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12 September - 2 Kings 18; Ezekiel 8; Luke 4


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Posted 12 September 2007 - 09:32 AM

First Portion

2 Kings 18


18:1 Now it happened in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 18:2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem: and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.. 18:3 He did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done. 18:4 He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for in those days the children of Israel burned incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan. 18:5 He trusted in Yahweh, the God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him. 18:6 For he joined with Yahweh; he didn’t depart from following him, but kept his commandments, which Yahweh commanded Moses. 18:7 Yahweh was with him; wherever he went forth he prospered: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and didn’t serve him. 18:8 He struck the Philistines to Gaza and its borders, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city. 18:9 It happened in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 18:10 At the end of three years they took it: in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 18:11 The king of Assyria carried Israel away to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 18:12 because they didn’t obey the voice of Yahweh their God, but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded, and would not hear it, nor do it. 18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them. 18:14 Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, “I have offended; return from me. That which you put on me, I will bear.” The king of Assyria appointed to Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 18:15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of Yahweh, and in the treasures of the king’s house. 18:16 At that time, Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of Yahweh, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. 18:17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field. 18:18 When they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder. 18:19 Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What confidence is this in which you trust? 18:20 You say (but they are but vain words), ‘There is counsel and strength for war.’ Now on whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me? 18:21 Now, behold, you trust in the staff of this bruised reed, even in Egypt. If a man leans on it, it will go into his hand, and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust on him. 18:22 But if you tell me, ‘We trust in Yahweh our God;’ isn’t that he whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?’ 18:23 Now therefore, please give pledges to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 18:24 How then can you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 18:25 Have I now come up without Yahweh against this place to destroy it? Yahweh said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”’”

18:26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Jews’ language, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

18:27 But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master, and to you, to speak these words? Hasn’t he sent me to the men who sit on the wall, to eat their own dung, and to drink their own water with you?” 18:28 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spoke, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 18:29 Thus says the king, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you out of his hand. 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh, saying, “Yahweh will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 18:31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah.’ For thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and everyone of you eat of his vine, and everyone of his fig tree, and everyone drink the waters of his own cistern; 18:32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and of honey, that you may live, and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, when he persuades you, saying, “Yahweh will deliver us.” 18:33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 18:34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 18:35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Yahweh should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

18:36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Don’t answer him.” 18:37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, came with Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.



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Posted 12 September 2007 - 09:33 AM

Second Portion

Ezekiel 8


8:1 It happened in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord Yahweh fell there on me. 8:2 Then I saw, and behold, a likeness as the appearance of fire; from the appearance of his waist and downward, fire; and from his waist and upward, as the appearance of brightness, as it were glowing metal. 8:3 He put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and the sky, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looks toward the north; where there was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. 8:4 Behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the appearance that I saw in the plain. 8:5 Then he said to me, Son of man, lift up your eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up my eyes the way toward the north, and see, northward of the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. 8:6 He said to me, Son of man, do you see what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel do commit here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But you shall again see yet other great abominations. 8:7 He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. 8:8 Then he said to me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had dug in the wall, behold, a door. 8:9 He said to me, Go in, and see the wicked abominations that they do here. 8:10 So I went in and saw; and see, every form of creeping things, and abominable animals, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed around on the wall. 8:11 There stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel; and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, every man with his censer in his hand; and the odor of the cloud of incense went up. 8:12 Then he said to me, Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in his rooms of imagery? for they say, Yahweh doesn’t see us; Yahweh has forsaken the land. 8:13 He said also to me, You shall again see yet other great abominations which they do. 8:14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of Yahweh’s house which was toward the north; and see, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz. 8:15 Then he said to me, Have you seen this, son of man? You shall again see yet greater abominations than these. 8:16 He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house; and see, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east. 8:17 Then he said to me, Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have turned again to provoke me to anger: and behold, they put the branch to their nose. 8:18 Therefore will I also deal in wrath; my eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 09:35 AM

Third Portion

Luke 4


4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness 4:2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. He ate nothing in those days. Afterward, when they were completed, he was hungry. 4:3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

4:4 Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

4:5 The devil, leading him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 4:6 The devil said to him, “I will give you all this authority, and their glory, for it has been delivered to me; and I give it to whomever I want. 4:7 If you therefore will worship before me, it will all be yours.”

