Category: Luke



24But since you refuse to listen when I call and nobody pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – 27when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28‘Then they will call to me, but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke. 31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them, 33but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.'” –Proverbs 1:24-33

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Though Proverbs contain many verses which can cause elation, there are those scary ones as well, which warn and rebuke. Some of these like verses share in telling of the potential consequences of a life of sin. This group of verses however I think we are dealing with one sort of sinner. That doesn’t mean not all sinners can reflect upon the verses of course, for they are applicable to just about anyone. Yet, going into the text, I believe there is a group of sinners which are referenced here. To coin a term, assuming it hasn’t already been coined, I will call this group of individuals, “God’s bad weather friends.” We all know the idiom concerning a, “fair weather friend,” obviously signifying that a particular individual only has a relationship with you when the atmosphere is to his or her liking. God’s bad weather friends are exactly the opposite. These folks seek a relationship with God only in times of trouble. The rest of the time they go on sinning, yet when trouble comes along they look to God for deliverance.
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I hope to explain how the Lord drew me to these conclusions. First, however, to really follow the way my thought process was guided, we need to start from the beginning of this collection of Scripture. Verse 24 says:

24But since you refuse to listen when I call and nobody pays attention when I stretch out my hand,”

Foremost, what we see is that this verse, and those following it, are not only directed to an individual, but also a group of individuals. “You,” commonly is used to target a singular individual, though it can be used for a class of people, but “nobody” specifically refers to more than one person. Not only does this suggest a plurality, but an absolute as well. “Nobody,” as a term is negated whenever there is exception.

One of these notable exceptions in Scripture is the exception of Lot. In Genesis 18 we find the fascinating account of Abraham bartering with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In an effort to help save Sodom and Gomorrah from God’s wrath, Abraham argues with the Lord.

25Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26The Lord said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’ 27Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there,’ He said, ‘I will not destroy it.’

From Abraham’s questions I can’t help wonder if Abraham was trying to discover the value of a human life to God. Regardless whether or not Abraham even had that inkling, we do find out the answer. Every human life is important and holds immense value to God. The bartering and humble boldness of Abraham continues as the Lord eventually concedes that He will not destroy the city if there are ten righteous people. Of course, God couldn’t find ten righteous people, so the cities came under His righteous wrath. However, it was not the case that nobody there was righteous. A man named Lot lived in Sodom. It was for his sake that God, though He didn’t relent from His anger, but for the sake of one righteous individual, the Lord called him and his family out of the city delivering him another way.

In the study of Proverbs we have already discovered some city imagery, which I believe carries over into the verses addressed here. Right now we are hearing from the point of view of “wisdom,” which is literary personification of a concept, that is wisdom. Yet, it is much more than that. This wisdom is God, for Proverbs 2:6 says:

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

It is God that is “wisdom,” for absolute wisdom is an attribute of God Himself.

Concerning verse 24, they refuse to listen when God calls, and do not pay attention when God stretches out his hand. What does it mean for the Lord to stretch out His hand? It can mean several things. Out of the short list I have compiled, and I do not claim to have all the possibilities written down, I noticed that a lot has to do with the position of the palm when conceptualizing the Lord’s outstretched hand.
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It can be a reference to omniscience, an offering, acceptance, judgment, compassion, help, or the means of bringing about an event, either as a blessing, or as a calamity. “Since you refuse to listen when I call,” indicates that God has offered Himself to these people first, and they have not paid attention even when the Lord outstretches His hand. In this context, I believe the Lord’s outstretched hand to have the attributes of judgment, compassion, help and a means of bringing about a calamity. Meaning the people talked about here had a “bad weather” relationship with God. They reaped just consequence and then asked the Lord for his help. The Lord in His compassion, helped the folks in their time of distress, but they immediately went back to simple lives.

