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“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18
In His day, people were trying to figure Jesus out. False prophets were not uncommon in Israel in the past [Jeremiah 14:14 & 23:16; Lamentations 2:14; Ezekiel 13:9 & 22:28; Hosea 11:6; Matthew 7:15; Acts 5:26-29 & 13:6]. So was this guy from Galilee really a miracle-working prophet of God? Was He possibly even the promised Messiah?
And if Jesus was a prophet or the Messiah, what was God’s directive? Was He instituting a new order through this audacious preacher-prophet-teacher-healer?
Jesus knew their hearts and minds [Matthew 12:25; Luke 5:22, 6:8-10 & 11:17]. He answered their questions before they could ask them out loud. No, God is not changing His plan of redemption. Yes, the Law and the Prophets still matter in the eternal scheme of human history. Yes, I am the fulfillment of everything that you have studied and heard. No, this world will not last forever. No, God isn’t rewriting the game rules. Yes, everything God said would happen will happen.
The Law of Moses was more than just the ten commandments, though they get the most attention. There were people in Israel whose whole life’s work was to study and interpret the law–experts akin to modern day lawyers. But the Law was meant to show people their sinfulness [Romans 7:7-8 & 8:3]–not to redeem them from it. The Prophets also came to make people aware of their sin, yet they too were powerless to save anyone.
Jesus came to complete the work began in the Law and the Prophets. He came to redeem people from their sin. As long as the Creation endures–and it is going to pass away one day [Revelation 21:1]–the Law and the Prophets will still show people their sin and Jesus will still, by God’s grace through our faith, reconcile the repentant to Himself.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus refers to the alphabet in these verses. When He says the least letter, it is the Hebrew yodh or the Greek iota, both literally the smallest letters in their respective alphabets. And the least stroke refers to the horn a little letter flourish, like the bottom curve of a lowercase j. God didn’t change his mind or His plan on even the smallest detail.
As the author of life [Acts 3:15], God never needs to brainstorm, draft or revise. He never needs to eat His words or print a retraction or buy a bottle of whiteout. He doesn’t backspace or delete.
The Word of the Lord stands forever [Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25]. Are you standing on that Word?
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'” Matthew 2:1-2
Did you know that there were two Bethlehems in Israel? One northwest of Nazareth and this one, south of Jerusalem, where Jesus was born in Judea.
About 540 years after the first exiles returned to Judah in southern Israel and just 40 years since the founding of the Roman Empire, King Herod sits on the throne that rightly belongs to Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph’s, family line. King Herod knows that he doesn’t belong there. His authority is precariously based on human political alliances, including the Jewish religious leaders of his day.
So his panic over the Magi’s news that the real King of Judah has been born is a very real, world-rocking, desperate panic.
But how about those Magi? They came from east of Jerusalem which itself is on the western edge of what is considered the Middle East. So the Magi could have come from several of the other Middle Eastern countries–Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran–or the Far East–India, China, Mongolia, et al.
They were astrologers, men who studied the stars for understanding and for prophetic signs. And God set a very unique star in the sky to commemorate the birth of His Son, Jesus the Messiah [Numbers 24:17; Jeremiah 23:5]. The Magi saw His star while they were yet in their eastern home countries, and they followed it, like a heavenly GPS, right to Jerusalem where Jesus had been born. Sailors have long navigated by starlight, but they relied on star charts of known celestial bodies. Whereas the Magi saw a new astrological phenomena and had to know its significance.
Except they did know its significance. They knew to ask Herod–the usurping King of the Jews–where the new baby, true King of the Jews was. And they knew that they, even being Gentiles, needed and wanted to worship the true King of the Jews.
How can that be? Except for the eternity that is in each of our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] and the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives drawing us back to our Creator God [John 6:44]. These were not men who grew up in Israel studying the messianic prophecies to recognize His coming. No, those in Israel didn’t recognize their Messiah. These were possibly sorcerers and fortune tellers from pagan societies who still possessed a seed of Godly understanding.
Every culture on the planet has that seed. The Spirit of God has preserved some witness of Himself in every culture in the history of the world–Creation myths, flood legends, dragon tales and belief in an afterlife to name a few. The Creation itself testifies to the truth of God [Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20]. Those who hunger and thirst for the truth will seek God while He may be found and find rest for their souls [Isaiah 55:6-7; Matthew 5:6 & 11:29].
Are you absolutely convince of the truth of God? Seek to understand Him while you have breath. Study His Creation to know Him personally. Find rest for your weary, wayward soul. Then join the proclamation of His truth.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
God is sovereign. Period. There is no other authority in all Creation and no other god who created all that is. Still, people reject His existence. They reject His ordinances. They reject His Word. They reject His Son and His people. They reject His supreme authority and power and dominion in their lives.
But they cannot reject the consequences of their own sin. Everyone will die once and will stand in judgment before God whether they accepted Him or not [Hebrew 9:27]. And everyone will spend eternity somewhere–either in heaven or in hell [Matthew 25:31-46].
Moreover, everyone has the freewill–in this life–to choose their eternal destination, but the offer expires when we do. And refusing to acknowledge God before this world and live according to His Word, does not in anyway nullify the consequence of our rebellion. It’s completely futile.
