.   Shem had been on the Ark with Noah and the rest of their family, and is regarded as the father of the line of Semites (“Semite” being derived from the name Shem).   Shem was the son whom Noah blessed after Noah’s post-Flood sin of drunkenness.  He lived an extraordinarily long life both before and after the flood; after the flood he and so many others bore many children to repopulate a lonely and empty earth.  If you flow out the timeline, you find that there is a short period of overlap in the lives of Shem and Abraham, so the theory becomes possible, maybe even plausible.  That about exhausts my non-internet-researched knowledge of the topic; if more is to be known, we’ll have to consult Google, Bible scholars, or both.

In a few chapters we’ll talk more about Melchizidek; much of Chapter 7 is about him.  Whether he was the pre-incarnate Jesus or Shem or someone else altogether, if we navel-gaze about who he was we miss the point of what he represents in this verse (and in Psalm 110).   Melchizidek was the example of an ultimate high priest, one who would be able to intercede for man on man’s behalf.   Pastors do this.   They are men of character who both minister to us in ways we need, and pray to God on our behalf, which we also very much need.   The priesthood was and is a necessary function to human existence even when we don’t hold it in regard.   Pastors and priests, other than Joel Osteen, don’t make much money.   We hold them in high esteem yet we insist that the most effective of them live in near poverty.  Like God Himself, when times are good most of us don’t seem to want our pastors around, but when we fall on hard times we want them there immediately.   Whether he was Jesus, Shem or someone else, this is the kind of person Melchizidek must have been.   He must have been a deeply spiritual man who sought God’s will and God’s wisdom.   He must have been a man of impeccable character.  Melchizidek is a man from whom we can learn much even if we actually know very little about him.

Hold on to these thoughts…we’ll need them in a little while.

For more reading:   Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 6:20, Hebrews 7:1-22, Psalm 110:4.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the life of Melchizidek, and for the example He set in how You want Your priests and pastors to live here.   Indeed, Lord, for how You desire all of us to live.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 13 October 2015

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Mark 11, verses 7-10.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, we hold these truths to be self-evident.   So did the crowd on that Sunday morning in Jerusalem.   They had heard of this Jesus for years and now He was there in person.   Many in the crowd had seen Him, listened to Him, followed Him, gotten to know Him, and realized that He was the long-promised Messiah.   And there He was, finally, entering Jerusalem to make things right.

For so long things hadn’t been right.   For so long, religion and God had seemed like separate things.   And the Romans and their Herodian puppets had ruled over Israel with iron tyranny.   The countless laws, rules and regulations required by both the Romans and the religious made life insufferable and poverty unending. For so long, things had been so wrong, so far from the life in the land of milk and honey that had been promised to their ancestors.   The Jews of Jesus’ day had been promised a king who would set things right, who would restore the heart of Israel back to what it used to be, what it should have always been.

And here He was:   here was the King who had been promised.   The people in the streets knew who Jesus was because it was self-evident, because a swelling crowd of followers had been growing since He set himself on the road to Jerusalem.   Word gets around in a small town and Jesus passed through many small towns.   By the time He got to the gates of Jerusalem, Jesus was fully known and eagerly expected.   The city expected Him to become its royal leader who would make Israel great again.   The centuries of disgrace and servitude would be at an end.

Yet the crowd also acknowledged the self-evident truth of Jesus’ divine nature.   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”   That wasn’t something said about the chief priests and Jewish elders.   It wasn’t said about the House of Herod, or the Roman overseers, or even the Roman emperor Tiberius (who fancied himself a god). It would only have been said about the Son of God and that’s who the crowds were saying Jesus was.   They had heard His words; they had heard how He fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, about how He kept God’s promises and how He lived a life without sin.   They had come to know that Jesus was the promised one, seeing how He was unlike anyone else they had ever seen or heard of. They had seen His miracles and heard about the amazing love that He preached.   They had fallen in love with His message of forgiveness, patience, wisdom, peace, servanthood, and following God.   “Hosanna” they all cried and they gave Jesus the kind of welcome due to an approaching king.   They welcomed Him like the King of Kings He was.

And in five days they would want Him dead.

Hosanna to You, Lord Jesus.   Blessed are You who was and is the Lord, who came as the King of Kings serving as the servant of all.

Read Mark 11, 4-11.