The term, “since,” indicates a upcoming consequent. Proverbs gives us several reasons why this judgment is to occur. Aforementioned there is the refusal to listen to God and the fact that nobody pays attention when the Lord stretches out His hand. I myself have been guilty of this very thing. At times I will pray for something in earnest and when it is answered from God by His very hand, I have forgot about the Lord. Simply, I have forgotten to give praise and credit where it is due. Furthermore, I don’t always act the way I should when receiving deliverance or rebuke from the Lord. This is only one reason why this group of Scriptures is so convicting to me.
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In addition, to not listening and not recognizing the Lord’s outstretched hand, a couple more reasons are given as to why negative consequence will befall such people. These are because there is a complete disregard of the Lord’s advice and a non-acceptance of the Lord’s rebuke. How interesting it is that we are confronted with the term, “advice.” Many have the conception of God, that he is some omniscient arrogant deity that sits up on His thrown and just throws out commandments with a, “follow me or else,” type attitude. Though this is true to a degree, the fact is that such an unflattering view of God negates one of the most important attributes about God. That is His love and His desire to be in a relationship with every single individual that humbles themselves before Him. So while it is true the Lord has made commandments, at the same time it is also true that He desires a relationship. This is the meaning behind the term, “advice.” The Lord could have said, “Since you don’t obey me, then . . .” However, The Lord did not say such a thing, but makes His rebuke telling the objects of the Scripture that they have ignored His “advice.” When we juxtapose “command” with “advice” we find quite the striking difference. Advice suggests a deeper personal relationship. A relationship with somebody who cares about what direction the object towards which this advice is offered and is going.
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26I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – 27when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.” –Proverbs 1:26-27

To better extrapolate the meaning behind these two verses, it is necessary to jump down a bit to verse 31 and 32:

31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

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Although there is much contrast within this group of verses, there is also a coherence between who a man is and what consequence is to come to pass. The term fruit here is the consequent of these peoples state of heart and being. Their ways bring about a punishment which is corollary to their very behavior. “Simple,” in practical terms, refers to the indulgence of carnal desires. Such a simple man, no matter what Lynard Skynard might think, is completely wayward, for their ways suddenly shift in an effort to fulfill those carnal desires. Neither the wayward momentum of the simple, nor the stagnant ways of the complacent fool, will save them. Indeed, it will become their very downfall.

Even mockers will have their just and corollary reward. Mockers are brought up specifically just previously in Proverbs 1, Verse 22:

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?”

There are at least three classes of folks dealt with in our group of verses. The simple, the fool, and the mocker. As said before the simple indulges in the carnal desires. The fool is complacent and lacks knowledge, by choice, for there is a relationship between the simple and the fool. The mocker is included as well and more likely than not this has to do with a person who through behavior or by his spirit mocks God. God answers such as these in verses 26 and 27.

Yet, the Bible tells us in Ezekiel 18:32, that God takes no delight in even the punishment of the wicked. However, Proverbs specifically mentions God mocking and laughing. God also laughs which in turn can be a form of mocking. Is this God taking pleasure in the punishment of the wicked. We have somewhat of a paradox here, and when studying the Word, I love paradoxes. Why? Instead of writing them off as contradictions, the exploration of paradox gives us a deeper understanding into the Word of God and even God Himself.

Here we have a paradox between the absence of pleasure when God punishes the wicked, and His ability to mock. To settle this paradox we need to ask ourselves is it necessarily the case that mockery must be a form of pleasure. In practical applications, that is concerning human behavior, we find this not to be the case. Every mockery is not motivated by a joy. Quite the contrary, most mockery is a form of displeasure. Mockery, in human terms, seeks to lower another for a prideful purpose, as opposed to God whose motives are for just purposes. Since it is just, mockery from God seeks not to lower, but to reveal truth. God mocks the prideful, for next to God we are nothing. It is the pride He mocks. It is not directed at the punishment itself. Mockers mock due to prideful purposes, and because of that pride, God will mock the pride of the proud and bring them low. Thus, mockers too will eat the fruit of their ways. They will mock and in turn be mocked by God. For how misplaced is pride when compared with the Lord?
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There is much imagery shared here concerning storms and weather. Keeping along the lines of our current themes the storms too must signify something. Since it comes upon the sinners it must be a part of the sinners God is mentioning specifically. Simply, we find the punishment fits the crime in that the fruits of the sinner will be the very ones to befall them. So, mockery for the mockers, the simple, the carnal desires, and the fool, the lack of knowledge. Since we have all this corollary fruit, so too would the storms mention be representational of those spoken of in Proverbs. How can a storm be representational of an individual as regards sin?
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Let us take the waywardness of the simple for example. To be wayward, according to Dictionary.com, is to have turned away from what is right and proper; willful; disobedient. Swayed or prompted by caprice; capricious. Turning or changing irregularly; irregular. To be capricious is to be given to sudden unpredictable change, as one’s mind or the weather. Both these apply to the simple, in that they frequently change their mind to follow their own wayward carnal appetites and upon such the Lord will bring a storm of calamity. This storm will hit from all sides and the simple will make their plea to God for deliverance. Yet, the shifting storm is of their own doing much like their shifting desires and wills. It is this plea that will not be heard from by God. They will eat of their own just deserts. Verse 28 says:

“Then they will call to me, but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.”

