Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 12:1-21

bibleLast week, we took a look at Matthew 11, where we saw Jesus identifying Himself by means of reminding the crowd of who it was they went out to see in the wilderness, John the Baptist. Jesus clearly identified who John the Baptist as the great prophet (and more) prophesied in Scripture to come as the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus. We closed with Jesus offering rest that only He can provide.

Matthew 11:27-30 (ESV)

27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Beginning here, to what is Jesus comparing His yoke and His burden? What is Jesus offering for those who come to Him? Remember who His audience is, Jesus is speaking to Jews. Jesus is declaring Himself to have authority over all things because His Father, God the Father, has handed all things over to Jesus. That’s monumental, and worth taking a moment to ponder. Furthermore, Jesus is declaring that He alone knows the Father, and that Only the Father truly knows who Jesus is. In this statement, who is Jesus refuting? The Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes who have (and will) rejected Jesus. They hold themselves to be the knowledgeable ones, the teachers, the keepers of the keys to the Kingdom (where the Scriptures are kept). Jesus was offering rest to those who would come to Him. Coming to Jesus meant walking away from the Earthly Temple and its priests, the yoke of the Law and the burden of sin. Jesus the Messiah had come, to fulfill the Law and to take away the sin of the world, so that by His blood we might be made the righteousness of Christ, adopted as heirs to the Kingdom of God. His yoke is indeed easy and His burden is light, for only by Him can we find Life. With this in mind, let us continue into Chapter 12.

Matthew 12:1-21 (ESV) | A Rest Greater than the Sabbath

Matthew 12 | Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

The Pharisees accused the disciples of profaning the Sabbath by plucking the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath. Was their accusation valid? Not according to the Law. The Law stated that no one was to do any work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were not judging by the Law; rather, they held to their own law, the oral tradition that they held equal to the written Scripture. Their oral tradition became the means by which the religious leaders would add definitions, restrictions, and ceremony to the Law of Moses so that they would be the ones who decided on all matters. They added so many rules and regulations to define what constituted “work” and what didn’t so that it was extra difficult and complicated to keep the Sabbath externally. They decided how far you could walk (a Sabbath day’s journey) and the maximum size something you could carry on the Sabbath without it being considered work. Jesus doesn’t blast them outright in this just yet; rather, He points out in Scripture that would constitute greater offenses of the Sabbath if the Pharisaical assertion were kept. David and his men ate the bread of the Presence (1 Samuel 21:1-6 ESV), which was not lawful for anyone but Priests to eat. But if you’ll read the text that I linked, David was in a time of great need and the Temple did not have any other food to provide, no common bread. Thus the ceremonial law of the bread was set aside to meet David’s (whom God had chosen as King to replace Saul whom God now rejected) need. Jesus is greater than David, and His disciples were hungry. But Jesus didn’t stop there, He also points out that the blanket prohibition from work on the Sabbath is set aside for the priests fulfilling their duties in the Temple on the Sabbath. This is huge, for there is simply no way for the Pharisees to wriggle out of this one, everything they did in the Temple is by any measure work. Now something greater than the Temple (Jesus) is here. The earthly temple is a foreshadow of Jesus. His disciples are serving a greater Temple, they serve the Messiah, the Son of God. So not only were the Pharisees wrongfully accusing the disciples of breaking the Sabbath according to the Law, their standards of Sabbath observance didn’t pass the test of Scripture. Their attempt to ensnare Jesus and His disciples in breach of the Sabbath falls flat because the authority of their oral tradition paled in comparison to the Authority of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Matthew 12 | A Man with a Withered Hand