Even the world considers it foolish to act without considering and heeding the consequences.
Yet many people live as if that might be the case. If I don’t look at God, then He won’t see me. If I imagine this world came from a cosmic burp, then I can live as my own god with a clear conscience and claim ignorance when I meet the real God. If I pursue inner and world peace, then I will be good enough just in case there really is a Big Guy Upstairs to contend with in the hereafter. Or how about, If I can fault God for being unloving and unjust, then He can’t hold it against me when the time comes–that wouldn’t be just!
The problem with each of these viewpoints is that they all put the human in control. We give ourselves the authority to preside over God’s authority, and it will never work. Satan already tried it, and he didn’t gain control or power, he got banished and condemned. Adam and Eve already tried it, on Satan’s say-so, and they got banished and condemned too. But the difference is this, by grace, Adam and Eve and every one of their descendants have the choice to repent of their self-usurped authority and have the opportunity, through faith, to be reinstated into the kingdom of God with full rights of God’s own children.
Is there any authority in your life that you heed more than God? Is there any portion of God’s Sovereignty that you have rejected? Have you assumed God’s throne in your own heart?
“‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” Genesis 3:4-5
God is sovereign. And ultimately, Satan’s original lie is a question of sovereignty to both humans and angels alike [Isaiah 14:14; Revelation 12:4].
Did God really say?
As if the creature has any authority–the power or right to give orders, make decisions and enforce control–to call God’s dominion into question. God made everything. Satan made nothing and has no power to create.
Satan was a creature twice over–first as the angel of light, Lucifer, he rebelled and also convinced a third of heaven to usurp God’s authority over their own lives. Now here, cast out of heaven to be the prince of this world [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2], Satan assumes the form of the serpent, a lowly creature, yet sleek and agile. How easily did he worm his way into Eve’s presence without detection and drop down over her shoulder for a chat.
You must not eat from any tree in the garden?
Questioning God’s right to be Eve’s sovereign. If God is sovereign, then He must also be good. But if He forbade you to eat, to nourish your hungry flesh, then He is not good and, therefore, not sovereign.
Eve falteringly defends God’s goodness–we may eat…God provides for and sustains us–but she also adopts Satan’s question of sovereignty, adding–we must not touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or we will die.
You will not certainly die.
Questioning God’s omniscience. The creature, Satan, wants Eve to question whether or not God is all-knowing. Because to be the Sovereign God He must know everything about everything He created. If on one point God is unaware, then His authority fails over that detail and everything related to it and, then, He is not infinitely sovereign. He is finite as we, His creation, are.
For God knows that your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him.
Once again questioning God’s goodness, omniscience, sovereignty, as well as His justice, righteousness and love. As if Satan himself possesses any of these attributes?
Satan is the antithesis of good. He knows nothing except what his senses have taught him. And he has absolutely no authority. He cares nothing for justice, only for himself. He has no rightness in him, everything is crooked, warped and twisted by sin and rebellion against God. And he loves no one but himself. With all of this, all Satan is is a liar–and the father of lies [John 8:44]–driven to steal, kill and destroy the treasures and lives of this finite earth [Matthew 6:19-20 & 10:28; Luke 12:4; John 10:10].
And yet, many accept Satan as their authority. They accept his lie, wanting to be their own sovereign god. Rebelling against God’s authority in favor of their own selfish, finite attempts to rule self. The sad truth, is that self-godship is an illusion. Satan knew from the beginning that rebellion against God would not make us our own sovereigns. On the contrary, by insisting on controlling our own lives, we lose them–all freedom, all power, all blessings, all provision, hope, peace and purpose, all joy, and love and mercy and grace and justice is lost to us.
Because, as the creation, we have no authority or power to provide any of these things for ourselves. We can only accept them from the loving hand of our Almighty, Sovereign God.
Are you living the ultimate lie?
“Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the mighty works you do?” Deuteronomy 3:24
God is sovereign. He is the supreme ruler of all His Creation possessing all-power. Scripture repeatedly tells us that there is no other god. A fact that Moses rightly observed when he pleaded with God to remove the consequence of his former disobedience.
God repeatedly shows Himself supreme authority of all. He created everything and everything is subject to Him.
This often creates a tension in human logic that need not exist. Being made in God’s image, we have complete freewill to choose whether to recognize God’s existence, and honor and obey His authority alone. But we can also choose to deny Him and rebel against His eternal truth.
We like the idea of being able to choose whatever we want, but our logic sticks on the point of consequence. If God knows we will choose wrong, then why not–in His sovereignty–step in a prevent all wrong-doing? Is God less than the supreme authority of all because we have the freewill to choose to disobey Him? Not at all.
Remember, that God’s sovereignty–just as all of His other attributes–are bound up in His whole character. God’s sovereignty operates in eternal love with grace, mercy and justice in a perfectly good and infinitely wise order.
For love to be love, we must have complete freewill to choose. Anything less is not love. It is forced. It is coercion. It is corrupt and manipulative.
If God prevents our choices, then He is not just in rewarding some while condemning others because He plays favorites.