In this arises another paradox for the Bible also tells us in Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9, “Seek, and ye shall find.” Aren’t these men seeking God by their plea? Is the Holy Word contradicting itself? Not at all. Rather than this being the case, we receive insight into the heart of such individuals. Verse 29 and 30 read:

29Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke.”

Such people hate knowledge, don’t fear the Lord, don’t accept his advice, nor his rebuke and being the case have not a heart for God, but a heart of self. It is only out of self-preservation that they cry out to God, not for the knowledge that they have done wrong and sinned. Nor is it for a healthy fear of the Lord. The Lord understands the human heart better than we ourselves do. Is the Lord bound to redeem those who have not heart for Him? Certainly not, though He does deliver the sinner at times to make Himself known unto them, but we should be wary of relinquishing ourselves to our basic “needs” and then begging the Lord for deliverance and forgiveness when consequence comes upon us. Such a repetition of behavior suggests a focus on self and not on the Lord.

To give scriptural evidence of this, the Book of James says in Chapter 4, Verse 3:

“Ye ask, and receive not because ye ask amiss that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

This is an amazing verse for it shows that the Lord doesn’t answer prayer if it is to encourage sinful behaviors. The people in Proverbs sought sinful behavior and ask for deliverance from trouble in order that they may continue to indulge in their lusts.

31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.” —Proverbs 1:31

Scheming certainly has its bad connotation. Yet, there are blessed schemes as well. Dictionary.com defines a scheme as a plan, design, or program of action to be followed, project, an underhand plot, intrigue. A visionary or impractical project. A body or system of related doctrines, theories, etc. Any system of correlated things, parts, etc, or the manner of its arrangement. A plan, program, or policy officially adopted and followed, as by government or business, an analytical or tabular statement. God has his own Holy schemes as is made evident in the sacred doctrine, but beware the underhand schemes of man which seek to deceive, if not self, then others including our Lord, but the Lord cannot be deceived due to His infinite perfection. What people desire in sin is often the very same means unto which they will meet their ends.

32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them, 33but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

In addition, let us be wary of the complacency of the fool, complacency being foolish in and of itself. Being void of knowledge, wisdom, and is moreover given to sin. There are many things that bring about complacency. Drinking and drugs being two prime examples. We find that when these things are evident in life, complacency creeps into the lifestyle of the individual. Due to the dangers of idle hands we see an implicit and even explicit relationship between complacency and sin.

Despite some of the scary moments in Proverbs, there are messages of hope as well. The fact is we can choose to fear the Lord. We can choose to be non-complacent and non-foolish. We can chose not to be simple and not mock. We can repent and turn our hearts away from evil and towards the Lord. Such that do this will live in safety, be at ease, and be free of the fear of harm. Now that doesn’t mean that harm will not come to us, but in history time and time again we see those blessed men and women of the Lord who did not fear what harm was to come to them by the hands of man. Matthew 10:28 says:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

We can be free of the fear of this harm simply by fearing the Lord. This brings ease and rest to the soul. Due to the fact that we can count on this salvation, we can live in safety, knowing our salvation is secure in the Lord our God by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
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“For to be sure, He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s Power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.” -2 Corinthians 13:4

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When we read the Scriptures, we cannot help but be impressed with the lengths Christ had to descend in His humility to accomplish the goal. Though Paul offers a great compare/contrast here, there is one major difference between the weakness of Christ and the weakness of mere man. The weakness of Christ was manifest due to His perfect obedience, while the weakness of man, is often made apparent by our disobedience. The weakness of Christ, and His humility, even to the point of death, is infinitely stronger than the greatest of man’s strength! He was perfectly obedient, for Christ was well aware of His mission on earth, and that it must be completed, lest none of us become saved.
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Yet, as we realize that Christ was man, as well as a vital part of the Trinity, we see that Christ had His struggles. Not to the point of sin and disobedience, for if this were the case our faith would be meaningless, but rather, as a man, He dealt with temptation and even fear. We do not have a Lord who sits up on high, making commands from afar, with no personal understanding of the difficulty man has in overcoming sin. Instead, we have a Lord who became man, faced the very same challenges we face, and more, was crucified, and rose again victorious.

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Thereby, it gives us hope to realize our Lord did wage war against sin, temptation, and looked upon His crucifixion with trepidation. This is, of course, to put it mildly. We are told in Luke 22:44, that during His praying within the garden of Gethsemane that He sweat as blood. This, and His prayer, in which He prayed God would take the cup from Him if it was His will, are some heavy indications of the turmoil and fear Christ must have felt in that part of His nature that was man. Yet, could He have sweat blood?