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Pharisees didn’t get it, and persisted in their attempts to ensnare Jesus. Their man-made definitions of work now pitted God’s miraculous works of healing against their own laws of the Sabbath. They didn’t get it. They attributed miraculous healing to being a work performed by men, rather than God. Check out the evil scenario that has unfolded… within the synagogue of the Pharisees who wrongly accused them of breaking the Sabbath already, there was a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees then ask Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath… imagine what is going on in this man’s heart? Dare he hope for Jesus to heal him? And what if Jesus does, would that act condemn Him under the Law? Where you and I can only imagine what was stirring in this man’s heart, Jesus knew. I read Jesus’ response with a very hard tone of rebuke… I’m surprised we don’t get a “you hypocrites!” here. But I think His concern moved more toward the man with the withered hand than the Pharisees. Jesus looked at the man and told him to stretch out his hand. Praise the Lord. And these Pharisees… so blinded by their sin, their power, their position, they completely missed both the lesson of the Sabbath and the testimony of the Messiah standing in their midst… a man was healed miraculously, in a way that we do not see to this day, and they conspired against Him in how to destroy him.

Matthew 12 | God’s Chosen Servant

15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21     and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

At first it might seem odd that Jesus would so plainly demonstrate who He is yet order those whom He heals not to make Him known. The Jews didn’t understand the prophecy of the Messiah, Who He was or what He planned to do. So, Jesus made known to many Who He was, but ordered them not to make it known.  Jesus came first to fulfill the Law, then to suffer and die in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God, to be raised again on the 3rd day, to ascend into Heaven and send His Holy Spirit to all who believe in Him. The next time He comes to Earth… will be a lot different. He will come in Glory, and in Power, ready to judge both the Living and the Dead. Amen.

Until Next Week…

Matthew’s account takes a shift here in the middle of the chapter. Matthew has made a clear case for who Jesus is, by sharing who Jesus claimed to be. Now we will start seeing more focus on His teaching of the Kingdom of Heaven, on Salvation, and we will also see increased confrontation with the Pharisees and those plotting to kill Him. Until then, be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Pray for wisdom and for boldness to speak the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even when it isn’t politically correct or socially acceptable.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 11

bibleLast time, we took a look at Matthew 10, where we saw Jesus appointing his 12 Apostles and sending them out among the lost sheep of Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven

John the Baptist, More than a Prophet

Matthew 11 (ESV)

Messengers from John the Baptist

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Does it strike you as odd that this account falls here in Matthew’s Account? I have wrestled with its placement here. It seemed like a cut-scene event not necessarily a chronological succession to the events/teaching of Chapter 10. The problem of this passage for me was that I kept treating it as an update on what was going on in John the Baptist’s life… like some voice-over guy would narrate, “meanwhile, back in the prison of John the Baptist”… but that’s not Matthew’s intention. Remember Matthew’s audience is the Jewish reader, the one familiar with the Law and the Prophets (more-so than the Gentile, anyway). Matthew isn’t setting out to record a detailed account of the likes of Luke, he is writing to Jews so that they might know exactly who Jesus is. John the Baptist is a critical figure in prophecy, and being a man in prison about to die, he inquired of Jesus one last time, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? Jesus’ answer is two-fold, He tells the disciple to report what he sees and He also points out that everything Jesus is doing is in fulfillment of the prophecies that testify of Him as the Messiah. Let’s continue reading…

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,     who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

This is a tough passage to get a full grasp of especially for those who treat Jesus as a man or an example for how we are to live. How can John be the greatest of those born of women, wasn’t Jesus also born of a virgin? Yes, but Jesus has no equal for He is the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Messenger of God, God the Son. John is the last great Prophet of men to the children of Israel, and his purpose was to announce the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, the Messiah had come. All of the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus. John the Baptist is His herald and has been imprisoned by violent, pagan men. He would soon be put to death, and Jesus will also suffer and die at the hand of men… the Kingdom of Heaven indeed has suffered violence. For those of you in the Pentecostal camp, this is NOT a teaching on spiritual warfare. This is about Jesus coming, the Kingdom of Heaven preached, and the violent prevailing against Him… to death on a cross.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