4:8 Jesus answered him, “Get behind me Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”

4:9 He led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here, 4:10 for it is written,

‘He will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you;’
4:11 and,

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest perhaps you dash your foot against a stone.’”

4:12 Jesus answering, said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

4:13 When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until another time.

4:14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and news about him spread through all the surrounding area. 4:15 He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

4:16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 4:17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,

4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release to the captives,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to deliver those who are crushed,
4:19 and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

4:20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 4:21 He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

4:22 All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

4:23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will tell me this parable, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in your hometown.’” 4:24 He said, “Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 4:25 But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. 4:26 Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 4:27 There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian.”

4:28 They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. 4:29 They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. 4:30 But he, passing through their midst, went his way.

4:31 He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 4:32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 4:33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 4:34 saying, “Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!”

4:35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

4:36 Amazement came on all, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 4:37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region.

4:38 He rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 4:39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them. 4:40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 4:41 Demons also came out from many, crying out, and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Rebuking them, he didn’t allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

4:42 When it was day, he departed and went into an uninhabited place, and the multitudes looked for him, and came to him, and held on to him, so that he wouldn’t go away from them. 4:43 But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also. For this reason I have been sent.” 4:44 He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 10:39 AM

12 September 2008

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 12:53 PM

12 September 2009

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:30 AM

12 September 2010

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

WHAT JESUS QUOTED – AND DIDN’T QUOTE

We have read today of Jesus going into the synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah to the congregation and then telling them they were witnessing the fulfilment of the words he was quoting. The quotation was “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

Good news means the gospel, but why the reference to the “poor”? Well, the Sadducees and other religious leaders were more interested in the rich who could give them and the Temple money. Jesus had much better priorities and “the poor heard him gladly”.

Then Isaiah had written and Jesus quoted, “to proclaim liberty to the captives” How was that being fulfilled? Maybe they thought it was to free them from Roman rule, but Jesus meant, in applying these words to his forthcoming work – that they were captives to sin! His life would be a sacrificial offering to free them from that.

Then he quoted “recovery of sight to the blind” and while he did cure the blind, the even greater work was to cure spiritual blindness. Have a read of 2 Peter 1:5-11

But Jesus, in quoting from Isaiah 61, stopped in the middle of verse 2. Why? The first half of that verse says, “to proclaim the year (time) of the LORD’s favour” And that was the message he brought, and still brings to us, the ‘here and now’ was the time for both them and us to decide whether we accept the favour (grace) that is held out to us.

But soon, it will be the time for the second half of the verse, “and the day of vengeance of our God” We can see why he stopped short and did not quote that and it should remind you of our thoughts yesterday.

As this world becomes more and more like the days of Noah, the time is getting closer for the door to be shut – and the day of vengeance of our God to begin. On which side of the door will you be?
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Posted 12 September 2011 - 06:47 AM

12 September 2011

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME BECAUSE …”

We read today in Luke 4 of Jesus going into the synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah and then telling them they were witnessing the fulfilment of the words he was quoting. The quotation was “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

Good news means the gospel, but why the reference to the “poor”? Well, the Sadducees and other religious leaders were much more interested in the rich who could put much money into the Temple coffers. Jesus had worthier priorities and “the poor heard him gladly” – and, according to Matthew 5:3 Jesus also said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Isaiah had then written and Jesus quoted his words, really God’s words, “to proclaim liberty to the captives” How was that being fulfilled? Maybe they thought it was to free them from Roman rule, but Jesus meant that they were captives to sin! His life in one sense was dedicated as a sacrificial offering to free them (and us) from that “captivity.”

Then he quoted “recovery of sight to the blind” and while he did cure the blind, the even greater work was to cure spiritual blindness. Turn up and read 2 Peter 1:5-11 and note especially his comment “whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind.” Do we need curing from this kind of blindness?

But Jesus, in quoting from Isaiah 61, stopped in the middle of verse 2. Why? The first half of that verse says, “to proclaim the year (time) of the LORD’s favour” That was the message he brought, and still brings to us, the NOW was the time for both them and for us to decide whether we accept the favour (grace) that is held out to us.

But soon, it will be time for the second half of the verse, “and the day of vengeance of our God” We can see why he stopped short and did not quote that. As this world becomes more and more like the days of Noah, the time is getting closer for the door to be shut – and the day of vengeance of our God to begin. On which side of the door will you be?
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Posted 12 September 2012 - 03:26 AM

12 September 2012

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

"WE TRUST IN THE LORD OUR GOD"

What is it to trust – and to show your trust by your actions? That is, specifically, in the LORD as your God? We read in 2 Kings 18 today of an outstanding King who came to the throne in Jerusalem, “and he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.” [2 Kings 18:3] He is seen to be a genuine descendant of David, a really worthy king, his immediate father, Ahaz, does not get a mention.

The new king’s commitment to the LORD is tested to the uttermost. Isaiah had a lot to do with him, as we will read tomorrow. The Assyrian commander comes and shouts to the defenders on the walls of Jerusalem, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: on what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? [2 Kings 18:19-20]

We meditate on this point of view – do we see the Bible as “mere words”? Such is human nature, that it now appears this way to many church people as they wilt under the constant barrage of atheistic and humanist propaganda. Remember though what we read last week in 2 Corinthians 10, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion …” [2 Corinthians 10:4-5]

Back in Kings, 2 Kings 18:22 is to be noted, “if you say to me (says the Assyrian), ‘We trust in the LORD our God’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed …” This indicates that deserters to the Assyrian side had told him this. Hezekiah had decreed “You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem.” Is this not parallel with those who desert the real truth of the Bible to believe and worship in the way that appeals to them?

The last verse in the chapter tells us how the Jewish officials “came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him all the words of the Rabshekah” (the Assyrian commander). 2 Kings 19 tells us how the kings servants “come to Isaiah. Isaiah said to them, ‘Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard … I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumour and return to his own land …”

Several chapters in Isaiah are more clearly understood against the background of events during Hezekiah’s reign. Today we do not have a living Isaiah to go to - but this word of God is “living” – Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing the division of soul and spirit … discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Now turn up and note Hebrews 4:13.
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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:56 AM

12 September 2013

2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4

“DO NOT LET HEZEKIAH MAKE YOU …”

Our reading in 2 Kings 18 illustrates how those who trust in God are sometimes fully tested to cause them to examine the basis of their trust. It seems clear that deserters from among the defenders of Jerusalem had expressed their reasons for changing sides to the Assyrians. This followed the collapse of their faith in the LORD, their faith was not like that of King Hezekiah. They saw all the physical power of the Assyrians who now surrounded the city.

Maybe they had helped them perfect their Hebrew so that the Assyrian Commander could speak in Hebrew to scoff about the weakness of YHWH, the LORD to the defenders on the walls. The commander said ‘Do you think that mere words are a strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have now rebelled against me?” [2 Kings 18:19-20]

It is evident that the deserters had voiced their complaints - for the Commander goes on to say, “if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God’, is it not he whose high places Hezekiah has removed , saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘you shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?’” [2 Kings 18:22]

The Temple had been built to create one place of worship but many people still preferred to go up to the high places: you can see in India many such ‘high places’ where Hindu gods are worshipped. There is a sort of parallel today with some believers in God creating formulas of words which are not in the Bible and indeed, contradict it - like saying ‘ God is one in three persons.’

The battle of words reached its highest point when the Assyrian “called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! … ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you… Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us… do not listen to Hezekiah … he misleads you ..” [2 Kings 18:28-32]

Today we are surrounded by those who cast doubt on the foundations of our faith and the reality of the God of the Bible – are they undermining your faith? Tomorrow we will read of the reaction of Hezekiah – and how he strengthens his faith with the help of God’s great prophet Isaiah – a valuable lesson for us.
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Posted 12 September 2014 - 12:40 PM

12 September 2014
 
2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4 
 
“THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM”
            
How hard it is to hear or find any “good news” these days!  All nations and kingdoms appear to be in disarray especially in the Middle East, only Israel stands firm.  The nations think that their destiny is entirely in their own hands, but God’s purpose is being worked out and dedicated Bible students diligently watch events trying to see more clearly how the various prophecies apply. 
            
We read in 2 Kings 18 of the faith of the good king Zedekiah in Jerusalem, standing firm against the boasting of the invading Assyrians (which is called Iraq is today). We will read tomorrow of how the prophet Isaiah comes on the scene and, through God’s spirit, sees and says what God will cause to happen because Hezekiah is a spiritually minded king.
            
In contrast, the prophet Ezekiel (chapter 8) is caused to be carried in vision to Jerusalem and made aware of the abominations taking place in the Temple; for him, it is the opposite kind of news of what will soon happen!  Ezekiel is told that God is so angry that, when trouble comes, “though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” [Ezekiel 8:18]
            
In Luke’s gospel (chapter 4) we read how Jesus travels to many places and heals many, and “the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” [Luke 4:42-43]  Those who really listened were few, most were fascinated by seeing miracles or being miraculously fed but the really important work of Christ was proclaiming, “The good news of the kingdom of God.”  
 
This was not as many have imagined over the centuries up until today – a ’sky kingdom’ but, as in the ‘Lords’ prayer, ‘Thy will be done on earth” – What wonders “Isaiah … saw … it shall come to pass in the latter days … the house (temple) of the LORD shall be established … and all nations shall flow to it …” [Isaiah 2:1-2] Jesus came to bring this wondrous message of God’s ultimate purpose for the earth - to happen when he returns.  Let us ever more surely make this our hope and expectation and share it with anyone who will listen. 
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Posted 12 September 2015 - 08:14 AM

12 September 2015
 
2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4 
 
"IT IS WRITTEN”
            
Our chapter 4 in Luke today begins by describing the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness - "for forty days".  He is alone, we do not read of the calling of his disciples - until tomorrow's chapter.  So how did Luke know of this event?  None of the disciples could have told him - well not as eye witnesses! Matthew also records them in his Gospel in chapter 4, but it is not until his 9th chapter that Matthew (Levi) himself is called to follow Jesus. 
            
It is evident that they only knew of his temptations because Jesus himself told them - and he told them in parables.  At least some of the temptations cannot be literal, such as in Luke 4:9 today, when the devil "set him on the pinnacle of the temple."  Also when he was shown "all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time" [Luke 4:5]
            
The lesson to the disciples - and to us - is clear!  Jesus' intimate knowledge of God's word, "it is written" - and of the 'power' of its inspired message - was in his heart - and came readily to mind and 'inspired' his words and actions in turning away from all forms of temptation. The writer of Hebrews states we “have a high priest … who in every respect has been tempted as we are …” [Hebrews 4:15]
            
Have we put God's words in our hearts - with many years of meditative reading?  If not, let us start today! The knowledge of God's purposes, especially of his soon coming kingdom are, said Jesus, " like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found ... and sells all that he has and buys that field." [Matthew 13:44] Treasure - when possessed - has to be used!  When our Lord comes - and how soon now - he is going to ask you and I how we have used it. 
            