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This rare medical condition is known as hematidrosis, or, hematohidrosis. Rather than some kind of obscure condition, though it’s rare, history, apart from the account of Christ, is full of examples of this occurring. In fact, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote the account of a solider who sweat blood before battle. I also recall hearing an account of a young girl who living in or near London during the blitz sweat blood out of fear. The blood vessels around the sweat glands rupture, the blood seeping into the glands, and it pushes the blood and sweat to the surface. The experience is said to be rather painful, for the skin becomes extremely tender.

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Even to the point of shedding His blood in such a fashion, Christ was obedient to the Fathers will, and though He could have stopped the crucifixion, and indeed destroyed all of Rome, He did not. To be obedient to God,  He appeared as weak, though in reality, He was strong, so that by what occurred at Calvary, we may all be saved by His strength and obedience, and that we may be clothed in it, even in our weakness, to serve God and others as Christ did. As the Father raised Christ, so too will we be raised, for like our sin was put upon Christ at Golgotha, His righteousness will be put upon even the weakest of those who come to Him in faith and persevere. To Him be all the praise and glory. Amen.
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“Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” -Matthew 28:7

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In my previous entry (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “On a Brief Overview of The ‘Historical Christ,’ Contradiction, and Biblical Omission”), I discussed some of the paradox among the Gospels concerning the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was my hypothesis that all the Gospels meshed together to form a perfect narrative. One of the assumed contradictions, has to do with Mary Magdalene and her companions encounter with an angel outside the tomb. Yet, in Luke 24:4, it says there are two angels and they speak to the women inside the tomb. However, when we read Mark 16:5, only one angel inside the tomb is recounted.

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Many theories concerning the reconciliation of these encounters have been offered, including that there are multiple groups of women, or that Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples after being spoken to by the angel outside the tomb, who sat upon the stone that had been rolled away. She is at times said not to enter the tomb until later. Yet, I concluded after some prayer for illumination, that the angel on the outside spoke to them and they entered the tomb where they encountered at least one more heavenly being. As for how many angels were in the tomb, I address that in my previous entry as well.

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The Lord led me back to this verse, and I found some more evidence suggesting that my interpretation, at least in this case, may be correct. Let us closely examine the angel’s words. In Chapter 28, Verse 6, of Matthew, the angel says:

“He (Christ) is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

To me this sounded like an invite to see the evidence which was visible within the tomb, but my cited indications advocating this truth essentially ended there. However, the beginning of Verse 7 may contain a bit more evidence. It may not be earth shattering, but adds a little extra confirmation that my interpretation concerning this event may be correct. When we look at Verse 7, it begins with the word, “then.”

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"Angel Seated on The Stone of The Tomb," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1886

What this means to me is that the angel in reality did invite or command them into the tomb, in order that they may “see the place where He lay.” The term, “then,” suggests further instructions by the angel, that immediately after viewing the tomb they should embark on and hasten to tell the disciples, for Christ is said to be going ahead of them. When they finally reach the disciples, after seeing Jesus themselves, they tell them of the empty tomb. They were disbelieved, but regardless Peter and John ran to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim. If Mary and her companions did not yet enter the tomb, as some believe, then only their encounter with the angel would have been mentioned along with their encounter with Christ. They would’ve lacked seeing the evidence with their own eyes that His body was missing.

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"Saint Peter and Saint John Run to the Sepulchre," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1884-1896

As Christ had first went into Galilee ahead of the women, so too does He go ahead of us, preparing a place for us in His Father’s house, and when we get there, we will likewise see Him. Though Christ had a new glorified body, the Firstfruit (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “On The Chaos of Reason, The Firstfruit, and The Transfiguration”), we see that this body isn’t bound by physical laws, or even death. Christ was able to move throughout Israel at His own will, without traveling in the manner of a mortal man. He would simply appear. This gives us some clues into what our new bodies will be like once they are granted unto us, through faith in the Son.

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Stained Glass Window in The Duomo, Florence, by Paolo Uccello. c. 1443

I would like to thank the Lord that when we come to Him and pray over His word, He illuminates the Scriptures beyond our mere mortal understanding. His faithfulness in answering such prayers is truly amazing. Thank you Lord for revealing the mysteries of your Word, unto the likes of me, a disobedient sinner. May this glorify You, and may You put a hedge of protection around my heart, that in your revelations I may not grow prideful, but rather give you the praise and see myself in sober judgement always. May your name be revered, blessed, and worshipped for all eternity. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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"Resurrection of Christ and the Women at the Tomb," by Fra Angelico. fresco, c. 1440

Thank you Lord for blessing me with Terie, a fantastic “Editor-in-Chief.” 🙂


“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'” -Luke 9:62

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I’m sure on occasion poets look at the words of Christ and if they don’t admonish or worship Him, they must certainly salivate with envy. I half jest, but indeed Christ’s words are so beautiful they resonate throughout our lives and through all of creation. Yet, Christ came for much more than linguistical aesthetics. Christ’s words are remarkable in that, within such a phrase like this, there are found many different meanings and they hold untold riches for those who seek Him and the wisdom that is found in the Lord. This simple phrase spoken by Christ is anything but. It holds not only a warning for us, but also vast hope for the Christian in regards to their spiritual journey.

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"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," by John Martin. oil on canvas, c. 1852

Genesis Chapter 19 contains the infamous account concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two sister cities were the epicenter for all forms of detestable vileness and evil. The Las Vegas of its day. Or possibly worse. Maybe even Detroit (Kidding). Indeed, the cities were so disgusting that the Lord decided to purge them from the face of the earth forever. However, in Sodom there lived a man named Lot. Lot lived there with His family, and God, in His grace, decided to spare Lot and his family from the destruction that was coming, due in part to Lot’s sheltering of two angels He had sent into the city, and because he was indeed the nephew of Abraham, who was greatly beloved by God. Yet, there were strict conditions. The angels told Lot and his family in Genesis 19, Chapter 17:

“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Despite these pretty straight forward and urgent instructions, Lot’s wife looked back as they fled, and as the angels had warned, she was indeed turned into “a pillar of salt.” Explanations for how this could have occurred range from the natural, the miraculous, and even to ancient technology theories. Yet, the how isn’t as important as the why. Why simply by looking back did she perish and turn into a large pile of the mineral adored by horses the world over?

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Lot’s wife, who some scholars believe was named “Idis,” didn’t merely look back out of some fleeting uncontrollable curiosity, but rather she looked back on the city of Sodom with longing eyes. She saw the sinful city life she was accustomed to being razed to the ground and she felt sorrow and longing. Thus, becoming a large heap of a crystalline preservative was her fate. It is a little bit of a confounding situation, for though Lot was just, as 2 Peter tells us, one wonders why they dwelled in such a detestable place. Furthermore, by the mere fact she looked back, that alone suggests that “Idis” was indeed caught up in the sin of Sodom to some degree or fashion.

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Yet, be that as it may, this example gives us insight into one meaning behind Christ’s words, and that is, when we become a new creation in Him, we should not look back with desire to who we were before, for this can only lead to death. Why run back into the burning ruins of sin that the Lord Himself has delivered you out of according to His grace? You have been delivered, bought with a price, and the Lord has answered your prayer. Why fight the Lord and crawl back towards what would be your demise? A heart that longs for sin has no place in the Kingdom of God. Christ has granted us a reprieve that we may escape the destruction that is to come and even now it is ongoing, so on that date and time, which the Lord has set by His own authority, we may be long afar from that destruction which will cover the whole earth.

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"Sodom and Gomorrah," by Jan Brueghel The Elder

Secondly, realize that no matter where you were and what you were, your Lord has delivered you. You have been deemed worthy by grace to be covered in the blood of the Lamb, thus, again, do not turn around and regret your decisions or the bad choices of the past, for those too are forgiven. Such regrets are like a tether or lead, they may allow us to scamper about and even move forward somewhat, but essentially they still hold us firmly in place. Christ has cut these bonds from us and let not regret, nor worldly sorrow, keep you from partaking and drinking from the Cup of Life. Do not strive to place yourself back into bondage, but rather persevere. Do not tarry or grow weary, keep your eyes on Christ and the prize that is offered, for those who do, their paths will remain straight, but those whose eyes wander, so does the path of their plow, guiding them into rocky soil, danger and eventually death. May The Lord be praised that even wanderers such as myself can be set straight again by His grace and directed out of, and away from, the city of destruction.