The chief priests and elders who wage war against the kingdom of Heaven, pursue John by one standard and then Jesus by another… excuses for their core sin of rejecting the very Son of God they claim to serve.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Miracles, signs, and wonders do not produce faith. Hearing the word of the Lord and believing it does. Miracles can, however, intensify guilt. Jesus makes it plain here that had He performed the mighty works in Sodom that He had performed in Capernaum, Sodom would have remained to this day, meaning some would have repented (at least 10, for the sake of Abram’s intercession). He knew this, he wasn’t merely speculating or using hyperbole to highlight a point… Jesus knew. That Capernaum refused to repent earned them a worse fate on the day of judgment than that of Sodom. That boggles the mind. When Jesus returns, it won’t be as a silent lamb to preach repentance… He will come to judge the living and the dead. It will be the end for this life, this Earth, under these heavens. The Grace of God can be seen even in the fact that He tarries to return.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We talked about Rest in this past Monday’s CTT post. Jesus isn’t talking about coming to make everyone rich so that they’ll never have any struggle. He’s not offering the “easy life”… Jesus is offering rest from the brutal taskmaster of the Law. The Law kills all who are under it, for they cannot keep it. Jesus came to lift that burden Himself, and then to lay down His perfect life as payment for all sin, so that by faith we might join in His resurrection, and enter into His Rest.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Our household will be very busy over the summer, lots of travel. I will do my best to keep to a steady blogging schedule, but I pray your forgiveness if (like today) things get pushed back some. Thank you for your prayers.

Amen. In Christ Jesus, Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 10

bibleLast week, we saw Jesus start to focus on His disciples. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-8 ESV). This week, we will see Matthew’s account of Jesus calling His 12 Apostles from among His disciples and sending them out in training. Jesus is specifically teaching His apostles what they need to know in ministry. Given that these men (minus Judas and later including Paul) would form the foundation of Christ’s Church, with Jesus as its cornerstone, we need to pay close attention to what He is teaching here. For our ministry of evangelism, of the Church, is built upon this foundation and none other. There will not be any more Apostles, for there is no further need of foundation, but we need to understand the foundation upon which we stand. 

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Matthew 10 (ESV)

And [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

In the Matthew’s account, this is where Jesus selected 12 from His disciples to appoint them as His Apostles, sent-ones from God the Son. He gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out, and authority to heal every disease and every affliction. Why? Was their charge to eradicate sickness and disease from the land of Israel? Was it to expel all demons from the Land of Israel? Well, let us look at the rest of His charge. In verse 5 we see they are not to go to the Samaritans or the Gentiles… but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. What was their charge, to eradicate sickness and disease from Israel? No. They were given such authority, but their primary charge was to proclaim, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. They were to proclaim the time for the Promise was at hand, to preach repentance just as John the Baptist did and how they saw Jesus proclaim the Kingdom. Notice the conditional statement He provided regarding the towns/houses in which they stay. If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words… the miracles of casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, or cleansing lepers wouldn’t be enough. Some would still not receive them as Apostles nor listen to their preaching. The authority to perform miracles was granted as a testimony of the Truth of what they preached. There would still be those who witness the miracles and reject the message. Why? Because they lacked faith, and held fast to the teaching of the Elders and Pharisees who taught as commandments the doctrines of men. Those who reject the Gospel and remain in their unbelief remain condemned (John 3:16-18)… and these who reject the proclamation of the Gospel in this manner, full of power and authority will face a tougher judgement than those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abram.

What Jesus tells His 12 for this immediate mission, carries on into the first leg of the Great Commission we will see in Chapter 28. Thankfully, the Gospel isn’t limited to the lost sheep of Israel, because the Promise was for all of mankind, for you and for me. I appreciate how the ESV splits this up into sections, because the portions that follow apply to the Church, the Body of Christ. We will face persecution, this isn’t limited to His 12 apostles. He sent them out to lay the foundation, with Himself as its cornerstone, and we are being built up on that foundation as the Holy Temple of God, a temple of living stones indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. We will see persecution… and it will continue getting worse until the Great Day of Christ’s return.

