Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, part 3

We saw how the Kingdom of Heaven was presented in two previous parables (part 1 and part2). We can’t look at just these two when there’s a third parable about the kingdom of heaven in the next 4 verses. Matthew 13: 47 – 50:
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Just before these verses Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure hidden in a field or like a merchant looking for pearls. Now it’s a net. And not any kind of net. There were 2 types of nets back then. One was thrown from shore by the fisherman and the other, the kind mentioned here, a sagene, was a drag net. This term is a unique term. It is a very, very large net maybe covering one half mile of area.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, part 2

In Matthew 13: 45,46 Jesus said:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
In part 1 we saw that the kingdom of heaven was like a man (Jesus) finding a treasure (the Jews) in a field (the world). In this next parable the kingdom is likened to a merchant looking for fine peals.

Pearls were not known or valued by Jews at that time (they’re only mentioned once in the Old Testament) so Jesus’ audience was probably frowning at one another at that point though they understood that the Greek word here, margarites, meant pearl or proverb (word of great value).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, part 1

In Matthew 13: 44 Jesus tells us about the kingdom of heaven:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
In this verse we have Jesus giving a comparison for what the kingdom of heaven is like. I've found some scholarly debate about what exactly is meant here. I've even found some commentaries condemning the man in verse 44 because he was digging in somebody else’s field so therefore he was really a thief. I don’t think that’s what Jesus was saying. He knew his audience would get this. It was common practice to bury money in fields to keep it safe.

So, who is the man, what is the field, and what is the treasure? You may think that “the man” is us and the “treasure” is Jesus, but we don’t have to buy our salvation – it’s a free gift. I believe the man in the parable is Jesus, the field is the world (as explained in other parables), and the treasure refers to the Jews, to Israel. Here’s why:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Analyzing Isaiah

We’re going to analyze the first three verses of Isaiah 55:             
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 
Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
When God issues His invitation to come to Him, He offers water, wine, and milk. There’s a lot of symbolism here so let’s look at that.

Water is one of the most important substances to us. Our bodies are comprised of 60-70% water. The average human can live three days without water, but don’t try that. We have to have water to live. In the Bible water is often a picture of the new birth. When Jesus talked with Nicodemus in John 3:5, Jesus said,
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14, He said,
Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Jesus promises complete satisfaction to everyone who drinks of the water that He offers. Unlike physical water, which we better not go more than three days without, the spiritual water that Jesus offers will forever satisfy the soul who will take just one sip. Jesus makes this offer in John 7:37, 38:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
Wine in biblical times was just as important as water. Most of the water was not fit to drink, so wine was added to the water to kill the bacteria and made the water drinkable.

In the Bible, wine is often used as a picture of joy,(Psalm 104:15) and is also a picture of the Holy Spirit, who enters a child of God at the moment of salvation. In 1st Peter 1: 8 it says that when we believe we will be filled with “an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Remember that on the Day of Pentecost, the Jews thought that the Spirit-filled disciples were drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13). Peter told the crowd that these men were not drunk with wine; they were under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Milk, the third item here, is essential for healthy growth. In the Bible milk is a picture of the Word of God (Scripture). God gives us the water of life that saves us, and the Spirit of God that gives us joy, and He also gives us the Word of God, the Bible, that teaches us all about God. The Bible is referred to as milk in 1 Pet. 2:2; 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13. So these three things, water, wine, and milk symbolize new birth, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Scriptures.

Now look at the end of verse one: you can buy these three things without money or cost. God places everything as a free gift. He offers salvation and contentment to all who will come to Him free of any charge. (Rev. 22:17)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Wow, that was a lot. Now let’s get to verse 2: Why spend money on what is not bread? Bread is a symbol of the complete and never-failing provision for our spiritual nourishment. Why spend money on cardboard food? Think about it.

Verses 2 and 3 tell us what will happen if we receive the Lord’s free offer.  First, God promises those who come to Him that their “soul will delight in the richest of fare.” This is a picture of salvation! Secondly, God promises that He will “make an everlasting covenant with you”. What is that covenant? Find it in the rest of the verse: His faithful love!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Read Luke 12: 15-21
Background: Jesus is giving warnings and encouragements to his followers and right in the middle of things somebody in the crowd interrupts with a very self-centered financial statement, a command really. Go back and read verses 13 and 14.

Did you know that Jesus had more to say about material possessions than any other subject? Almost half of the parables that he tells deal with possessions. Something like 15% of the verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke discuss the handling of material goods properly. Now just imagine being so greedy, so at odds with your brother, that you would interrupt Jesus – and he’s talking just to his disciples at that moment, with a crowd of thousands surrounding them – and ask him to help you get more money. Amazing! But so like us today. Do you think this man’s brother is older or younger? I think he’s older since the custom at that time meant the older brother would get double the portion and our greedy guy wants him to divide the inheritance so he’d get half instead of a third.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Analyzing The Parable of the Talents, verse by verse

The Parable of the Talents  (taken from our Bible Study of July 23, 2014)
Matthew 25:14-30 (ASV)
14  For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.
16  Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents.
17  In like manner he also that received the two gained other two.
18  But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.