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“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

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In scripture, we are called to follow the example Christ set forth for us in His life, within our lives. His purpose and will is that we act in accordance with His nature, which for man can be very uncomfortable. This group of verses emphasizes that explicitly. When we consider human relations, much of mankind will only help his fellow man, if there is something in it for them. Christ gives an example of lending, but it goes much beyond materialism. A person might do it for prideful reasons, or a need to be fulfilled. Yet, Jesus tells us it’s out of love, goodness, generosity, kindness and mercy that we should do such things. These are the very attributes which exist in the Lord and by these characteristics being made evident in our lives we gain a fuller understanding of who God is and His interaction with mankind.

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It is unfortunate, but God is often so kind to us, yet we offer no repayment to God, nor even adoration. When one takes on the attributes of God, to the degree that is possible, then we are sure to be greatly disappointed in the character of man. Our gifts may go squandered and those we try to help, may refuse to help themselves. This is a taste of how God must feel given man’s behavior, even those who belong to His Son.

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"The Father's Curse: The Ungrateful Son," by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. oil on canvas, c. 1777

With our and mankind’s faults so obvious when these principles are put into action, let us turn from taking advantage of the Lord’s kindness, generosity, and love. Let us continually praise Him that by His nature He bestows great gifts unto the undeserving. Furthermore, let us realize another purpose of Christ’s words put into action. Through us Christ is revealed unto man and knowing this, an interesting relative relation takes place between showing Christ and suppressing the truth. Those who take for granted that which the Lord has blessed them with, will fail to show Christ to others in a full degree, for by their ungodly gratitude, they distort and dim the light of the gospel which is destined to shine among all man, “like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:15)

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“Looking at His disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'”

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If one has ears to hear, let him hear. Many verses containing the word of Christ, and indeed throughout the Bible, contain some passages that may look curious or downright scary at first glance. Furthermore, they may seem to contradict the rest of what scripture says, though with closer inspection this isn’t the case. Although this section provided me with a lot of comfort, it also alarmed me somewhat.

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It seemed to say that to follow Christ I had to be in a constant state of misery. This obviously isn’t the case. When we look at the example of Paul for instance, we find that he was content no matter what he lacked or what hardships he faced. As he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions in difficulties.” Instead, he had a faith that produced a harvest of contentment and joy no matter what the circumstance. So what is Jesus saying here? Does it contradict the joy that Paul, the apostles, and we have? Not at all, for even Christ Himself tells us to rejoice and “leap for joy” in verse 23.

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"San Paolo," by Pompeo Batoni. oil on canvas, c. 1742

2 Corinthians 5:4 says:

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (See my Note, “On Being Swallowed up by Life”)

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Paul both groans and delights. Using these scriptures, what Christ really means in the aforementioned passage in Luke becomes clear. A Christian is not supposed to be void of laughter, or even prosperity. A Christian is warned in Romans 12:2 to, “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Though we are in the world we are not of the world, for now our eyes are focused on Christ. Our contentment rests not in the things of this world, and those activities and materials man chases after to pacify himself, but rather it rests on Christ. This being the case we ache, or groan, to be in our heavenly dwelling and away from the body and it’s meaningless desires, for we know the things of God are not momentary like those things people find “contentment” in within the world, but rather everlasting and more glorious than anything currently made up of the physical or based upon it.

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We should not find contentment or delight in mere things, for as all physicality will disappear to be renewed, so will those things based upon material. In addition, our happiness should not be dependent on man. If one constantly chases after approval of man, then he shifts more often than shadows. Such a person is deceptive to both himself and those he seeks approval from. Contentment in this is just as fleeting, for man’s support will vanish from you at anytime. The reliability of superficial friendships is a farce and often self-serving, ironically to both parties. As it is said, no one can serve two masters.

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Serve God, fix your eyes on His son and you will gain an eternal contentment and joy that is based on the everlasting, not given to decay and abandonment like the things of this world, but instead He who promises to carry you through all things. As Christians we will have heartache, hardships, and insults, but lo, how fleeting these things are, for when the physical as we know it now ceases to be, weeping will be transformed into joy, hunger to satisfaction, exclusion to inclusion, and a lack of possession into great riches within the Kingdom. To this we await and look forward to.

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2 Corinthians 5:20“Therefore, on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God is exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

When we accept Christ and are found to be in Christ testified to by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will naturally (as concerns our newly created actuality, rather than that of the old nature) have the desire to spread the gospel message of Christ, which amounts to a reconciliation between us and God. This desire and caring for the spiritual condition or well-being of others comes direct from the Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned before in other posts, “therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. That which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” We necessarily, then, arrive at the question, of which previous statements is Paul referring.