Matthew 10 | Persecution Will Come

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Anyone selling a gospel of victorious living, health and wealth, or “living your best life now” is either flat-out lying or simply has never actually read the Bible. In Christ we have our victory in the resurrection. Until then, we will face trials, tribulation, and the open seething hate of a world that first hated Him. Take heart, Jesus goes on to say…

Matthew 10 | Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Have no fear of men who can only kill the body. Our treasure is in Heaven.

Matthew 10 | Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of the media’s wimpy portrayal of Jesus. Even the self-identified Christian production companies seem to fail in this regard. Jesus didn’t come to coddle sinners in their sinfulness, He came to call them out of the Kingdom of Darkness. He preached repentance. Families will be split because of Him, but not because of what He does; rather, for who He is. Don’t treat verses 34-39 in isolation from verses 26-33. It is all connected. Those who follow Jesus, die to themselves and to sin daily, will be saved while those who deny Him will continue to hate Him and those who follow Him. The message of the Gospel isn’t to eradicate sin, death, sickness, or poverty on the earth. The earth is cursed because of the sin of Adam. Dominionists, Open Theists, Universalists, all of them are completely confused in their thinking. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls sinners to repentance and separation from this world of sin and unbelief. When we proclaim the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” to this dying world, we are proclaiming “leave the building of destruction” not “all clear, the bomb was defused”. Christ made a way of escape, the ONLY way of escape from the judgment that is due our sin. It is a narrow gate that few will find, though we proclaim loudly and firmly the Way of Salvation in the Name of Jesus.

Matthew 10 | Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The Apostles are being sent out as prophets, proclaiming the Word of the Lord (the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand). Whoever receives them as speaking the Word of God, receives the prophet’s reward. Jesus is the only righteous person who has ever lived… and whoever receives Him, receives His reward. Whoever received the Apostles, received Christ. Whoever receives Christ, receives His Righteousness.

Romans 3:19-28 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

By faith we have been saved. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Hearing the Word of Christ comes by having it faithfully preached, both Law (conviction of sin leading to repentance) and Gospel (for the forgiveness of sin).

Romans 10:14-17 (ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Will Man Rob God?

Today’s post is a continuation of sorts from Monday’s CTT post, “Sow a Seed?”

It is time to deal with the issue of the Tithe. This will not be a short post. The issue of “tithing” is one of great abuse in modern-day churches. Let us begin with the most abused proof-text found in Malachi.

Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV)

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Sometimes, even this proof text is reduced only to verse 10 in order to present a quid-pro-quo promise of prosperity. Is this valid? No. Let’s work through the context of this passage.

The Context of Malachi

This book is one (of many) of Prophecy. Though an exact time-frame isn’t possible to nail down for Malachi, this book was written after the Exile from Babylon and after the temple was rebuilt and worship resumed. This book of prophecy is intended for a specific people for a specific purpose. Let’s look at the first chapter to see how it plays out.

Malachi 1:1-5 (ESV) | The Lord’s Love for Israel
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”

The very first section is addressed to Israel. God declares “I have loved you” to Israel, and then God repeats Israel’s complaint of “How have you loved us?”. Israel is suffering and blaming God for it. They question God’s love for them. God’s answer to them is interesting. He points to Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel) and Esau. God’s Covenant with Abraham didn’t extend to Esau, but to Jacob. Indeed, Israel is suffering, but not like Edom. God declares that once Israel sees Edom remain in ruin while they receive His promise, they’ll Praise God for His Greatness. Now the next section.

Malachi 1:6-14 (ESV) | The Priests’ Polluted Offerings
6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

After addressing Israel as a nation, the Lord specifically calls out the sin of the priests. This is no small matter. We’ll see just how serious in the next chapter.