If we do not choose each action for ourselves, then God’s mercy and grace are not necessary in our lives.
If God is not holy–as in, He is actually unfaithful and changing in the administration of reward and consequence or the measure for which these are received–His sovereignty becomes a corrupt injustice in all things.
If God is not all-knowing then–the point at which He is unknowing becomes His Achilles’ heal. He is not, then, in infinite control of eternity.
Most people want all the benefits of God being in control, without having to deny themselves to get it. Be our own gods and let everyone around us live God’s way–kind of like the mentality of community or herd immunity. Children who do not receive immunizations bank on other families immunizing their children so that their child will never be exposed to harmful diseases. People who refuse to acknowledge God as Sovereign in their lives, still want the benefits of everyone else around them living according to God’s commands so they can get community or herd blessings.
It doesn’t work that way though.
God is the supreme Sovereign. There is nothing we can do or say or believe that can change that truth. There is nothing in all Creation that usurps even a jot of His authority over all of human history–including that which remains unseen to us. But each sinner is treated on an individual basis. While the golden rule may buffer the effects of sin in this life, it will not remove the eternal consequence of denying God.
Are you relying on the faith of others for divine blessings in this life? Or have you recognized God’s Sovereignty and repented of your sin so that you will inherit eternal life?
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:3
God is holy. Holiness, however, is not a part of our human condition. The only reason we have the word in our language at all is to describe God, whom we are not.
The first place that we encounter the term holy in scriptures is immediately following the Creation, on day seven. Yet the original Hebrew for this verse renders the seventh day as consecrated and other English translations used the term sanctified. So let’s explore the linguistic trail to get a better understanding of what holiness is.
To consecrate is to make or declare that something is sacred. It is to dedicate it to a religious purpose according to the world, but according to God, consecrating is dedicating to a Godly purpose.
To sanctify is to set apart as holy, to purify or free from sin or to make something legitimate by a religious sanction. While sacred means that something is connected with or dedicated to God and should, therefore, be venerated–treated with honored respect, that is, reverence. And holy comes from wholly–wholeness–being whole.
So after our holy God created all that is, He dedicated one in seven days to be set apart as His, dedicated to Him alone to make us whole again.
After God finished creating everything, God saw that it was very good [Genesis 1:31]. Man was tasked with stewarding the earth, loving God and one another. But–being omniscient–God knew that a day was coming when humankind would work the soil and labor to raise children [Genesis 3:16-19]. And being both good and wise, God dedicated the sabbath for our good.
It is not good for our health–physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or relational–to work 24-7. It is not good for the ground to be constantly used without rest to regenerate [Leviticus 25:4]. As young people, we can often be enthused to work and save up money for phone plans, clothes, cars, college and the like. We can sometimes feel invincible too, like the strength and energy will never run out.
But the sabbath should be treated with reverence. God’s purpose was not to bind people up, keep them from making an extra day of pay–but to free them to rest and be made whole in Him [Mark 2:27].
When we don’t take the time to respect the Sabbath from our youth, the bad habit of pushing ourselves to overwork or over extend our time continues into early adulthood and the rest of our lives. The wear and tear that we didn’t notice grinding us down in our youth, magnifies earlier in our adult years than if we had taken the time to rest and regenerate our relationship with God as He intended for us to do each Sabbath.
It also communicates to God that we believe our ways are better than His, rather than the other way around [Isaiah 55:8-9]. That we are our own good and wise god and will decide such things for ourselves, thank you very much.
The Sabbath isn’t about rituals on the same day of every week. It is about dedicating one day in seven to time with God so that He can make us whole. Have you committed to honor the Sabbath rest with your life?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever…He remembered us in our low estate–His love endures forever–and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever. He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136: 1 & 23-26
God’s love is as He is. It is good. It is eternal. It is immutable–that is unchanging. It hangs about us like a north star, a constant guide as we navigate the seas of life. Through every wave and storm, and even in the calm when every other point of reference moves and changes, God’s love stands steadfast.
When we look to His love, we see the way, the truth and the life that we were created to live, reciprocating His love while also reflecting it to everyone around us.
A ship cannot hope to sail in a straight line across the ocean, or even arrive at particular destination without a constant–an unmoving point–to guide it. If the reference point moves even a little bit, then the ship’s course will be altered.
Love is an act of free will. It abides in each choice we make. Yes, every one of our thoughts, words and deeds demonstrate an act of good will towards someone–whether self, or God or others.
Our love cannot hope to be like God’s, or even to become like God’s, without the constancy of His own immovable love to guide us. If God’s love could change–which it can’t–how lost we as the Creation would be. Imagine it like sketching in an earthquake where the subject, artist and canvas all three are moving constantly. No, God’s love does not change. Rather, it is the steadfast hope on which we fix our eyes as He remakes us into His image.
Our love should also, then, be good–goodness as defined by God. Our love should be faithful and enduring. It should cause us to act with wisdom and justice, mercy and grace. Our love should change in that it grows more like God’s with each passing day.
Do you love God? Do you look to His love as the constant guide for your life? Do your choices–words and deeds–align with the love you profess?