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The answer to this inquiry is 2 Corinthians verse 18-19 of chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

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“On behalf of Christ,” according to the LITV, or Jay Green Sr.’s A Literal Translation of The Bible, is mentioned twice within the verse. The first instance modifies the statement immediately proceeding it, “We are ambassadors.” More or less, this reveals that “we are ambassadors for Christ.” The second instance, that we beseech on behalf of Christ, implies that we share the same message that Christ Himself shared, which is extant within the Scriptures and gospels.

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In addition, when the Word of God repeats itself, or seems redundant in repetition, it is truly not redundancy, but rather repetition is used for a means of emphasis. Therefore, Paul is emphasizing the fact that we are speaking on behalf of Christ, which means a number of things. Some of which will be explored in this blog post. A couple of the most basic though, are that it emphasizes that this message is not of human speech and motive alone, but rather a message preceding from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover, we share in Paul’s divine appointment, which will be discussed later, as will we discuss the great responsibility of such an appointment.

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The term “ambassadors” that is utilized is truly an important one. As The Life Application Study Bible says:

“An ambassador is an official representative of one country to another.” –Life Application Study Bible

William MacDonald in his Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

“An ambassador is a minister of state, representing his own ruler in a foreign land. Paul always speaks of the Christian ministry as an exalted and dignified calling. Here [in 2 Corinthians 5:20] [Paul] likens himself to an envoy sent by Christ to the world in which we live.” –William MacDonald

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Given this definition or usage of the word, “ambassadors,” we find that it is more than appropriate. Ellicott’s commentary gives us a little insight into the origins of the usage of the word in this particular verse.

“’Ambassadors,’ which may be noted as singularly felicitous, first appears in the version of 1611. The word, derived from the medieval Latin ambasciator, and first becoming popular in the Romance languages, is found in Shakespeare, and appears to have come into prominence through the intercourse with France and Spain in the reign of Elizabeth.” –Charles John Ellicott

Prior to this the word used was “legates.” This word has a definition within both the Catholic and Roman traditions. The Catholic usage, is “a member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.” However, because Paul was a contemporary of the Roman Empire, he obviously was using the word in the Roman context which meant, “the general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy.”

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Utilizing both “legates” and “ambassadors” we can reach several striking conclusions. The first concerns authority. By authority I mean that we are given a degree of this authority by Christ and His instruction to share this message of reconciliation. In addition, we are authoritative figures as we are both heirs to the Kingdom and beneficiaries of the glory of the Lord.

Romans 8:17, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

Moreover, concerning this authority, the Christ Jesus says:

Luke 10:16, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting God, who sent Me.”

Furthermore, in John, Jesus tells His disciples:

John 20:21, “Again [Jesus] said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’”

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However, being an “ambassador” means we are subservient to a higher rule, which is the Lord Himself. Due to the fact we are subservient, our message must correspond with the message of the higher ruling Agent, which is that of Christ Jesus. In addition, we have a great responsibility in sharing this glory, authority and message of reconciliation. As the Life Application Study Bible states:

“An ambassador of reconciliation has an important responsibility. We dare not take it lightly.” –Life Application Study Bible

This authority and responsibility in sharing the message of reconciliation denotes a couple of things. First, and again, it is extremely important that our testimony, witness, or appeal unto others must be in complete correspondence with the ministry of reconciliation as revealed by Christ and the Scriptures. Second, we must be a living testimony and sacrifice that our behavior will not conflict with the ministry. Within us the ministry of truth must be apparent as well as expressed, for we discredit the message by not being in obedience to it. I believe this responsibility and the extreme duty we have to follow Christ’s commandments is expressed earlier in chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.”

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If we are to be sincere and be fearful in our responsibility about this ministry of reconciliation, then it follows that not only will we preach the truth, but we will live according to it. Moreover, to some degree we can see how the two are mutually interconnected, so that if we cease to live by Christ’s expressed truth, the message we share with others will become distorted or open to falsehood. In addition, if we accept or let a false message creep into the message we share, how long before there is a concurrent output that becomes evident in our lives. Christians need to beware at making compromises or concessions to their faith based on sympathies or the ways and arguments of the world, for when we give these freedom or speak them, they will produce a harvest of falsity in our faith and detrimentally affect our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, we are to be partners with the Lord and not oppose Him, basing our relationship with Him on invasive doctrines. Unfortunately, this is all too common, which Paul recognized as he said, stating both our responsibility and this danger:

2 Corinthians 6:1, “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

It is God Himself who enables us both to be in obedience and to be ambassadors to the Good News, thereby let us adhere to God’s ways, the ways of the Spirit, the commands of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:6, “[God] has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.”