Malachi 2  (ESV) | The Lord Rebukes the Priests
1 “And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.

God is invoking His covenant with Levi. The priests had forgotten their place. They had profaned the Covenant of Levi.

Malachi 2:10-16 (ESV) | Judah Profaned the Covenant
10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! 13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.

Malachi narrows the language a bit in the next portion to that of Judah, which brings God’s current reproach into the present-day of Malachi, for only Judah, the Southern Kingdom remains after the Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles. God preserved Judah by covenant, for the Messiah is to be the Lion of Judah. Jerusalem and the Temple are within Judah, so God has not moved away from the Priests just yet, God is calling out the sin of Judah that have been blessed off on by the Priests. Malachi is confessing the sin of Judah before God and before the Priests by way of accusation. This confession should be coming from them, but Malachi is offering them while prophesying the consequences should they refuse to repent. He closes out this section with a Word from the Lord. This is another one of those places in Scripture where Adultery and Idolatry are held in equality. Both demonstrate faithlessness.

Malachi 2:17 (ESV) | The Messenger of the Lord
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Not only has Israel doubted, the priests profaned the covenant of Levi, and Judah been faithless… they have declared evil doers “good in the sight of the Lord” and even claimed that He delights in evil doers. Remember what the Apostle Paul closes out Romans 1 (ESV)

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Now, we’ve caught up to Chapter 3. Let’s see how it flows into our proof-text.

Malachi 3  (ESV)
1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Here we have a Messianic prophecy. If you’ve ever been puzzled by Jesus’s harshness toward the Chief Priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees, think back to Malachi.

Malachi 3:6-15 (ESV) | Robbing God
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. 13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”

So, here we are. It really didn’t take very long, 3 short chapters. Is this some generic proclamation of “principles” such as Proverbs? No. This is a specific rebuke to the children of Jacob, regarding the covenant with Moses and Levi. God points out that they had turned aside from His covenants and statutes from the days of their fathers. That would be the covenants and statues handed to them via Moses. They were indeed under a curse, the Mosaic Curse. You don’t need to guess or divine what curses were being invoked, they come from the Law. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (ESV). Here are a few relevant examples:

  • Deu 28:23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
  • Deu 28:32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless.
  • Deu 28:33 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34 so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.

So you see, Malachi isn’t saying that failure to give 10% (tithe) is the root of the curse, nor is he saying that simply tithing unlocks divine financial blessing. God is calling Israel to repent and return to Him under the Mosaic Covenant.

Bro, Do You Even Tithe?

The obligation of the Tithe can only be found in the Mosaic Covenant. Before the Covenant, it was freely given as an act of worship and thanksgiving to God by Abraham. So, if we are talking about the “cursed portion”, “robbing God”, “bringing the full tithe to the storehouse” we must be talking about the Mosaic Covenant. Let’s give it a look.

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (ESV) | Tithes
22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

What does it mean that the Levite has no portion or inheritance? Well, let’s look to their portion as recorded in the book of Numbers.

Numbers 18:21-32 (ESV)
21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting, 22 so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance.24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance.Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.

So, are they then expected to offer a Tithe? Yes.

Numbers 18 (ESV) cont…
25 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 26 “Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe. 27 And your contribution shall be counted to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 So you shall also present a contribution to the Lord from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the Lord’s contribution to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the Lord; from each its best part is to be dedicated.’ 30 Therefore you shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be counted to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the winepress. 31 And you may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting. 32 And you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have contributed the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, lest you die.’”

Finally, we’ll look in Leviticus at a key conclusion statement after the instructions on Vows and the Tithe:

Leviticus 27:30-34 (ESV)
30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

34 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

The Mosaic covenant cannot be kept anymore. There is no Earthly Temple where God chooses to Make His Name Dwell. You don’t Tithe, not in accordance with the Law of Moses. Therefore, you do not incur the curses or the blessings of the Law as found in Deuteronomy 28. You simply don’t. We are not grafted into the Mosaic Covenant. We are partakers in a better covenant.

Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant

Hebrews 8 (ESV) 
8 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

8 For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Closing Thoughts

Is it a sin to give a tithe, as in 10% of your income? No. Not at all. Is it a sin to encourage brothers and sisters to shoot for 10%? No. But be very careful in your “encouragement”. Do not offer them promises that are not for them, and do not place a yoke on their necks that you are unable to bear. We cannot keep the Law of Moses by our own doing. Jesus kept the Law and His righteousness is imputed to us by Faith, not by works of the Law. God loves a cheerful giver, indeed. God blesses those who give freely and not under compulsion. He also punishes those who would abuse His children and cause even the littlest one to stumble. Fear the Lord, and know that we are part of the New Covenant, secured by the Blood of Jesus, our Great High Priest.

Hebrews 9:23-28 (ESV)23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Amen. We look forward to the Great Day of His Return.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

OT | Jethro’s Advice (Exodus 18)

Moses fountain in Washington Park, Albany, NY.

Moses fountain in Washington Park, Albany, NY.

In our last Old Testament Study, we took a quick look at the closing of Exodus 17, and we left room for folks to catch up to where we are in the text. Today, we are going to take a look at Jethro’s Advice recorded in Exodus 18. We are going to see 2 major themes here, first we are going to take a look at the proper (Biblical) sharing of a testimony and worshiping God. Then we will look at Jethro’s advice to Moses and we will examine how churches today get this part wrong.

So let us dive right into the text beginning in the first verse of Exodus 18.

Exodus 18 (ESV) | Jethro’s Advice

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

Testimony… we give testimony not of ourselves and how awesome we’ve become or how wonderful our life has become now that we made a decision or said a prayer. Our testimony is of what the Lord has done on our behalf. Notice the section that follows that Jethro doesn’t lavish praise upon Moses; rather, he offers praise and worship to the Lord God.

10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

All praise and glory and honor be to God. They worshiped God (blessed His Name, confessed Him as God, offered burnt offering and sacrifices) and then they broke bread together. Now this act of worship takes a great deal of time, and led to the breaking of bread at the end of the day. The following day, we see Moses fulfilling his role as the Prophet of God to the Children of Israel, in the day-to-day affairs of leading such a large group through the wilderness. Until now, we’ve seen when the people murmur and complain to Moses, who then cries out to God and He acts, granting manna from heaven, quail from the wilderness, and water from a rock.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws. 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.

Now, we have not yet been given the 10 Commandments. Moses was God’s servant and he heard God’s voice and God listened to Moses. Jethro knew that Moses alone could not be the only judge over all of the people. Moses needed to appoint men and delegate authority to them to sit as judges over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands. Delegated authority, not surrendered authority. Moses was still is held accountable to God for the people… he still represents the people before God. However, the smaller cases that have already been made clear can now be heard by able, God-fearing, trustworthy men who hate a bribe.

So how does the present-day church get this wrong? Modern-day pastors read themselves into the position of Moses when they should be reading themselves into the “able, God-fearing, trustworthy men who hate a bribe”. Jesus Christ is the head of His Church. Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father in Heaven… the role of Moses is a shadow of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the Head of His Church, not your senior pastor. Your elders/pastors are the ones to whom have been delegated authority in Christ Jesus to watch over, tend, teach, and feed His sheep. Some are placed over thousands, some hundreds, some fifties, and some tens. The children of Israel were divided up into tribes, clans, houses… but all were God’s Chosen People. The Church today is even more diverse and equally unified through the Gospel of Jesus Christ as written in His Word. Beware the false teacher, the false prophet, and the falsely anointed one (false christs). In closing, let us visit Paul’s exhortation to the elders of the church in Ephesus:

Acts 20:28-32 (ESV)

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge