Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Ribbon of Love and Salvation

As I started the study of Matthew chapter 21, I saw something beautiful. I had been seeing glimpses of a beautiful ribbon of love that is woven through the scriptures. As Jesus rode in on a donkey's colt, before He was crucified, the people started celebrating. This kind of celebrating started with the Feast of Booths. 

The Lord gives the command, for this feast to be celebrated by all the people, to Moses in Lev. 23:39-44.  If you read these verses in Leviticus, you will see that the Lord meant this to be what we would call a vacation. He calls them to remember Him first and foremost but, He plans a rest for them. Camping if you will. He calls them to celebrate, eat  and rest. He tells them to gather beautiful branches from the trees and construct "tents" to live in for 7 days. Sadly, we only have record of the children of Israel celebrating this feast one time before the captivity. (Neh. 8:17). 

Once the children of Israel were back in the land after the captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah reinstated the feast of Tabernacles, or Booths. 

 It was a time of great celebration.  Ungers Bible dictionary gives a very good description of this festival. They would literally construct temporary living structures that had to be at least 3 sides. They would have thatched roofs on them but they had to be able to still see the sky. The Lord wanted them to be able to see the stars through the roof. They would decorate their own booths as well as the whole city, and then they would celebrate, eating and sleeping in these temporary shelters for 7 days. All native born Jews were required to participate. Jews would travel from wherever they were living to join in this feast. It was called their "days of Joy". There was something wonderful happening every day. There were priests by the hundreds involved with keeping the candles lit, preparing the sacrifices, blowing the silver trumpets that heralded the next phase of the celebration, and carrying out the processions involved in gathering the needed supplies for the temple ceremonies. One of the most important of these ceremonies involved the pouring of the water and the wine.

 Everyday the priests would lead a procession of the people to an ancient pool call Shiloach. They would fill a golden flask with a half a liter of water and return to the temple. The priests would do this over and over again until the water basin on the side of the altar at the top of the stairs was was full. They drew this water because of the verse in Isaiah which said "with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation" (Isa. 12:3)  As they would re-enter the temple gates the people would cheer and wave their palm branches in celebration. The water would be taken up the steps of the great altar and poured in to a golden basin on one side of the altar. There was a corresponding basin on the other side of the altar which held wine. Once a day the wine and the water would be released from a spout on the bottom of the basins Then the water and the wine would run down the great steps of the altar and pool together in a large basin at the bottom of the steps. As the water started to pour down, the great crowds that had gathered in the temple, would start to chant and sing the great Hallel which would be lead by the designated priests.

It is into this scene that we enter when we read of Jesus standing up in the temple, in the book of John. He says "If any man is thirsty let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me as the Scripture said From his innermost being shall flow  rivers living water" (John 7:37-38) . We are told in the proceeding verse  in John, that it was the last and greatest day of the feast.

 Jesus probably waited until the great Hallel was finished but it was during the incredible sight of seeing the wine and the water mingle that Jesus stood to gather all men to Himself. He knew that He, Himself was the well of salvation that they needed to draw the water from. 
Ok, so back to the ribbon. Now consider the last week of Jesus's earthly life . We start this week with Jesus's triumphal entry  into Jerusalem where the crowd spontaneously starts to celebrate as if it were the Feast of Tabernacles. We are told in the book of Matthew that they were waving palm branches, spreading there garment on the road and shouting verses from the great Hallel. They were shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David".
Jesus prepares and eats a meal with His disciples. He takes wine and says, "this is My blood of the new covenant  which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" 
After the last supper, the crucifixion was fast approaching. He uses the wine at the last supper to say that it is  His blood that will be poured out . He stands in the Temple and says that He is the answer for a thirsty world as the water of salvation pours down the steps of the altar and as He is crucified and dies, the veil of the temple, which kept the Holy of Holies sacred, is torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). He is then pierced in the side from which flows water and blood, mingling together upon the earth from the temple of His earthly body. Flowing from His heart of love. The great water  and wine of salvation. 