We also noted Luke 4:17-19 of our chapter in Luke; it is the occasion when Jesus "went into the synagogue" and read from the prophet Isaiah who had been inspired to forth tell the work Jesus was to do including proclaiming "good news to the poor ... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."  We find this passage in Isaiah 61:1-2 - But what do the next words in Isaiah say, words which Jesus did not read because it was not yet time for them to be fulfilled. They are "the day of vengeance of our God."  How long now, before that day comes and what "is written" is happening before our eyes!   In Luke 12:40 we will read, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
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Posted 12 September 2016 - 01:09 PM

12 September 2016
 
2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4 
 
WHAT JESUS QUOTED – AND DIDN’T QUOTE
 
We have read today of Jesus going into the synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah to the congregation and then telling them they were witnessing the fulfillment of the words he was quoting. The quotation was “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” 
 
Good news means the gospel, but why the reference to the “poor”? Well, the Sadducees and other religious leaders were more interested in the rich who could give them and the Temple money. Jesus had much better priorities and ”the poor heard him gladly”. Then Isaiah had written and Jesus quoted, “to proclaim liberty to the captives” How was that being fulfilled? Maybe they thought it was to free them from Roman rule, but Jesus meant, in applying these words to his forthcoming work – that they were captives to sin! His life would be a sacrificial offering to free them from that.
 
Then he quoted “recovery of sight to the blind” and while he did cure the blind, the even greater work was to cure spiritual blindness. Have a read of 2 Peter 1:5-11
 
But Jesus, in quoting from Isaiah 61, stopped in the middle of Isaiah 61:2. Why? The first half of that verse says, “to proclaim the year (time) of the LORD’s favour” And that was the message he brought, and still brings to us. The ‘here and now’ was the time for both them and us to decide whether we accept the favour (grace) that is held out to us.
 
But soon, it will be the time for the second half of the verse, “and the day of vengeance of our God” We can see why he stopped short and did not quote that and it should remind you of our thoughts yesterday. 
 
As this world becomes more and more like the days of Noah, the time is getting closer for the door to be shut – and the day of vengeance of our God to begin. On which side of the door will you be?
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- DC


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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:41 AM

12 September 2017
 
2 Kings 18
Ezekiel 8
Luke 4
 
"DO NOT LET HEZEKIAH MAKE YOU …" 
 
Our reading in 2 Kings [2 Kings 18] illustrates how those who trust in God are sometimes fully tested to cause them to examine the basis of their trust. It seems clear that deserters from among the defenders of Jerusalem had expressed their reasons for changing sides to the Assyrians. This followed the collapse of their faith in the LORD; their faith was not like that of King Hezekiah. They saw all the physical power of the Assyrians who now surrounded the city and the sight overwhelmed their faith..
 
Maybe the deserters had helped the Assyrians perfect their Hebrew so that their Commander could speak in Hebrew to scoff about the weakness of YHWH, the LORD, to the defenders on the walls. The commander said "Do you think that mere words are a strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust that you have now rebelled against me?" [2 Kings 18:19-20]  
 
It is evident that the deserters had voiced their complaints - for the Commander goes on to say, "if you say to me, 'We trust in the LORD our God', is it not he whose high places Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, 'you shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?'" [2 Kings 18:22]. 
 
The Temple had been built to create one place of worship but many people still preferred to go up to the high places: you can see in India many such 'high places' where people go to worship Hindu gods. There is a sort of parallel today with some believers in God creating formulas of words which are not in the Bible and indeed, contradict it - like saying 'God is one in three persons.' 
 
The battle of words reached its highest point when the Assyrian "called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, 'Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! … Do not let Hezekiah deceive you… Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, 'The LORD will surely deliver us' … do not listen to Hezekiah … he misleads you ...'" [2 Kings 8:28-32]
 
Today we are surrounded by those who cast doubt on the foundations of our faith and the reality of the God of the Bible! Some advocate practices which God's word plainly condemns, as example 1 Timothy 1:10. Is this undermining our faith? Tomorrow we will read of the reaction of Hezekiah – how he strengthens his faith with the help of God's great prophet Isaiah – a valuable lesson for us – to take God's words fully into our hearts – and be strong in faith. 
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- DC





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