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This enabling by the Lord is perhaps nowhere seen more explicitly than in the example of Paul, who was chosen by the Lord, by grace and divine appointment, to spread the message of reconciliation unto the Gentiles. As Christ tells Saul at his conversion:

Acts 26:17-18, “And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.”

Though we might have authority by being trusted with this ministry, it does not mean we share, at this time, in kingly comforts which the world might tend to bestow to those who have authoritative positions. It is Paul again who mentions himself as an ambassador even though he lay in chains.

Ephesians 6:20, “I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly as I should.”

These prayers were most certainly answered, for Paul becomes an example for Christians to follow as it applies to the ministry. Obviously our prime example is Jesus Christ, but the early church fathers do present examples of how should live and how we are to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This concerns not only how they lived there lives in obedience to their faith, but also how they shared the message of reconciliation.

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The Christian cannot help but be impressed with the love of God. That the Lord implores, beseeches, and pleads with us to be reconciled to Him expresses this deep love. This love is manifest in both the Testaments. Some have the perception that the God of the Old Testament is entirely wrathful, while the God of the New Testament is entirely loving, yet the discerning Christian will realize that the Old Testament has attributes of love, while the New Testament speaks too of wrath. Yet, our Lord loves us and implores us not to come under this wrath. We live under two realities, we can either live under wrath, or we can live under grace and love. It is apparent, which one the Lord wants from us. Ezekiel (a rather wrathful book in itself) states God’s great love and desire to impart mercy.

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Ezekiel 18:31-32, “Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!”

Concerning man’s rebellion, Matthew Henry exhorts us:

“Now man must lay down his arms of rebellion, must cease his stubborn revolt, and must be reconciled to God.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

This shows the Lord’s earnest pleading, and it is not because God is on some power trip or selfish, for what does our Lord have to gain or lose by us coming to Him or not coming to Him? Matthew Henry expounds on this point:

“Though God cannot lose by the quarrel [the enmity between God and man], nor gain by the peace, yet He beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation He offers.” –Matthew Henry

Concerning this enmity, William MacDonald states matter-of-factly:

“If any enmity exists, it exists on man’s part.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Paul implores, pleads, begs, and beseeches that we would be reconciled to God. Again, God Himself is doing this! The Creator of the universe is begging before the likes of man for us to be reconciled to Him. This speaks amazingly of God’s great love, and brings forth images of Christ washing the disciple’s feet. That the Lord of all, would be so humble as to implore us is almost beyond belief. Yet, I am not the only one to be struck by the reality of this and its implications.

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“[Beseeching] seems rather strange language to apply to an ambassador. Usually we do not think of an ambassador as pleading, but that is the story of the gospel, that, in it, God is actually on bended knee and with tear-dimmed eye begging men and women to be reconciled to Himself.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Truly, it is an amazing God we serve, and we should do so, in full knowledge of God’s love, and our love for Him, in complete obedience and servitude for this is what He deserves. Further, this is the message that we should portray and share with others, that those we come into contact with may experience the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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” . . . Regarding His Son, who as to His earthly life was a descendant of David.” -Romans 1:3

The symbolism and importance behind the bloodline of Christ cannot be underestimated. Indeed, when it comes to the genealogy of our Savior, it is one of the biggest “proofs” the bible contains concerning the divinity of Christ.

Although Jesus was not born from a union between man and woman, he was born into the family of Joseph. In those days the family’s posterity was traced through the men. Joseph himself was from the line of David, which was the line of kings.

"The Annunciation and Life of The Virgin," by Fra Angelico. tempra on wood, c. 1426

Though genealogy was traced through the men, a male obviously isn’t the only one with a genealogy, but that goes without saying. Mary also had an esteemed bloodline, for she was of the house of Levi, the very same line of the high priests that were able to enter the tabernacle to present offerings before God. This explains the paradox between Matthew and Luke. Matthew is an account of how Jesus fits into Joseph’s bloodline, while Luke addresses the bloodline of Mary.

Therefore, what we have is some valuable insight into who Christ is and what it is He accomplished. The merging of The two bloodlines in Jesus (they also merge under the house of David through both Solomon and Nathan) shows us that Christ is the High Priest and The King of Kings who came to earth to present Himself as an offering and sacrifice before God that we may have reconciliation and a relationship with the Almighty. Amen.

By the way, just so everyone knows (this includes you Dan Brown, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks), the “Holy Grail” doesn’t appear anywhere in scripture.

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