You might think that this is the end of the ribbon but it is not! Turn with me to the end of the book of Zachariah. In chapter 14, (we are reading about the future now)  Zachariah is describing for us what will happen during the time of the great Millennium  when Jesus will rule and reign upon the earth for a thousand years. He will rule from a restored and glorified Jerusalem. In 14:16 it speaks of the people of the earth going to Jerusalem to worship the King Jesus and to celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles. In Verse 14:17-19, we are told that there will be plagues and punishments for those who do not travel (during the Millennium) to celebrate the Feast with Jesus the King
We will celebrate this feast with Him. We will see the water (representing the living water)  and the wine (representing His blood being poured out) running down the steps of the altar. The bible says it will be a celebration, probably with the cheering, laughing and singing and probably with the silver trumpets!  You can read about the Millennial temple in Ezekiel 40-47. it is wonderful reading which makes the Millennial period seem more like the old testament than the new. This is incredible to me, that we will see the scriptures come to life. To actually walk with Jesus upon this earth, to see Him, worship Him, and celebrate Him as the almighty King is beyond imagination and yet that is what the bible says will happen during the millennium.  

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21) 
He loves us! He even has our vacations planned. (even though I don't like camping) **   Be overwhelmed with His love for you today.
God Bless,
Love Nancy  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Matthew chapter 21

We start chapter 21 where we left off in chapter 20. Jesus the disciples, and a great multitude, approach Jerusalem. This would be Jesus's last trip to Jerusalem in His earthly body. Eerdman's says that some historians believe that the crowd was probably growing as they approached the city. The great multitude that had been following Him from behind is now joined by the people coming from the city who had seen the great procession coming and had heard that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. As the crowd from the city reaches Jesus, they turn and are now leading the great celebration into the city.

It is in this incredible scene of noise and celebration that Jesus sends two of his disciples to get the donkeys that He would use to ride into the city. He truly enters the city as the conquering hero. The crowd begins to lay the garments off of their bodies and palm branches on the road before Him. For some of them, this outer garment or coat, was their most prized possession. If they were poor ,it was their warmth and shelter.  (Exodus.22:26-27).  One of the most interesting things about this whole scene is that, the multitude begins to act as though they are involved in the Feast of Tabernacles. They gather palm branches to wave. They started to shout "Hosanna" which originally meant "save now" and was a form of prayer and supplication but became a term of joy and blessing that they bestowed on each other. They also began to shout and sing parts of the great Hallel. The great Hallel is Psalms 113-118. The Jews still chant and sing this part of scripture at certain festivals including the Feast of Tabernacles and at Passover. So the multitude was shouting, and singing, "hosanna to the Son of David" The Son of David meant the Messiah. The crowd was acknowledging Jesus to be the promised Prince of the line of David. Jesus was allowing Himself to be treated as a returning King and hailed as the Messiah.This had never happened before.
I am sure that the disciples thought that He must be wrong about the crucifixion. They were witnessing the crowd acknowledging Him as their King. He was riding on their garments. The disciples were probably thinking that they were about to see Him take His place as the long awaited Messiah.
Jesus entered the city, with His great procession of people, and went to the Temple. Mark 11:11,Tells us that He just looked around that evening and went back to the Temple the next day.  Where He over turns the money changers tables and basically throws out the people who were in the temple selling animals for sacrifice. According to Eerdman's, The selling took place in the court of the Gentiles. The priests would lease the space to these merchants and they would  sometimes share in a percentage of the profits.
The people were required to provide animals for sacrifice at the Temple. Many times  they would bring  animals with them for the sacrifices. The animals would be inspected by the priests and the people would be informed that their animals were not flawless enough and they would be forced to buy a new animal from the Temple merchants. The dove sellers were selling dove's to the poor and the money changers were there to make sure that the coins given to the temple were only Jewish coins. They needed shekels. No coin which had the image of a heathen ruler,  or any heathen image on it, could be given to the temple. Of course the coins were exchanged for a percentage of their value paid to the money changers.
While working on this study;
I did a little looking around at ancient coins  on the internet. This is a very interesting subject. You can use Google images to look at some of these old coins. There were coins actually minted to humiliate and remind the Jews of a failed uprising or insurrection. I saw one minted with a Jewish woman mourning while sitting dejectedly under a palm tree.
In verse 21:13, He says to them "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robbers den."  He actually combines 2 verses here. He combines Isa. 56:7 and Jere. 7:11. 
Verse 21:14 says the blind and the lame came to Him. The language infers, without number, and He healed them. In Matthew 11:5, Jesus tells the disciples of John the baptist to go back to John and tell him that the blind receive sight. Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 35:5 where the kingdom of the Messiah is being described. In verse 21:14, He is actually standing in the temple after entering the city being heralded as the Messiah, fulfilling the prophesy in Isaiah. He is being heralded by the children with the same shouting and singing as the day before when He rode into Jerusalem, "Hosanna to the Son of David" 
 Verse 15 is incredible. It says that when the Chief priests and the Scribes saw all the WONDERFUL things that He was doing and heard the children crying out, they became indignant. They asked Jesus  if he could hear what the children were saying. He gives them an interesting answer. He quotes the beginning of Psalm 8:2 in verse 16 but He doesn't finish the verse in Psalms. The rest of Psalm 8:2 says "because of Thy adversaries, to make the vengeful cease". If these teachers of the law knew their scriptures, they would have known what the rest of this verse said and would have known that  Jesus was saying that they were the adversaries and vengeful that this scripture spoke of. 
I am going to skip the account of the figless figtree because without a long drawn out explanation of figs and their growing seasons, I don't think we can draw many conclusions from this. What I will address is verse 21:21-22. 
I have been praying to understand these verses about faith and prayer and receiving what you ask for. In regards to the faith and believing, we need to ask,  what is going on deep down in our hearts and minds as far as our faith is concerned? In Samuel 16:7 we find out that the Lord doesn't see as a man sees, but the Lord looks at the heart. Take some time and put the word "heart" into the Blue Letter Bible (.com) phrase search and see what comes up. Take time to look up the verses listed there. Pray that God will show you His heart.
I have found that my motives are so important when it comes to prayer. I have been asking the Lord to search my deepest motive for every prayer I pray and show it to me. Oh course this is for my benefit. He already knows my every motive. 
One more thing about prayer and what we shall receive. In Rev. 8:3-4, we see our prayers being mixed with incense upon the golden altar. This very hot mixture then rises before our God, out of the angels hand as a sweet smelling aroma  before Him. Are our prayers truly worthy of such an amazing honor?  These verses revolutionized my prayer life. When I get on my knees, I now see my prayers being mixed and ascending before Him. I have been inspired to pray with an eternal perspective.
The rest of the chapter is Jesus being confronted  again by the chief priests and elders. They were trying every way possible to trap Him or discredit Him. Jesus is not careful or concerned about offending or angering them.  He was in His last week of life as a human being and he knew their hearts and motives. In verse 21:31, He tells them that the tax gatherers and harlots would get into heaven before them. I can just imagine their burning anger. In verses 21:33-46 He tells a parable that is even more insulting to them than the last. In verses 45-46 it says that the Pharisees and chief priests knew that He was speaking about them. They wanted to grab Him  right then, but they feared the people. 

As you study these chapters 19-28, keep in mind that these chapters are an account of Jesus's last week to walk the earth. Matthew has recorded this important week for us. Pray for remembrance and understanding in a way that will make these verses come alive to you. Remember, these are  the actual events that took place as Jesus drew closer to His eternal destiny.
FOR THIS CHAPTER WE WILL USE ***21 IS T.E. (TEA) TIME*** the T. stands for triumphal, and the E. stands for entry. Hopefully this will help you remember that the last week of Jesus's  human life starts here.

God Bless you ladies! Keep praying, keep reading. I am praying for all of you.